Introducing Gender & Women's Studies
Richardson, Diane and Robinson, Victoria
Palgrave Macmillan Ltd, Basingstoke
0-230-54299-9 (hb), 0-230-54300-6 (pb)
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In the 3rd Edition of Introducing Gender and Women's Studies, leading academics from a number of UK universities debate a variety of issues in women's studies, thus bringing the debate very firmly into the 21st Century. The book reflects the changing practices of women's studies today and includes chapters on masculinity, gender and work; gender and the media; and cyber technology.
The book is divided into five sections with section one looking at theory and politics. It includes chapters on conceptualising gender, feminist theory, feminist social movements and the gendering of politics. In the opening chapter, Diane Richardson very helpfully examines the issue of sex versus gender and the different approaches to gender and sexuality. This includes modernist approaches following the emergence of queer theory. Sally Hines, in Chapter two, provides an overview of feminist theory moving from the historical context, through modernist and post modernist theories, and further developing the concepts raised by Diane Richardson. In chapter three, Nickie Charles explores the impact of feminism and gender in the political arena, outlining the dominance of males in politics. She does, however, point out the number of women in politics has risen and this has been instrumental in bringing a number of women's issues to the fore. The impact of men and masculinity is also considered, particularly the impact of multiple masculinity.
The second section of Introducing Gender and Women's Studies focuses on the body and identity. The impact of the body, including modern interpretations of the body, is considered by Kath Woodward. This is developed further by Kate Reed who brings the impact of race and ethnicity into the debate. Post colonial feminism, where white, western feminism is dominant, is discussed. Reed argues that although studies of race, ethnicity and gender are moving forward, there is still some way to go in this area. Section two concludes with a discussion of sexuality looking at this from the perspective of a number of different sexualities.
Section three looks at a number of institutions involved in shaping gender in today's society including families, gender and work. This section provides a succinct overview and lively debate around these issues. Section four brings culture into the debate, bringing it up to date with a discussion around the media, cyberspace and technology. Ruth Holliday's chapter on 'Media and Popular Culture' is particularly interesting, although the author points out that she had to keep it brief as this is an edited volume. Both positive and negative portrayal of women in the media is covered, providing a well balanced view. Again Stacy Gillis' chapter on cyberspace is interesting as this is not an area which is always considered in the feminist realm. Cybernetics is described here as post humanism and Gillis feels that this is an area in women's studies which is worthy of further exploration.
The concluding section, and in fact chapter of the book, provides an overview of feminist research methodology. Here, Liz Stanley and Sue Wise argue that there are a number of ways in which feminist research can be carried out and still be equally valid.
Overall, this book is well written, interesting and informative. Each chapter has an introduction which provides a brief overview of what it will cover. The conclusion to the chapter segues well into the subsequent chapter leading to a seamless transition. I particularly liked the way in which each of the suggestions for further reading has a brief outline, allowing the reader to make an informed choice. I believe this book to be a valid and welcome contribution to the literature on feminist studies.
University of Portsmouth