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Gender and Society

by: Mafalda Bradtke

Gender and Society SOC 3400

Mafalda Bradtke
GPA 3.94

Gretchen Webber

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Gretchen Webber
Class Notes
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This 9 page Class Notes was uploaded by Mafalda Bradtke on Wednesday September 23, 2015. The Class Notes belongs to SOC 3400 at Middle Tennessee State University taught by Gretchen Webber in Fall. Since its upload, it has received 74 views. For similar materials see /class/213188/soc-3400-middle-tennessee-state-university in Sociology at Middle Tennessee State University.


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Date Created: 09/23/15
TOPICS 1 What is feminist approach to studying gender Social Construction of gender de nition This approach includes asking how do race class gender age health sexual orientation etc in uence our lives and choices If you think that everyone ought to have the same opportunities to participate in this world then you are a feminist In other words feminism is the idea that regardless of someone s sex race social class and other characteristics people ought to be able to pursue their interests dreams and desires Social construction of gender the process of transforming males and females who differ minimally in biological terms into two groups that differ noticeably in appearance opportunity resources power 2 KramerSex and gender same or different Definitions Sex the chromosomal chemical anatomical apparatuses that make us either male or female Gender the cultural and social meanings experiences and institutional structures that are defined as appropriate for those males and females 3 Crawley 7 what is a dichotomy What does dichotomy have to do with gender Other ways to think of genderEssentialist ideas of genderBody and social practices Dichotomy the definition from Webster s dictionary a division into two especially mutually exclusive or contradictory groups or entities In current society we often understand gender as a dichotomy but this is a shortcoming and an inaccurate view of the complexity of gender relations According to Crawley the physiological body and the gender that we identify with have nothing to do with one another Crawley argues that it is actually social messages and processes that then lead us to act our gender and quotlook the partquot and that how we interpret gender is a quotcombination of both physiological experience and social interpretationquot 5 The author uses the example of segregated restrooms It is not necessary for males and females to have separate facilities but in the US it is part of our social construct Thus just by using these facilities as we have been taught to do we further construct the idea of gender according to our genitalia Essentialists are the type of people who believe that gender is based entirely on biological differences and do not see social process as a part of it Men are men because oftheir biology and the same goes for women and the way we act stems solely from these facts and makes it non sociologically based Crawley s book argues social constructionism which comes from sociological method and practices Human beings now tend to separate and distinguish gender more because of the social constructs we have applied to it If we did not expect men to use one restroom and women another then it would lessen the gap we see in men and women Essentially I believe the author s are saying that we are doing this to ourselves by adhering to the traditional views of gender Men and women become more separate and dichotomized because we stick to what we know and create this in our social processes We participate in the eitheror idea and our bodies and actions often re ect that Things like crossing your legs and wearing a shirt when running are more synonymous with being a woman than being a man The way you speak eat etc all conforms to the gender that we associate with and creates a clear division between these two genders 4 PinldBlue Newsweek sex differences in the brain The gender of a child can greatly in uence how we treat a child dress it what activities we encourage them to engage in and what kind of behavior we consider normative for them According to the article it is even common for us to underestimate a certain child solely based on their gender in terms of academia and physical accomplishments If you believe something to be true it eventually becomes that way We see men and women as two entirely different groups starting before birth and the consequences of that will last throughout life and effect how they are perceived and treated According to Begley how we treat a child when it is younger inevitably effects how they will act when they are older Ifwe treat children and gender like a dichotomy they will eventually grow up and who they are will re ect how they were treated and whether they were raised like a boy typically is or a girl typically is For example if a male child is made to believe he is stronger than a female child this could potentially re ect in his later years when he sees a woman of similar stature and build That woman could potentially lift the same if not more as the male but due to the concepts he was taught when he was younger he could feel as though he is stronger than her and that he may need to aid her in carrying something Boys irritable attitudes can also cause detachment from parents in childhood and re ect in their social skills later in life Children also begin to conform to their gender expectations at a young age with further instills their gender identity in their brain 5 PinldSmithsonian evidence of socially created gender ideas Pink and blue arrived along with other pastels as colors for babies in the mid19th century yet the two colors were not promoted as gender signifiers until just before World War liand even then it took time for popular culture to sort things out A June 1918 article from the trade publication Eamshaw39s Infants Department said The generally accepted rule is pink for the boys and blue for the girls The reason is that pink being a more decided and stronger color is more suitable for the boy while blue which is more delicate and dainty is prettier for the girl Today s color dictate wasn t established until the 1940s as a result of Americans preferences as interpreted by manufacturers and retailers It could have gone the other way So the baby boomers were raised in gender specific clothing Boys dressed like their fathers girls like their mothers Girls had to wear dresses to school though unadomed styles and tomboy play clothes were