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SOC364 - Gender (spring 2013)

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Tristan Bridges

on 29 April 2015

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Transcript of SOC364 - Gender (spring 2013)

Sociology of Gender

Tristan Bridges
(spring 2013)

what is sociology?
Sociology - the study of individuals, groups, society, and social behavior. We look for the origins of patterns of behavior and how those patterns are related to systems of social organization and inequality.
So, what is the sociology of gender?
Sociologists of gender study gender as a social process. While sociologists do understand gender as something individuals "have," we also understand gender to be something individuals "do."
1. attendance and participation
course components
2. critical thinking essays
3. midterm exam
4. book review
5. gender adventure paper
6. final exam

sex vs. gender
(what's the difference?)
theories of sex and gender are all around us. we only need learn to recognize them.
"Not only do men and women communicate differently but they think, feel, perceive, react, respond, love, need, and appreciate differently."
(Gray, 1990: 5)
1. do gender differences exist?
2. what is the relationship between gender difference and gender inequality?
Essentialist theories of sex and gender hold that there is an identifiable essence that makes people male or female, man or woman. (Change is difficult to imagine here.)
Constructivists by and large see sex and gender as things that society, and the individuals within it, have made. (This theory allows us to consider the possibility of change.)
what we think sex and gender
and where we think they
come from
have consequences for the ways we understand inequality.
Can inequality exist even if we're not actively trying to perpetuate it?
"orchestrating inequality" -
gender inequality in symphony orchestras? How?
tenet of
male primacy
tenet of
gender essentialism
types of theories

1. cross-culturally
2. historically
3. life-course
4. contextually

1. How is gender defined? Is it related to sex? If so, how? Different answers to this question help us highlight distinct parts of the social world.
2. Where is gender "located"? Is it something inside of a person, or something located in social interactions? Is gender inside our heads, or embedded in social institutions?
prior to the 19th c.
theological theories of
gender difference reigned
anatomy is
is everything about gender?
"deceptive distinctions"
Social Darwinism
distorting Darwin's ideas of "natural selection
(gender... where is IT?)
3. Does this theory explain any of the variation in gender that we know exists? How?
4. What are the theory's implications? [If this theory is correct, what are some of the consequences?]
what do we need to know to make sense of this image?
So... what IS gender?
one of the first
theories of gender
Life history matters!

biological determinism
Ex: Evolutionary Psychology
"Just So Stories"?
natural selection vs. "sexual selection"
where is gender located?
Biology is a natural science concerned with studying life and living organisms.
biological determinism refers to any theory or ideology that attempts to reduce some type of behavior to unchangeable biological roots.
why are biologically determinist theories so attractive?
1. the cultural prestige of biology
2. they confirm our observations
3. they are comforting
Ex: Sociobiology
Natural selection hasn't only guided the evolution of the structure of organisms, but also certain behavioral tendencies.
“In hunter-gatherer societies, men hunt and women stay at home. This strong bias persists in most agricultural and industrial societies, and, on that ground alone, appears to have a genetic origin.” -Edward O. Wilson
sex differentiated "adaptive problems" lead to different reproductive strategies, temperaments, and personality types among men and women.
evolutionary psychological explanations for sexual violence and assault?
the idea of rape as a "reproductive strategy" fails to address a great deal of the facts that we know about sexual violence by men toward women.
problems with biologically determinist theories
1. argument by analogy
2. the tyranny of averages
3. the black hole hypothesis
consequences of biologically determinist theories
1. gender differences appear timeless, universal, and completely responsible for social organization.
2. gender inequality appears inevitable.
(Jeffrey Weeks, 1986)

