- SO 135 Homepage--Women's Studies
- Instructor Introduction
- Social and Historical Constructions of Gender
- Gendered Identities in Nations and States
- Representations, Cultures, Media, and Markets
- Gendered Globalization and Displacement
- International Women's Day, March 8, 2011
- Cultural Comparisons of Gender
- Student Digital Projects
- Gendered Virtual Futures of the Cyberworld
We study women’s lives and examine how social, cultural, and political constructions of gender, race, class, sexuality, ability, and nation intersect to shape those lives. This particular course is designed to expose students to the breadth of issues and perspectives, as well as the methods and concepts that are encompassed by Women's Studies as an interdisciplinary academic discipline. This course is designed to achieve a disciplinary balance with an emphasis on transnational issues relating to women's studies.
Dr. Lin and intercultural community
Dr. Lin Davis-Stephens, Instructor
About Dr. Lin Davis-Stephens
Preparatory education: Wichita State University, (Master of Arts/Anthropology), Wichita State University, (Bachelor of Anthropology/Spanish, Magna Cum Laude with Honors), Wichita State University, (Degree Candidate/Elementary & Secondary Education); Legal education:Washburn University (Juris Doctor). Certificate: Visiting Scholar Certificate, Kansas State Board of Education.
Community Activities: National Park Service, Kansas State Historical Society, Prairie Museum of Art and History, Thomas County Historical Society, Jennings Heritage Associates, Oral Interviews, Kansas Folklore Society, Service Learning Archival Materials, Kansas Anthropological Association, High Plains Chapter, Special Collections Library.
Fieldwork: Spanish Interviews, Norton Correctional Facility, Restoration/Preservation Projects, Central High Plains, Action Anthropology/Archeology, Western Plains Region.
Selected Works in Media and Print: include Linda Davis-Stephens' Collection, Prairie Museum of Art and History; Summary, Nomination and Comprehensive Survey Reports, National Park Service, Cheyenne Action Archeology Tenth Millennium Series, Local History and Culture Documentaries, Theses, Sustainable Agriculture Policy, Central Plains Region, Mock Farm Mediation.
Positions held: President Hispanic American Law Student Association, Principal, West Plains Academy, Attorney with emphasis in Criminal/Environmental Law, Conflict Resolution, and International Law.
Classes taught: Forensic Anthropology, Criminal Justice Forum, Juvenile Justice, Homeland Security, Loss Prevention and Private Security, Judicial Functions, Corrections, Criminal Procedure, Introduction to Criminal Justice, Criminology, Great Plains Experience, World Regional Geography, American Frontier Literature, Spanish, Government, World Religions, Anthropology, Women’s Studies, Native American Cultures, Friends University—Conflict Resolution, Business Ethics, Organizational Behavior, Organizational Management & Leadership.
Your posted work here is a personal reflection on one of the select topics from An Introduction to Women's Studies, Gender in a Transnational World and the Atlas.
You have the option to do this instead of a research paper for the course final project.
Include at least two references as web links—URL.
This electronic descriptive narrative should be about 300-500 words with photos and other graphics.
There can be no plagiarism, this must be your own composition, quality work. Your posted work will be public, indefinitely, on the internet on this wikidot site.
"Exorcising The Midwives"
During the 1900s, approximately 50% of babies being born were delivered via midwife. This angered some men doctors, saying they were losing revenue to these midwife birthing children. However, according to Ehrenreich & English, it was only the lower class of families who would use midwives, perhaps because they could not afford a physician. These physicians didn’t see the whole importance of having a midwife.
While the doctors were ‘educated’ in the medical and scientific aspect of the birthing, the midwives generally spoke the language of the mother, were regarding their services as if thought it was a ‘religious calling.’ The men were not fond of the lack of ‘scientificness’ that the midwives had, so they of course were not fond of everything.
The women however, preferred the women midwives; it was a more comfortable situation to have women birthing their child than a man, or a hospital where they were treated differently because they weren’t as wealthy.
Of course, the midwives were not as educated as the doctors, but the women found it more comfortable to have a woman birthing their child. A study at John’s Hopkins University found ‘that most American doctors at the time were less competent than the midwives they were replacing. The physicians were usually less experienced than midwives, less observant and less likely to even be present at a critical time.”
