Phil 327: Philosophy, Gender and Culture

Fall 2011

Class Meets

T/Th 11:40--1:300 KH LH2


Talia Bettcher


A 423 E&T

Office Telephone

(323) 343-4179

Philosophy Dept. Office

A 432 E&T

Philosophy Dept. Telephone

(323) 343-4180


Office Hours

Tues 1:30-3:30, Thurs 9:30-11:30

Course Description:

 In this course we will examine concepts, values, and assumptions relevant to gender in our diverse society. What is a woman? What is a man? What does gender have to do with sexual ethics? What does gender have to do with power and oppression? What are the ways in which gender and sexuality intersect race, class, and religion? What are the theoretical and political consequences of such intersections?

NOTE: Phil 327 is a humanities course in the GE Theme “Gender in the Diversity of Human Experience.” It also satisfies one course of the GE diversity requirement.

Course Outcomes:


With a passing grade in the class, students should have acquired greater


(1)   understanding of core concepts/principles in gender studies;

(2)   understanding of the discipline of philosophy and what it is to examine gender from a philosophical vantage point;

(3)   ability to understand, analyze and critically evaluate complex arguments and theories;

(4)   ability to think critically about their own views (and the views of others);         

(5)   ability to apply these skills in writing composition;

(6)   ability to explain, both orally and in writing, difficult ideas in a clear, informed, effective, and coherent manner;

(7)   ability to appreciate and learn from points of views, ways of living, and life experiences that are different from their own




There is no text book for this course. All readings are accessible on-line (information will be provided in class). On-Line Handouts from my web site:



I: Attendance and Participation: It is essential that you attend class regularly and that you participate actively in small group/large group discussion. This requirement is ungraded. Instead, I will use this requirement in assessing borderline cases. Additionally, excellent completion of this requirement may boost your grade by a ‘+’ and a serious failure to complete this requirement may result in your grade being decreased by a ‘+’.


            Please Note: Oppressive behavior or language (including, but not limited to racism, sexism, misogyny, heterosexism, homophobia, transphobia, classism, ageism,       ableism, xenophobia, anti-Semitism and Islamophobia) will not be tolerated in this class.


II: In-Class Midterm (35%). 10/27. This exam will be used to assess general understanding of readings, lectures, and in-class discussions.


III: Short Writing Assignment (2-pages) (25%). Due 11/15 (beginning of class). More detailed instructions will be provided in class.  Instructions.


IV: Comprehensive In-Class Final (40%). Tuesday Dec 6th, 10:45am-1:15pm  Click here.


Grading: All written assignments will be assigned a traditional letter grade, and a letter grade will be assigned for the course. For an explanation of traditional grades and their relation to attainment of course objectives, see the University Catalog, p. 96.


Written Assignments: The take-home written assignment must be typed, double-spaced, and proofread.  Proofreading minimally involves using a spell check program and correcting spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors. Papers with frequent errors in spelling, punctuation, or grammar will not receive higher than a C.


Late Policy: Assignments not submitted will receive a failing grade. I accept late papers up to one week past the due date. After that, papers are graded as fails. I deduct 1/3 of a grade for every day the paper is late (including weekend days, vacation days, etc.). Lateness will be excused ONLY in the case of documented emergency (health, family, etc.).    


Plagiarism and Cheating: “At Cal State L.A., plagiarism is defined as the act of using ideas, words, or work of another person or persons as if they were one’s own, without giving proper credit to the original sources” (CSULA 2009-11 University Catalog, p. 762). In this course, any cheating or plagiarism will be penalized with a failing grade for the assignment. Administrative sanctions may also follow (some sanctions include expulsion, suspension, probation). For further information please see the University Catalog, pp. 762-4.


Reasonable Accommodation: Reasonable accommodation will be provided to any student who is registered with the Office of Students with Disabilities and requests needed accommodation.


University Nondiscrimination Policy: Cal State LA “affirms its commitment to equality of opportunity for all individuals. This commitment requires that no discrimination shall occur in any program or activity of the University on the basis of race, color, religious creed, national origin, sex, gender identification, ancestry, physical disability (including HIV and AIDS), mental disability, medical condition, pregnancy, age (over 40), marital status, political affiliation, sexual orientation, disabled veteran, recently separated veteran, armed forces service medal veteran and other protected veteran, or any other classification that precludes a person from consideration as an individual…” For information contact the Office for Equity and Diversity at 323-343-3040 or see <> . 

Course Structure

The following is a provisional course schedule. It is subject to revision.


9/22: Welcome, Intro, Course Overview


Week One

9/27: Topic: “The Game” Handout

9/29: Topic: What is Philosophy? Readings: Plato’s Euthyphro.  For the reading go to Handout


Week Two        

10/4:  No Class


10/6: Topic: Intersexuality. Readings: Fausto-Sterling “The Five Sexes”; Fausto-

Sterling “Should There Be Only Two Sexes?” Handout

Week Three

10/11: Topic: What is a Woman? Readings: Anderson “Sex and Gender Identity”; Hale

“Are Lesbians Women?” Handout


10/13: Topic: Oppression and Power. Readings: Frye “Oppression”; Bartky “Foucault,

Femininity, and the Modernization of Patriarchal Power”  Handout


Week Four

10/18: Topic: Intersectionality. Readings: Crenshaw “Demarginalizing the Intersection

of Race and Sex”; Crenshaw “Mapping the Margins” Handout

10/20  Film: Six Degrees of Separation. Readings: Lugones “Playfulness, “World”-Traveling and

Loving Perception” Handout on Identity. Handout on Lugones.


Week Five

10/25: Topic: Multiplicity. Readings: Lugones (above). Homework Due. 

10/27 MIDTERM Click HERE.


Week Six       

11/1: Topic: Sexual/Affectional Orientation (No Readings Assigned) PowerPoint   Handout

11/3: Topic: “The Arguments.” Reading: Corvino “The Nature and Harm Arguments” Handout


Week Seven

11/8: Topic: Same Sex and Religion (No Readings Assigned) Handout

11/10: Topic: Homophobia: Readings: Hopkins “Gender Treachery” Handout


Week Eight        

11/15: PAPER DUE (Click for Instructions)Topic: Beyond “Homophobia.” Readings: Trujillo “Chicana

Lesbians”; Card “Lesbianism and Choice” Handout

11/17: Topic: Transgender. Readings: Bornstein “The Other Questions”; Halberstam

“Transgender Butch” Handout


Week Nine        

11/22: Topic: Revisiting “What is a Woman?” Readings: Bettcher “Without a Net”

11/24: Thanksgiving


Week Ten

11/29: Topic: Transphobia. Readings: Bettcher “Evil Deceivers and Make-Believers” PowerPoint.

12/1:  No Readings


Final Exam: Tuesday Dec 6th, 10:45am-1:15pm Click here