Final Reflection

Jihmmy N. Sanchez

My favorite part of the class has to be tied between the post and the in class discussion. The blog post were a bit intimidating at the beginning of the semester because it was a new concept. After the first couple of weeks I started to get the hang of it, the posts were also a good way to see different perspectives of the readings because if we were not writing blog post we were reading multiple blog posts in order to post comments. The blog posts also supplemented the in class discussion which prevented awkward silences in the class (which there rarely are because our class was awesome).  The blog was also used to share different sources of media, which was also an interesting part about the class. The blog was not only limited to the blog posts, but was a way to share articles and videos that pertained to the class. More often than not what ever was posted on the blog was discussed if not touched upon during the class, which encouraged me (and I’m assuming my classmates as well) to connect everything that was going in my life outside of class to the topics discussed in class. 

The group project was also a very cool part about the class, the end projects for all of the groups were very interesting to see. Our Urban Dictionary project which focused on the hook up culture really fascinated me as we were coding and got a chance to read the responses that students gave. The coolest part about the projects was that the information collected from the group projects could potentially be used for future freshman orientation seminars on drinking and hook up culture here. As I mentioned in my individual write up for the class, the best part about the project was getting to work with students I would not have interacted with otherwise. 

My favorite sections of the class were the sexuality and the family section of the class. Kimmel’s hooking up in Guyland along with At least I’m not gay were my favorite readings from the sexuality section; the first because of the correlation with my group project and the aspects of the hook up culture in terms of alcohol and the importance it plays in both guyland and in hook up culture not just in guyland but in college culture in general. The latter reading, which discussed gender policing amongst urban youth, opened my eyes to gender policing, which before reading that article I had little to know knowledge about. 



Zoe Halpert

I decided to be a sociology major after taking intro because I found that I actually wanted to participate in class discussions (which is rare for me), and I really looked forward to going to class. In intro, the section on gender was really interesting to me, so I took this class to expand on that. Now I can confidently say that I’ll never be able to look at gender the same way again. This class has forced me to really think about how we have been socialized to do gender. My friends have all gotten thoroughly annoyed with me because I won’t stop pointing out and analyzing everything they say about gender. Watching movies with me is impossible.

The blog posts were like a more dynamic and inclusive form of Moodle posts. I thought it was great how people would post not just on the readings, but also share articles, videos, and images that we found. It’s proof how relevant this class is when I found myself constantly wanting to share every Upworthy video I came across.

It was fun taking this class along with Family Analysis/Lifestyles this semester, because there was so much overlap between the two classes, particularly with the family section. I liked being able to integrate what I was learning in two different classes, and be able to exchange ideas from the different readings. Also, there were a few of us taking both classes, so I think that helped bring something extra to our experience.

Some people say that sociology is the study of the obvious. I get really mad at those people. It is evident from readings we did about things like hooking up and grinding that we are studying what is all around us, but looking at why they are the way they are. I feel like sociology is a way of looking at the world. I really noticed that when we read the burka and bikini article. I was always taught to think that is was a sign of oppression when women were covered. I never related that to how oppressive it is when women are expected to be uncovered. Though you cannot equate the two, it proves a point that you have to stop and think about your own social constructions before you tear apart someone else’s.




Sex, Gender, and Society

I think my favorite part of the class was the open ended assignments. The blog, paper, and project were structured in such a way that really allowed me to synthesize our readings and discussions, and take control of my own learning… cliche…but true! I remember being nervous looking over the syllabus the first day (as someone who loves structure) and seeing that the group project just needed to be related to our class in some way. However, I think this worked out really well and produced some amazing projects that probably wouldn’t have been possible if we had a checklist that needed to be completed. One thing that might have been nice is to have more of a sharing process in concern to the papers, I would love to know more about what everyone is writing, and I think just going around the room and saying topics might have created fascinating discussions. If anyone wants to post your paper on the blog, I will totally read it this summer!

