EducationFeatureO.O.P.S.Sex & Gender

Law and Sexuality

A course and syllabus from Eugene Lang College

This course deals with the issue of Sexuality and how it relates to the Law, examining the role of legal institutions, legislation, rules and standards in regulating, controlling, forming and conforming Sexuality. The aim is to critically analyze and to historically contextualize the political, moral and ideological factors that produce the norms regarding Sexuality, while properly comprehending the key concepts of gender, identity, body and sexual practices. Contemporary debates located at the intersection of Law and Sexuality — like the recognition of prostitution as legitimate labor, access to abortion, legalization of marriage for non-heterosexual couples, the rights concerning transgender people, to name a few — are discussed against a twofold underpinning, which is gradually developed: first, how the liberal theory that guided capitalism formation has universalized and de-historicized Law, separating the legal from the political and creating an abstract subject that suppresses a plurality of subjectivities; second, how Sexuality has traditionally been a central battle field where political struggles concealed as legal/ juridical disputes have been dealing with the tension between assimilation and anti-capitalism resistance.

Course Outline

August 28 // Introductory Class

Presentation of the syllabus and course outline

August 30 // Class 01 : History of Law and Sexuality

Extra Material: Why Women Had Better Sex Under SocialismKristen R. Ghodsee, in NYT, 8/22/2017

Confrontation: Paris, 1968, Documentary by Seymour Drescher, 2012, available on YouTube

Sex, Drugs & Rock & Roll, Episode from the Series The Sixties, available on Netflix

September 4 // No class (Labor Day Holiday)

Section I: Marriage

September 6 // Class 02 : Private Property, Primitive Accumulation and the Oppression of Women

Extra Material: Fear and Loathing in Homer and Rockville, Episode 621 of Podcast This American Life

September 11 // Class 03 : Masculinities and Heteronormativity

Extra Material: Google’s Ideological Echo Chamber, James Damore

September 13 // Class 04 : Puritanism and Regulation of Sexuality

  • From Puritanism to the Pursuit of Happiness; The World of the Framers: A Christian Nation?, Geoffrey R. Stonein Sex and the Constitution, pp. 74-108

Extra Materials: Our Trouble with Sex: a Christian Story?, Anette Gordon-Reedin The New York Review of Books, 8/17/2017

The Malleus Maleficarum of Heinrich Kramer and James Sprenger (selections)

Welcome to Tingletown: ASMR is YouTube’s Most Controversial Secret Community, S.E. SmithBitch Media Issue 70

September 18 // Class 05 : Housework and Emotional Labor

Extra Material: A Modest Proposal for a Fair Trade Emotional Labor Economy: A Proposal about Care Labor for Everyone, Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinhain Bitch Media Issue 75

September 20 // Class 06 : Final Discussion on Marriage

Extra Materials: Marrying Your Peer, a Tougher Prospect for Black Women, Gillian B. Whitein The Atlantic, 4/2015

Interview: A Queer Argument Against Marriage, Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore, in Tell me More, NPR, 6/10/2010

Gay Marriage Has Not — and Will Not — Cause Assimilation, Kevin Joffréin Outward, 6/18/2015

The Queers Left Behind: How LGBT Assimilation Is Hurting Our Community’s Most Vulnerable, Colin Walmsleyin HuffPost, 7/21/2017

Section II: Reproductive Autonomy

September 25 // Class 07 : Patriarchy and Social Contract

Extra Material: A Gay Trans Man and his Partner Open Up about Being Pregnant With Their First Child, in HuffPost 6/9/2017

September 27 // Class 08 : Sex, Sexuality and Control of the Bodies

Extra Materials: KSR, The Good Wife, Season 7, Episode 10

Tell Me I’m Fat, This American Life Podcast, Episode 589

The Daily, Podcast Episode on August 11 2017

L’Origine du Monde Sparks Legal Battle, Artnet News

October 02 // Class 09 : Sexuality, Technology and Reproduction

Extra Material: Working Woman and MotherAlexandra Kollontai

October 4 // Class 10 : Labor and Social Reproduction

  • The Reproduction of Labor Power, Lise Vogel, in Marxism and the Oppression of Women: Toward a Unitary Theory, pp. 141-156
  • Social Reproduction, Surplus Populations and the Role of Migrant Women, Sara R. Farris, in View Point Magazine, 11/1/2015
  • Vagabond Capitalism and the Necessity of Social Reproduction, Cindi Katz, in Antipode 33(4), pp. 709-728

Extra Materials: The Rise of ChildlessnessThe Economist, 7/27/2017

‘It’s the Breaking of a Taboo’: the Parents Who Regret Having Children, Stefanie Marshin The Guardian, 02/11/2017

October 9 // Class 11 : Liberalism and Sexual Rights

Extra Materials: The Abortion Battlefield, Marcia Angellin The New York Review of Books

Reproductive Rights Corner: Body Blows, Anbi Zeislerin Bitch Media, issue n. 75

Inside the Painful, Lonely Experience of Birth Trauma, Catherine Pearsonin HuffPost, 06/07/2016

Misunderstanding Miscarriage, Lara Freidenfledsin Nursing Clio, 4/1/2014

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence Signed a Law this Year that Mandated Funerals for Fetuses, Emily Crockettin Vox, 10/3/2016

October 11 // Class 12 : Final Discussion on Reproductive Autonomy

Extra Material: No Disrespect: Black Women and the Burden of Respectability, Tamara Winfrey HarrisBitch Media Issue 70

