Fall/Winter Timetable

POL432H1S L0101

Graduate Course Code: POL2024H1S L0101

Feminist Theory: Challenges to Legal and Political Thought


For many years feminism has been about more than equality for women. It is about structures of inequality, how they are sustained and how they can be changed. The role of gender in those structures is a particular focus. This course takes up two basic questions: what should we want and how should we get there? There are three focal points for these questions: 1. Gender based violence; 2. The distribution of care work (e.g., child care, household care, elder care, and the work of sustaining relationships); and 3. The representation of gender norms (in media, social norms, self-understanding), and the potential for use of media to transform norms, including those around violence and care. In each case, there is an apparently clear answer to what we want: 1) an end of gender based violence, including, of course, violence against women, 2) a fair distribution of care work without disadvantage to those who do it, 3) forms of representation that foster mutual respect and self-respect. But beneath that apparent simplicity lie many disputed aspirations (even before we get to the also disputed questions of how to implement those aspirations). For example, both violence and representation involve contested questions of sexuality, its relations to dominance, and the optimal scope of freedom in forming and expressing sexual desire. Even the distribution of care work involves deep understandings of gender identity and thus also of sexuality. The course is organized around readings that will foster discussion about the core aspirations that should shape both public policy and informal personal, organizational and community based efforts at transformation of norms.


All texts on Blackboard

Format and Requirements

Two 600 word written "comments" on the readings, 10% each; one group selection of materials on media representation with a comment on the reasons for selection, 10%; participation and two "responses" to another student’s comment (20%); 3300-4300 word paper on three of the readings (and some additional media “posts”) and a main theme of the course, 50%.


JPP343H1 or JPP343Y1 or POL320Y1 or POL320Y5 or (POLC73H3, POLC74H3)