Essay 2

Choose ONE question. Draw specific examples from course readings to support your points; use parenthetical citations to document sources. Be sure to introduce your quotes adequately, creating smooth transitions between your writing and that of sources. Your essay should include a clear thesis statement, foreshadowing your argument. Append to the essay a "Works Cited" page; see course handout on citation.

1. Friedan's The Feminine Mystique and Gilman's The Yellow Wallpaper, while distinctly different in genre and era, are widely considered classic texts in second wave American feminism. Compare chapter 1 ("The Problem That Has No Name") of The Feminine Mystique (1963) and The Yellow Wallpaper (1892) in terms of their persuasive and literary power within their different genres and their visions of individual and social change. In your analysis, consider both texts' ability to reflect upon female life experience and their engagement with ideologies of marriage, domesticity and gender roles in their respective eras. Why were both texts highly influential in the "second wave" (though one is written in the "first wave")? Do either or both texts continue to have personal and / or political relevance in 2014? If "yes", in what way(s)? If "no", why not?

2. Analyze the gender socialization of a person in your age range whom you know well, using the following approach. First, describe his / her future vision of life 15 years from now. How does this person project her / himself into the future? Some issues to include: future occupation / profession, personal life and core values. What does this person imagine as a future occupation? What values (moral, social, religious) are central for this person? Does this individual see himself or herself living alone, with a spouse / partner, with extended family, raising a child(ren)? Your analysis will analyze the origins of this individual's future vision in past gender socialization: e.g., influences of parents / other adults, socialization "props" (e.g., books, toys, games), schooling (including MIT), influence of peers, etc. Draw explicitly upon at least four course readings on gender socialization (e.g., Friedan, Lorber, Thorne, Kimmel, Richardson); you should also find another secondary source (within or outside course readings) that speaks particularly to this person's experience. Please note that your socialization analysis may fit some patterns described in the readings / lectures, and contradict others. Your task as a writer is to incorporate the readings explicitly into your essay, even if you are analyzing someone whose life narrative contradicts some gender roles described in the readings. Keep in mind that (a) "gender socialization" does not equal "gender stereotyping"; gender socialization can be egalitarian and (b) "socialization" cannot be reduced to "gender socialization", since gender intersects with race, ethnicity, sexuality, religion and class.

Whether writing about yourself or another person, always use a pseudonym!

  • Due between sessions 21 and 22
  • Suggested length: Approx. 7 pages (approx. 1750–1800 words), typed, double-spaced (Times New Roman, 12pt.)
  • Attach a "Works Cited" page and a cover letter describing the essay's strengths and weaknesses