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Paperback 392 pp.
5 figures; 7 tables; 34 photos (all black & white), 7" x 9"



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Imprint: OUP Canada

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Women's Realities, Women's Choices

An Introduction to Women's and Gender Studies, Canadian Edition

Joan Simalchik

This new Canadian edition takes a critical look at social and cultural definitions of gender while incorporating thoughtful discussions of women's realities within Canadian cultural contexts. Covering the most recent developments in politics, labour, family life, religion, and culture, while incorporating Canadian issues and perspectives throughout, this is a broad, nuanced, and in-depth treatment of women's and gender studies in Canada today.

Readership : Introduction to Women's and Gender Studies courses commonly offered at the first- and second-year level, often out of university Gender Studies or Sociology departments.


  • "I have always appreciated the broad historical context provided by Women's Realities, and this Canadian version accomplishes this quite nicely. Secondly, I am impressed with the Canada-specific info provided, especially regarding the roles and experiences of Indigenous women."
    --Kimberly Williams, Mt. Royal University

  • "The text covers a wide variety of important topics, emphasizing the many voices that make up the field."
    --Katharine Bausch, Trent University

Note: Each Chapter includes:
- Summary
- Discussion questions
- Recommended resources
Part One: Defining Women and Gender
1. Cultural Representations of Women
Culture, Representation, and Gender
- Experience, Perception, and the Construction of Reality
- The Construction of Gender in Culture and in Ourselves
Language as a Cultural System
- The Relationship between Language and Culture
- Changes in Language
Enduring Symbols of Women
- Selected Images of Women in Mythical and Religious Stories
Changing Representations of Women's Sexuality
- The "Sexual Revolution" and Its Legacies
- Women's Sexuality in Recent Popular Culture
Consuming the Body Beautiful
Can We Change Reality by Changing Images?
- Reshaping Representation
- Women's Search for Self through Art
Women's Search for Self through Literature
- Women as Heroic
- Telling Other Stories
- Writing as Political Activism
Representation in the Internet Age
Gender in Film: A Case Study
2. Historical Ideas and Theories about Women and Gender
Why Ideas and Theories Are Important
The Waves of Feminism
Ancient and Early Modern Ideas about Women and Gender
Classical Liberalism and Feminism
- Wollstonecraft
- Mill and Taylor
- Contemporary Liberal Feminism
Socialism and Feminism
- Marx and Engels
- Kollontai and Zetkin
- Utopian Socialism and the Social Gospel
- Goldman
- Contemporary Socialist Feminism and Marxist Feminism
Simone de Beauvoir
- Woman as "Object"
- Woman as "Other"
Contemporary Feminist Debates
- Radical Feminism and Cultural Feminism
- Black Feminism
- Postmodern Feminism
- Psychoanalytic Feminism
- Ecofeminism
- Transnational Feminism
Contemporary Feminist Philosophies
- Rethinking "Knowledge" and Values of Inquiry
3. Latter Theories & Intersectionality
Intersections of Oppression
Heteronormativity and Heterosexism
Historical Foundations of Intersectionality
- Sojourner Truth
- Anna Julia Cooper
- Angela Davis
- Audre Lorde
Intersectional Approaches to Feminist Activism
- Shifting Policy Demands
- Global Intersections
Intersectional Approaches to Feminist Scholarship
- Intersectional Identities
- Research Methods
Debates over Intersectionality
4. Learning, Making, and Doing Gender
What Is Gender?
- Sex versus Gender
- Gender Expression
Traditional Explanations for Gender Differences
- Anatomical and Evolutionary Differences
- Psychoanalytic Theory
- Neuro-biological and Hormonal Explanations
Feminist Critiques of Theories of Gender
- Feminist Psychoanalysis
- The Importance of Culture
- The Importance of Relatedness
- Rethinking Biology
How is Gender Learned?
- Cognitive-Developmental Theory
- Social Learning Theory
- Gender Schema Theory
- Social Interactions and Gender Roles
- Performativity Theory
How Gender Is Enforced
Alternative Gender Arrangements
- Historical Challenges to Gender
- Gender outside the Binary
5. Gender and the Politics of the Body
Feminism and the Body
- Mind/Body Dualism
- Naturalizing the Body
The Nature of Sex Differences
- The Gendered Brain
- The Sexed Body: Hormones, Chromosomes, and Genitalia
- The Politics of "Nature"
Gender and the Medicalization of the Body
Discourses of Sexuality
Feminists Rethink the body
The Female Body on the World Stage: Two Case Studies
- Bodies as Battlegrounds
- Female Genital Cutting
Part Two: Women's Relationships, Women's Selves
6. Families and Their Configurations
The Family as an Evolving Social Organization
The Nuclear and Extended Family
- Conventional Marriage: Why Marry?
- Whom to Marry?
- Diverse Marital Households
- The Incorporated Wife
- Children in the Family
- Elders in the Family
- Marriage and Gender Roles in North America in Historical Perspective
- Extramarital Experiences
- Divorce
Alternatives to Conventional Marriage in the Past
- Religious Communities
- Labouring Communities
- Utopian and Experimental Communities
Families in the Early Twenty-First Century
