Gender Studies at BFA

Gender Studies class watching how gender is portrayed through advertisements. 

Photo Credit: Leeza Kusmit

Gender Studies class watching how gender is portrayed through advertisements. Photo Credit: Leeza Kusmit

Hannah Branon, Contributor

Gender Studies, which can be found under the social studies course list in Bellows Free Academy’s Program of Studies, is an elective option for students of sophomore, junior or senior standing. The course, which was first introduced at the start of the 2021-2022 school year, is taught by Sara Howard. 

The Mercury recently sat down with student Anna Bouchard (´23) and Howard to better understand the course and its content. 

The semester-long course touches on several different subjects of gender. The course begins with learning about the origin of gender. The course then transitions into women’s history and the women’s Suffrage Movement.  The other units mentioned by Howard include, “a masculinity unit in the late 80s [and] early 90s, and the last unit has to deal with the different changing non-binary cultures within the United States right now.” 

Unlike other traditional social studies electives offered at BFA, Gender Studies allows students to “adventure into what they want to look [at] within gender roles,” said Howard. 

Howard introduced the course to Bellows Free Academy when she had to step in to teach the previous Women’s History course that was offered. From here, Howard proposed Women’s History transition to Gender Studies. 

Bouchard, a student who was enrolled in the course during the 2021-2022 school year, remarked that the class brought her, “more [of a] modern application of how gender plays a role in our lives.” She added, “ [Howard] gave us a lot of freedom” 

When asked why Bouchard decided to take the class, she said her decision to sign up was sparked by  “curiosity and a bit of interest.” 

Bouchard encouraged people to sign up for the course if “[they] are willing to share their opinions about [the topics], and if you are interested in the subject.”  

Howard also elaborated on her hopes of what students will take away from the course. “Gender studies has [a] history surrounding it, understanding that this did not come out of nowhere,” Howard said. 

Howard also hoped students would gain more “awareness” from taking the course. 

Throughout the course, there are several different projects that will be completed, along with class discussion.

Bouchard elaborated on one of her final projects:  “[My] final essay was on the damsel in distress archetype.” She added, “Women were usually either portrayed as damsels in distress, or [women] were given more masculine qualities.” 

Bouchard reiterated the importance of Howard providing students the ability  “[to] explore what specifically [they] were interested in.” 

The course was “really fun,” Bouchard said with a smile.