Spring 2022 - SA 337 E100

Sexuality and Society (S) (4)

Class Number: 2794

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Jan 10 – Apr 11, 2022: Wed, 5:30–8:20 p.m.

  • Instructor:

    Michelle Walks
    Office: TBD
    Office Hours: Wed 16:00 - 17:00 via in-person
  • Prerequisites:

    SA 101 or 150 or 201W.



The categories that organize our understandings of sex, gender and sexuality have powerful histories and roles in organizing social relations in western society. Social activists and academics contest the naturalness of these categories, particularly that of the binary opposition between male and female, and related assumptions about sexuality and sexual orientation. This course encompasses a range of perspectives on sex/gender identity, sexuality, and the relationship between the two. These perspectives include feminist, lesbian and gay, and queer and transgender challenges to traditional understandings of sex/gender identity and sexuality.


 “Like gender, sexuality is political. It is organized into systems of power, which reward and encourage some individuals and activities, while punishing and suppressing others.”
(Gayle Rubin “Thinking Sex.” Deviations 2011 [1982], 189)


While sociologists have been interested in sexuality since almost the beginning of the discipline, the sociological study of sexuality/sexualities really blossomed in the 1960s, and it continues strongly today. Sociologists are interested in issues of power and socialization, as well as social institutions. This means that a sociological approach to sexuality considers the roles and relations of sexuality with colonialism, government, religion, education, peers, media, and family. Our course investigates these in conjunction with looking at the social construction of sexuality, our (individual and socially) taken-for-granted assumptions about sexuality/sexualities, as well as how experiences of sexuality are shaped by the social institutions we engage with. The first half of the course mainly considers the role of colonialism on sexuality, or in other words, the social construction of sexuality through colonialism. How do colonial histories (tied up with racism, patriarchy, capitalism, and Christianity) impact how people view and experience sexuality today? In the second half of the course we focus on queering our previously held understandings of sexuality, as well as how sexuality needs to be understood intersectionally (with simultaneous considerations of race, age, religion, social class, disability, etc.). Specifically, we look at family, social media, dating, and immigrant experiences. We consider how various (overlapping, and sometimes contradicting) social institutions impact our sexual beliefs and practices. While most readings are explicitly sociological, materials from other disciplines help to provide a more nuanced look at how sexuality impacts our lives, in Canadian society today.


  • Participation 10%
  • Quizzes (x10 - on Canvas) 20%
  • Quotes + Question (x4) 20%
  • Paper Proposal/Annotated Bibliography 20%
  • Final Paper 30%


Grading: Where a final exam is scheduled and the student does not write the exam or withdraw from the course before the deadline date, an N grade will be assigned. Unless otherwise specified on the course syllabus, all graded assignments for this course must be completed for a final grade other than N to be assigned. An N is considered as an F for the purposes of scholastic standing.

Grading System: The Undergraduate Course Grading System is as follows:

A+ (95-100) | A (90-94) | A- (85-89) | B+ (80-84) | B (75-79) | B- (70-74) | C+ (65-69) | C (60-64) | C- (55-59) | D (50-54) | F (0-49) | N*
*N standing to indicate the student did not complete course requirements

Academic Honesty and Student Conduct Policies: The Department of Sociology & Anthropology follows SFU policy in relation to grading practices, grade appeals (Policy T20.01), and academic honesty and student conduct procedures (S10‐S10.05). Unless otherwise informed by your instructor in writing, in graded written assignments you must cite the sources you rely on and include a bibliography/list of references, following an instructor-approved citation style. It is the responsibility of students to inform themselves of the content of SFU policies available on the SFU website.

Centre for Accessible Learning: Students with hidden or visible disabilities who believe they may need classroom or exam accommodations are encouraged to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning (1250 Maggie Benston Centre) as soon as possible to ensure that they are eligible and that approved accommodations and services are implemented in a timely fashion.

The Sociology and Anthropology Student Union, SASU, is a governing body of students who are engaged with the department and want to build the SA community. Get involved!  Follow Facebook and Instagram pages or visit our website.



All readings, videos, and materials will be available on or via Canvas.

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html


Teaching at SFU in spring 2022 will involve primarily in-person instruction, with safety plans in place.  Some courses will still be offered through remote methods, and if so, this will be clearly identified in the schedule of classes.  You will also know at enrollment whether remote course components will be “live” (synchronous) or at your own pace (asynchronous).

Enrolling in a course acknowledges that you are able to attend in whatever format is required.  You should not enroll in a course that is in-person if you are not able to return to campus, and should be aware that remote study may entail different modes of learning, interaction with your instructor, and ways of getting feedback on your work than may be the case for in-person classes.

Students with hidden or visible disabilities who may need class or exam accommodations, including in the context of remote learning, are advised to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning (caladmin@sfu.ca or 778-782-3112) as early as possible in order to prepare for the spring 2022 term.