course title Envisioning and Creating the Future

Insights from Sandra Lipsitz Bem, The Lenses of Gender: Transforming the Debate on Sexual Inequality (Yale University Press, 1993) 176-96.

I. Eradicating Androcentrism: “[T]he cultural debate about sexual inequality must be reframed so that it addresses not male-female difference but how androcentric social institutions transform male- female difference into female disadvantage” (Bem 176-77); we must move away from debating whether men and women are fundamentally the same or fundamentally different, take for granted “at least a subset of sexual differences,” and concentrate on how to eradicate androcentrism.

II. Eradicating Gender Polarization: Controversial, radical, and difficult to achieve program that would reduce the male-female distinction to a narrow biologically-based difference in reproductive function: “people of different sexes would no longer be culturally identified with different clothes, different social roles, different personalities, or different sexual and affectional partners any more than people with different-colored eyes or different-sized feet are now” (Bem 192).

“It will take ferocious creativity to do the restructuring so as to arrive at a society where both female-male equality and important communal values are protected, where the economic structure is designed with consideration for the needs of female and male employees and their families. Nothing is more certain than that such a goal will never be reached if women are the only ones who change.”
Hilary M. Lips, Women, Men, and Power (Mayfield Press, 1991) 200.

May, 1999
Barbara F. McManus
Topics and Assignments