sex-role theory
(1950's - 1980's)
there are two - and only two - sex roles in every imaginable situation: the masculine ("instrumental") and the feminine ("expressive").
People live up to these roles because of social "expectations."
The two roles are different, but (according to the theory) not unequal.
Male and female sex roles play a role in producing social balance ("equilibrium")
problems with sex-role theory
tautological (circular logic)
teleological (appeals to some higher order)
can't account for change
ahistorical (fails to acknowledge historical shifts)
can't account for deviance
fails to acknowledge multiplicity
does not account for power and inequality
questions to ask of theories
status characteristics theory
"doing gender" theory
sex categorization
how does gender become a part of our interactions?
performance expectations
status characteristics
"goal-oriented" interactions
a "best guess" at how useful someone is going to be in performing some kind of task.
some kind of difference that exists between people to which a sense of lesser or greater value or esteem is given.
gender status belief
ex. the cultural belief in that men are more competent, while women are more nurturing (think of how this belief influenced
sex-role theory
implicit association test (IAT)
a test designed to measure automatic associations between mental categories (e.g., race, gender) and individual qualities.
why "implicit"?
what do these results mean?
how do they support the assumptions of status characteristics theory?
“If authenticity for gender rests not in a discoverable nature but in someone else’s proclamation, then the power to proclaim something else is available. If physicians recognized that implicit in their management of gender is the notion that finally, and always, people construct gender as well as the social systems that are grounded in gender-based concepts, the possibilities for real societal transformations would be unlimited.” (Suzanne Kessler - on intersexed individuals)
on the significance
of Agnes
harold garfinkel
UCLA study of "gender identity disorders"
"...our basic principle, that of the objectivity of social facts."
"no way
who is Agnes?
what is Agnes' "problem"?
what was garfinkel's insight about Agnes and why was it so significant?
gender as an "ongoing accomplishment"
"doing gender"
from accounts to accountability
gender, sex, sex category

barbie girls
sea monsters
performative level (interactional)
structural level (institutional)
cultural level (Connell's "symbolic relations")
"borderwork" (Thorne, 1993)
how did all three of these levels work together to produce the interactions Messner witnessed?
workplace dynamics
gendered organizations
create divisions along gender lines
construct symbols that can support or oppose those divisions
produce types of interactions that reinforce these divisions (and inequality)
have an impact on individual identity
gender helps to create and reinforce social structures
"organizational logic"
early 1900's
early 2000's
gendered roles within institutions
ex. parenting roles are gendered before you or I even occupy them. The roles themselves are gendered.
gender at the gym
a gendered organization is one in which "advantage and disadvantage, exploitation and control, action and emotion, meaning and identity, are patterned through and in terms of a distinction between male and female, masculine and feminine." (Acker 1990)
shift focus from individuals and interactions to "social aggregates"
"the family" as a gendered institutions
jobs, hierarchies, and the question of "gender-neutrality"
transformations in residential architecture
gender differences in
the status attainment model
(Blau and Duncan 1967)
origins + education = destination
"...gender difference in occupational destinations is not only the main source of gender differences in mobility, it may well be the only source."
(Hout and DiPrete, 2004)
(Joan Acker)

