Unit 1: Gender and Education
Issue: Do Boys and Girls Learn Differently?
Yes: Madhura Ingalhalikar et al., from "Sex Differences in the Structural Connectome of the Human Brain," Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (2013)
No: Susan Seligson, from "Debunking Myth that Girls and Boys Learn Differently," BU Today (2011)
Dr. Madhura Ingalhalikar and colleagues found in their research that adolescent male and female brains are different, with male brains connecting perception and coordinated action more effectively than female brains, female brains connecting analytical and intuitive processing more effectively than male brains. Susan Seligson interviews author Caryl Rivers, who, in her book, works to debunk a number of the claims about boys learning differently from girls. She claims that gender in education is irrelevant, and that efforts to try to gender teaching methods are sexist and antiquated.
Issue: Should There Be Single-sex Classrooms or Schools?
Yes: National Association for Single Sex Public Education, from "Single-Sex versus Coed: The Evidence," National Association for Single Sex Public Education
No: Rosalind C. Barnett and Caryl Rivers, from "Why Science Doesn't Support Single-sex Classes," Education Week (2012)
The National Association for Single Sex Public Education lists a number of studies supporting the effectiveness of single-sex educational settings, explaining the findings of each. Rosalind C. Barnett and Caryl Rivers, coauthors of the book, The Truth About Girls and Boys, argue that “male” and “female” brains are much more similar than they are different, so that trying to teach differently according to gender is ineffective.
Unit 2: He Said, She Said, They Said: Gender Equity and Equality
Issue: Is the Wage Gap between Women and Men Due to Sexism?
Yes: Ariane Hegewisch and Asha DuMonthier, from "The Gender Wage Gap by Occupation 2015 and by Race and Ethnicity," Institute for Women’s Policy Research (2016)
No: Ashe Schow, from "A Yearly Reminder that the Gender Wage Gap Is Due To Choice, Not Discrimination," The Washington Examiner (2015)
Ariane Hegewisch and Asha DuMonthier provide data demonstrating that women both continue to be paid less than men for the same types of jobs, and tend to have access to jobs that inherently pay less than job markets dominated by men. Ashe Schow maintains that women have equal access to the types of jobs that could yield equal or even higher salaries, and that they choose not to avail themselves of these jobs.
Issue: Has Gender Equality Come a Long Way?
Yes: Ronald Brownstein, from "Poll: American Men Embracing Gender Equality," National Journal (2015)
No: Leisa Peterson, from "Who Am I to Be Financially Feminist? (A Guide for Female Entrepreneurs)," Huffington Post (2015)
Ronald Brownstein, Atlantic Media’s editorial director for strategic partnerships, reports on surprising findings of a recent poll that details major changes in gender attitudes of males and income, racial, and ethnic groups. “The survey suggests that men from all rungs on the economic and social ladder were open to the ‘partnership of equals.’” Leisa Peterson, money mindfulness expert and founder, WealthClinic, points out the many ways that she and other women today are discriminated against. She uses statistics and comparative studies to prove her thesis that women are worse off in several ways.
Issue: Should Transgender Athletes Be Allowed to Compete in Professional Sports?
Yes: Katelyn Burns, from "Being Trans in the Paradox of Sports," The Cauldron (2016)
No: Ben Cohen, from "Joe Rogan Is Right, Transgender Athletes Should Not Be Able to Fight Women," The Daily Banter (2014)
Transgender athlete Katelyn Burns discusses her own experiences identifying as a gender different from the sex she was assigned at birth (male), and believes that transgender athletes should be allowed to compete in the Olympics without requirements requiring surgery or demanding committee approval. Ben Cohen focuses the impact of allowing transgender women—those who were assigned male at birth but now identify as women—to compete against cisgender women, arguing an unfair physical advantage to transgender women because of their chromosomal composition. In considering a case-by-case basis, he still favors discriminating against some transgender women under certain circumstances.
Issue: Should Male and Female Athletes Be Paid Equally?
Yes: Kevin Netto, from "Should Women Athletes Earn the Same as Men? The Science Says They Work as Hard," The Conversation (2016)
No: Shane Ferro, from "Here's Why It's Fair that Female Athletes Make Less Than Men," Business Insider (2015)
Kevin Netto provides several reasons why he feels women athletes should earn the same as men, including, but not limited to, the fact that physiological differences require women to have to exert more energy than men in numerous types of sports and to train harder and for longer periods of time. Women are also more prone to injury when playing the same type of sports men do. Shane Ferro explains that it makes sense for women athletes to be paid less than men because their sporting events earn less. Paying women athletes equally without the accompanying revenue to support those salaries places an undue burden on the sports teams and organizations.
