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Dispelling the Myth of Gender

The social construction of gender, the gender spectrum, and the difference between sex and gender.
by

Valerie Carroll

on 11 May 2011

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Transcript of Dispelling the Myth of Gender

The
Social
Construction
of
Gender What is masculinity? What is femininity? The Gender Spectrum What is a social construct? An idea that develops solely from societal contexts. For example... elegant submissive beautiful delicate sensitive glamorous maternal soft emotional male butch What makes a man? Testosterone? An XY chromosome? The "manly qualities" from the video? Strength, power, independence? If that were true, "you could buy your gender over the counter at any pharmacy." There are more than two sets of gender chromosomes, and chances are you "haven't had a chromosome test to determine your gender." But women can possess these same characteristics. The dominant social norms define women as... And if a woman is outside of these norms, she is considered... virtuous sweet slutty bitchy crude rough cold So what makes a woman? There is no "rock bottom definition of woman, an unquestionable sense of what is a man...nothing except the fickle definitions of gender held by groups and individuals for their own purposes." "Gender is such a familiar part of daily life that it usually takes a deliberate disruption of our expectations of how women and men are supposed to act to pay attention to how it is produced. Gender signs and signals are so ubiquitous that we usually fail to note them--unless they are missing or ambiguous. Then we are uncomfortable until we have successfully placed the other person in a gender status." Why do we feel the need to place people into one of these socially constructed categories? They aren't even real! female trans gender sexual vestite an individual "whose gender identity and/or gender expression differs from the sex they were assigned at birth" (GLAAD). an individual that does not identify with either gender. intersex an individual that identifies with both genders; biologically, cognitively, or through sex reassignment surgery. Individuals can fall anywhere on this spectrum. Just because a person is biologically male or female does not mean he or she identifies with that particular gender. So what is gender, really? A performance. A way to categorize our lives. Bornstein, 2000 Bornstein, 2000 People constantly "do" their gender, and it begins at birth. The doctor determines a baby's sex, the baby is then given a gendered name, and is dressed accordingly. Little boys play with trucks and are treated differently than little girls, who play with dolls. Eventually, we learn to do our given gender without even thinking about it. (Lorber, 2000) Bornstein, 2000. Gender is simply a "club card that brings with it a set of physical and behavioral requirements as well as a list of mandated objects of desire and a certain power relation to other human beings" (Warnke, 2007). References Bornstein, K. (2000). Which Outlaws? Or, "Who Was That Masked Man?" . In M. Adams, W. J. Blumenfeld, C. Castañeda, H. W. Hackman, M. L. Peters, & X. Zúñiga. Readings for Diversity and Social Justice: An Anthology on Racism, Antisemitism, Sexism, Heterosexism, Ableism, and Classism (pp. 220-227). New York: Routeledge. Lorber, J. (2000). "Night to His Day": The Social Construction of Gender. In M. Adams, W. J. Blumenfeld, C. (. Castañeda, H. W. Hackman, M. L. Peters, & X. Zúñiga, Readings for Diversity and Social Justice: An Anthology on Racism, Antisemitism, Sexism, Heterosexism, Ableism, and Classism (pp. 203-212). New York: Routeledge. Warnke, G. (2007). After Identity: Rethinking Race, Sex, and Gender . Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Katz, J., Earp, J. (Writers), & Jhally, S. (Director). (1999). Tough Guise: Violence, Media, and the Crisis in Masculinity. determined by genitalia. how one perceives oneself based on these social constructions. Biological sex and gender are two completely different things. It's how humans make sense of the world. We need to feel like or unlike others around us. In addition to the XY and XX chromosome pairs, there are "some other commonly occurring sets of gender chromosomes, including XXY, XXX, YYY, XYY, and XO." Bornstein, 2000 Gender symbol:
http://destinationdiy.org/episodes/img/gender%20symbol.png
Vygotsky, L. (1978). Mind in Society: The Development of Higher Psychological Processes. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. The Identity Spectrum Graph:
http://th04.deviantart.net/fs71/PRE/i/2010/362/4/0/identity_spectrum__template__by_adf_fuensalida-d35w1qp.jpg Vygotsky, 1978 a derogatory term used for people that wear clothing typically associated with the opposite gender. The correct term is "crossdressing". The presence of a vagina? But what about people with ambiguous genitalia? The ability to bear children? Every woman eventually goes through menopause and loses this potential. Definitions: http://www.glaad.org/page.aspx?pid=376
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