the increasing unification of the world's economic, political, and cultural order
gender and development
women's role in economic development? (the significance of the "informal economy")
what is "development" and how does it work?
the assumption of "one-size-fits-all" gender relations
sex selection
"It is often said that women make up a majority of the world's population. They do not."
-Amartya Sen
missing women
surplus men
4 historical transitions
1. longer lives
2. fewer children
3. less life-sustaining work at home
4. more diversity in family forms and
exporting & importing gender
intersections with race, class, & sexuality
can the categories of "women" and "men" really describe all the diverse experiences of the people we place in those categories?
why haven't we come up with a better way of integrating race, class, and sexuality?
how can we develop a theory that accurately accounts for the diverse experiences of the many different types of men and women?
how do we deal with other categories of difference like race, class, and sexuality?
mathematical models
additive analyses of oppression assume that various forms of oppression can be added together.
multiplicative analyses of oppression also rely on a mathematical model.
problems with mathematical models
1. underlying belief in dichotomies
2. the "contest of oppressions"
how does taking an "intersectional" approach resolve these issues?
inequalities as interlocking and simultaneous
producing both oppression and privilege
ex: the toy store
virtually any stereotype can come to seem inevitable when ritualized interactions are repeated enough to reinforce it
asian american women and racialized femininities
competing models of femininity
situational expectations
"I feel like when I'm amongst other Asians... I'm much more reserved and I hold back when I think... But when I'm among other people like at school, I'm much more outspoken. I'll say whatever's on my mind. It's like a diametric character altogether... I feel like when I'm with other Asians that I'm the typical [Asian] person and I feel like that's what's expected of me and if I do say something and if I'm the normal person that I am, I'd stick out like a sore thumb. So I just blend in with the situation."
experience of gay men and lesbians in the workforce
"gay friendly"?
workplace performance expectations
Dude, You're a Fag: Masculinity and Sexuality in High School
by CJ Pascoe
At a basic level, Pascoe's argument is that boys calling each other "fag" at school is a part of the cultural process through which both gender and inequality (gender, race, class, sexual) are being reproduced.
What does Pascoe mean by "
fag discourse
"? What does it look like? How does it work? How is this something different than homophobia?
Similarly, Pascoe discusses "
compulsive heterosexuality
." This is tied to, but also distinct from, fag discourse. What does she mean and how does it relate to her larger argument?
Pascoe studies this at both the
levels here.
What does this mean?
Which parts of her argument can we connect with these different levels of analyzing gender in social life?
Can we analyze her ideas in ways similar to Messner's examination of the Barbie Girls vs. the Sea Monsters (e.g., performance, structure, culture)? How?
Could we consider the ways that Connell's theory of gender relations might be used to make sense of Pascoe's findings (e.g., power relations, production relations, emotional relations, symbolic relations)? How?
The Gender of Sexuality
- any act that is socially defined as "sexual"
The interactionist perspective ("doing gender") understands gender as something that we perform in ways that make those performances appear inevitable, when in fact they are not. Being sexual, having sex, and acting "sexually" is one way in which we create accountable performances of gender.
masculinity and sexuality
sexual subjectivity
so what does it mean to talk about sexuality as
femininity and sexuality
sexual objectification
"It just happened really. I mean, I didn't want to 'cause I couldn't ever picture myself having sex, but umm, all my friends did, and umm, so it just happened and he was my first so... I thought it was right 'cause we were going out for two years before we did."
sex tourism
romance tourism
"sexual scripts"
the learned guidelines for sexual expression that provide individuals with a sense of "appropriate" (and "inappropriate") sexual behaviors and desires for their particular culture.
Emily Martin's analysis of medical descriptions of eggs and sperm illustrates one small way in which sexual scripts are culturally disseminated.
what "counts" as sexual and what doesn't "count"?
Levels of Sexual Scripts
cultural scenario
paradigmatic vs. post-paradigmatic societies
Gender in the Workplace
gendereddivision of labor
there are very few jobs in very few societies that are not allocated by gender
In societies in which women's labor is considered less valuable, women actually do more work than men (up to 35% more in terms of time).
men are "ungendered" by failure at work; women are "ungendered" by success.
income inequality
in the workplace
sex segregation
in the workplace
wage gap
the glass ceiling and
the sticky floor
% of women in the workforce
source: Bureau of Labor Statistics
Gender Composition of the U.S. Workforce (1972-2012)
Gender and the Family
his marriage
her marriage
theories of marriage
child outcomes
"Nobody has ever before asked the nuclear family to live all by itself in a box the way we do. With no relatives, no support, we've put it in an impossible situation."
--Margaret Mead
can men "mother"?
quality vs. quantity time
family form vs. content
The most reliable studies "find that family structure - the number of parents in the home or the fact of divorce [or even the gender or sexuality of the parent(s)] - is not in itself a critical factor in children's well-being. In both intact and other families, what children need most is a warm, concerned relationship with at least one parent."
