Gender Communication Summer 2009

A space to critically engage gender and communication topics

Student Response June 17, 2009

Filed under: course info — daniellemstern @ 11:44 am

Wow. Your journal entry responses regarding our experience during this brief summer course have been overwhelmingly supportive. I plan to incorporate your suggestions as much as possible when I teach gender online again next summer. I’ve summarized your constructive feedback here. I can’t wait to view your web portfolios. I encourage you to keep your blogs open when the course is over. However, this is entirely your decision, as your blogs are YOUR spaces. If any of you object to me linking to your blogs in my future courses (such as I did from previous students’ blogs that you used as guides this time around), please let me know. We still have one blog post to wrap tonight. Please check back to this shared space at week’s end and/or early next week to read my closing thoughts and, of course, contribute your own if you like.

Suggestions to improve course design:
Meet once or twice more as a “check in.”
Integrate assignments into more of a group setting beyond individual blog posts.
More descriptive grading guidelines/feedback
Space out due times during heavy assignment week
Staggered deadlines for blog comments
Anonymous Blackboard forum for comments/suggestions

Selected feedback:
I also enjoyed the Gender Communication and the family chapter. The thing I liked about this was there was a controversial topic in the blog about gay marriages and children being raised by same sex parents. I thought people were honest and even online you could tell some talks became arguments and people were getting upset, but nobody from what I could tell took it personally which I really enjoyed because that does not happen often.

And I also liked the blogs because I had the opportunity to see how my peers thought about different topics and issues which helped to further my understanding of something and it got me thinking about a different side to things.

While I believe I may have gotten more out of a lecture class, I found that using the blog allowed me to express my opinions that I would have otherwise kept to myself. I’m not one to speak out and argue in class, therefore taking this class online allowed me to be more verbal. This actually was a concept talked about in the education chapter of the text.

Also, I have found that in regular classrooms generally the same people are always speaking and answering the questions to make a discussion.  Here, we were able to hear what everyone had to say and we got a wider range of opinions that led to a broader discussion.

I actually really liked the course blog.  It’s nice to be able to read and re-read everybody’s ideas, and i think it provided a freedom that could not have been possible in the classroom.

I found that I was more inclined to be very upfront about my opinion on the blog.  I took a women and politics class where we discussed many of these issues, and did not participate as much.  I had the same opinions, but didn’t think what I had to say mattered.  More often than not, I didn’t voice my opinion because I felt people would disagree, and it just wasn’t worth arguing about.  As a female, I feel as if I fit the stereotype for girls in regards to education.  I often am shy in the classroom setting.  The blog allowed me to say my thoughts and react to others, without worrying what was thought, or if I would be attacked. Because of this, the blog without a doubt made me more inclined to participate.

Blogging is a way to have continual discussion throughout the day and if what had been said previously is forgotten, you simply have to scroll up to read the previous discussion.  I really liked being able to read what others wrote and know that in a regular classroom setting many of the comments and replies would not have been said because of time restraints and because of the aversion some students have to speaking up in class.

I also think that if there was somehow a group project involved, yes I know it is very hard to have a group project considering that the class could be spread out all over the world.  But if there was a group project then there would be lines of communication between males and females and we could practice what we learned in the class with other individuals that are also trying to practice as well.

The journal entries helped me relate what we wrote to my everyday life. I love being able to apply things, because to me that’s the whole purpose of learning- to let it affect your life. I usually wrote my journals in a more conversational style so that it seemed like I was discussing this with friends or on our classroom blog.

As a girl I feel that I have to be very careful in what I say or else it will be attacked.  Naturally I want to please everyone, but I feel safe on this blog and don’t feel threaten by speaking out.

When my boyfriend told me this class has turned me into a feminist, I tell him that yes, it has, followed by an explanation of the different types of feminism. He tells me this because since the onset of this course, I have become more aware of how greatly gender plays a role in society from how we interact with one another to how men and women are portrayed by the media.

At first I thought I would hate the blog. I thought it was going to be so much work. As I got into it, I loved it. It was more of an educated discussion then homework. I feel like people were more honest in the blogs than they would be in person. My favorite was that everyone got a word in. In class, I never really raise my hand. I always felt like I had nothing unique to say. When I would post something on the blog I would get great feedback… I would check the blog religiously to see if someone had commented on my post. The blog got me more involved with the class than any of my past classes have.

I felt entirely more engaged in this class than in any other, got to say everything I wanted to say, really broadened my horizon with the way I think by my own attempts as well as others inputs, never felt stressed about a due date, and had the luxury of “attending” class at my own leisure.

The course blog was helpful to me because I heard different examples and viewpoints.  Reading everyone’s comments helped me solidify the course concepts in my head.  I gained a deeper understanding of how gender is expressed through friendships, relationships, acquaintances, and the media by using the blog.

