Instructors: Sally Merry and Nan Stein
This course joins an anthropological approach to the study of gender with
the analysis of forms of intervention developed to ameliorate and change a range
of gendered violations of women. The main topics of concern are domestic violence,
sexual assault, and sexual harassment. The course combines social science research
with questions about policymaking as it examines the construction of masculinity
and femininity along with the race/class dimensions of this process. Major modes
of intervention considered in the course are those of law, policing, and punishment
as well as therapy, religion, and education, such as the development of curricular
materials to combat sexual harassment in K-12 schools. The course examines how
research informs policy and how policy initiatives toward wife battering and
sexual harassment have changed over time. The course examines gendered violations
in the United States and in other societies, exploring variability across race,
class and community. Finally, the course examines the global dimensions of this
movement, exploring the extent of gendered violations worldwide and human rights
efforts to change them.
There will be two short essays, a longer project, and a final take-home
examination. Students are also expected to do the reading and participate in
class discussions. There will be an all-day field trip and students are expected
to take part in it unless there are unavoidable conflicts. The short essays
are each worth 15% of the grade, the class project and the take home exam each
30%, and class participation 10%. The purpose of the course is to promote critical
thinking and to link this thinking to action, however, not to grade students.
There are three required texts. The rest of the readings are available
on the course website and can be downloaded and printed.
Schechter, Susan. 1982. Women and Male Violence. Boston: South End Press.
Lancaster, Roger. 1992. Life is Hard. Berkeley: Univ. of California Press.
Ptacek, James. 1999. Battered Women in the Courtroom. Boston: Northeastern
Jan 29: The Creation of Gender Violence as a Problem
- Overview of the evolution of feminist theory
- Introduction to the definitions and theories of gender violence.
- Introduction to the history of gender violence as a ‘public’ problem/ concern
domestically and on an international scale – includes discussion of sexual
Feb. 5: The History of the Movement How has the definition
of gender violence changed over time and space?
Guest Speaker: Heisoo Shin, CEDAW expert. "How to Use CEDAW and its Optional
Protocol for Women's Rights"
Also attend her talk Feb.4, 7:30 PM on "The 'Comfort Women' and the International
War Crimes Tribunal"
- Discussion of the origins of the violence against women movement.
- Evolution of the movement domestically and internationally.
- Corresponding changes in definitions and strategies.
- Introduction to gender violence as an international human rights issue.
- Schechter,S., Women and Male Violence, Part I (pp. 1-209).
- Bunch, C. (1990) Women’s Rights as Human Rights: Toward a Re-Vision of Human
Rights. Human Rights Quarterly Vol. 12:486-498
- Thomas, D. and Beasley, M. (1993) Domestic Violence as a Human Rights Issue.
Human Rights Quarterly Vol. 15, No. 1.: 36-32
- Text of the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination
Against Women (CEDAW) available at www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/cedaw/index.html
Feb. 12: Gender Violence as an International Human Rights Issue
- Continue the discussion of the history of the domestic violence movement
and its emergence as an international human rights issue
- How is violence against women defined internationally?
- What are the strategies adopted in the international arena and in various
- Schechter, S., Women and Male Violence, Part II: 209-323.
- CEDAW General Recommendation 19. Available under "Reporting",
click on General Recommendations, at www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/cedaw/index.html
- Keck and Sikkink, 1998, Activists Beyond Borders, "Transnational Networks
on Violence Against Women." Pp. 165-199. Cornell Univ. Press.
Feb. 19: Theories about Gender Violence
- Cultural and structural theories of violence against women
- The nature of marriage and divorce, relative status of women, definitions
of gender, ease of exit, consequences for violators
- Heise, L. (1998) Violence against Women: An Integrated Ecological Framework.
Violence Against Women Vol 4, No. 3:262-290
- Kimberle Williams Crenshaw. 1994. "Mapping the Margins: Intersectionality,
Identity Politics, and Violence Against Women of Color." Pp. 93-120 in
The Public Nature of Private Violence: The Discovery of Domestic Abuse.
Martha Albertson Fineman and Roxanne Mykitiuk, eds. Routledge.
- Kimmel, M., Masculinity as Homophobia: Fear, Shame and Silence in the Construction
of Gender Identity.
- Anderson, K. and Umberson, D. (2001) Gendered Violence: Masculinity and
Power in Men’s accounts of Domestic Violence. Gender and Society Vol.
15, no. 3. pp.358-380.