As far as the readings go, I thought that the last week on sex tourism was fascinating. First, it blew my mind as it was never something that I had heard about before. Secondly, even though the topic was so specific it seemed like we were able to talk about everything through the two articles. Oddly enough, it was the perfect culmination, as we were able to talk about socialization, sexuality, masculinity, power politics, race, etc. etc. etc. One other section I really enjoyed was the one we did on the family. Some topics, like hook-up culture, are easy to criticize and look at from a sociological perspective. But I thought it was important we took on some of the social constructs of the family, because it is something that often goes unquestioned.

One extra aside that I really loved was the panel of sociologists from Professor Jafar’s two new books about the globalization of the body. I thought that the speakers were all fascinating, and it might be really cool for future classes to see some of their readings on the syllabus…Maybe a discussion of Hooters somewhere in there? However, that being said there aren’t any readings that I would want to cut to make room for them. I wouldn’t really change anything about this class. I loved that we were able to just go off on tangents and watch youtube clips and talk about the problematic things family members had said. It was a joy!


Gracie Hall

A Final Reflection

Olivia Rabbitt

One idea that really resonated with me throughout this semester is one that we didn’t even explicitly state until the final readings: that all status and privilege are fluid.  Like most things we learn or discuss in sociology as soon as we gave name to the phenomenon, it was impossible to not see. Trying to define who is always the most or least privileged is impossible because we constantly construct different norms in order to create a different hierarchies. Even heterosexual white males need to reinforce their status constantly. These different performances that we use to shape our society allow us to constantly make judgments based on bias and skill of performance, but it’s impossible to perform correctly if you suddenly find yourself in a new social order.

Related to this, another theme that I found especially interesting was the complicated intersections of sex, gender, and race. Working on our project really helped to solidify this for me. Certain statements showed how ingrained our ideologies behind what sex is, what gender is, and which races can express which aspects of these. But again all of these things are relative to which part of society one is currently partaking in.  The project overall was a wonderful aspect of this course. Like Patrick said, it forced us to be activists on a particular issue that really mattered to us in relation to the course. This push allowed us to find a way to benefit our community rather than just write a paper, and was deeply gratifying and enriching. I also loved the structure of our class. Sitting around a table and sharing our internet findings and weekly rants on the blog instantly connected the class and created our own community where it was always safe to question the underlying causes of the way we are taught to perform our gender. While some of the readings were repeats from the intro course, the review actually allowed me to look more deeply and critically at many of the readings rather than just read and move on. There was definitely a lot of long term mulling over of topics and themes this semester and the final projects allowed us to combine all of the sections we had covered into a cohesive statement.

I also really enjoyed the readings that focused on the “scientific” arguments for gender bias. The article on PMS and the article discussing how fertilization actually happens really stand out in my mind. Not only is our social performance geared to shaped children’s behavior, but we then quote scientific “truths” to make sure the whole idea of gender being a biological factor and women being inherently weaker is firmly rooted in the minds of every kid who reaches a middle school level biology class. Way to go society! Readings like this, and this course in general, forced me to not only question the gendered nature of social performance, but also the gendered structure of just about everything. This course should be mandatory for any student who graduates from a liberal arts college like Conn (I’m starting small scale and not getting too carried away about educating the entire world).

Question Everything

Sophie Sharps

The statement that resonated most strongly with me this semester was Professor Jafar’s rebuttal against those who claim that you should not be critical of anything. In response, “question everything.” This statement truly sums up our entire semester’s readings, discussions, projects, posts and conversations. Sex, Gender and Society supplied me with both the knowledge and the means to do so.

