Dornsife to offer gender studies course on #MeToo

The Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences will offer a new course in gender studies that focuses on sexual violence and the #MeToo movement in starting in Fall 2018.

The class, titled “Why #MeToo? Sexual Violence in American Culture,” is different from other gender studies classes because of its focus on a contemporary issue, said Jeanne Weiss, a Dornsife student activities adviser.

Professor Ange-Marie Hancock Alfaro had the idea to start the class when she realized that there are “good, ethical people” who do not know about the movement and its genesis.

“I designed the class for an intelligent audience of people who want to know about this topic so that they can do the right thing going forward,” Alfaro said.

Alfaro wanted to develop this course for next semester due to the “pressing nature” of the #MeToo movement.

“Next year, the idea would be to come up with another topic,” Alfaro said. “[The class will have] the same kind of format so that each year students … will have the chance to take either a two- or a four-unit class in gender studies to really just understand their world better from a different perspective.”

Students can choose to take the class for either two or four units. The two-unit class will only require a lecture section, while students taking the four-unit course will also be required to attend a weekly discussion section. Students taking four units will also develop policy that they will then have the opportunity to present to people who would be affected by the policy.

According to Rebecca Zobeck, a program specialist in the gender studies department, a unique component to gender studies is its ability to look at issues through different perspectives.

“You could look at it from a perspective of health, from a sociological perspective [or] an anthropological perspective,” Zobeck said. “Gender studies is able to bring in all these different fields and this class is going to do that to give a very well rounded look at the topic.”

The class will bring activists, policymakers, journalists, filmmakers and legal experts together in discussion to talk about sexual violence and the #MeToo movement, according to Alfaro.

Alfaro said her class is valuable to students in two key ways. Students will learn about the history and prevalence of sexual violence in the nation’s culture, Alfaro said. Also, students taking the four-unit course will also be able to develop policy and learn about how to effect change firsthand.

“[The students will] also have a chance to have an impact in their world, not just kind of learn about it and forget about it,” Alfaro said. “That’s really important to me.”