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Open Access Publications from the University of California


The UCLA Center for the Study of Women (CSW) is a nationally recognized center for research on women and gender. Established in 1984, it is the only unit of its kind in the University of California system, and it draws on the energies of 245 faculty from 10 UCLA professional schools and 34 departments. By bringing together scholars with similar interests, CSW has played an important role in the intellectual life of UCLA. Through its conferences, seminars and administration of grants, CSW has enabled feminist scholars to exchange ideas and secure funding. CSW works in conjunction with the UCLA Women's Studies Program to develop curriculum and promote feminist learning among both undergraduate and graduate students. Together, the Center for the Study of Women and the Women's Studies Program constitute an important platform for women's concerns in Southern California. The UCLA Center for the Study of Women contributes to the advancement of women by expanding and sharing knowledge.

UCLA Center for the Study of Women

There are 734 publications in this collection, published between 1986 and 2019.
Working Papers in Feminist Research (2)

Under the Rape Shield

This article focuses on the Rape Shield Laws and their evolution in the United States, one of the pioneers in this field. The article also discusses constitutional and feminist critiques of present Rape Shield Laws, and ends with a comparative perspective throughout the Anglo-American legal space today. Finally, although the Rape Shield Laws can be approached from a variety of discourses, this article engages specifically with a discourse that intersects legal and feminist analyses.

TV Jewish Mothers: The Creation of a Multiethnic Antiheroine

It is in the domain of cultural studies to critique icons that delineate models of behavior and beliefs represented in films, movies, music, print and television. The media “provides modern morality tales that demonstrate right and wrong behavior, that show what to do and what not to do, that indicate what is or is not the ‘right thing’.” (Kellner, l995, p. 162) The TV Jewish Mother is a media archetype whose depictions represent the ambiguity that 21st Century American culture promulgates about the role of mothering. By doing a diagnostic critique of the Jewish Mother, so often stereotypically characterized on TV, one discovers that, for the most part, she is a devouringly negative, albeit loving presence in her child’s life...

CSW Update Newsletter (397)

Director's Commentary

Last week, CSW was awarded a $300,000 NEH grant for “Making Invisible Histories Visible: Preserving the Legacy of Lesbian Feminist Activism and Writing in Los Angeles,” a three-year project to arrange, describe, digitize, and make physically and electronically accessible two major clusters of Mazer collections related to West Coast lesbian/ feminist activism and writing since the 1930s. This project, which continues CSW’s partnership with the June L. Mazer Lesbian Archives and the UCLA Library, grew out of CSW’s two-year “Access Mazer: Organizing and Digitizing the Lesbian Feminist Archive in Los Angeles” project, which was supported in part by the UCLA Center for Community Partnerships.

Guiding Tours of the LA River and Promoting Sustainability

An article describing the recent work and projects of CSW's Research Scholar Jenny Price. These projects includes her work with the Urban Rangers Collective and her advice column of LA Observed.

Porn, Pedagogy, and the Passing of an Icon

The course, “Pornography in Contemporary U.S. Culture,” was offered as a senior capstone seminar by the Department of Women’s Studies. As the instructor, Ward approached the course with the explicit purpose of offering Women’s Studies students a perspective on pornography that they rarely encounter in our curriculum at UCLA, a perspective firmly rooted in both media studies and sexuality studies, but also contextualized within the field of Women’s Studies itself.

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Policy Briefs (29)

Policy Brief: U.S. Farm Bill Makes Women and Children Food Insecure

This policy brief examines the international implications of the U.S Farm Bill and is effects on food security in developing nations. It argues that the combination of the policies in the Farm Bill and the practice of in-kind food donations from the U.S. decrease food security in developing nations, especially for women and children. The brief makes various policy recommendations including the reduction of commodity subsidies and the expansion of regional food aid purchases.

Incorporating harm-reduction provisions in legislation to improve the well-being of sex workers

New Canadian legislation aims to criminalize the buying of sex, in order to reduce and eventually end prostitution, but evidence shows that spillover effects would create additional risks for sex workers. Changing the legislation to legalize and regulate sex services would be best for sex workers. Since that may not be possible immediately, instituting harm-reduction provisions would help women who are adversely affected by the current bill.

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Other Recent Work (5)

Implications of Commerce and Urbanization for the Learning Environments of Everyday Life: A Zinacantec Maya Family Across Time and Space

In recent decades, ecocultural environments of the Maya in Chiapas, Mexico have undergone continuous change from more subsistence-based to more commerce-based and from more rural to more urban. Comparing ethnographic observations of one family over a ten-year period and across rural and urban environments, we used activity-setting analysis to investigate changes on the micro level that would reflect these shifts in the macro-environment. The development of commerce between 1997 and 2007 led to increased reliance on technology, increases in individuation and individual choice, specialization for economic tasks, and, for women, more formal education. Other changes in this same period of time were greatly intensified by urban dwelling: contact with strangers and people of different ethnicities, women's economic achievement, and greater freedom for young women to have unchaperoned contact with young men.

