The Politics of Sexuality

J. Daniels, Instructor


This course is designed to provide legal, social, and historical context to the field of the politics of sexuality. Focusing on the national as well as the global, this course takes an interdisciplinary approach in pulling together various artifacts and texts to fully investigate experiences, identities, and cultures as they relate to how gender and sexuality inform our national/international understandings.

Course Objectives

By the end of this course, students will be able to:

  • Articulate an understanding of how gender, sex, and sexuality operate as constructs
  • Situate the roles of gender, sex, and sexuality within historical contexts
  • Thoughtfully consider the possibilities/limitations of sexual or gender identities
  • Analyze the ways in which class, geography, race, and law impact the ways in which certain bodies are read

Attendance and Academic Integrity

The University and its instructors requires regular class attendance of all students. Repeated unexcused absences will lower a student’s grade by one letter, continuing as absences accumulate. Of course, life happens, and for that, there is the Self-Reporting Absence Application. Please use this to report your absences. This does not mean that your absence has been excused, just that you have reported it. Please see me for a conversation about the excusing of absences.

In order for the University to be a place that fosters communication, knowledge, and outstanding intellectual work, students and instructors must hold themselves to high standards of academic integrity. To that end, please see the University’s Academic Integrity Policy.

Assignments and Office Hours

This is not a lecture course. Students are expected to thoughtfully read the pieces assigned, articulate their understanding of the material in class, and complete assignments on time. Should you have questions about the material, the assignments, or your progress in the course, please contact me via email (janessa.daniels@gmail.com) or schedule a meeting. Your success in the class depends upon communication – with me, your classmates, and the material. So please, talk!

Deadlines and Late Work

The written assignments are time sensitive, especially the Online Readings. Turn in all written assignments on the due date. Unless prior approval of the instructor has been obtained or in the case of documented emergencies, late assignments will not be accepted and/or will receive a significant penalty.

Safe Spaces and Language

This class is a safe space: there is no toleration of anti-LGBTQ violence or harassment. However, this lack of toleration carries over into matters of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, or educational level. For this to be a safe space for all students, the classroom needs to be recognized as a space of education: the process by which an individual learns and retains knowledge through training, practice, or guidance. To this end, we are all learners, and communication greatly helps in the pursuit of education.


140 points – Class Participation/Attendance (5 per) – 30%

50 points – Quizzes (5 total at 10 points each) – 20%

50 points – Online Responses (15 total at 10 points each) – 20%

110 points – Final Paper ( 5 to 7 pages total) – 30%


350 points 100%

Sample Grade – Assumes student attended all classes/did not exceed number of unexcused absences

90pts Class Participation/Attendance

30pts Quizzes

45pts Online Responses

95pts Final Paper


260pts – 74% – C

Please see the various rubrics/self-assessment sheets at (https://politicsofsexualityrutgersnewark.wordpress.com) to track your progress throughout the course, find better understanding of how you’ll be graded, and generally keep up with course requirements.

Schedule of Readings/Assignments

September 7th – Introduction

September 12th/14th – What Exactly Is This?

“Gender and Race: (What) Are They? (What) Do We Want Them to Be?” (Read the first three parts for Monday, the next three for Wednesday)

September 19th/21st – The Science of Sex

Chapter one of Sexual Science and “Becoming a Gendered Body”

September 26th/28th – The Politics of Appearance: Hair

“The Razor’s Edge: The Politics of Facial Hair” and “’A Mexican Who Looks Like You’: Reflections on the Politics of Hair from Outside the Black/White Binary”

October 3rd/5th – The Politics of Appearance: Breasts

“Bared Breasts and Body Politics” and “The Effects of Aesthetic Breast Augmentation on Quality of Life, Psychological Distress, and Eating Disorder Symptoms:A Prospective Study”

October 10th/12th – Body Modification

“Body Modification in College Students: Considering Gender, Self-Esteem, Body Appreciation, and Reasons for Tattoos” and “Body Modification and Trans Men”

October 17th/19th – The Labor of Care and Comfort

 “Technology, Normalisation, and Male Sex Work” “Female Sex Tourism in the Caribbean”

October 24th/26th – Adolescent Sexuality

“Childhood and Adolescent Sexuality, Islam, and Problematics of Sex Education: A Call Re-Examination” and “Sexuality Education for Children and Adolescents”

October 31st/November 2nd – Incarcerated Sexuality

“Sex and Sexuality in Women’s Prisons” and “Constructing and Performing Sexualities in the Penitentiaries: Attitudes and Behaviors Among Male Prisoners”

November 7th/9th – Differently Abled Sexuality

November 14th/16th – Alternative Sexuality

November 21st/23rd – Reproduction and Surrogacy

November 28th/30th – The Politics of Consent

December 5th/7th – Love and (Arraigned) Marriage

December 12/14th – S.A.H.D.s

December 19th/21st – Recap/Paper Workshop