acceptable When the women s liberation movement arrived in the mid1960s 7 the unisex look became popular for women 6 Lucal what is she trying to do Since Lucal39s appearance is not that of the typical woman as the US de nes it and she appears relatively masculine she is subjected to the same treatment a man would receive People often question her gender because she is technically a woman but does not fit the ideal image we have in mind She is often called quotSirquot instead of quotMa amquot and when she uses facilities normally reserved for women she receives discrimination and judgement The same appearance has often caused men to treat her differently Men who recognize her as a male may treat her better for example in the auto parts store or worse in the case of confrontational situations like the traffic incident she talked about Her male appearance has masculinized her to pretty much everyone she interacts with even though her biological sex is clearly female Because of what Lucal has experienced with gender confusion she has been given insight into what is appropriate and not appropriate in the gender system She realized that the gender she comes off as is a product of how she will be treated and the things she is allowed to do She tries to avoid public restrooms when she can and avoid women s only dressing rooms because her appearance is that of what we typically classify as masculine and she receives problems in these types of places She also has learned that in order to be treated like a woman it helps to feminize herselfwith longer hair or by painting her nailsIt became clear that looking masculine changes the way she must act around men and she must be careful what situations she gets into because in a confrontation she could face more threat of a physical or verbal attack This also gave her a social leg up though because looking like a man in our patriarchal society subjects her to better treatment and greater opportunities Basically looking and dressing like a male has made it so she is held to the standards of that of a heterosexual male and given the same access to things a man would have Lucal cannot choose not to pa1ticipate in gender because of the stringent model that the US has for gender There is the twoandtwoonly rule which means that we only recognize two genders in our society Since Lucal sees herself as female but does not embrace femininity she is breaking this rule and causing a normative upset in society She says that it doesn39t matter how she perceives herself because in society all that matters is the perceived physical gender People participate in the gender system because it is all we know and to step out of the system often is a cause for discrimination mistreatment and sometimes even violence Sometimes it is easier to quottake the path of least resistancequot as Lucal puts it and just act as our gender structure says we should 121 Imyself do not dress like a man because I have no desire to and I identify more as a feminine woman I often wear dresses I wear makeup I drive a feminine car and I speak in a feminine manner and all these things contribute to my identification in the twoandtwoonly gender classifications we have in our society Ihave resisted my gender before by participating in a typically male sport football and when Idid so I was usually the butt of jokes and I was not treated equally My experience as a feminine female as opposed to the masculine female has given me much less trouble and is therefore my preferred category 7 Preves SV3 how common is intersex birth and why is it an issue what is response We expect that people are born either male sexed or female sexed but Preves research shows that sex is not so clearcut into just 2 categories Variations and complexities of sex development produce intersex people According to the article the broadest definition of sexual ambiguity estimates that about one or two percent of infants are born and classified as sexually ambiguous This percentage is similar to the number of children born with cystic fibrosis and Down syndrome This a large percentage of children and rather common as are the other two conditions and therefore the fact that we still only have two classifications for gender is one of controversy The response is surgery The most common reason intersected children receive medical interventions are because of the discomfort that parents physicians and society feels due to their specific disposition In the case of Claire and her large clitoris she was not considered sexually ambiguous but the fact that her clitoris was rather large and resembled a small penis tested the gender conceptions and norms that society holds and made her parents uncomfortable Society is organized in large part by gender and therefore children are often subjected to quotcorrectionsquot or surgery to avoid nonconforming and to promote participation in regular society Preves says that these quotrisky procedures are performed to maintain social order for the institutions and adults that surround the childquot 36 For the most part she argues these procedures are done in order to decrease quotmajor social disruption and discomfortquot 37 0 theoretical approaches 8 BZ intro Intro to sociology of gender how gender ideas developed development of ideas about masculinity Gender ideas came about after the women s movement really failed to encompass all the differences women were experiencing Women wanted to move away from pushing the just the patriarchal aspect of gendering and also focus on how they were discriminated as women according to other things like their race social status and even their age Development of ideas about masculinity came about after feminists demanded an examination of the social constructs that led to women s subordination Sociologists then sought to examine the social construct of men and men s power for comparison 9 What is a multiracial approach to understanding gender This perspective is an attempt to go beyond a mere recognition of diversity and difference among women to examine structures of domination specifically the importance of race in understanding the social construction of gender It emphasizes race as a primary force situating genders differently The main idea is that people experience race class gender and sexuality differently depending upon their social location in the structures of race class gender and sexuality 10 Collinsstandpoint theory 7 what is it and where does it come from What purposes do these images serve in terms of inequality Standpoint theory is the idea that groups of individuals have a unique perspective of reality or standpoint based on common life