- Changes in the Global South
- Changes in the Global North
"New" Family Configurations
- Blended Families
- Single-Parent Families
- Consensual Unions: Cohabitation, Domestic Partners
- Power, Domination, and Rape
- Multiracial Families
- Families We Choose
- Same-Sex Families
- Visiting Unions - Living Apart Together
- Transnational Families
- Role Reversals
- Choosing Not to Mother
- Women on Their Own
7. Women over the Life Course
Daughter in the Family
- Female Infanticide
- The Value of Daughters
- Naming the Daughter
- Daughters' Work
- Parental Relationships
- Daughters and Mothers
- Daughters in Varied Family Configurations
Sibling Relationships
- Images of Mothers
- Parental Behaviour: "Instinct" and Culture
- The Assignment of Motherhood: Whose Interest Does It Serve?
- The Cultural Shaping of Biological Events
- Women Other than Birth Mothers Who Mother
Women Growing Older: The Double Standard of Aging
Life Events and Role Transitions
- Mid-life to Later Adulthood
- Divorce
- Widowhood
- Singlehood
- Motherhood
- Grandparenthood
- Housing Transitions
- Workforce Changes
- Retirement
The Sisterhood of Women
8. Women's Health
The Women's Health Movement
- Redefining and Reframing Health
- Why "Women's" Health?
- Health, Gender, and Human Rights
- Health Care Systems
Uncovering the Gender Dynamics of Western Medicine
- Woman as Deviant
- Woman as "the Weaker Sex"
- The Gendered Profession of Medicine
The Medicalization of Life Processes
- Menstruation to Menopause
- Reproductive Rights
- Childbirth
- Sexuality
Impact of Social and Cultural Disparities on Women's Health
- Health Status and Risks
- Poverty
- Racial and Ethnic Discrimination
- Occupational Health Risks
Women and Physical Health: Some Specific Concerns
- Heart Disease
- Cancer
- Sexually Transmitted Disease Infections Including HIV/AIDS
- Hysterectomy
- Osteoporosis
- Alzheimer's Disease
Women and Mental Health
- Gendered Differences
- Homophobic and Transphobic Bias
Women as Special-Risk/Vulnerable Populations
- Depression
- Women as Refugees
- Women with Disabilities
- Older Women
- Women Who Are Incarcerated
Part Three: Women in Society
9. Women and Education
Why Education Matters
- A Matter of Life or Death
- The Politics of Knowledge
Education as a Contested Arena: What Should Be Taught?
- Women's Traditional Knowledge
- Men as the Measure of Knowledge
- The Rise of Feminist Scholarship
- Contemporary Constraints
Education as a Contested Arena: Who Should Be Taught?
- Gender, Educational Participation, and Illiteracy Globally
- Women's Struggles for Formal Education in the Past
- European Struggles for Women's Education
- European Colonization and Women's Education
- The Debate in Canada
- Women's Struggles for Education in the World Today
- Broadening Canadian Educational Participation
Schools as Socializers of Gender Inequities
- Elementary Schools
- Secondary Schools
- Post-secondary Education
- Educational Institutions as Gendered Workplaces
Educational Barriers of Girls/Women in Diverse Communities in the Global North
- Gender and Cultural Assimilation
- Indigenous Experiences
- Black Canadian Experiences
- Immigrant Experiences
- Multicultural Education/Ethnic Studies as Resistance
The Contemporary Struggle for Equal Access to Knowledge
- Re-entry/Adult Women
- Women: The New Post-secondary Majority?
- Is There a Male Crisis in Educational Access?
- Transforming the Curriculum
Empowering Women Learners
- Educational Achievement of Girl's and Women's Schools Debated
- Women's Struggles to Become Scientists
- Women's and Gender Studies
10. Women and Religion
Religious Beliefs
- What Is Religion?
- Religion and Social Reform
- World Religions
- Females in the Supernatural World
- Beyond the Gender Binary in Religions
- The Nonreligious
Religion and Social Controls
- Religion and the Family
- Beyond the Family
Women as Religious Leaders
- Healers
- Missionaries and Martyrs
Women's Effect on Religious Movements
- Protestant Denominations
- Jewish Denominations
- Roman Catholicism
- Hinduism
- Islam Piety Movement
- Feminist Contributions to Religious Change
11. Women and Work
The Labour of Women
- Division of Labour by Gender
- Maintenance of the Domestic Unit
- Women's Work in the Marketplace
- The Contribution of Women to Economic Development
The Domestic Mode of Production
- Food Production
- Maintenance
- Exchange and Marketing
The Capitalist Mode of Production
- Urbanization and Class Distinctions
- Working for Wages: Its Organizational Prerequisites
- Women's Work
- Globalization and the Transformation of Work
- Self-Employment
- Unemployment
The Politics of Work: Barriers and Strategies
- Sexual and Gender Harassment
- Social Support for Working Women
- Laws against Sexist Job Discrimination
- Equal Pay - Comparable Worth
The Impact of Feminist Activism
12. Women and Politics
Political Power
- What Is Power?
- Power and Authority
- Types of Government
- Women's Political Power in the Past
- Patterns of Patriarchy
Women as Political Leaders
- Political Gains of Women in Office around the Globe
- Do Women in Office Make a Difference?
- Right-Wing Women
- Obstacles Facing Women in Politics
Women as Citizens
- Royal Commission on the Status of Women
- Women and the Law
Women's Political Participation
- Women and Peace Movements
- Global Feminism and Human Rights

