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Gender Studies

The study of gender as a fundamental category of social and cultural analysis.

Spotlight on Sex Work

March is Women's History Month and conversations surrounding the history of women and trans+ femme rights wouldn't be complete without discussing the stigma and discrimination of the sex work industry (which men, nonbinary, and agender folks also participate in). Sex work has often been considered "the oldest profession" and has been an active profession (legal or not) for centuries. Despite its active part of our communities, sex work has continuously been seen through a negative lens claiming sex workers have no agency and only do the work because they've been manipulated or coerced against their will. While there are absolutely dangerous situations in sex work—and sex trafficking is a real issue—it's time to see sex work for what it really is: a job.

Sex work is also an active area of research and scholarly discourse, particularly within gender and sexuality studies. This guide helps illuminate and contextualize the many cultural, critical, and scholarly threads surrounding sex workers and their experiences, exploring different perspectives of sex work and how to change the narrative of sex work to be more explicitly feminist and equitable.


A group of sex workers share the most challenging aspects of their jobs. (2021)

Resources for Further Exploration:

Next Steps
If you'd like to engage more deeply with Women's History Month, units across the Libraries have created a number of interrelated resources and features to provide more holistic coverage of this commemoration. You'll find those, below:

Scholarly Articles:


Journals to Explore:



While there are never enough groups working to support sex workers and end the stigma around this profession, there are a number of activist, advocacy, and research organizations dedicated to sex work and sex workers. We've included a selection of the most well-known below:

Spotlight on Disability Studies

A group of activists, including Judy Heumann (center, with yellow stockings) protest for the enforcement of Section 504 of the 1973 Rehabilitation Act, in April of 1977Throughout history, communities of disabled, neurodiverse, crip, and sick people have been overlooked and oversimplified in academic conversations. Disability activism and political movements carved out a space for addressing ableism in research and academia; as a result, disability studies has emerged. Disability studies is an interdisciplinary field that explores disabled identities in the humanities and social sciences. For this spotlight on disability studies, we include neurodiverse, crip, and sick identities in our definition of disability. 

To read more about disability language and the use of "crip," enjoy this article by Dean Strauss: "Queer Crips: Reclaiming Language," and Brittany Wong's Huffington Post article "It's Perfectly OK to call a Disabled Person 'Disabled,' And Here's Why."

We also recommend the following resources that helped with this feature:

Resources for Further Exploration
A selection of articles, online compilations, and other resources relevant to disability studies

Next Steps
The following features also cover topics of disability studies:

Image Description: A group of activists, including Judy Heumann (center, with yellow stockings) protest for the enforcement of Section 504 of the 1973 Rehabilitation Act, in April of 1977. Later that month, the protesters would occupy a federal building in San Francisco in protest in a sit-in that lasted more than 25 days. Photo by Wally McNamee / CORBIS / via Getty Images


Journal Articles

Study Resources

Spotlight on Consensual Non-monogamy

Image of three young black people embracing at the beachConsensual Non-monogamy
Consensual non-monogamy is an umbrella term used to describe any agreed-upon romantic/sexual relationship that falls outside of the exclusive, dyadic (two-person) structure of monogamy, including polyamory and open relationships. Though non-monogamous relationships have gained greater contemporary visibility, it has existed in many and various forms across history. This guide provides an introduction to both scholarly and popular resources for those wishing to learn more about consensual non-monogamy.

Getting Started

Selection of online archives and other resources, which can be used to find further information on this topic



Metaphysics of Gender

While in common parlance the word gender often serves as a kid-friendly synonym for sex, in feminist and academic discussions, the two are often seen as conceptually distinct. A rough and hasty description of the sex-gender distinction might say that sex is a biological given, gender is a social construction, and never the twain shall meet. However, even if we grant the sex-gender distinction (and a number of feminists do reject it for a variety of reasons), it remains far from obvious what, precisely, gender is, what it means for gender to be socially constructed, or what we should make of gender anyway.

Fortunately, feminists and philosophers have recently taken interest in the metaphysics of gender. This LibGuide serves as a selective bibliography on some of the scholarly work being done in this fascinating and important field of inquiry. A companion subject post on this topic is forthcoming.