As we can see there was an urge to get the men to dominate science more than women, and now it’s quite obvious that it’s not the case anymore as more and more women begin careers in the medical field. Perhaps time will tell what the most preferred choice is.
Exorcising the Midwives
During the twentieth century Western medicine thrived taking away the appreciation of the female Midwives. They weren’t considered women who “practiced medicine.” They were women who performed home births. Not only did these women know how to deliver a baby, but they also spoke the mother’s language whether it be Italian, Yiddish, Polish, or maybe even Russian. She always was familiar with the certain prayers and herbs that were also believed to help pregnancies. Midwives would stick with mothers from the day of labor until they were completely healed. Some midwives even believed that it was a religious calling.
Midwives were interfering with doctor’s research due to the fact that no one wanted to be the test dummy for medical experiments. This issue lead to women always wanting midwives to deliver their children. Doctors began going to charity hospitals to advance their medicine in order to try and drive people away from midwives. Medical science especially depended on poor women to help advance their studies because obstetrics-gynecology was the most rapidly developing specialty. Doctors argued that midwives should no longer be licensed because they’re methods took away from newly developed medical techniques.
The doctors finally got their wish and midwives were eliminated, but they were completely unprepared for what was to come! There wasn’t near enough doctors to replace the midwives so many women went without proper care. Also doctors weren’t willing to sit around and “wait” for birth like midwives, which lead to using knifes and forceps when it was unnecessary. It turned out that midwives were more experienced which made them more knowledgeable then doctors. Despite the demand for midwives America still stuck with their decision to eliminate them. However feminist energies were now channeled into more women getting medical degrees in order to eliminate from mother’s being uncomfortable with men.
Eventually women lost their role across the U.S. as “healers.” Now, the only roles women played in the medical field included employees, customers, or “material.” Few midwives still exist and some mother’s still cherish their importance. However, medical training is now required for midwifery. Hopefully someday they importance of midwives will once again thrive.
Sex and the Body
Medical texts from the ancient Greeks showed that gender did not exsist. The texts said that men and women were similar in every way including genitals. They claimed that the only difference was women's genatiles were just inside the body but looked exactly like males. Sex did not exsist to them and there was no difference in the entire structure of male and female bodies.
In the mid 1800's it was discovered that the entire body was full of gender based differences. It was found that the femal skull showed women had a higher intellectual capacity. By the late 19th centurey it was determined that every part of the body including cells, bones, and blood vessels showed a gender difference. Every part except the eye. Before this discovery the uterus was considered to be what held feminity but in the mid 19th centurey feminity was switched to the ovaries. The ovaries led to the developement of gynecology.
In the twentieth century feminity was relocated in not an organ but in sex hormones. These hormones determined femininity and masculinity. This controlled female and male thinking and behavioral roles. These findings showed that there was a huge difference in not only the male and female body structure but in the way females think, behave and live.
Defining a Queer Community
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Sex Differential in Food Distribution and Consumption
Society and culture play a huge role in how food is distributed and consumed around the world. In some cultures it is common for the men to eat first, with the women and children eating whatever is left over. Another tradition might be the preparing of two separate meals: one for the males of the household and another for the females. In this situation, the more nutritious meal is served to the men. If you add economic conditions to the mix, you will find many parents going without food in order to feed the children or mothers making sure that the family is fed first before her own nutritional needs are met.
Food taboos also make an impact on the dietary habits of women. These taboos might be defined through religious or cultural beliefs or simply the restriction of calories for weight loss. Whatever the reason, some of these practices have long term nutritional consequences for a woman’s health.
Intergenerational Consequences of Female Malnutrition
It is difficult to reverse the effects of malnutrition when passed from one generation to the next, but many countries are now working to make improvements in the quality and quantity of food production and distribution to areas of need. Studies have shown that low birth weight babies and stillbirths are more common in poverty conditions due to nutritional deficiencies. Emphasis on improved health care services and agencies that address hunger have made an impact in this area.
