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Sociology of Gender
Transcript of Sociology of Gender
attendance and active participation
situated book review
gender adventure paper (submitted in 3 parts)
What is sociology?
Sociology is 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 are critically interested in the role that gender plays in organizing social life and the role that inequalities play in organizing gender. While sociologists do understand gender as something individuals "have," we also understand gender to be something individuals "do."
Who is "X"?
"X" is a fictional account of an experiment aimed at understanding the origins and meanings of gender. What is the point of the story?
Sex vs. Gender
What's the difference?
And what's the big deal?
"Not only do men and women communicate differently but they think, feel, perceive, react, respond, love, need, and appreciate differently."
(Gray, 1990: 5)
what do we need to know to make sense of this image?
What is a "social institution"?
Social institutions are complex groups of interdependent positions that collectively perform some social role in society and reproduce themselves over time (ex: education, the family, work, religion).
Given this definition, does "gender" qualify?
What do sociologists mean by the term, "social structure"?
"Social structure" refers to the idea that we do not behave randomly. Rather, our lives are "structured" and patterned in ways that can be studied.
Gender is a part of this larger process.
The Gender Binary
the notion that there are only two and only two types of people: males and females. Males are assumed to be naturally "masculine, females naturally "feminine." They are understood as opposite.
Perpetuating the Gender Binary with Names
Super Bowl Commercials:
Celebrating and Challenging the Gender Binary
The Super Bowl is, in many ways, a "celebration of gender difference." By this I mean that, as a culture, we collectively exalt the masculinities and femininities "on display" at the event... but not just on the field.
what was the response?
names are great sources of sociological data because they show incredible patterns and tell us a great deal more than we may assume. Perpetuating the gender binary takes work, and name data shows one way we all participate in this work.
When the gender binary (and the ideologies that support it) is/are challenged, research has shown that we react -- and we react in predictable directions.
The hashtag "#LikeABoy" also spiked last night while people watched the game.
What does it mean to think of gender as "social"?
Can inequality exist even if we're not actively trying to perpetuate it?
"orchestrating inequality" -
gender inequality in symphony orchestras? How?
Proportions of Women in Major Symphony Orchestras, 1940-1999
"implicit associations" and the role of "gender bias" in social life
How might subconscious beliefs affect the ways we relate to one another in such a way that men and women might be seen as unequal?
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
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 "
" lead to different reproductive strategies, temperaments, and personality types among men and women.
Ex: Evolutionary Psychology
"Just So Stories"?
selection vs. "
where is gender located?
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)
What does Emily Martin find?
What does she believe this means more broadly?
Is it further entrenching gender inequalities that already exist?
Is it merely a powerful illustration of how gender inequality affects the ways we see and understand the world around us?
Are Eggs and Sperm "Sexual"? How?
Martin's story isn't just about gender though. Her findings also have implications for our understandings of sexuality. Explain.
How can gender differences appear that seem natural because they're not explicitly taught anywhere?
Might our society be set up in ways that produce gendered differences in behaviors, aptitudes, and more? Explain.
How "Controlling Images" Work
an image that works to produce a cultural "truth" about a particular group (regardless of whether or not that truth is accurate or not).
“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
UCLA study of
"gender identity disorders"
"...our basic principle, that of the objectivity of social facts."
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"
from accounts to accountability
gender, sex, sex category
Gender as Performance
Barbie Girls Versus Sea Monsters
how are the children "doing gender" in the scene Messner describes in the article?
explain how accountability to gender is at work here.
how does Messner study this issue from three perspectives related to "doing gender"
"When gender boundaries are activated, the loose aggregation ‘boys and girls’ consolidates into ‘the boys’ and ‘the girls’ as separate and reified groups. In the process, categories of identity that on other occasions have minimal relevance for interaction because the basis of separate collectivities… These stylized moments evoke recurring themes that are deeply rooted in our cultural conceptions of gender, and they suppress awareness of patterns that contradict and qualify them."
-Barrie Thorne, 1993,
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?
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: toy stores?
prejudice vs. discrimination?
