A CTP should be 500 words (two type-written pages). It must cover the readings for the day on which it is due/submitted

You will be asked to write and post five (5) effective/successful Critical Thought Pieces (CTPs) during the semester.  There are seven (7) CTP due dates.  CTP #1 is required; thereafter, you may choose which additional four you attempt.

A CTP should be 500 words (two type-written pages).  It must cover the readings for the day on which it is due/submitted


1.  Summarize at least three (3) readings

What is author’s main purpose is?  (What is the key question addressed in the reading?)

What are the author’s conclusions?

What facts, experiences, data, or other evidence does the author use to support her/his conclusions?

What are key assumptions that underpin the author’s argument/thinking (what does the author take for granted)?

What is the author’s “point of view” (what does the author look at and how does she/he see it)?

2.  Respond critically to the readings

You can respond and demonstrate critical thinking in a number of different ways.  Here are some suggestions for how you might respond.  You do not have to do all of them, and it would be good to select different options for different CTPs!

a.  Explain whether you agree or disagree with arguments made.

b.  Assess the point of view of the authors and their purposes in writing.

c.  Explain what is intriguing or controversial about one or more reading.

d.  Identify something you think is missing (or wrong?) with the argument, evidence, or conclusions presented.

e.  Compare a reading to one or more of the other readings.

f.  Include meaningful passages and comment on them.

g.  Relate the reading(s) to your own experience or to current events in the world around us.

3.  Write three (3) questions that can be asked to the class

The questions required must also be “critical thinking” questions. In other words, don’t write questions that ask for clarification of statements or ideas (about a date, event, or person you don’t recognize, for example).  The questions should be analytical questions that ask about conclusions/arguments, about the implications of the conclusions made, about the logic or evidence presented, etc.

WMST 101 

February 8, 2018

I. What Is Women’s Studies? 

Rapid growth from first program in 1970

According to. Ms. Magazine’s “2009 Guide to Women’s Studies” and its portrait of the field today, of institutionalization and progress, and of salient issues and concerns, there are over 900 programs in 2009 and more than 10,000 courses in the United States; enrollment in Women’s Studies courses is “larger than that of any other interdisciplinary field.” There are 13 doctoral programs in the United States, at least 28 endowed chairs in Women’s Studies (and gender studies) (though 12 of them are currently vacant);

A. What is the relationship between women’s studies and the women’s movement? What is “mainstreaming”? 

B. What is meant by the term “the personal is political”? How might this term have implications for men’s education about women’s rights?

C. What are the three “Waves” of feminism? What does the “wave” metaphor provide us?

Ebb and flow in terms of periods of tie when women’s issues were prominent (new laws made and changes occur), and then periods of reaction and/or stagnation that followed, in which feminism was deemed “evil and socially destructive” (Kesselman)

First two “Waves” of organized movement by women, both in times of upheaval (culturally) and changing norms

1.  First Wave

2. Second Wave

Women’s Movement USA—1950s-60s


3.Third Wave

D. What are the different types of feminism?

E. Explain how the strategies for change are different for liberal as opposed to radical feminism.

F. What is meant by global or transnational feminism and why is it important today? Explain how and why explanations for women’s equality and strategies for change might differ between the global north and south. 

G. Explain the politics of the movement from women’s studies to women’s and gender studies. Why might the “women” still need to be retained?

H. What does it mean to say that women’s studies in its early years “lacked inclusivity”? How did Black women’s studies come about?

I. What is the future for WMST?

From Ms. Magazine:

Transnational in perspective, global in scope

“Our task today is to pursue cultural authority commensurate with our expertise on topics related to women and human relationships,” p. 38.

“…another vital task is to assure the continuing survival of women’s studies in U.S. higher education in the absence of a strong feminist movement” p. 38.

“The more institutionalization the better,” p. 38.

“Excellence in research and teaching are the keys to maintaining and increasing the value of the feminist educational enterprise launched a generation ago. That teaching should include the various histories of women, of feminisms around the world, and of women’s studies as an educational movement,” p. 38.

V. bell hooks: A Definition of Feminism[Again]

“Feminist Politics”

“Feminism is a movement to end sexism, sexist exploitation, and oppression,” p. 1.

A.  Assumption

“Most people do not understand sexism, or if they do, they think it is not a problem,” p. 1

Common perceptions: feminism seeks equality for women (with men); feminism is anti-male (male bashing)

Why do such misperceptions persist? according to hooks, “The patriarchal mass media,” p. 1

Equality feminists are presented, usually white and with economic (material) privilege

Feminist goals are assumed to be gender equity in the workplace as well as freedom to be lesbian, have abortions, challenge rape and domestic violence, p. 2

Christian nation means that the masses tend to “believe that god has ordained that women be subordinate to men in the domestic household,” p. 2

This holds whether or not there is a man in the household

Why? Because women sustain sexist thinking and practices

Thus, just as the anti-maleness of feminism is wrong, so, too, is the assumption that “all female space” would be free of patriarchy or sexist thinking

The problem is sexist thinking and action, no matter who is the speaker or actor. Men, women, children, adults, etc.

There is “systemic institutionalized sexism”

Differences = domination and exploitation of women by women (too)

B. Assumption

Sisterhood utopia was disrupted by recognition of the realities of race and class

“Sisterhood could not be powerful as long as women were competitively at war with one another,” p. 3

Black women active as feminists from the beginning but did not rise to represent the movement

Revolutionary feminists (black and many white lesbians) against reformist feminists

Fundamental change vs. wanting what men had! (equality or lifestyle feminists)

Meaning? Accept the system—a white supremacist capitalist patriarchy

Revolutionary feminist visions changed


“It [theory] became and remains a privileged discourse available to those among us who are highly literate, well-educated, and usually materially privileged,” p. 5

Reformist feminists were also keen to silence revolutionary feminist voices

And they had women to do the dirty work for them

Lifestyle feminism: anyone could fit feminism into her existing lifestyle! (p.6)

Feminism in this sense did not require changing selves or society

“Feminist politics is losing momentum because feminist movement has lost clear definitions,” p. 6

C. What to do?

Remember the definition and make it known

Raise consciousness (again)

“Feminists are made, not born,” p. 7

“Like all political positions one becomes a believer in feminist politics through choice and action,” p. 7

What is the threat (not the male comrade but the female wedded to sexist thinking)?

“The enemy within must be transformed before we can confront the enemy outside. The threat, the enemy, is sexist thought and behavior,” p. 12

VI.  Readings II

A. Rich, “Claiming an Education”

1977 college speech (Douglass College)

university education should include “an ethical and intellectual contract between teacher and students”

Implicit, however

Claiming rather than receiving an education

“The different is that between acting and being acted-upon, and for women it can literally mean the difference between life and death”

“One of the devastating weaknesses of university learning, and of the store of knowledge and opinion that has been handed down through academic training, has been its almost total erasure of women’s experience and thought fro the curriculum, and its exclusion of women as members of the academic community”

racial and ethnic exclusion as well (“even the sciences can be racist”)

“The contract is really a pledge of mutual seriousness about women, about language, ideas, methods, and values. It is our shared commitment toward a world in which the inborn potentialities of so many women’s minds will no loner be wasted, raveled-away, paralyzed, or denied”

B. Guy-Sheftall and Thornton Dill, “Forty Years of Women’s Studies”

C. Baumgardner and Richards, “A Day without Feminism”

D. Cody, “The Power and the Gloria”

E. Piercey, “My Heroines”