Malnutrition: Cause and Effect on Women’s Role in Society
Women around the world, either by choice or circumstance, may be deprived of quality nutrition. This may be due to their perception of their role in society as being responsible for the domestic needs of the home or by their status within their own culture as a food producer and distributor. In agricultural settings, the woman may spend hours working the fields, harvesting the crops, and storing the produce for use. Their responsibilities to provide nourishment for others, leaves no energy to nourish themselves properly.
Another important factor that causes malnutrition in women is her body’s response to dieting and food restrictions. This can lead to eating disorders, mental and physical health problems, and disease. The body has a difficult time adapting to the challenges of under nutrition. Mental and cognitive development can be severely affected if this occurs during a young females growing years.
It is important to educate women to value themselves and their bodies and stress the importance of good nutrition in that process.
Beauty and Body Image in the Media
Women are used every day to sell everything. A beautiful woman will present a more favorable image for the product being sold, especially if she is young. As a result women are being given a negative body image because they are not a thin as the models in the magazines “selling” products. As a result the diet and beauty industry is making millions of dollars. When women feel insecure about they way they look they will spend money on beauty products, diet products and new clothes. When the average woman compares herself to the over thin and air brushed models they can suffer from depression, have a loss of self esteem and even develop unhealthy eating habits. 1 in 4 college-aged women will have an eating disorder. College age women are not the only ones influenced by the media, half of preadolescent girls wish to be thinner and have engaged in a diet or are at least aware of the concept of a diet. 35% of girls 6 to 12 have been on a diet and 50 – 70% of normal weight girls believe they are overweight.
The media gives an unrealistic view of attractive women. The Barbie Doll, which most women try to achieve the body image of, is unrealistic to achieve. If a real woman were to have similar measurements to Barbie, they would die of malnutrition and have chronic diarrhea. Their backs would be unable to support their weight and their body would be too narrow for anything more than half a liver and a few centimeters of bowel. When faced with these images and expectations what is a woman to do?
The Culture of Thinness
Women’s magazines are way more likely to have more ads and articles promoting weight loss than men’s magazines. Television and movies only reinforce the importance of being thin. More than ¾’s of actresses in television are underweight. When overweight characters are in a show there are generally negative comments about their weight from male characters. There has been a movement to change the perception of women in magazines. A Quebec magazine is using more full sized models and not air brushing models pictures nor models less than 25 years old. Madrid has banned ultra thin models. Spain is also is developing a unique way of sizing clothing using a laser beam to find the truest measurement of clothes truest to life. The perception of women has changed over time. 20 years ago the average model weight 8% less than the average woman, today, the average model weighs 23% less.
Self-Improvement or Self-Destruction
With all the messages women receive about body image, they are constantly told the female body is something to be continually perfected. The painfully thin images of woman have made the average woman invisible. Unfortunately women today and especially young girls they believe these images and judge themselves by the standards of the media. Their focus on beauty and desirability “effectively destroys any awareness and action that might help to change that climate.”
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Leisa, Freddy, Megan, & Jaylea hosted March 8 event at CCC.
Not pictured Jennifer, Demetria, Linda, Sue, & Paige.
2011 Centennial —International Women's Day
Gary Stevens, AN 177 Research Paper
6 January 2009
Linda Davis-Stephens, Instructor
Female Genital Mutilation
In parts of Africa and the Middle East women are “saved” for their husbands through a procedure called female genital mutilation (FGM) also referred to as female circumcision. Unlike male circumcisions, this procedure is performed for cultural beliefs rather than religious beliefs. Like many other cultures, it is performed because the women are secondary to men. The status of women in a culture is what makes it acceptable for them to be treated in this manner.
According to the World Health Organization these procedures are usually performed on young girls sometime between infancy and age 15, and sometimes on adult women. In Africa about 3 million girls are at risk of having FGM done to them annually. It is estimated that about 92 million girls in Africa have had FGM performed on them. And worldwide this number balloons anywhere from 100 to 140 million. (“WHO” 1)
As opposed to a person’s actual sex, which is determined biologically, gender is culturally constructed in a society. This is what is the basis behind social norms such as FGM, polygyny, polyandry, and sexual division of labor. In these cultures the women have certain rules, guidelines and specific roles in the society, and they are not to deviate from those. One of those rules is that they can only have sex with the man that they will eventually marry.