Making Invisible Histories Visible: A Resource Guide to the Collections of the June L. Mazer Lesbian Archives

Edited by Kathleen A. McHugh, Brenda Johnson-Grau,and Ben Raphael Sher, it contains short essays by some of the participants in the project and provides information on all the collections that were processed.  Funded in part by an NEH grant and completed through partnership between the Mazer Archives, CSW, and the UCLA Library, “Making Invisible Histories Visible: Preserving the Legacy of Lesbian Feminist Activism and Writing in Los Angeles” is  a three-year project to arrange, describe, digitize, and make physically and electronically accessible two major clusters of Mazer collections related to West Coast lesbian/feminist activism and writing since the 1930s. As the project is being completed, we have published this volume to share an overview of the project and materials with researchers, archivists, and the community.

Countering Ageist Ideology

Jennifer Abod’s new award-winning film, Look Us in the Eye: The Old Women’s Project, is a groundbreaking work in women’s studies, a video that links ageism and sexism. It is a topic that is rarely studied and even less likely to be filmed. Abod expertly captures the zest of three old women (they specifically want to be called that) who started the Old Women’s Project in San Diego in 2000, an organization created for old women activists. The film focuses on interviews with the three founders, Cynthia Rich, Janice Keefaber, and Mannie Garza and shows footage of their demonstrations against war, nuclear proliferation, low-income housing, and many other issues of social justice. The Old Women’s Project claims that old women are part of every social justice issue: child care, homelessness, prison reform, violence against women, and war. Too frequently old people are assumed to care only about age-related issues like social security and Medicare. The women’s very exuberance and activism, adeptly captured by Abod’s film, belie so many of the unexamined assumptions about what older women want and can do. These “truisms” are so pervasive that deconstructing them is not enough. Abod’s visual evidence astutely targets the prevailing ageist ideology: old woman as “other,” old woman as invisible, and old woman as a metaphor for disease, isolation, worthlessness, vulnerability, dissatisfaction, and decrepitude.

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Thinking Gender Papers (291)

Leader-Follower: Throwing Out Gender Rules in Taiwanese Salsa Today

Salsa is a transnational and transcultural dance form that has traveled from the Americas to many other countries where it has taken on diverse meanings among its participants. In the past five years, it has become a craze among young professionals in Taiwan. In this paper, I argue that the notion of "flow" in salsa practice, the Confucian discipline of the female body, and the economic accessibility of salsa in Taiwan are contextual elements without which it is impossible to situate its social meaning. In the Taiwanese salsa scene, not only do female salsa practitioners gain agency and assert their power to challenge traditional values, but male salsa practitioners also find a space to perform femininity and to enjoy their embodiment of the female role. 

There are two imperatives for this study: 1) to subvert the dominant notion in academia about the immobile gender rules at play in salsa; 2) to illustrate the diversity of salsa practices around the world using Taiwan as a case study where it has not yet been discussed in the growing scholarship on Asian performance.

Gendered Public Spaces: Examining Cities Within the Nature-Culture Dichotomy

Examining the evolution of essentialist claims about women and anti-essentialist responses reveals how feminist theory can off er scholars new perspectives. In this paper I extend Sherry Ortner’s universalist analysis of women’s subordination by applying her nature-culture dichotomy to urban planning and taking a fresh look at public space. First, I off er a brief review of her argument in Is Female to Male as Nature is to Culture?,  and her conceptualization of nature versus culture. Second, I use examples from public space to illustrate applications of the nature-culture dichotomy, demonstrating both the physical dominance of culture over nature in public space, and the eff ect on women’s subordination in cities. Next, I discuss Ortner’s concept of intermediacy, and walk through a series of examples demonstrating middle, mediating, and ambiguous intermediacy. Finally, I call for using feminist theory to take urban planning, as a field and a practice, beyond the nature-culture dichotomy.

Israel’s Lost Son: Masculinity and Race in the Gilad Shalit’s Affair

Ona the day that the captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit was released and returned to Israel, after five years of captivity, posters across the country welcomed home the nation’s “lost son.” This paper will examine how the Shalit’s Affair reconfigured the Zionist a paragon of masculinity, the Israeli soldier. More specifically,I first conduct a historical reading of Israeli embodiment of masculinity, then I explore military codes of discipline, and finally, I investigate the spread of these codes from the army to the civilian social, cultural and political life of Israeli society. Such an approach lays the groundwork for an analysis of the release of the abducted Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit, in October 2011. I readthe Israeli soldier-civilian body as a contested site that challenges, resists, and advancesexisting concepts of masculinity and nationality.Through an investigation of individual and social agency in the embodiment of ideologies, this project questions the role of nationalism staging the sense of Shalit’s heroism, performing a sense of Israeli national exclusiveness and moral superiority.  

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Working Papers of the WSMALA Project (9)
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