Last year in Intro to Soc, I remember Professor Jafar very clearly warning everyone that once they put on the “sociology glasses,” they would never be able to see without them. Well, it wasn’t until this semester that I realized that these were more than just glasses but an entirely new vision instead. Each and every reading, blog post, video clip, documentary, news article and whatever else we used in class has contributed to and enhanced knowledge that I simply did not have before. Yes, there are issues that primarily impact women, but nothing is ever just a “women’s issue.” Throughout this class, I was able to gain access to the spectrum of problems that exist but often go unnoticed. Women are pushed into double-binds (by society and social norms expectations, by media, by men, by other women) but men are also shoved into rigid boxes that we so often ignore. Similarly, I learned about how quickly we label others as oppressed but fail to recognize the harm we place on ourselves culturally and socially (the burka and the bikini paradigm). I learned about the social devices that impel women to have children and be “good mothers,” but also the stigma placed on fathers and the challenge that fatherhood places on their masculinity. This class flipped the context of many issues that I thought I previously understood. The idea of PMS as a “culture-bound syndrome” discounted everything I have ever learned about menstruation and how strictly biological it is. Learning about sex tourism opened my eyes to the layers of privilege that Americans hold and the exploitative measures they deem acceptable when traveling abroad.

My sociology goggles have extended far beyond our classroom and have found their ways into all of my other classes, conversations with my family and friends, and really everything social. My friends on campus all joke that they feel as if they themselves are sociology majors and that they have also taken this class, just because of the amount that I refer to this class on a daily basis. Throughout the semester, I have read parts of readings out loud, I have ranted about topics that upset and appalled me (most of what we’ve learned), and have related everything that we have learned to our campus environment. I think the best (or worst and scariest) part of this class for me was how relevant and prevalent everything was to our own communities. This made the readings that much more interesting, the projects that much more engaging and the discussions that much more relevant. After reading and discussing “Grinding on the Dance Floor,” I can’t unnotice the guys that strike from behind and grab a woman’s hips to “dance.” I think about the music that plays and the idea that the college has encouraged this type of behavior by playing into norms and desires, without even being aware of how they are perpetuating gendered norms and inequality. Yesterday I saw a male student wearing a black shirt that read “DOMINATE” in thick white letters, signaling so much more to me than he could ever understand. I get angry when I hear people talking about the “girls” on this campus, or when I go to buy a toothbrush only to find that my only options are pink and sparkly. I wish there was a way to make everyone take this course so that each and every student could understand…everything! I don’t even know how to assign language to all that I have learned this semester that all students should also learn!

I enjoyed getting to know everyone in the class and I think that the seminar-style classroom encouraged and facilitated so much discussion and conversation that sparked new interests and ideas each class. The group projects turned out to be so much more than what I expected them to be; they gave us an opportunity to engage in issues on campus and extend our classroom into the broader community. They gave us a forum to begin to create important discussions on campus and to teach others what we learned and what they should know. Lastly, the blog was such a great opportunity to prove just how prevalent all of these issues are in the larger world. It made me question all that we view as “entertainment” and how we really should view it. The blog posts provided a great way for us to begin a conversation before we got to class, and made sure that we were eating, sleeping and breathing Sex, Gender and Society. I could not have asked for a better class. Thank you to everyone for such a great semester!

Sex, Gender, and Society

I initially found this class was a good bit of review for me. I believed that I had covered much of what we were learning about in either my Sociology of Inequality or Intro to Sociology. But as the course progressed I found there were phenomena involving sex and gender that I had not previously realized existed in society at large or here at Conn. I also feel that I have developed a great capacity to analyze images and language which socially construct sex or gender–which is perhaps the most important aspect of this class for me. (I almost wrote “for men”, which reflects how much I have been writing about sex and gender this semester). I consistently confront my friends about how all sorts of words and phrases have been created to establish heteronormative binaries or hierarchies and it annoys the hell out of them. I

really enjoyed how we were able to take ideas from our readings and critically analyze them, then use those ideas to critically analyze ideas about things we saw in popular culture or at Conn. I always had a nasty feeling about hookup culture but I never realized how it is constructed to favor men and to reinforce masculinities. In my Sociology of Inequality course, everything was tied back to capitalism and why those who have agency do what they do to gain power in our economic system but I enjoyed that this course put sex and gender constructions in terms of social dominance as well. I knew that men were building up their bodies for the wrong reasons, I just never knew that there were so many forces from the media pushing men into that box. I have really now acknowledge that I grew up in a very non-heteronormative environment which ignored a lot of these influences like wrestling. Now that I’ve had a chance to explore what non-heteronormative behavior really entail, I can start to reevaluate my own life. I totally have had to question my own identity and other people’s identities. I’ve had moments where I was internally (or externally ) going “WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?!?!”. But that’s what makes sociology so cool.

