Three GWSS Courses That EVERY Major Should Take

Every once in a while, I’ll encounter a friend, family member, or peer that asks me what my major is. The blank stare I get in response never fails: few people know what Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies is. While the major isn’t easy to explain in a few words, I tell people that it’s the study of gender and sexuality and how race, class, ability, and other factors of identity overlap and nuance these topics. Still, I get blank looks. Because of this, I took it upon myself to highlight three of many amazing classes the GWSS department has to offer and, hopefully, persuade a few of you to discover the major I love.

GWSS 3415 Feminist Perspectives on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault

“What’s it about?” Since it’s Sexual Assault Awareness Month AND registration time for the fall semester, what better way to raise your awareness than to sign up for this incredible class? What’s refreshing about this class is that the required books are enjoyable and incredibly thorough without too much dense information. This class first delves into learning about domestic violence in 17th century America. Throughout the semester, you will be able to see how domestic violence and sexual assault have evolved since. The professor for this class, Mary Schuster, holds wonderful discussions using a feminist lens to analyze the role of the victim and even the perpetrator, which is just as complex.

“Why should I, a non-GWSS major, take this class?”

This class is excellent for anyone interested in law, social work, or advocacy, but more importantly, the information you will learn in this class is entirely valuable. Being able to see from the perspective of the victim, perpetrator, and community is a great way to help end the stigma surrounding domestic violence and sexual assault and move towards a solution. Guest speakers, films, and interesting readings make this course a must-have in your registration shopping cart.

GWSS 3203W Blood, Bodies, and Science

“What’s it about?” One of the top favorites among GWSS majors (and even non-GWSS majors) is the feminist science studies class titled “Blood, Bodies, and Science.” This class covers everything – sexism, racism, classism, colonialism, ableism, and more. Michelle Garvey is one of the few professors that teach this course and makes every class fun and inviting. Each week focuses on a different topic within the field of feminist science studies. You may read about the racial and class-based aspects of Hurricane Katrina, indigenous epistemologies, or the great GMO controversy, to name a few. This class allows students to take a closer look at the study of science through a critical lens.

“Why should I, a non-GWSS major, take this class?”

Because this class uses an interdisciplinary approach, any major could find an interest in it! If you’re going into a biological, social, psychological, or health-based field, this is an excellent class for you to widen your perspective and understand how communities have been marginalized within these areas. If you’re still not convinced, it also covers three liberal education requirements: Social Science, Technology, and Writing Intensive (and a pretty manageable WI class, at that!)

GWSS 3215 Bodies That Matter: Feminist Approaches to Disability

“What’s it about?” Taught by Angela Carter, “Bodies That Matter” differentiates between the false assumption that disability is a defect and its true form as a “social meaning.” Like many GWSS courses, this class uses an intersectional approach, meaning it recognizes that ableism is a form of oppression that overlaps and meshes with others. You will discuss how race, class, gender, citizenship, and sexuality intersect with ability in everyday ways of life and gain exposure to the disability rights movement.

“Why should I, a non-GWSS major, take this class?”

Disability studies and increasing understanding of ableism is one the rise-be a part of the conversation! Many students at the U have disabilities, and talking about the issues regarding disability can be helpful to students suffering with them. Friends and peers who want to better understand how ableism oppresses those with disabilities will benefit from this class, too! Sav Shlauderaff, an undergrad in the College of Biological Sciences, said she learned about theories and ideas she had never been exposed to before, even as a senior. “We talked about issues of media representation, sexuality, cures, physical and mental disabilities, and more. It’s a huge topic, so there is room for everyone to learn and be engaged by some portion of it.”

If this short overview has piqued your interest, or if you still have no idea what GWSS is, take a leap of faith and sign up for a course! You won’t regret it.

- Anna Blasco