There are no Instructor/Student Resources available at this time.

The Hunter College Women's and Gender Studies Collective is made up of authors affiliated with the Women and Gender Studies Department at Hunter College, all from various disciplines: Linda Alcoff, Jacqueline Nassy Brown, Sarah Chinn, Florence Denmark, Dorothy O. Helly, Shirley Hune, Ruzal Oza, and Carolyn M. Somerville.

Canadian adaptor Joan Simalchik coordinates the interdisciplinary Women and Gender Studies Program at University of Toronto Mississauga, and teaches courses on women and social change, history, memory and human rights, and transnational perspectives on gender and cultural difference. In 2007 she received the CCVT Amina Malko Award for Service to Refugee Women and in 2012 received the University of Toronto's Ludwik and Estelle Jus Memorial Human Rights Prize. She has delivered and published many papers dealing with diasporic refugee communities and human rights.

Rethinking Canada - Lara Campbell, Tamara Myers and Adele Perry
Canadian Women and the Struggle for Equality - Lorna R. Marsden
The Gendered Society Reader - Michael S. Kimmel, Amy Aronson and Amy Kaler
Gender History - Willeen Keough and Lara Campbell
Gender and Identity - Stephen Whitehead, Anissa Talahite and Roy Moodley
The Double Ghetto - Pat Armstrong and Hugh Armstrong
Violence Against Women in Canada - Holly Johnson and Myrna Dawson
Gender Relations in Canada - Janet Siltanen and Andrea Doucet
The Gendered Society - Michael S. Kimmel and Jacqueline Holler

Special Features

  • Intersectional approach incorporates the diverse realities of women in Canada and around the world, helping students understand that each set of circumstances can result in different social inequalities.
  • Interdisciplinary perspective - incorporating insights from sociology, political science, history, media studies, psychology, and anthropology - offers students well-rounded coverage of all facets of women's experience.
  • Canadian focus with international context ensures that students understand the uniquely Canadian circumstances of women in historical, legal, political, economic, and social spheres, while also comprehending the experiences of women in other parts of the world.
  • The latest research and statistics on key topics, including the impact of colonialism on Indigenous women's lives, the experience of transgender people in the public health care system, and the effects of economic globalization, engage students with relevant and up-to-date information and examples.
  • Accessible introduction to the discipline includes historical and contemporary theory and covers the major topics in women's studies while remaining engaging, readable, and relatable.
  • Engaging box program exposes students to first-person voices as well as prominent Canadian scholars and feminists.
  • In Their Own Words boxes incorporate voices from women of various backgrounds, social locations, and experiences.
  • Key Issues boxes highlight important issues or people in women's studies.
  • Women in Media boxes provide samples and analysis of the ways in which women are depicted in various popular media.
  • Time to Reflect boxes quote theory or philosophy that relates to the topics being discussed in the chapter.