I believe that by having the class discussions online it helped in the overall participation of the class because people were not speaking in a traditional classroom atmosphere which gave other people confidence and the ability to start the conversations as well as build off of the people before them.  A big thing that I believe was helpful with this was that people who are cautious about what they are saying when it comes to the opposite sex in a traditional classroom setting, they are able to say what they believe and their views right onto the blog and other people can see that and in turn use that to look at their own beliefs.
Speaking of what we learned, I do not think I have ever been able to relate so much material that I have learned in one class to my everyday life as I have from this class. It has been interesting for me to see the concepts that I have learned be present in the interactions that I have with my family, friends, and co-workers… I am currently taking another online class at the same time as this one and in the discussion board part of Blackboard he has an anonymous link where you can post questions or suggestions for the course by revealing your identity or not. This I think is very helpful for both students and professors because students are more willing to post criticisms or suggestions anonymously.

At first, I really though that taking an online course would hinder my learning experience. I was certainly pleasantly surprised to find that it added to my experience. Although for many other subject matters I believe it would still be a hindrance, for a subject such as gender communication that can involve a lot of viewing media and other sources, it was particularly useful… Also, with the classroom being virtual, your ability as the professor to incorporate a number of different sources that we could refer to made the experience more enjoyable.

I honestly think that this is a great class to teach online, especially with the low number of guys, it allows them to be more open in a class full of girls, who might have stronger opinions on certain subjects… I think this course was great, and I think it should be taught like this year round.  If it was taught like this though I think it would be cool to be able to meet up with the teacher like once a week just to talk about how class is going, or just to have some teacher student relationship.  That way technology does not take over completely and we are still able to form connections and relationships.
While I believe the course blog and the overall virtual classroom eliminated several gendered messages, particularly the ones that come at risk from the interaction between professor and students, I believe it supported an educational experience preferred by females.  As the Gambles discuss in the chapter about gender communication in the classroom, females tend to prefer educational experiences that involve interaction (through discussion on the course blog), participation (through posting on the course blog), and reflection (obtained through the journal entries).  However, I have thoroughly enjoyed the class even though it is an educational experience that is more likely to be favored by females.  Taking this course online allowed for me to experience an educational environment different from one that I prefer.  It would be interesting to know how males compared to females in the class enjoyed the design of the course.

Sometimes, based off of individual’s usernames I wasn’t sure if a person was a boy or a girl, making it difficult to how each was represented. For instance, on some topics I found myself searching for a guys opinion, which could be difficult considering the (I believe) limited number of men in this class, and my ability to know which comments belonged to them. On the other hand, the lack of gender knowledge could be seen as creating a dynamic that works toward gender equality. If I was unaware of a persons gender I could not attribute their statements as “oh that just because they’re a boy (or a girl), but instead worked toward refuting the importance of gender.

Blogging was also very beneficial rather than being in a classroom. I know that sometimes when I am in class I am too afraid to speak up or I do not want to be judged for responding to a question. The blog let me speak what was on my mind and not be afraid of how people might view me because of my opinion. I really believe that the course blog really helped me feel more comfortable in a class, even though it is virtual; it really helped my educational experience.


Touching base June 5, 2009

Filed under: course info — daniellemstern @ 5:18 pm

I want to commend you all on your hard work and thoughtful contributions to the blog this week, especially the most recent prompt on romantic relationships. Not only were there more assignments this week, but you also made great strides to discuss the “tough” topics. It’s these times that I think online learning might actually be more beneficial than a physical classroom. Think about how many times you wanted to voice an opposing opinion but didn’t feel comfortable or didn’t want to rock the boat. Similarly, sometimes face-to-face discussions become heated and uncomfortable. I’m not suggesting we replace all traditional learning spaces with online forums. Rather, just as some of the blog prompts have encouraged thinking outside the norm, I think our current virtual classroom is challenging our longtime assumptions about learning. Those of you who haven’t yet revisited the relationship blog post to read through everyone’s remarks, I suggest doing so. In the meantime, good luck on your Web portfolios.


Nonverbal Wrap-up June 2, 2009

Filed under: course info — daniellemstern @ 10:04 am
Tags: ,

After reading through your individual journal entries regarding nonverbal artifacts, I thought I’d share some patterns and nuances.

Your first task was to discuss five items of clothing you would not wear because it would send the wrong gendered message. As expected, (and accepted as this is fine), most of you responded with items that would have inscribed your gender as the opposite of how you typically perform gender (and in many cases sexuality). For example, male students listed items such as high heels and miniskirts, while women typically included items such as baggy pants and wallet chains. Interestingly, one female student listed items that would have OVER performed (i.e. hypersexualized) femininity. One male student also mentioned how in some cultures men were skirts (kilts), which points out how gender and gender artifacts are culturally specific.

Now, the second, shorter part of the assignment was to assess which gender has more freedom in choosing gender artifacts such as clothing. Also not surprising were your choices here, as most responded that women have more freedom. Whereas men are “confined” to pants, shorts and limited shirt styles, women can choose from a variety of cuts of dresses, skirts, shorts, pants, the list goes on and on. However, one female student did name men as freer when it comes to the MESSAGES sent by their clothing choices. For example, she discussed how guys “get away with” vulgar imagery and wording on t-shirts while women are more likely to be labeled negatively if they wear the same types of clothing, or worse, if they wear revealing, skimpy clothes–which results in a branding of “slut.”

