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Psychology of Women and Gender, First Edition
Placing a central focus on the concerns of students today, this text deals with important, timely topics such as intersectionality, transgender issues, sexualization, and objectification. It combines up-to-date research with an approachable and engaging writing style, while also providing students with hands-on exercises and thought-provoking debate topics. Flexible teaching resources support every kind of instructor’s course.
Some years ago, our affiliation with one another began with pairs of professional connections. Our relationships developed through conversations about overlapping research and teaching interests, and feminist process was often part of our conversations. We recognized that it wasn’t always easy to live our feminist ideals in today’s fast-paced, goal-directed world, yet we continued to strive for a
more relational and equitable process for ourselves and for our students. Those conversations, over time, led to friendships. It was from this place of friendship that we thought hard and deep about the challenges facing the fields we love—psychology and women’s and gender studies.
In particular, we found ourselves recounting conversations with both students and colleagues about a need for a contemporary psychology of women and gender textbook. As instructors, we knew our classes were exciting and transformative, yet the available books didn’t match the experience in our classes. We were frustrated with the slow pace of revision in a field that is quickly evolving and that centers on current topics and timely social justice issues. Material we felt critical to teach wasn’t in the books available to us, so we had to supplement with many outside readings. Our students were frustrated because they felt the books were covering topics related to the experiences of their parents and grandparents rather than their own experiences—their feminisms weren’t part of the books. They also expressed frustration with the predominant focus on the experience of straight, White, cisgender, able-bodied, economically privileged women. None of us planned to be textbook authors, but the three of us realized
that together we could create something bigger than any one of us could do on our own. We believed that our friendships with one another and our feminist process could result in an up-to-date book that would fill a gap in the field.
We started our process with several distinctive goals. One important shift in this field has been a move toward intersectionality in both research and theory, and it was important to us that our book reflect an intersectional perspective. This was not an easy task, since so much of the field is built on theory and research that takes a singular, less dynamic approach. Much of the published data disproportionately
come from White, cisgender, heterosexual, able-bodied, well-educated, financially privileged researchers and participants. The truth is that our field has been largely shaped by the experiences of privileged women, so a goal of ours was to help students understand how systems of power influence the type of science that gets created on the basis of such data. We explicitly drew attention to these inequities and asked students to grapple with the challenges of applying an intersectional approach when conducting research, interpreting others’ research, and participating in activism. The field still has work to do in this domain, and we hope our book motivates students to think in more intersectional and inclusive ways. We sought to present the important contributions of feminist research while also providing guidance to allow students to interrogate the hidden, biased assumptions in that research—and in all types of research, for that matter. We wanted students to continually revisit intersectionality and to learn that gender never operates in isolation, so we integrated questions and activities to help students identify the limitations of a one-dimensional approach to studying the psychology of women and gender. In some ways, this meant that gender was not at the center of every topic discussed, since we assumed that social identities mutually shape one another. We also worked to integrate the experiences of marginalized women through every section. When there were gaps in the research, we drew attention to them.
It was also very important to us that our book be interdisciplinary but grounded in science and feminist theory. We’ve integrated into the text recent research findings from economics, political science, demography, medicine, sociology, and anthropology while still highlighting psychological science as the core of this field. Moreover, it was important to us that we not make a lot of assumptions about student experience and/or knowledge. We found that many other texts assumed students had a background in women’s and gender studies, psychological research, or both. However, the nature of the field of psychology of women and gender means that classes are often interdisciplinary and cross listed. Students come to these courses with varied backgrounds, which can cause experiences of confusion in the first weeks. Given this, in the first few chapters, we explain the scientific method, the diversity of feminism, the need to complicate the way we think about sex and gender, and the importance of considering power and privilege. We also didn’t assume that students would enter the class with similar levels of knowledge about women’s sexual and reproductive health, so we integrated some foundational coverage into relevant chapters.
We also sought to write a textbook that would reflect both the latest research and the current issues directly affecting the lives of girls and women today.
Because of this, our book covers a variety of topics that receive limited or no coverage in other textbooks in this field. These include (but are not limited to):
■ comprehensive coverage of objectification theory and self-sexualization
■ extensive coverage of the experience of transgender and non-binary individuals, including psychological, economic, and legal challenges
■ the Me Too movement
■ the pressures of intensive parenting
■ the glass cliff and glass escalator
■ female friendships
■ the experiences and challenges of women with disabilities
■ the psychological consequences of miscarriage and stillbirth
■ current controversies about sexual consent
■ the role of men as allies in the feminist movement.