The word circumcision might bring a vision of this procedure being performed in a sterile environment like a hospital or clinic by a trained medical professional and under a general anesthetic but the cruel reality is that this is often done by a female elder who is deemed a “cutting professional.” The instruments range from non-sterile blunt knives, scalpels or razor blades and performed without anaesthetic. The operating table might be a kitchen table or the kitchen floor. There is not escape from this because the females are usally held down.
FGM does irreparable harm. It can result in death through severe bleeding leading to hemorrhagic shock, neurogenic shock as a result of pain and trauma, and severe, overwhelming infection and septicemia. It is routinely traumatic. Many girls enter a state of shock induced by the severe pain, psychological trauma and exhaustion from screaming. Other harmful effects include: failure to heal; abscess formation; cysts; excessive growth of scar tissue; urinary tract infection; painful sexual intercourse; increased susceptibility to HIV/AIDS, hepatitis and other blood-borne diseases; reproductive tract infection; pelvic inflammatory diseases; infertility; painful menstruation; chronic urinary tract obstruction/ bladder stones; urinary incontinence; obstructed labor; increased risk of bleeding and infection during childbirth. (“UNICEF” 2)
FGM is practiced in certain cultures to ensure that a man knows his wife has only been with him. It is also meant to destroy any sexual sensation for the woman. FGM ranges from circumcision, where the clitoris is removed, to total infibulation, the removal of all external organs and sewing the vagina closed. In some cases sheep intestine is sewn to cover the vagina and only a small opening is left for urination and menstruation. It is widened when the woman is married to have intercourse and when she gives birth.
Although FGM is most common in Muslim countries, FGM prevalence in no way follows the prevalence of Islam. Rather, FGM prevalence seems to follow regional cultures independent on religion. It would seem that this practice isn’t performed in tribes such as the Wodaabe of Niger or the Nyinba of Nepal. The Wodaabe women are allowed to leave their current husband if they feel they have found a better mate, and the new husband is willing to accept her. It is also acceptable for a Wodaabe woman to sleep with two men at the same time. In the Nyinba tribe it is common to practice polyandry. In this case, a woman is married to not only her husband, but also any brothers he may have, and she must sleep with all of them. In the cultures that perform FGM this would not be acceptable because the female would have already been with another man and therefore would be rejected by any other men.
Here in the United States it is hard for us to understand practices such as FGM because the ethnocentric society we live in always compares other societies’ cultures to our own. We would never allow something as horrific as FGM to go on in our society, yet we practice something very similar to it on baby boys all the time. I couldn’t help but wonder what an anthropologist that was practicing participant observation studies on a tribe that performed FGM would do. Would they feel compelled to intervene in some way, or would they be able to keep their beliefs to themselves and stand back and observe?
Certain women in these cultures are beginning to stand up for themselves. One advantage to the ethnocentric society of the United States is that we are willing to allow people of sociocentric societies to find a way out. The women that wish to escape what they feel is a brutal ritual are welcomed into the United States.
In every society women play very distinct roles, as do the men. In the tribes of Africa and the Middle East that perform female genital mutilations the role of the woman is the virgin. FGM is not for us to understand, but we don’t have to accept it. As long as certain countries continue to perform this procedure the United States, ethnocentric or not, will continue to allow women to come here for asylum from their tribes.
“Female genital mutilation”, Fact sheet N°241 May 2008,
“Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting” UNICEF/HQ 98-0232/ Grossman
James Ortiz - - The Runner
by: Freddy Arellano
A runner that went through it all. From not walking to running till this day
Martha Ballard — Frontier Midwife and Healer
by Leisa Hansen
Local Woman of Distinction - - Nellie Kuska — Colby, KS
Legacy of Love - Jennifer Thompson
Monica Kane, CCC Student Support Services
Personal Digital Story
Monica assists CCC students in their Digital Storytelling Projects
City Girl to Farm Wife - Megan Danler
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Virtual Cultures of the Cyberworld.