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Transcript of Doing Gender
Characteristics of Doing Gender
The Five Sexes, Revisited
Today we will...
- Discuss what it means to "do gender"
- Discuss processes by which we "do gender"
- Explore sex categorization and how it relates to how we "do gender"
What it Means
is “a determination made through the application of social agreed upon biological criteria for classifying persons as females or males” ( West and Zimmerman, p. 127).
the expression of the biological criteria
“the activity of managing … conduct in light of … conceptions of attitudes and activities appropriate for one’s sex category” (p. 127).
- We don't think about it which is why it is often
hard for us to identify--it's routine
- Gender is a social institution--there is a
reason we feel the need to differentiate
- Doing gender creates a social script-
we generally know how someone will act
based on gender.
- Individual perspective whichever is A,
the other is not A (opposites)
But how exactly do we "do" gender?
- Gender is an interaction; it is not fixed
- Doing gender takes place in everyday social interactions and contexts.
- How we do gender varies by cultural context; gender is a cultural script
- Labels in language create "essential" differences
(men's bathroom, women's bathroom--is it necessary?) (Erving Goffman)
- What behaviors are appropriate for public restrooms? Differ?
Discuss in groups of 3-5 how you "do" gender in your everyday life. Think of specific examples to share with class, including when someone didn't "do" gender in accordance with norms.
One of the earliest and strongest forms of socialization we experience.
- One reason it may be so difficult for us to think about gender as anything but "natural"
Varies by culture based on cultural expectations and gender norms in each culture.
"Doing gender means creating differences between girls and boys and women and men, differences that are not natural, essential, or biological. Once the differences have been constructed, they are used to reinforce the "essentialness" of gender." (West and Zimmerman, p. 137)
Levels of Doing Gender
"do"/perform gender in accordance with expectations of those they interact with
maintains distinctions from individual level to reinforce "essentialness" of gender
Gender structures interaction and is structured by interaction
Gender norms provide the "proper" way of members of a sex category to behave, but abiding by these norms reproduces gender making it seem "natural"
- Talk with people around you: In what ways are men and women similar and/or different. If you were designing a study, how would you test this?
Doing Gender: How?
- Two sex system in our society is not adequate to encompass full spectrum of human sexuality
- The way we "do gender" reinforces this two-sex system
- What happens when someone doesn't fit in this two sex binary?
5 sex system
people born with a testis and overy
people born with testes and some aspect of female genitalia
people who have ovaries combined with some aspect of male genitialia
Concept of intersexuality rooted in ideas of male and female (4% of all live births)
Is there any way to avoid doing gender?
Can we chose not to participate in doing gender?
What are the implications for doing gender?