- Arlene Skolnick
who are the happiest heterosexual american couples?
studying family life
To understand the facts that we know to be true, we need to know more about the contexts in which those facts occur.
correlation vs. causation
division of household labor
what counts as housework?
what tasks are "masculine" or "feminine"? what kinds of distinctions do you notice between the masculine vs. feminine housework?
how is the division of household labor "institutionalized"? [What kinds of social forces might play a role in structuring the ways couples make decisions about who does what around the house?]
group activity
Research shows that the gap in hours spent (either at work or on housework) is closing. Yet, many scholars are skeptical of whether this change indicates that the "chore wars" are over. What kinds of gendered problems might couples still face when it comes to the division of household labor? What kinds of things might be more difficult to measure than surveys or time diary studies allow?
how do you think we might measure the division of household labor?
survey research
identical questions are asked of many different people and their answers gathered into one large data file
interviews & ethnography
time-use research
collect detailed data on how family members spend their time
Gender in Education
"Math class is tough!"
- Talking Barbie (1992)
The "Hidden Curriculum"
The unofficial and often unspoken norms, behaviors, and values that students learn at school in addition to the official curriculum of math reading, language, science, etc.
Education as Historically Gendered
"Cornell secured infants through area orphanages and child welfare associations. Babies were nurtured by the students according to strict schedules and guidelines, and after a year, they were available for adoption."
- Cornell's "Home Economics" (1900-1969)
Gender Differences in How We Learn?
"Girls and boys differ fundamentally in the learning style they feel most comfortable with. Girls tend to look on the teacher as an ally. Given a little encouragement, they will welcome the teacher’s help. A girl-friendly classroom is a safe, comfortable, welcoming place… The teacher should never yell or shout at a girl. ... Avoid the word ‘why.’. . . Minimize assignments that require working alone."
-National Association for Single Sex Public Education
problems with the individual-level approach
Gender Differences in Instruction
“From elementary school through higher education, female students receive less active instruction, both in quantity and quality of teacher time and attention.”
-Myra and David Sadker, "Failing at Fairness"
Gender Differences in What We're Learning From
Boy-centered vs. Girl-centered language
Changes in the presentation of girls and women (but less so for boys and men)
(US Dept of Health, Education and Welfare Survey, 1975)
but what are the consequences of gender differences in education?
the "gender gap" in college graduation
not at the top schools
not for white men and women (the group from which we hear the most on this topic)
school as a gendered space
The Gendered Body
how do you feel about your body?
“Genteel women are, literally speaking, slaves to their bodies, and glory in their subjection... women are everywhere in this deplorable state... Taught from their infancy that beauty is a woman’s scepter, the mind shapes itself to the body, and, roaming around its gilt cage, only seeks to adorn its prison.”
-Mary Wollstoncraft, 1792
the "beauty myth" - the belief in a quality called beauty that is real and universal and that women, due to biological, sexual, and evolutionary factors, should want to embody, while men should desire the women who embody that ideal of beauty.
"anorexia nervosa as the crystallization of culture" (Susan Bordo)
young men today are much more likely than their fathers and grandfathers to view their bodies as saying something about them and as their own responsibility.
distribution of violence among men
"boys will
be boys!"
societies in which gender inequality is highest are those where masculinity and femininity are considered polar opposites
themes leading to violence:
1. ideal manhood is the fierce warrior
2. public leadership is associated with male dominance
3. women are prohibited from public political participation
4. most public interaction is between men
5. boys and girls are systematically separated at an early age
6. initiation rituals for boys stress male solidarity, endurance, hostility, and dominance of older men
7. the ritual celebration of fertility focuses on male generative ability
8. male economic activities and the products of male labor are prized more than female
one of the most significant "causes" of male violence is gender inequality
young American men are the most violent group of people in the industrialized world today.
the 2 best predictors of violence are age and gender
women do commit crime, but they commit different crimes (on average) and they have different motivations (on average)
property crimes
"females take symbols of adult female identity--cosmetics, jewelry and sexy underwear" (Jack Katz)
the U.S. has the highest rate of reported rape in the industrial world
the home is statistically speaking the most dangerous place for women and children
historical association of violence and masculinity
percentage of the prison population
"There are times when every boy must defend his own rights if his is not to become a coward and lose the road to independence and true manhood... The strong willed boy needs no inspiration to combat, but often a good deal of guidance and restraint. If he fights more than, let us say, a half dozen time a week--except of course during his first week at a new school--he is probably over-quarrelsome and needs to curd. The sensitive, retiring boy, on the other hand, needs encouragement to stand his ground and fight."
Gender and Violence
sociological explanations
Full transcript