Sexual Violence

Gender Violence Legal Policy Workshop

Semester: 

Spring

Offered: 

2019

This workshop offers the student hands-on experience in analyzing, evaluating, and creating legal policy on a range of issues related to gender violence. The three main areas of concentration are campus sexual assault, intimate partner violence, and sex trafficking and prostitution. We advise government officials (local, state and federal); national, international, and local advocacy groups working to stop gender violence; and individuals needing assistance in knowing their rights or accessing services. Recent activities include submitting comments to the White House Task Force on Protecting Students from Sexual Assault; helping an advocacy organization on preventing domestic violence homicide; and preparing a training for Middlesex County Police Chiefs on investigating sex trafficking rings.

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Gender Violence, Law and Social Justice

Semester: 

Spring

Offered: 

2019

This course offers an in-depth examination of the phenomenon of gender-motivated violence. Following a consideration of the prevalence and variation of types of sexual violence and coercion around the world, we consider questions such as: How, if at all, is violence against women different from other types of violence? How effective have legal strategies to address violence against women been, and what shifts in thinking about gender-motivated violence would be necessary finally to eradicate it? How does the toleration of sexual violence shape people’s expectations and sense of entitlements? What are the implications of gender-based violence for the constitutional guarantee of equal protection of the laws? Does equal protection itself have a gendered meaning and reality? Among the types of violence against women we will consider are: intimate-partner violence; domestic homicide; prostitution; rape; sex trafficking of women and children; and violence against women facilitated by the Internet. The readings consist of primary and secondary materials drawn from several disciplines: law, social science, political science, psychology, evolutionary biology and women’s studies.

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19th century Black Women Slave Narratives and the 21st century #MeToo Movement

Semester: 

Spring

Offered: 

2019

What would happen if we genuinely paid attention to the history of American slavery? What threads could we pull from it about gender, sex and power? This course examines the current discourse around sexual harassment and assault from the #MeToo movement through the informed lens of Harriet Jacobs's slave narrative Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl. Both "texts" involve navigating spaces of subjugation and supremacy and yet one voice has remained steadily ignored in mainstream audiences. We will also look at the intersection of race and gender that Incidents reveals and trace how these remain intact or not through today. We will also look at the life of Sally Hemings in the #MeToo context.

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Title IX: Sports, Sex and Equality on Campus

Semester: 

Fall

Offered: 

2018

Title IX of the Civil Rights Act promises equal access to educational opportunities. This has been one of the most dynamic areas of civil rights activism in the recent past, and promises to remain so. Under the Obama Administration, protecting students from sex assault was a capstone priority. Such efforts may not remain a high priority in the new administration. Thus, we will consider the question of how essential the federal government's role is in enforcing Title IX's equity principles? What other levers are available to further the civil rights of students to a safe and equal educational environment? This course provides the opportunity to develop a robust discourse on critical issues of gender equality in schools, including issues of gender identity. Readings include cases, articles, and decisions by the Office of Civil Rights of the Department of Education.<--break->

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Sex Education: Politics, Policy, and the Production of Knowledge

Semester: 

Fall

Offered: 

2018

This course covers the history of sexual education in the U.S. and Global North, the conflation of abstinence and virginity (and the Western history of virginity), the way sex education is used to teach particular gender roles, sex education for those who are categorized as disabled (with an introduction to disability studies), abstinence-only and abstinence-first education and its impact on queer, trans, and intersex teens (with an introduction to queer studies), sex education and consent, sexual assault and teaching about dealing with sexual assault, and, of course, the complex politics of sex education. We will look at research on sexual education in the United States, Canada, the U.K., Australia, and New Zealand, and consider how politics help shape sexual education and education as a whole. And, of course, we will look at the impact of feminism, gay liberation, AIDS, and other social movements on sex education and “social hygiene.” We will also review selected materials from Global South regions and their experiences with sexual education, and consider the intersections between sex education and colonialism.
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Gender, Violence, and Power

Semester: 

Fall

Offered: 

2018

This seminar will explore understandings of gender-based violence through the lenses of feminist and trauma theory. Topics include intimate partner violence, sexual assault, child abuse, workplace harassment, Title IX, and street harassment. We will examine the evolution across time of cultural and medico-legal understandings of the problem, important developments in policy, medicine, and law in the last 40 years, and how violence looks outside of the male-female binary through which it is often understood.
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