I also enjoyed that this class forced us to be activists in our community. My friends have been exhibiting a bunch of privilege by complaining about blogs and social media posts which question systems that criticize systems that support sexism, racism, wealth bias, etc. As I start looking forward to my junior and senior years, I start thinking about books that I would like to read, courses that I would like to take, or plays that I would like to read or direct or act in. And all of those things will relate to how I want to shape my activist agenda. I think that if we keep knocking eventually we’ll get through to the doubters and this class gave me really good experience about how to do just that.

Patrick Gallagher Landes

By Emma Weisberg

I have really enjoyed being in this class.  It’s so funny, I joke that I fell in love with feminism like it was the best friend I always had, but I never noticed it until later in life.  I always remember being extremely interested in gender issues.  In high school, I wrote my junior thesis on the Lowell Mill Girls’ Ten Hour Movement; In another paper, I explored the 1950s housewife and connected her societal expectations to one of my favorite plays at the time, “Reasons to Be Pretty,” by Neil Labute.  I was so intrigued by studying these women and connecting their lives to my own.

Sex, Gender, and Society has only increased my “love affair” with feminism (if you will).  However, the best thing about this class is that it’s not a “women’s issue” class.  It’s a class examining issues for every intersection: masculinity, hook up culture, family life, etc.  We are taught to apply our knowledge of social construction of sex, gender, and so on and discover how these notions impact our daily lives.

One of the units that has made the greatest impact on me is the hook up culture unit.  I joke to my friends that if I ever enjoyed a Cro dance (not likely), I most definitely cannot enjoy it now.  Now, I observe.  I watch as men stand on the side.  I watch as women dance in the center, and perhaps a man comes up to dance from behind her.  I listen as a group of women joke they need to get drunker before going in to dance.  All of this, I absorb and think, “Kimmel and Ronen and etc were right.  They were right on point.”

Also, I want to say that I’ll miss our class time more than anything else.  I love the fact that we were seated in a circle, ready to converse and dig deeper into the material with personal examples and references to pop culture/politics.  I loved when we would watch a clip and then simply talk about it.  I think that’s the time when I acquire the most knowledge: going past the “typical” structure of classroom learning and instead applying the readings to observations about the real world.

Thank you for a wonderful semester.  It has been such a pleasure.

My Final Post Of College [Ever]

I can’t even begin to fully process what this class meant to me.  As a second semester senior who has dedicated most of my college career working on gender based issues, it was life changing to finally get into this class.  Alternatively, as a Government major, I have been consistently frustrated with the lack of awareness on how gendered our society is – specifically when speaking about policies, law and political structures.  This course intersected all of my greatest passions, and did so in a platform that allowed for critical analysis as well as reflection and debate.

I have to agree with Brittany that my favorite part of the class (was everything) but what made it was the structure.  Heavier readings over the weekend, blog posts for analysis and in class time for responses and reflection.  The topics that we covered were so diverse yet intersectional, and relevant to everyones life.  However, the section that continues to permeate with me (more often than the others – because they all do) was the second section that we spent on men, male identity, masculinity and deconstructing how we socialize boys (to consume women).  I spend so much time critically examining the female gender, how women are portrayed, treated, perceived, socialized, marginalized, etc.  And while I have paid attention to the role of men in working to end gender based violence, I had not yet been introduced to the very intense and horrifying way boys are raised to consume women in our society.  I will never forget watching Dream Worlds (two and three, because yes… I watched both), and sitting there almost in tears being so horrified at what I just consumed that I had to watch it again as well as share it with every person that I knew would tolerate my rant.  This particular section connected so many different areas of our society and, for lack of a better expression, blew my mind.  I even went so far as to share it with two faculty members because I believed so deeply that it needed to be more widely watched.