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
"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
workplace performance expectations
Ann Arnet Ferguson
studying punishment, latent socialization, and labeling in elementary school.
How are Black boys treated differently? And why does it matter?
"Consider a birdcage. If you look very closely at just one wire in the cage, you cannot see... why a bird would not just fly around the wire any time it wanted to go somewhere... There is no physical property of any one wire, nothing that the closest scrutiny could discover, that will reveal how a bird could be inhibited or harmed by it except in the most accidental way. It is only when you step back, stop looking at the wires one by one... that you can see why the bird does not go anywhere; and then you will see it in a moment... It is perfectly obvious that the bird is surrounded by a network of systematically related barriers, no one of which would be the least hindrance to its flight, but which, by their relations to each other, are as confining as the solid walls of a dungeon."
- Marilyn Frye, "Oppression," (1983: 4-5)
intersecting identities and inequality
Bettie - "Exceptions to the Rule"
what does "mobility" refer to here?
what does "cultural capital" refer to?
how are mobility and cultural capital linked in Bettie's research?
and how are they linked differently for Mexican-American and white girls?
put simply, how do race, class, and gender intersect here?
C.J. Pascoe's "Dude, You're a Fag"
What's the significance of the opening skit?
We saw here an instance in which the organization of gender, sexuality and other status hierarchies at the school were highly visible and celebrated. How?
In what ways are heterosexuality and masculinity "institutionalized" at River High?
Why does Pascoe find "homophobia" inadequate to explain her findings?
what are "fag discourse" and "compulsive heterosexuality"?
what does it mean to say that masculinities are produced at River High by both "repudiating" emasculating identities and "confirming" masculinizing identities?
Men and Masculinities
what is androcentrism?
it's not only about higher status, authority, power, rewards, etc. to the "masculine." it's also about masculine being considered the norm.
a culturally idealized configuration of gender that works to make gender inequality appear either natural or just.
the collective advantages that men receive (as a group) for being men. Some men may receive more than others, but the patriarchal dividend works to systematically afford privileges to men.
a deal individuals strike, upholding some aspects of gender inequality in exchange for a bit of social status of reward--but this comes at a cost as well.
Women and Femininities
androcentrism, girls, and women
a particularly powerful statement about gender inequality is that masculinity is often more valued even among girls and women... as long as they don't do "too much" masculinity.
This tells us two things: (1) gender is a performance, and (2) it has different consequences depending upon who is performing.
a configuration of femininity whose chief effect is to justify men's dominance and authority.
Different groups of girls and women use the term "slut" in different ways. It's always an example of gender policing, but sometimes, it is also used in ways that perpetuates other forms of inequality as well.
the "real girl" critique
Research suggests that girls and young women do not want to see the impossible images of femininity portrayed by the media. But we keep producing them. Why?
"anorexia nervosa as the crystallization of culture"
Can gender shape career aspirations?
When fields of study become "gendered," it has an impact not only on whether or not girls or boys will pursue them, but also how they assess their abilities when they do.
Can your gender display be culturally influenced even if you're not aware that you're being influenced?
gender as "practiced indifference"
"practiced indifference" as distinction
Consider Kath Weston's discussions of how lesbian women navigate the labels "butch" and "femme". What did she find?
the significance of DRAG
consider the following:
do performances of drag stabilize gender boundaries?
or do they call they call them into question?
are we all "doing drag"?
"persistent patterns of social interaction aimed at meeting the needs of a society that can't easily be met by individuals alone" (Wade and Ferree, 164)
the whole set of institutions within which we live and with which we interact is what sociologists refer to as
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
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)
gender at the gym
"Eliminating sex-segregated bathrooms, or requiring the provision of at least some gender-neutral ones, is helpful to all of us some of the time and some of us all of the time."
(Wade and Ferree, 172)
History and Change
Gender is often discussed as something timeless. But research shows that it is better understood as anything but.
