Introduction to Women, Gender, Sexuality Studies

September 10, 2019 | Updated: December 17, 2019
Author: Miliann Kang, Donovan Lessard, Laura Heston; University of Massachusetts

This textbook introduces key feminist concepts and analytical frameworks used in the interdisciplinary Women, Gender, Sexualities field. It unpacks the social construction of knowledge and categories of difference, processes and structures of power and inequality, with a focus on gendered labor in the global economy, and the historical development of feminist social movements. The book emphasizes feminist sociological approaches to analyzing structures of power, drawing heavily from empirical feminist research.

Subject Areas
Humanities, Gender and Sexuality

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Introduction to Women, Gender, Sexuality Studies cover by Sonny Nordmarken is licenced under a CC BY-SA 3.0 ( and contains the following images: 1. “Nekima Levy-Pounds at Black Lives Matter march, April 2015.jpg” by Fibonacci Blue (CC BY). 2. “Black Lives Matter in Minneapolis” by Fibonacci Blue (CC BY). 3. “Women’s March – Washington DC 2017 (31771083973).jpg” by S. Pakhrin (CC BY). 4. (“Women’s march against Donald Trump (32406735346).jpg” by Fibonacci Blue (CC BY). “Baiga adivasi in protest walk, India.jpg” by Ekta Parishad (CC BY-SA).

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Introduction to Women, Gender, Sexuality Studies by Miliann Kang, Donovan Lessard, Laura Heston; University of Massachusetts is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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Reviews (1) Avg: 4.5 / 5

Ki Wight

Institution:Capilano UniversityTitle/Position: Instructor, Women’s & Gender Studies, Communication StudiesCreative Commons License

Q: The text covers all areas and ideas of the subject appropriately and provides an effective index and/or glossary

This textbook is a competent overview of women’s, gender and sexuality studies. It is organized in five clear, easy-to-navigate and well-themed units. The book engages historical and contemporary concepts from intersectionality to transnationalism, with theory supported by relevant examples that are mostly from a United States perspective. The book content is not in-depth, though, and further readings or media may be required to dive deeper into historical, disciplinary or cultural explorations of core concepts. Lastly, the book would benefit from the reference to more authors of core literature on central topics as a means for offering students direction to advanced research and study. For example, discussions of the social construction of gender and sex could include reference to scholars such as Lorber (1993), and West and Zimmerman (1987).

Comprehensiveness Rating: 3 out of 5

Q: Content is accurate, error-free and unbiased

The content is very well considered and curated, and most of the embedded videos are engaging and appropriate. One embedded video features discussion and video clips of violent representations of transgender people on-screen. While the content of this video is relevant to the unit, some caution could be noted about its potential for harm. Two other minor notes about content accuracy: the reference to a Jack Halberstam publication should use his current name in the citation; and the section on The Family (p. 74) could use an overt indication of the years or decades represented by the historical analysis offered.

Content Accuracy Rating: 4 out of 5

Q: Content is up-to-date, but not in a way that will quickly make the text obsolete within a short period of time. The text is written and/or arranged in such a way that necessary updates will be relatively easy and straightforward to implement

This text is very relevant and engages current ideas, terminology, politics and debates. The sections with examples or case studies could easily be updated with emergent topics.

Relevance Rating: 4 out of 5

Q: The text is written in lucid, accessible prose, and provides adequate context for any jargon/technical terminology used

This book uses direct, plain language to define, explain, and offer context for all core terminology. Overall, it does an excellent job at summarizing complex historical, political and social concepts. There were a couple of instances wherein definitions were oversimplified and would have benefited by additional explanation. For example, “transsexual” was defined in terms of a certain medical discourse and would be better understood if a short summary was included of this term’s social and historical contexts.

Clarity Rating: 5 out of 5

Q: The text is internally consistent in terms of terminology and framework

The text is consistent in depth, organization, tone and style.

Consistency Rating: 5 out of 5

Q: The text is easily and readily divisible into smaller reading sections that can be assigned at different points within the course (i.e., enormous blocks of text without subheadings should be avoided). The text should not be overly self-referential, and should be easily reorganized and realigned with various subunits of a course without presenting much disruption to the reader.

The design of this text into five clear units with specific and well considered sections makes this book useful in educational contexts as the text can be followed in its current order, or sections can be easily assigned in other sequences. The clarity of the individual sections will likely be very useful for upper-level courses that are seeking brief summaries of foundational concepts and histories.

Modularity Rating: 5 out of 5

Q: The topics in the text are presented in a logical, clear fashion

As with the consistency of the text, the organization has a clear logic and the sections are structured with appropriate flow from concept to concept.

Organization Rating: 5 out of 5

Q: The text is free of significant interface issues, including navigation problems, distortion of images/charts, and any other display features that may distract or confuse the reader

Like other formal elements of this book, the interface is well organized and easy to use. It would be easy to assign an entire unit of the book, or specific sections.

Interface Rating: 5 out of 5

Q: The text contains no grammatical errors

The writing is concise and nearly perfectly edited.

Grammar Rating: 5 out of 5

Q: The text is not culturally insensitive or offensive in any way. It should make use of examples that are inclusive of a variety of races, ethnicities, and backgrounds

There is considerable effort in this text to engage an intersectional analysis of core concepts, so the book does a fairly good job at ensuring there is complexity and diversity represented in the text. Given its focus on American examples, the book could work on better global examples and contexts. One element that is absent is a discussion of Indigenous peoples in national or transnational contexts, and in relationship to colonial structures and legacies.

Cultural Relevance Rating: 4 out of 5

Q: Are there any other comments you would like to make about this book, for example, its appropriateness in a Canadian context or specific updates you think need to be made?

I recommend this book because of its ease of use and comprehensiveness, with a note that the American examples are a cue for instructors to bring in complementary Canadian or more localized content.