Also, this blog was just everything.  I nerd out about every article that pertains to this topic, always.  And wind up either posting them or sending them to everyone I know who will care about this subject.  So having a blog here that I know at least 10 other students will want to read and appreciate is just the greatest ever and provides such an incredible platform to share/vent/analyze/critique.  I love everything about it.

There was a point in the semester where I found myself feeling completely deflated, as though nothing in our society was positive and everything (even the good intended products/work/campaigns) have intense problems.  And while I do believe that this is a class that should be a mandatory gen ed (as well as this classes counterpart focussing on race, religion and ethnicity) I also feel that this should be a class that I revisit weekly as I enter the real world.  But beyond the actual context and substance that I am taking away from this class.. what I have learned to remind myself through this course is that it is okay to consume anything and everything.  It is okay to observe and engage and judge, as long as I am doing so critically, consciously and challenging myself to see beyond how something may impact [only] me (or people of my race, gender and economic status).  That everything may have problems and that some may do more harm than good, and others may do more good than harm.  It’s really just about acknowledging the flaws and respecting differences in opinions, perspectives and personal choices. I can confidently say that I am leaving this college a more critical and aware individual, and I greatly credit that to this class.  I shutter merely thinking about how unfulfilled I would have been if I had not been able to enroll in this course, so for that Professor Jafar, I thank you as well as my peers for making this course as incredible as it was.  Enjoy the next two-three years everyone, they are truly the most incredible years of growth.

🙂 Alia

Course Reflection

Brittany Juliano

Sex, Gender and Society has officially taken over my life (or at least the rest of my courses this semester). Aside from writing my research paper for this class, I have turned my Romanticism I English paper into a discussion of gender binaries, my Families and Lifestyle portfolio into an analysis of the perpetuated gender roles within family today, and my Canterbury Tales paper into a critical look at Chaucer’s misogynistic writing. Now that the course is over, I do not know what to do with myself. I suppose there is a reason that I am a Sociology major, because I thoroughly enjoyed this class enough to incorporate it into the rest of my finals. There were several topics of conversation during the semester that really caught my attention, but ultimately, I found everything in the readings, on the blog and in class discussion to be engaging beyond my expectations.

My favorite element of the class was the way that assignments were structured. Two readings at the beginning of the week along with responses to those readings allowed me to get ahead with my work for the class, so that I was always caught up to the class discussions. In addition to this, the blog functioned really well as a way to start conversation before class even began. Regardless of the required posts or current class topic, the added ability to share findings at any time broadened the scope of the class as a whole. One result of this was my discovery of sociological images from The Society Pages, which I came across looking for something to post to the blog. I now have this bookmarked on my web browser in between Pinterest and Hulu—that’s how much I refer back to it. Along with the weekly blogging and reading schedule, the due dates for our research paper were extremely helpful in moving my studies along. Only now as I am writing my final paper did I realize that the full outline makes life much, much easier. Similarly, the in-class check-ins for the group project were helpful to get feedback from peers or open discussion for new ideas. The result of the group projects was more than I had expected them to be at the beginning of the semester. When the assignment was introduced, I imagined doing some research and putting together a group presentation, but what the projects turned into was much more interesting. By involving the Conn community through posters and videos, each group accomplished more than taking charge of their own learning, they taught others as well. Hearing the reaction from people around campus was incredibly exciting, because I was honestly surprised that they paid attention. I had so many comments from people asking about the different projects, and I was even more excited that I could tell them it was mine, or that it created by the peers in this class.

To close I would like to echo what a lot of other people have said about this class, that I am certainly more critical of sex, gender and society. I enjoy being more aware of what is around me, or what I am consuming through media—it is empowering. Admittedly it is also frustrating. Arguments with the men in my family have slightly increased, and they probably do not appreciate that, but I now feel like I am educated enough in the subject matter that I can more intelligently tell them off when they say offensive and misogynistic things.

Thank you, everyone, for an amazing semester!

Here is another one from The Society Pages!