- Lancaster, R. (1992) Life is Hard: Machismo, danger and the Intimacy
of Power in Nicaragua. University of California Press: Berkley, CA. Introduction
and Chs. II, III, XVIII.
- Liu Meng and Cecelia Chan. 2000. "Family Violence in China: Past and
Present." New Global Development 16: 74-87.
- Liu Meng and Cecelia Chan. 1999. "Enduring Violence and Staying in
Marriage: Stories of Battered Women in Rural China." Violence Against
Women Vol 5, No. 12: 1469-1492.
- Kimmel, M. (2000) Gendered Society. Oxford University Press: New
York, NY. Introduction
- Connell, R.W. (1995) Masculinities. University of California Press:
Berkley, CA. Chapter 1, "The Science of Masculinites".
- bell hooks, Doing it for Daddy
Feb. 26: Field Trip
- We will be visiting and discussing the various modes of intervention: shelters,
support groups, men’s programs
- Assignment #1 Due: Short paper (5 pgs). What do you find the most
persuasive theory of gender violence presented in class and/ or in the readings?
Why? You may draw on other theories presented to lend support to your position.
You might consider, for example, what these alternatives lack that your chosen
Required readings: These readings provide good background for the field
trip, but if you can’t finish them, read them for March 5 and 12.
- Ptacek, James. 1999. Battered Women in the Courtroom. Boston: Northeastern
- Ferraro, K. 1983. Negotiating trouble in a Battered Women’s Shelter. Urban
Life Vol 12, No. 3, pp.287-306.
- Merry, Sally Engle. 1995 "Gender Violence and Legally Engendered Selves."
Identities: Global Studies in Culture and Power 2:49-73.
- Wittner, J. Reconceptualizing Agency in Domestic Violence Court, in Naples,
N (Ed) Community Activism and Feminism Politics . pp.81-103
March 5: Criminalization and its alternatives
- Discussion of intersection of gender violence and criminal justice system
- Specific issues to be explored include no-drop policies, mandatory arrest,
three offenses and felony, etc.
- Exploration of the global policies and local variation in the transplanting
of laws and policing practices
- Cuthbert & Slote, Battered Mother Testimony Project -www.wcwonline.org/wrn/battered.html.
Read some of the testimony here.
- Merry, S. (2001) Rights, Religion, and Community: Approaches to Violence
Against Women in the Context of Globalization. Law and Society Review
35: 39-88. This is available through Lexis/Nexus under e-resources of the
- Razack, S. (2000) Gendered Racial Violence and Spatialized Justice: the
Murder of Pamela George. Canadian Journal of Law and Society Vol. 15,
No. 2. pp. 91-130
- Davis, Angela. 2000. "The Color of Violence Against Women." ColorLines
3 (no.3): 4-8.
- Davis, A. (2001) Public Imprisonment and Private Violence. In Waller, M.R.
and Rycenga, J. (Eds.) Frontline Feminisms; Women, War and Resistance.
New York, NY: Routledge. pp.3-16
March 12: Debates about criminalization
Guest Speaker: Wendy Murphy, Attorney.
Finish readings from Feb. 26.
- Sherman, L. and Berk, R. (1984) The Specific Deterrent Effects of Arrest
for Domestic Assault. American Sociological Review Vol. 49, April.
- Berk, R. and Newton, P. (1985) Does Arrest Really Deter Wife Battery? An
Effort to replicate the Findings of the Minneapolis Spouse Abuse Experiment.
American Sociological Review Vol. 50, April. pp.253-262.
- Fischer, K. and Rose, M. (1995) When "Enough is Enough": Battered
Women’s Decision Making around Court Orders of Protection. Crime and Delinquency
Vol. 41, No. 4 pp.414-429.
March 26: Gender Violence and Political Violence:
Guest Speaker: Nadera Shalhoub Kevorkian
- Connections between gender violence and state action at times of peace and
civil unrest or international conflict
- Response of women to gender violence in the absence of civic society or
culturally relevant systems
- The inter-connection of International, State, and Local politics in issues
of gender violence.
- Bhattacharjee, A. (1997) The Public Private Mirage; Mapping Homes and Undomesticating
Violence Work in the South Asian Immigrant Community. In Mohanty, C. and Alexander,
J. (Eds.) Feminist Genealogies, Colonial Legacies, Democratic Futures.
Routledge: New, NY. pp.308-329.
