Gender and Psychology

Home/ Gender and Psychology
Course TypeCourse CodeNo. Of Credits
Foundation ElectiveNA4

Semester and Year Offered: 4th Semester, 2nd Year

Course Coordinator and Team: Mamatha Karollil

Email of course coordinator: mamatha[at]aud[dot]ac[dot]in

Pre-requisites: None

Aim: This course will look at the interface between gender and psychology. Where do we locate gender when looked at through the lens of psychology? What is gender, what are its origins and sites of reproduction,what possibilities for a feminist politics, when looked at through the lens of psychoanalysis? How does the psychology of gender connect to political economical structures that are typically addressed in feminist politics? A central question pursued through the readings will be: What new grounds for a better, just world does a cultural, social constructionist and/ or post-structuralist lens on our gendered and erotic subjectivities open up?

Course Outcomes:

At the end of the course, the students achieves the ability to:

  1. Describe and critically assess the psychoanalytic accounts of the production of gender – feminities, masculinities and other genders.
  2. Connect these revisions/ accounts to examine gendered power in everyday life, sites, relationships and experiences therein.
  3. Use this understanding to illuminate (and suggest counters to) the problems in gendered relationships such as domestic violence, sexual harassment, sexism and discrimination on the basis of gender and sexuality.

Assessment Details with weights (tentative):

  1. Attendance : 10
  2. Class participation: 10
  3. Ongoing Presentations: 40%
  4. End Term Exam/ Essay: 40%

Brief description of modules/ Main modules:

Unit 1: Gendered Subjectivities and Psychoanalysis/ Psychology

  • We revisit classical psychoanalytic theorizing on masculinity and feminity through feminist and queer re-readings of these.
  • Readings:
  • Hook, Derek (2006). Psychoanalysis, sexual difference and the castration problematic [online]. London: LSE Research Online.
  • Irigaray (1980) This Sex Which is Not One
  • Chodorow (1985) Gender, Relation, and Difference in Psychoanalytic Perspective
  • Adrienne Harris. (2000) Gender as a Sort Assembly Tomboys' Stories, Studies in Gender and Sexuality, 1:3, 223-250
  • Suggested Readings:
  • Freud (1925) Some Psychical Consequences of the Anatomical Distinction Between the Sexes
  • Freud, S. (1905). Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality. In Freud- Complete Works (p. 617-663). Ivan Smith.
  • Freud (1933) Feminity
  • Freud (1931) Female Sexuality
  • Rubin, Gayle (1975). “The Traffic in Women: Notes on a Political Economy of Sex.”In Rayna R. Reiter (ed.), Toward an Anthropology of Women. Monthly Review Press. pp. 157--210 (1975)

Unit 2: The Production of Gender at Everyday Sites and Practices

We examine various sites of the production of gender – through ethnographic work that shows its production in everyday sites (the streets, the home, the class-room) and at the intersections of religious and class/caste marked discourses of gender.


  • Odeh, Lama Abu. 1993. Post-colonial feminism and the veil: Thinking the difference. In Gergen and Davis (ed) Toward a New Psychology of Gender (A Reader).
  • Chopra, Radhika. 2007. Invisible Men: Masculinity, Sexuality and Male Domestic Labour.
  • Walkerdine, V (1997). Feminity as Performance. In Gergen and Davis (ed) Toward a New Psychology of Gender (A Reader).
  • Unit 2 : Love, Sex and Politics : The Hard Eye on Heterosexuality/Heteronormativity
  • What are the masculine and feminine positions that we inadvertently take up in our love relationships? What makes for ‘desirable’ men and women? What’s lost and gained in these positions? Where lies the possibilities of disruption of these positionings?


