SECOND SHORT PAPER ASSIGNMENT
DUE DATE: Wednesday October 31, in class
Write a 3-5 page paper in response to one of the following prompts. Give your paper a title, double-space the page, staple the whole thing and check for simple grammatical errors and spelling mistakes before you hand in your work.
As we discussed in lecture, it was long considered a medical fact that the female genitals were simply internal versions of the male genitals and that–like the male orgasm–the female orgasm was necessary for conception to occur. Similarly it was long accepted as a medical fact that hysteria was literally caused by the uterus floating around the body. In the 19th century it was considered a scientific fact that women were evolutionarily inferior to men. Although these ideas seem like laughable examples of bad science to us, they were considered fact at the time. It is very likely that, 100 years in the future, people will look back on some of our scientific beliefs and find them equally laughable.
For this paper, you are to select a scientific “fact” or theory that we currently believe about gender, sex, or sexuality and try to imagine how people in the future might find it laughable. A good essay will provide a thoughtful analysis of the sex/gender ideologies evident in your chosen scientific belief and will draw on strong theoretical or analytical evidence from the class readings to ground this analysis.
In lecture, we’ve been identifying ideologies of gender and sexuality in cultural texts like films, music and television shows. For example, we watched a public television documentary about conception, The Great Sperm Race, that portrayed sperm as active competitors battling through the treacherous terrain of a vagina-warzone to reach the egg; this reinforced notions of active masculinity and dangerous femininity. In an episode of Arrested Development, we encountered an adult son still living at home with his mother, Lucille: the son’s arm had been bitten off by a “loose seal,” enacting Freud’s theories of castration anxiety and the Oedipus complex.
In this paper, analyze an example of your choice (such as a film, tv show, song, advertisement, etc) to consider how it reinforces or resists cultural beliefs and assumptions about sex, gender, and sexuality. Some of the beliefs, ideologies, or assumptions your essay might explore include ideas such as: men are active and women are passive; boys don’t cry; men and women are opposites; heterosexuality is normal and/or natural; there are only two sexes; a person’s gender is a good indicator of their sexuality; or one of Rubin’s five ideological formations. It’s also possible that your example combines several beliefs, and so you’ll want your analysis to focus on the way these ideologies intersect in your example. Be sure that your paper not only includes an analysis that explains the ideologies or beliefs at work in your example, but also grounds its analysis in the class readings—particularly those we’ve read since our last paper.
Given the amount of reading you have done this semester about heteronormativity, the culture of fear that surrounds children’s sexuality, and theories of repression and oppression of sexuality through psychological and socio-political processes, you are more than equipped to make recommendations to the California Board of Education for its Comprehensive Sex Ed. requirements. (It’s true, there’s no special pedigree for that advisory position except that you are well informed in the field.)
Here are the current guidelines from the state: http://www.cde.ca.gov/ls/he/se/sexeducation.asp
In a 3-5 page paper in MLA style, make a proposal for a Sex Education program for one age group from K-12. Your program should have at least five major points/sections that should be covered, and each must have a rationale provided by readings/materials from the class. You should be able to integrate at least three of our readings to discuss your recommendations. You are NOT required to design an education program that follows all the state guidelines, if, as part of your program, you propose changing or adding to those guidelines.
Questions to consider (no particular order, just to stimulate your brainstorming): what is healthy sexuality? How can teachers in classrooms help promote “responsible decisions about sexuality?” What responsibility does the school system have to educate children on ethical or moral issues of “tolerance”? How much information about their physical bodies do your authors believe children are “ready” for? Would you separate girls and boys? Why or why not? At what age should children be talking about sexual orientation and/or gender identity in the classroom, according to your sources?