What can we learn from clothing? (1890-1920)
women's and men's clothing changed but remained gender segregated.
children's clothing changed from ungendered to gendered.
from "boys and girls" to "boys" and "girls
masculinity before homosexuality?
homosociality as a military recruiting tool
How changes in "childhood" affect gender relations
"Two centuries ago, the experience of youth was very different from what it is today. Segregation by age was far less prevalent, and chronological age played a smaller role in determining status. Adults were also far less likely to sentimentalize children as special creatures who were more innocent and vulnerable than adults."
Industrialization as "more work for mother"
how and why did "labor-saving" technology actually increase the amount of labor around the home?
Parenting Expectations and Gender Relations
the increasing unification of the world's economic, political, and cultural order
population growth and stabilization
4 historical transitions
1. longer lives
2. fewer children
3. less life-sustaining work at home
4. more diversity in family forms and
"It is often said that women make up a majority of the world's population. They do not."
"missing women" &
For as long as they have speculated about the status of women, social scientists have taken it for granted that women’s status improves as countries grow more prosperous.
So, what was happening with China and India, and how was it related to globalization?
Measuring Sex-Selective Abortion
1. country-specific and region-specific sex ratio data
2. sex ratios by birth order
"natural sex ratio"
105 boys : 100 girls
current global sex ratio
107 boys : 100 girls
~163,000,000 missing women (and counting)
Why is this happening? And what does it have to do with history, globalization, and change?
The Gender of Sexuality
gender and sexual subjects
the process by which we are taught to sexually think and feel.
gender and sexual objects
"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."
the process of representing or treating a person like a sex object, one that serves another’s sexual pleasure.
identifying sexual objectification in ads
Caroline Heldman (2012) - "Sexual Objectification: What is it?
1. pieces of sexualized bodies
2. sexualized bodies standing in for objects
3. presenting sexualized bodies as interchangeable
4. sexualizes violence and lack of consent
5. suggests sexual availability is a person's defining characteristic
6. suggests sexualized persons can be bought and sold
7. sexualized bodies as canvases
what's going on in this commercial?
Is this best understood as "sexual subjecification" or "sexual objectification" and why?
What does the advertisement illustrate about gender and sexuality?
Gender and Sexual Violence
the 2 best predictors of violence are age and gender
one of the most significant "causes" of boys' and men's violence is gender inequality
anthropological evidence -
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
societies in which gender inequality is highest are those where masculinity and femininity are considered polar opposites
the U.S. has the highest rate of reported rape in the industrial world
studying family life
who are the happiest heterosexual american couples?
To understand the facts that we know to be true, we need to know more about the contexts in which those facts occur.
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?]
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?
identical questions are asked of many different people and their answers gathered into one large data file
interviews & ethnography
collect detailed data on how family members spend their time
questions about "household labor"
work and workplaces
source: Bureau of Labor Statistics
Gender Composition of the U.S. Workforce (1972-2012)
gender discrimination and occupational segregation
the trouble with gender inequality in the workplace is that it comes from so many different places and some forms are easier to spot than others.
why is occupational segregation so persistent?
the tenet of male primacy
the tenet of gender essentialism
what is it and why is it so hard to measure?
gendered division 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)
2 forms of discrimination
treating people who are legally understood as the same as though they are different OR treating people legally understood as different as though they are the same
status characteristics theory
how does gender become a part of our 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.
ex. the cultural belief in that men are more competent, while women are more nurturing (think of how this belief influenced
gender status belief
How Are Women Harmed by "Descriptive" vs. "Prescriptive" Stereotypes and Gender Bias?
explain the distinctions between "descriptive-based bias" and "prescriptive-based bias"
How do these twin forms of gender bias harm women in different ways in the workplace?
How does Heilman argues that organizations can be structured in ways that make the devaluation of women within them more (or less) likely? Give us some examples.
Kristen Schilt's "Just One of the Guys?"
distinguish between the ways that the three theoretical perspectives Schilt tests with this research explain workplace disparities between men and women: "
human capital theory
gender role socialization theory
," and "
gendered organization theory
why are transgender individuals such a useful group to study to address this topic?
Relying on evidence from her research, what, exactly does she argue here? What is so new about Schilt's research that previous research on cis-gender men and woman might not have been able to capture?