- Battered Immigrant Women and VAWA 2000
- Mama, A. (1997) Sheroes and Villains: Conceptualizing Colonial and Contemporary
Violence Against Women in Africa. In Alexander, M.J. and Mohanty, C.T. (Eds.)
Feminist Genealogies, Colonial Legacies and Democratic Futures. New
York, NY: Routledge. pp.46-62.
- Wing, A.K. (2000) A Critical Race Feminist Conceptualization of Violence:
South African and Palestinian Women. In Wing, A.K. (Ed) Global Critical
Race Feminism: An International Reader. New York, NY: NYU Press. pp. 332-346.
- Shalhoub-Kevorkian, N (2000). Mapping and analyzing female femicide in Palestinian
society. Report to Unifem.. http://www.unifem.undp.org/trustfund/hkreport.pdf
April 2: Public Education Initiatives: Developing Curricula and Educating
Teachers and students
Assignment #2 Due: (Short paper: 5 pages). Thinking of all the ‘remedies’
to gender violence you have observed and read about and discussed in this class,
which do you think is optimal? Why? Consider and discuss issues of intersectionality
in your response.
- Stein, N. (1995) Sexual harassment in schools: The public performance of
gendered violence. Harvard Educational Review. Vol. 65, No.2, pp. 145-162.
- LeBlanc, A. Harrassment in the Hallways. Seventeen Magazine, Sept.,
1992 & Secrets in Public: Sexual harassment in our schools. Seventeen
Magazine, March, 1993.
- Kimmel, M. (2001) Snips and snails…and violent urges. Newsday, March
- Katz, J. The National Conversation in the Wake of Littleton is Missing the
Mark. Boston Sunday Globe, Feb. 5, 1999.
- Perlstein, D.(1998) Saying the Unsaid: Girl Killing and the Curriculum.
Journal of Curriculum and Supervision Vol. 14, No. 1, pp.88-101.
- Nan Stein, Deborah L. Tolman, Michelle V. Porche, Renee Spencer. (2002)
Gender safety: A New concept for safer and more equitable schools. Journal
of School Violence. Vol 1, No. 2 , pp. 35-50.
- Silverman, J. et. al (2001) Dating Violence against adolescent girls and
associated substance use, unhealthy weight control, sexual risk behavior,
pregnancy and suicidality. Journal of the AMA. Vol. 286, No. 5, pp.
April 9: Zero Tolerance Policies and the Intersection with Sexual
In class project: We will review existing curricula addressing gender violence
in schools. You will then (in groups) select a specific gender violence and
issue and design your own curriculum based on reviewed material. Elements of
your product may be used in assignment #3.
- Stein, N., (1999) Sexual harassment meets Zero Tolerance: Life in K-12 Schools
since Davis. In Ayers, Dohrn and Ayers (Eds.) Zero Tolerance: Resisting
the Drive for Punishment: A handbook for parents, students, educators and
citizens. New York: New Press
- Wasser, Joan, "Note: Zeroing in on zero tolerance" Journal
of Law and Politics. Fall 1999, pp.747-779.
- Davis v. Monroe County School District 526 U.S. 629 (1999)
- Franklin v. Gwinnett County School District 112 S. Ct 1028 (1992)
April 16: Designing a curriculum on violence for schools
Guest Speaker: Laura Murray
The first half of class will be used to introduce and work on final assignments.
Assignment #3 (to be presented to class May 7): 10 page paper. You can work
individually or in a small group. Select a piece of literature or issue that
would be covered in a school curriculum on a regular basis and develop an interpretation
which highlights issues of sexual violence or harassment. Describe how you would
convey this in a constructive manner to a school age audience, specifying the
age of the students you have targeted.
April 23: Violence Against Women and the UN
- Discuss recent reports of the special rapporteur on Violence against Women
- Showcase some of the grassroots responses to such violence, such as those
included in the recent UNIFEM book, With an End in Sight.
- Order a copy of With an End in Sight
- Report of the Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and
consequences, Ms. Radhika Coomaraswamy, submitted in accordance with
Commission on Human Rights resolution 2001/49:
Cultural practices in the family that are violent towards women http://www.unhchr.ch/huridocda/huridoca.nsf/(Symbol)/E.CN.4.2002.83.En?Opendocument
April 30: No class – Ruhlman Conference
Attend lecture by Radhika Coomaraswamy, 5:30 PM April 28, Library Lecture Room
May 7: Project Presentation (Assignment #3)
Assignment #3 due.
TAKE HOME EXAM: due last day of exam period.