Friday, January 7, 2011

Exam # 1 Questions and Guidelines

WS 405: Gender, Power and Privilege
J-Term 2011
Exam # 1: Questions and Guidelines

Pick ONE of the following questions and write a 4-5 page essay in response to it.

Option A:  Gender Differences

In his Lecture, Michael Kimmel argues passionately that men and women are more alike than they are different.  He specifically refutes the ideas of John Gray, author of the popular self-help guide Men are From Mars, Women are From Venus.  Johnson argues that “categories have no significance outside systems of privilege and oppression in which they were created in the first place.  This is what sociologists call the ‘social construction’ of reality” (18).  Within a patriarchy, gender “differences” exists in service of privilege and  oppression.  Use Kimmel and Johnson to discuss how gender roles are socially constructed, and how these social constructs function to maintain gender inequality and patriarchy.  Why does the “social construction of reality” fabricated by Gray have such broad appeal to so many Americans?  How does Kimmel suggest we can break through the myths of gender differences in order to promote a more egalitarian society for all people?

Option B: White Privilege

Use Johnson to define privilege and white privilege.  Give several examples of white privilege and discuss your own experiences as a white person or a person of color in relation to the problem of white privilege.  Pick one of the short videos on white privilege to discuss it in greater depth and relate it to your own life as a racial subject.  (for instance, Driving While Black, A Girl Like Me, What Would You Do?) How does white privilege relate to the perpetuation of systemic racial discrimination and oppression?  How do white people  try to avoid responsibility for the problem?  What can people of all races do to illuminate white privilege and work to promote racial equality in our society?    

Option C: Race, Gender and Popular Music   

Music is a universal language; if we look at the universal status of western music, (pop, rock, rap, hip-hop, country, classical, metal etc.) what trends do we see? (1)What similarities and differences do we see in regards to sexism, racism, misogyny and other forms of oppression? (2) Do we see these messages of sexism, racism, misogyny etc., transcend the lyrics? (2a) How are men and women treated in music? What does the music say and imply about women's bodies, men's bodies, the experience of the "other" -- Black, Latina/o, TLGBQ+ people and the experience of the non-other? (3) Has music taught you anything? If so, what/how? Is music a pedagogical tool in Western culture?  

 Required Format for Exams:

·      Name, Date, Course # (WS 405) and Instructor Name in upper left hand corner

·      Identify Document (Exam # 1 or Exam #2) and which question option you choose (A or B or C)

·      Typed, Double-spaced, 12-point, Times New Roman font, 1” margins. 4-5 pages in length. 

·      Parenthetical Citations, MLA Style

·      Works Cited Page

·      Edited, proof-read, spell-checked

·      Use at least 3 citations from Johnson and at least 2 citations from the course videos; no outside sources

·      Introduction: Include overall thesis and what you will set out to do in the body. Provide sign posts to help orient the reader.  Strive for clear sentences and 

·      Body: Elaboration and documentation of your thesis and the problem, organized clearly: Prove your thesis

·      Conclusion: Summing up and reiterating your overall theme and reflecting on social change/future directions

·      Due by: Sunday, Jan. 9 at 10:00 PM EST.  Email as a MS Word Doc (.doc) to: AND Write your name and WS 405 Exam # 1 in the subject line.


  1. Does the no outside sources mean that we cannot use other outside evidence in our papers?

  2. Yes it does. This is not a research paper--it is an exam. Thus, we are not testing your research skills, but your comprehension of course materials and your ability to apply them in a persuasive manner to your argument.

  3. Joelle, does no outside resources also mean lyrics to songs? I feel like it may be worth adding a couple lyrics here and there to prove my point.

  4. What do you mean by "provide sign posts"?

  5. Tom: OK, if you are doing the music essay, then I could see bringing in some brief song lyrics. Just remember that they won't count towards your required sources.

    Samantha: By provide sign posts, what I mean is that in your intro, you should lay out explicitly what you are going to do in the body of the paper in order to prove your thesis. "First, I will talk about XYZ. Then, I will turn to an examination of EFG. And finally, I will explore what we mean by LMNOP." Also, you may wish to provide subheadings to further help orient the reader and organize the essay clearly.