Getting Started
For introductory material on the philosophy of gender and feminist philosophy, check out these articles from the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, which also provides extensive bibliographies of their own that are worth exploring:

Additionally, the following bibliography identifies sources (within and without philosophy) on matters pertaining to trans genders, the lived experiences of transfolk, and intersectionality, and should prove a valuable resource for those interested in the metaphysics of gender:

Next Steps
If you'd like to explore this topic further, our library subject research portals are also a good place to get started; among other things, they provide tailored, subject-based lists of research resources:

Sources on the nature of social construction, considered as such or with particular respect to gender:

  • Diaz‐Leon, Esa. "What is Social Construction?" European Journal of Philosophy 23, no. 4 (2015): 1137-52. arrow-link
  • Hacking, Ian. The Social Construction of What? Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1999. arrow-link
  • Haslanger, Sally. "Ontology and Social Construction." Philosophical Topics 23, no. 2 (1995): 95-125. arrow-link
  • Mallon, Ron. "Naturalistic Approaches to Social Construction." In Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, edited by Edward  N. Zalta. 2013. arrow-link
  • Sveinsdóttir, Ásta Kristjana. "The Social Construction of Human Kinds." Hypatia 28, no. 4 (2013): 716-32. arrow-link
  • Sveinsdóttir, Ásta. "Social Construction." Philosophy Compass 10, no. 12 (2015): 884-92. arrow-link

Sources on the genealogy of gender:

  • Butler, Judith. Gender Trouble. 2nd ed. London, UK: Routledge, 1999. arrow-link
  • Germon, Jennifer. Gender: A Genealogy of an Idea. New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009. arrow-link
  • Repo, Jemima. The Biopolitics of Gender. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2016. arrow-link

Sources on the metaphysics of gender:

  • Alcoff, Linda. Visible Identities: Race, Gender, and the Self. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2006. arrow-link
  • Bach, Theodore. "Gender Is a Natural Kind with a Historical Essence." Ethics 122, no. 2 (2012): 231-72. arrow-link
  • Butler, Judith. Gender Trouble. 2nd ed. London, UK: Routledge, 1999. arrow-link
  • Diaz-Leon, Esa. "'Woman' as a Politically Significant Term: A Solution to the Puzzle." Hypatia 31, no. 2 (2016): 245-58. arrow-link
  • Haslanger, Sally. "Gender and Race: (What) Are They? (What) Do We Want Them to Be?" Noûs 34, no. 1 (2000): 31-55. arrow-link
  • Haslanger, Sally. Resisting Reality: Social Construction and Social Critique. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2012. arrow-link
  • Jenkins, Katharine. "Amelioration and Inclusion: Gender Identity and the Concept of Woman." Ethics 126, no. 2 (2016): 394-421. arrow-link
  • Overall, Christine. "Sex/Gender Transitions and Life-Changing Aspirations." In You've Changed: Sex Reassignment and Personal Identity, edited by Laurie Shrage, 11-27. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2009. arrow-link
  • Power, Nicholas, Raja Halwani, and Alan Soble, eds. Philosophy of Sex: Contemporary Readings. 6th ed. New York, NY: Rowan & Littlefield, 2012. arrow-link
    • See, for example:
      • Ch. 14: Talia Bettcher, “Trans Women and the Meaning of 'Women'", 233-50.
      • Ch. 15: Christine Overall, “Trans Persons, Cisgender Persons, and Gender Identities”, 251-67.
  • Sveinsdóttir, Ásta Kristjana. "The Social Construction of Human Kinds." Hypatia 28, no. 4 (2013): 716-32. arrow-link
  • Witt, Charlotte. The Metaphysics of Gender. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2011. arrow-link
  • Witt, Charlotte, ed. Feminist Metaphysics. New York, NY: Springer, 2010. arrow-link
    • See, for example:
      • Ch. 3: Natalie Stoljar, “Different Women. Gender and the Realism-Nominalism Debate”, 27-46.
      • Ch. 5: Mari Mikkola, “Ontological Commitments, Sex and Gender”, 67-83.

Sources on feminist metaphysics and the metaphysics of gender vis-à-vis "mainstream" metaphysics:

  • Barnes, Elizabeth. "Going Beyond the Fundamental: Feminism in Contemporary Metaphysics." Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 3, no. 114 (2014): 335–51. arrow-link
  • Mikkola, Mari. "Feminist Metaphysics and Philosophical Methodology." Philosophy Compass 11, no. 11 (2016): 661-70. arrow-link
  • Mikkola, Mari. "On the apparent antagonism between feminist and mainstream metaphysics." Philosophical Studies (2016): 1-14. arrow-link
  • Schaffer, Jonathan. "Social Construction as Grounding; or, Fundamentality for Feminists, a Reply to Barnes and Mikkola." Philosophical Studies (2016): 1-17. arrow-link
  • Sider, Theodore. "Substantivity in Feminist Metaphysics." Philosophical Studies (2016): 1-12. arrow-link