Issue: Has the Women’s Movement of the 1970s Failed to Liberate American Women?
Yes: F. Carolyn Graglia, from Domestic Tranquility: A Brief against Feminism, Spence Publishing Company (1998)
No: Jo Freeman, from "The Revolution for Women in Law and Public Policy," McGraw-Hill Education (1995)
Writer and lecturer F. Carolyn Graglia argues that women should stay at home and practice the values of “true motherhood” because contemporary feminists have discredited marriage, devalued traditional homemaking, and encouraged sexual promiscuity. Jo Freeman claims that the feminist movement produced a revolution in law and public policy in the 1960s and 1970s that completed a drive to remove discriminatory laws regarding opportunities for women in the United States.
Unit 3: Parental Presence, Parental Choices
Issue: Are Fathers Necessary for Children’s Well-being?
Yes: Deirdre Bell, from "The Importance of Dads: Expert Findings About Involved Fathers," Boba
No: Denise Balkissoon, from "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Lesbian Families," The Globe and Mail (2013)
Deirdre Bell argues that fathers play an essential role in the upbringing of their children—that they can be just as sensitive and nurturing to their children as mothers can, and that their presence helps children to develop cognitive, socially, and emotionally as they grow up. Denise Balkissoon discusses research from Canada relating to lesbian-headed families that suggest that fathers are not essential to a child’s development and well-being. In particular, she explains that no incidents of physical child abuse had been recorded in families where the children had two mothers and no father.
Issue: Should Parents Be Able to Choose Their Baby’s Sex?
Yes: Ellen Painter Dollar, from "Why Allowing Parents to Choose Their Baby’s Gender Is Wrong," Patheos.com (2012)
No: Angela M. Long, from "Why Criminalizing Sex Selection Techniques Is Unjust: An Argument Challenging Conventional Wisdom," Health Law Journal (2006)
Ellen Dollar argues that it is morally wrong to choose a baby’s sex. She argues that this invites sexism and creates a slippery slope. Angela Long argues that denying sex selection can be overly restrictive as well as too punitive. Furthermore, some laws fail to stop all methods of sex selection.
Issue: Should Partners of Deceased Men Be Allowed to Use Their Sperm without Their Consent?
Yes: Jenny Morber, from "Dead Man’s Sperm," Mosaic (2016)
No: Devon D. Williams, from "Over My Dead Body: The Legal Nightmare and Medical Phenomenon of Posthumous Conception through Postmortem Sperm Retrieval," Campbell Law Review (2011)
Jenny Morber argues that if a legal spouse and health-care proxy has the right to make other health-care decisions for their spouse, such as ending life support, they should be able to decide what is done with that spouse’s body upon his demise should he not specify his wishes in an advance directive. Those people who only want to have children with the spouse who passed away should, she maintains, be given the right to do that. Attorney Devon Williams describes several legal reasons why postmortem sperm retrieval should not be permitted—or at least not without clearer laws and regulations, in order to address issues of consent from the dead person as well as the intention of the surviving partner or spouse in retrieving the sperm.
Issue: Should Men Have a Say in Whether Their Partner Has an Abortion?
Yes: The Life Resources Charitable Trust, from "Men and Abortion: Locked Out of the Decision"
No: Marcus Lee, from "Sorry, Men’s Rights Activists, You Don’t Have Abortion ‘Rights’," Rewire (2014)
The Life Resources Charitable Trust argues that the impact of reproductive decision-making affects men as much as it affects women, and that if they are to be held equally responsible for the financial upbringing of a child, they should have an equal say as to whether their female partner keeps or terminates a pregnancy of which they are the biological father. Marcus Lee believes that giving a biological father the right to decide the destiny of his partner’s or wife’s fetus treats that fetus as property, and that because his partner or wife’s body and health are more dramatically affected by the pregnancy, she should have sole decision-making authority over the pregnancy.
Issue: Are Children Who Are Raised by a Lesbian or Gay Couple Worse Off than Those Raised by Different-sex Parents?
Yes: Mark Regnerus, from "Media Gush over New Study, Only to Find Same-sex Parents More Irritated with Their Children," Public Discourse (2016)
No: Henny M. W. Bos et al., from "Same-sex and Different-sex Parent Households and Child Health Outcomes: Findings from the National Survey of Children’s Health," Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics (2016)
Researcher Mark Regnerus questions the validity of how data were examined and discussed in a recent study that suggested children do better with same-sex parents or caregivers than different-sex ones, asserting biased analysis and conclusions. Researcher Henry Bos and his colleagues, authors of the study, maintain that the children of lesbian parents demonstrate no differences in general health, emotional difficulties, coping behaviors, and learning capacities from children with different-sex parents.