Section III: Transgender Citizenship

October 16 // Class 13 : Defining Citizenship

Extra Materials: Rights in Transition: Making Legal Recognition for Transgender People a Global Priority, Human Rights Watch World Report 2016

Hatred of LGBTQ People Still Infects Society. It’s No Time to Celebrate, Owen Jones, in The Guardian, 7/27/2017

October 18 // Class 14 : Citizenship, Sexuality and State Violence

Extra Materials: President Trump, Trans People in the Military are Here to Stay, Chelsea Manningin NYT, 7/27/2017

Letter from Moscow: Forbidden Lives, Masha Gessenin The New Yorker, 7/3/2017

October 23 // Class 15 : Exercising Transgender Rights

  • Transnational Transgender Rights and Immigration Law, Aren Z. Aizura
  • Transgender Policy in Latin American Countries: An Overview and Comparative Perspective on Framing, Jacob R. Longaker and Donald P. Haider-Merkel
  • Introduction to Fixing Sex Katrina Karkazis

Extra Materials: What Qualifies a Woman to Compete as a Woman? An Ugly Fight Resumes, in The New York Times, 8/4/2017

No Games for Women with “Too Much Testosterone”, Episode at The Stream, Aljazeera, 9/3/2014

Looking at and Talking about Genitalia: Understanding Where Physicians and Patients Get their Ideas about What’s Normal and What Isn’t, Katrina Karkazis

October 25 // Class 16 : Queer Marxism

Extra Material: How Dirty is that Auden Poem that was Too Dirty for the Times Book Review?, in Vulture, 3/17/2008

October 30 // Class 17 : Transgender Citizenship and the Limits of the Law

Extra Material: XXY, Movie, directed by Lucía Puenzo, Argentina

November 1 // Class 18 : Final Discussion on Transgender Citizenship

  • The Micropolitics of Gender in the Pharmacopornographic Era, Paul B. Preciadoin Testo Junkie, pp. 333-398

Extra Material: Testosterone, Podcast This American Life, Episode 220

Section IV: Prostitution and Pornography

November 6 // Class 19 : Subjectivities and Hegemony

Extra MaterialsWhat is Art? Follow-up: What is Porn?, The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, 11/13/2015

Hidden Meanings in The Garden of Earthly Delights, BBC Culture

November 8 // Class 20 : Politicization of Vulnerability

  • A Man in the House: the Boyfriends of Brazilian Travesti Prostitutes, Don Kulick, in Social Text No. 52/53 Queer Transexions of Race, Nation, and Gender, 133-160

Extra Material: America’s Hidden H.I.V. Epidemic: Why do America’s Black Gay and Bisexual men have a Higher Rate than Any Country in the World?, Linda Villarosain NYT, 6/6/2017

November 13 // Class 21 : Sex and Exploitation of Labor

Extra Material: Red Umbrella Project Report: Criminal, Victim, or Worker? The Effects of New York’s Human Trafficking Intervention Courts on Adults Charged with Prostitution-related Offenses

November 15 // Class 22 : Labor and Precarious Work

November 20 // Class 23 : Pornography and the First Amendment

  • The Fatally Flawed Feminist Anti-Pornography Laws; Posing for Pornography: Coercion or Consent?; Why Censoring Pornography Would Not Reduce Discrimination or Violence Against Women, Nadine Strossenin Defending Pornography: Free Speech, Sex, and the Fight for Women’s Rights, pp. 59-82; 179-198; 247-264
  • Not a Moral Issue, Catharine MacKinnon, in Applications of Feminist Legal Theory, pp. 37-58

Extra Materials: Pornography: An Exchange, Catherine A. MacKinnon, in The New York Review of Books, 3/3/1994

Jon Ronson on Bespoke Porn: “Nothing is Too Weird. We Consider All Requests”, in The Guardian, 7/29/2017

November 22 // No class (Thanksgiving Holiday)

Section V: Rape and Consent

November 27 // Class 24 : Feminist Legal Theory and Violence Against Women

Extra Materials: Enough, movie based on the novel Black and Blue, by Anna Quindlen, 2002

“Drawings Were the Only Witnesses to My Years of Abuse”, interview with Rosalind Penfold, in The Telegraph, 1/22/2006 (some of the drawings are included in a pdf file)

NYC Mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence 2016 Annual Report

WHO Report on Domestic Violence 2016

November 29 // Class 25 : Gender Violence and the Neoliberal State

December 4 // Class 26 : Feminism and Capitalist Appropriation

Extra Material: Invisible War, documentary directed by Kirby Dick, USA, 2012

December 6 // Class 27 : Rape, Coercion and Consent

  • Rape: On Coercion and Consent, Catharine MacKinnonin Applications of Feminist Legal Theory, pp. 471-483
  • The Active Social Life of “Muslim Women’s Rights”, Lila Abu-Lughodin Gender and Culture at the Limit of Rights, pp. 101-119

December 11 // Class 28 : Sexual Assault on Campus

Extra Materials: The Trump Administration’s Fraught Attempt to Address Campus Sexual, Jeannie Suk Gersenin The New Yorker, 7/15/2017

Laura Kipnis’s Battle Against Vulnerability, Christine Smallwoodin The New Yorker, 4/2/2017

Short Takes: Provocations on Public Feminism, Laura Kipnis’s Unwanted Advancesin Signs

December 13 // Class 29 : Final Discussion on Rape and Consent

December 18 // Class 30 : Final Discussion on Law and Sexuality

Mayra Cotta is a PhD Student in the Politics Department at the New School for Social Research

Mayra Cotta

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