Feminism, or PMS? Vote!

So, when I started working at Automattic 6 years ago, I bailed on finishing my college degree. I’m going back now and tying up some loose ends so that I can graduate next year. One of those loose ends is a Psychology of Women class. I took it once and failed it — I just stopped participating because it was driving me crazy, and it was past the allowed drop date when I decided this. Then I tried to take it again to replace the F, but it still drove me crazy, and I withdrew early enough that there was no grade. Third time’s the charm? This is just the first day (it’s an online course) and I am remembering all the reasons it drove me crazy the first two times, but I swear I’m going to stick it out this time.

I will need to write a three 5-8 page papers. Two of them are to be about women who have broken barriers in one of half a dozen areas. IIRC, last time I did them on Ada Lovelace and maybe Harriet Jacobs. I will need to pick two new women about whom to write 5-8 pages each. Historical and contemporary allowed.

Then there’s a research paper, which I think is new. It seems to be mostly asking 6 people a question, writing down their answers, and writing up a summary of what they said and if there are any commonalities. Not so much research as just getting people to tell you what they think, but okay. We get to choose from two research topics (the professor has already written the interview questions to be used): Feminism or PMS.

Having scanned the assignments for this term I have to say that it feels like a not-very-well-executed women’s studies course, not an upper level psych course, but again, okay. Either way, I’ll need to write these papers. So what do you think, folks, Feminism or PMS?

And any favorite women who’ve broken barriers that you think I should write about?

8 thoughts on “Feminism, or PMS? Vote!

  1. So this is probably a rabbit-hole that I don’t want to go down, but what are the interview questions for PMS? Are you researching PMS from a feminist perspective–like “is PMS a real medical thing, or something society made up to dismiss women’s legitimate anger about real problems?” If so, that might be legitimately interesting.

    • Hi Maureen. The PMS topic is a little different. While the Feminism topic has pre-set interview questions:

      Please describe your definition of a feminist. Pretend you are describing a feminist to an alien from another world. How would they know someone is a feminist? Describe behaviors, ideologies, beliefs, values, etc. that would identify someone as a feminist.

      …the PMS topic has a questionnaire form instead of interview-style questions. It starts with a list of 24 symptoms and asks the participant to check off how frequently they experience them, and at what intensity (both are 4-degree scales). It then asks if they take any medication for menstrual discomfort, for a description of their physical and emotional experiences in the week before menstruation, and has a space for any additional menstrual cycle-related comments.

  2. I like the fact that you’d choose a mathematican in one your your first courses. This really made me think what women I’d write about if I’d had such a class to take. And in general, what women I admire for what they achieved in life or what they where fighting for or against.

    After about 10 minutes I got shivers and had to remember Sophie Scholl and The White Rose.
    She definitely broke barriers and even gave her life in 1943. She’s a female BraveHeart :)

    There’s lots of information out there and at least 2 interesting, but tough Movies:
    (but probably not so easy to get in english besides this tape
    http://www.amazon.com/The-White-Rose-Lena-Stolze/dp/1585870420 )


    And a key scene in a YT trailer of the newest film, were she say’s
    “We fight with the word.” (search for: Opposition to the Nazis – Sophie Scholl)
    She’d probably use WordPress nowadays to get her message out.

    Further ideas:
    Florence Nightingale or
    Anita Roddick, Madonna, Mother Theresa?!

    You are welcome to contact me, if you need some (original) material when you decide on Sophie or Florence.

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