  • Hollway, W. (1998) “Gender Difference and the Production of Subjectivity”. In, Henriques,J. W.Hollway, C.Urwin, C.Venn and V.Walkerdine Changing the Subject: Psychology, Social Regulation and Subjectivity. 2nd edition with new 4,000 word foreword. pp352. London: Routledge. (1998)
  • Franco, F., Macwan, J., & Ramanathan, S. (2007). Marriage, Sexuality and Motherhood. In: N.Menon, ed., Sexualities. New Delhi: Women Unlimited, pp. 141-174. (for caste violence and desire.)
  • Ghai, A. (2015). Chapter 4: At the Periphery: Marginalized Disabled Lives (pp. 101 – 165). In Rethinking Disability in India. India: Routledge.
  • Kitzinger, Celia; Wilkinson, Sue (1994), "Virgins and Queers: Rehabilitating Heterosexuality?", Gender & Society 8 (Vol. 23): 444–462,
  • Suggested Readings:
  • Benjamin, J (1986) The Alienation of Desire: Women’s Masochism and Ideal Love.
  • Rich, Adrienne. 1983. Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Existence.
  • Wetherell, M. (1995) ‘Romantic discourse and feminist analysis: Interrogating Investment, Power and Desire’. In Sue Wilkinson and Celia Kitzinger (Eds), Feminism and Discourse, London: Sage.
  • Kakar, S. (2016). “The Engulfing Mother in Indian Mythology: Masculinity and Conflicting Desires”. Antyajaa: Indian Journal of Women and Social Change 1(1), 60-64.
  • Prem Choudhry, 2007. “Lustful Women, Elusive Lovers: Identifying Males as Objects of Female Desire”. In N. Menon, Sexualities, New Delhi: Kali for Women.

Unit 3 : Love, Sex and Politics: Violence Against Women and Other Sex Wars

Building on the previous section, here we closely examine the psychodynamics of relations called violent in the conventional sense- sexual harassment, domestic violence, sexual violence.


  • Kitzinger, C., & Thomas, A. (1995). Sexual harassment: A discursive approach. In S. Wilkinson & C. Kitzinger (Eds.), Gender and psychology: Feminist and critical perspectives. Feminism and discourse: Psychological perspectives (pp. 32-48). Thousand Oaks, CA, US: Sage Publications, Inc.
  • Goldner, V et al (1990) Love and Violence: Gender Paradoxes in Volatile Attachments. Family Process, 29, No (4): 343-36.
  • Kakar, Sudhir (1980) ‘Scenes from Marriages’ and ‘The Sex Wars’, Intimate Relations, New Delhi: Penguin Books.
  • Suggested Readings:
  • Frosh, S. (1994) Sexual Difference: Masculinity and Psychoanalysis. London and New York: Routledge. (Ch. 5, Seeds of Masculine Sexuality).
  • Kimmel, M.S. (1999) “Masculinity as Homophobia: Fear, Shame and Silence in the Construction of Gender Identity. In Kupers, J.A. (ed.) Men and Power. New York: Prometheus.
  • Unit 4: Gender and Mental Illness: The Monstrous/ Impure/ Pathologized Body
  • Construction of the female body- power, discourse and women’s bodies- psychopathology and the female body.


  • Ussher, J.M. (1991) Women's Madness: Misogyny or Mental Illness? Amherst, MA, US: University of Massachusetts Press.
  • Susan Bordo (1996). "Anorexia nervosa: psychopathology as the crystallization of culture". In Mary M. Gergen, Sara N. Davis. Toward a new psychology of gender. Routledge

Suggested Readings:

  • Ussher, J. M. (2003b). The role of premenstrual dysphoric disorder in the subjectification ofwomen. Journal ofMedical Humanities, 24(1/2), 131–146.
  • Hare-Mustin, R. (1994). Discourses in the mirrored room: A postmodern analysis of therapy. Family Process, 33, 19-35.
  • Ram, K. (2001).The Female Body of Possession: A Feminist Perspective on Rural Tamil Women’s Experience. In Davar, B.V. (Ed), Mental Health from a Gender Perspective, Sage Publications: London.