What I think is most telling of these assessments is that only two students, one male and one female, articulated that more choices do not necessarily point to more freedom (which is actually an ongoing feminist debate). Women may have more styles to choose from to dress and accesorize their bodies, but does this actually equate to freedom? Many feminists (women AND men) would argue that this fact merely represents our culture’s privileging of the male ways of knowing over the feminine, meaning that it’s okay for women to embrace their masculine sides but RARELY okay for men to embrace what our culture regards as feminine. When men do so they are marked either as gay or “sissies,” unless it’s Halloween or Mardi Gras or something similar, of course. The worst way our culture can insult men is to feminize them, but it’s okay to masculinize women? Hmm…any thoughts here? So on one hand, women do have MORE freedom to express their individualities through clothing. On the other hand, this freedom indicates CONSTRAINTS on the types of identities that our culture accepts and, moreover, priviliges. This is a non-graded post, but I’m certainly interested in your feedback.


Feminism Wrap-up May 28, 2009

Filed under: course info — daniellemstern @ 9:07 am

I have thoroughly enjoyed reading your public comments and private journal entries regarding feminism. Most posed frank, yet thoughtful, ideas regarding the different types of feminism and how they are portrayed in everyday life and the media. When we get to the media section in a couple of weeks, we’ll talk even more about how popular entertainment and mainstream news construct and filter our understandings of gender and gender social movements.

For now, I thought I’d share (per the inquisitiveness of one student) a tally of feminist thinking in the course. Of 26 enrolled students, 25 completed the journal activity expressing your understandings and proclamations of feminist identity(-ies). Based on self-report 19 of you identified along some point of the feminist spectrum (liberal, social, structural, pro-feminist male). This includes 16 of the 20 women and three of the five men, which I think is pretty impressive. Now, please keep in mind that the goal of the assignment, nor the class, is to build a feminist army. Rather, it’s to challenge each of you to at least some introspection and reflection on gender inequalities and social movements.

Most of you mentioned in your journal assignments a previously skewed understanding of feminists as male-bashing lesbians, which you realize now as an inaccurate representation stemming from limited media portrayals and interpersonal experiences. I was amazed at how many of you shared a sense of enlightenment upon reading more about feminism(s), as well as learning more from the blog discussion. This only makes me look more forward to the second half of the class as we continue to challenge patterns and norms of gender in our social system.


Important course note May 14, 2009

Filed under: Blog info,course info — daniellemstern @ 10:15 am

Please be sure to visit the links organized by chapter in our course Blackboard page. While I will occasionally embed links and videos on the blog for selective blog activities and general course info, I think it will be helpful to get familiar with the Blackboard material as well. Also, I encourage you to post links and clips that you think would be useful or interesting to all of us to your own blogs once you’ve created them. These can be in addition to your chosen artifacts for the final portfolios if you would simply like to share a link. Remember to tag comm33009 if you include items as separate posts rather than in a links sidebar.

Also, please know that you can respond to and/or post questions to anything I’ve included in a post or a page by using the comment feature. Per the welcome post, first register with WordPress using your CNU email address so that you can log in and comment appropriately. You can, of course, email me anytime at However, I encourage you to use the blog for questions, as this dialogue might be helpful to other students.


Welcome COMM 330 Students April 15, 2009

Filed under: Blog info,course info — daniellemstern @ 12:11 am
Tags: ,

Welcome to This is where we’ll be spending lots of our virtual time together this summer.

To get started, please click on the link and register using your CNU email address. When you’re walking through the registration steps, be sure to check the box allowing you to create your own blog, as that is where you’ll create your final project Web portfolio. By registering you’ll also be able to comment correctly on our course blog (where you are now) once we begin using this space for virtual course discussion.

Once you’ve registered you’ll need to check your CNU email account to activate your blog. Follow the instructions onscreen to begin blogging, including creating a theme (which you select by clicking on the Appearance tab on the left of the Dashboard) after you’ve registered and activated your blog. I strongly, but politely of course, encourage you to create your course blogs now. You’ll want to play around with the publishing and tagging features, as well as learn how to embed media clips and Web site links.

For now, please practice adding the following tag, comm33009 (like I’ve done in this post), as this is the tag you’ll be adding to each of your Web portfolio posts. I would also like each of you to subscribe to that tag in the Tag Surfer menu of your Dashboard so that you can all share your work. For those of you new to blogging, posting and subscribing to tags is a way of aggregating blog subjects to an easy, central location, in this case your Dashboard. I’ve included what I hope are helpful blogging tips. You’ll see them as separate pages on the right of the course home page.

Please don’t be overwhelmed now. Just create your blog, breathe, then begin having fun with it. Oh, and please email me the link to your blog once you’ve created it. Thanks! 🙂