Sunday, September 07, 2008

Thinking About Women & Thinking About Women Some More by Margaret L. Andersen

“Thinking About Women” comes from a scholarly lecture for The Sociologists for Women in Society Feminist Lecturer Award. The lecture then appeared in print in Gender & Society. The lecture and the subsequent publication of it caused quite an uproar among the profession. As a result, the journal decided to conduct a symposium and have six people respond to Andersen’s article. Jessie Daniels acted as the moderator for these responses and Andersen responded in her own article, Thinking about Women Some More. Of the six respondents, three are by the judgment of the journal editor “junior” scholars and three are “senior scholars. The respondents are: Arlene Stein, Kristen Schilt, Joan Acker, France Winddance Twine, Adia Harvey Wingfield, and Kris Paap.

Some Questions for Consideration:

How is “Thinking About Women” disciplinary to sociology and how is it interdisciplinary?

Regarding Andersen’s first “Persistent Theme/New Questions,” the relationship between structure and agency, and between structure and culture, how do these questions impact other essays we have read this week? I think in particular of the Higginbotham and Martin essays as related.

Andersen writes in relationship to intersectionality, “Feminist scholars have struggled with finding an appropriate metaphor for describing and understanding how different forms of oppression relate, connect, overlap, and constitute each other (p. 444).” How does Andersen’s observation dialogue with the work that Emily Martin is doing with metaphors, the body and science? How might this observation be informed by Scott’s writing on “Experience?”

Andersen writes, “One of the major differences between sexuality and relations of race, class, and gender is that sexuality has not been used as an explicit category to organize the division of labor, as have race, class, and gender” (p. 450.) Is that true? What existing research might prove or disprove that statement? What methodologies could be used to interrogate that statement?

What function does this type of scholarship have for Andersen and for current practitioners in sociology?

What do these articles tell us in terms of thinking about feminist history?

What generational and institutional power dynamics are at work in these two articles? And in the broader dialogue?

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