Unit 4: Gender in the World around Us
Issue: Should Public Restrooms Be Gender-Neutral?
Yes: The Sylvia Rivera Law Project, from "Talking Points about Gender-Segregated Facilities," Toilet Training: A Companion Guide for Activists (2010)
No: Merritt Kopas, from "The Illogic of Separation: Examining Arguments about Gender-Neutral Public Bathrooms," University of Washington Master’s Thesis (2012)
The Sylvia Rivera Law Project provides an overview of New York City’s anti-discrimination law, passed in 2010, and its impact on previously gender-segregated facilities. Their piece is designed to allay concerns about what the law will mean in practical terms for both cisgender and transgender individuals. This excerpt from Merritt Kopas discusses some of the most common arguments against creating single-user gender neutral restrooms and multi-user mixed gender restrooms, including the ideas that requiring single-user gender neutral restrooms is not cost effective and that multi-user, mixed gender restrooms are potentially unsafe for children.
Issue: Can Women Have It All?
Yes: Gayle Tzemach Lemmon, from "Sheryl Sandberg's Radically Realistic ‘And’ Solution for Working Mothers," The Atlantic (2013)
No: Anne-Marie Slaughter, from "Why Women Still Can't Have It All," The Atlantic (2012)
Gayle Tzemach Lemmon, best-selling author, journalist, and a Senior Fellow with the Council on Foreign Relations’ Women and Foreign Policy program, discusses the issues in Sheryl Sandberg’s famous book, Lean In. Sandberg’s advice to career women is not to opt out but to lean in, that is, to firmly choose both career and parenting. Unfortunately men still run the country so the societal changes that could facilitate Lean In are missing. Full commitment to both career and family will not be easy. Anne-Marie Slaughter, the Bert G. Kerstetter ’66 University Professor of Politics and International Affairs at Princeton University and formerly dean of Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, explains why Sandberg is wrong and women cannot successfully pursue career and family at the same time. They must decide which to do well and which to do adequately but not avidly.
Issue: Do Reality TV Shows Portray Responsible Messages about Teen Pregnancy?
Yes: Amy Kramer, from "The REAL Real World: How MTV’s "16 and Pregnant" and "Teen Mom" Motivate Young People to Prevent Teen Pregnancy," An Original Essay for this Edition (2011)
No: Mary Jo Podgurski, from "Till Human Voices Wake Us: The High Personal Cost of Reality Teen Pregnancy Shows," An Original Essay for this Edition (2011)
Amy Kramer, director of Entertainment Media & Audience Strategy at the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, argues that reality television shows engage teens in considering the consequences of pregnancy before they’re ready for it, and motivate them to want to prevent it. Mary Jo Podgurski, founder of the Academy for Adolescent Health, Inc., argues that although such television shows have potential benefits, they inadequately address the issue and may even have a negative impact on those who participate in them.
Issue: Does Porn Prevent Rape?
Yes: Anthony D’Amato, from "Porn Up, Rape Down," Northwestern University School of Law, Public Law and Legal Theory Research Paper Series (2012)
No: Darwin, from "Does Porn Prevent Rape?" Catholic Exchange (2012)
Professor of law Anthony D’Amato highlights statistics from the most recent National Crime Victimization Survey that demonstrate a correlation between the increased consumption of pornography over the years with the decreased incidence of rape. Some people, he argues, watch pornography in order to push any desire to rape out of their minds, and thus have no further desire to go out and actually do it. Blogger Darwin argues that the while sexual crimes have gone down over the years, the consumption of sexually explicit material cannot be given credit, and that trying to associate pornography with a decrease in the incidence of rape is an attempt to justify condoning its existence and use.
Issue: Can a Woman with Conservative Political Views Be a Feminist?
Yes: Eric C. Miller, from "How Conservative Christian Women Came to Claim ‘True’ Feminism," Religion Dispatches (2014)
No: Amanda Marcotte, from "Stop Trying to Make Conservative Feminism Happen," Rewire (2015)
Eric Miller interview author Leslie Dorrough Smith whose book, “Righteous Rhetoric: Sex, Speech, and the Politics of Concerned Women for America” outlines the CWA’s arguments of why the Conservative definition of feminism is true feminism. Amanda Marcotte believes that being pro-choice is a requirement for one being able to call oneself a feminist, and so if social Conservatives are all antichoice, by definition they cannot be feminists.