experiences and goals but these standpoints would be nothing without putting them into the context of social structures and hierarchy according to power and privilege Outsider within She says that the status of African American women comes from Black women s historical role in domestic work inside the homes of white elites Thus Black women have a distinct view of dominant groups and their power The enslaved African American woman became our definition for other and maintaining this image upholds ideological perspectives on race gender and class oppression Dichotomous thinking is at the root of all of these They are different than us poorer than us less than us and they are oppressed by the imagery that goes along with that 11 Kimmel Theory how should we studyapproach gender Think about gender as having three dimensions D individual levelor identit who ou feel inside ou are ersonalit how ou y y y P y y present yourself to re ect your gender clothes makeup manner of talking how you take up space etc D interaction level how gender shapes the ways you interact with others How do handle situations how do you ask for help or do you how do you respond when angry how do you respond in social situations at work with family D institutional how do the institutions you are part of re ect gendered ideas and how are you in uenced by these In your family are there different expectations for boys and girls men and women In school are women and men pursuing same majors At work do women and men hold same jobs Do women or men get asked to perform different tasks A Iso 1h ink about qe reciprocal relationship between individuals and society In other words we are shaped by society gender as one key example but we also shape society Often these ideas are called AGENCY VS STRUCTURE Both are important in understanding society and tension exists between the individual s choices and structural patterns Basically gender is built into our instutional social structure and helps us create our own personal identity of gender 12 Beauty standardswhat does it mean to say women participate in the system and what is an example noted in Zones that supports this claim It means that women secretly knowingly or unknowingly force beauty standards on each other An example of this is those women who survived the Holocaust continue to dye their hair blonde because this is what allowed them to pass as a nonJew Women typically collude with beauty standards by buying antiaging products and other cosmetics Another example of how women collude with beauty standards is the example of Alice Walker when she prayed for beauty instead of eye sight after a BB pellet gun accident which left her blind in one eye with scars l3 BZ9 Mammy imagewhat does this image hide And why is it a problem for Black women in particular It s a persistent controlling image of Black womanhood that is designed to make the exploitation of Black women appear natural normal and an inevitable part of everyday life This ideal mammy allowed a slaveholding society to see itself as harmless in both its exploitation of Blacks and its domestication of women because the ideal mammy loved taking care of everyone And she did it without wanting a favor in return She just loved White people They made her sexless and overweight This idea of a mammy still exists in books and on television 7 especially movies centered in the South Black women feel like they need to be this strong woman and they are con icted to share their feelings This equates to large bodies and heavy weight that masks some of the real problems they face racism poverty etc Overlooks all the things that are making their lives harder because it makes them seem strong and capable of handling it In a certain way Black women may unconsciously participate in their own dehumanization by seeing themselves through this discourse of deviance and strength as mules of the world And instead of admitting they may need help or that they are overworked overwhelmed underloved and depressed they tend to selfmedicate They overeat maybe begin drinking or using drugs and the physical aspect is okay to them because they feel it s acceptable to be strong and large 7 but in reality it s unhealthy 14 Why do women veil Is there animosity between women who don t veil and those who do In this particular study veiled and unveiled women generally did not have any animosity against each other Most of the veiled women harbor no ill will toward their Muslim sisters who choose not to veil And those who do not veil expressed understanding and had empathy toward their Middle Eastern sisters who veiled However this study dealt with women in the US 7 it s unknown how more traditional women feel who are in their homelands The perspective of women who choose to veil is that the Qur an says it s better to veil It shows their commitment to Islam it allows women to feel safer in the presence of men and it allows the world to see them on a more intellectual basis than simply her looks Proveiling Muslim luminaries also defend veiling on nonsexual grounds It shows obedience to Islam distinguishes men from women it s a reminder that women s place is in the home and it distinguished Muslim women form western women Some of the women in the study recount that they began to veil because they had friends who did so They said that they felt more closely connected to significant others through this practice Some women say it allowed them to feel more connected to their relatives in their homelands The Elites reasoning is that women are sexually vulnerable however the women in the study chose veiling to their advantage in other ways They say veiling allows them to go to coeducational schools and feel safe They also use veiling as a way to connect and bond with other women who veil Many of the unveiled women in the study argued that the veil reinforces gender distinctions that work to Muslim women s collective disadvantage Foziala a pa1ticipant states The veil is used to control women The elite Islamic feminists and many pa1ticipants view the hijab as a mechanism of patriarchal control The unveiled respondents are less willing to accept the notion that categorical gender differences should translate into a cultural practice that falls on the shoulders of women Ha They conclude that it s unfair to charge women with taming men s sexuality They view the veil as political rather than religious They feel it s used as a weapon to differentiate Muslim women from Westerners They insist that a Muslim woman can be true to her culture and religion without veiling 15 What describes prison masculinity Prisoners use sports as vehicles for creating and maintaining masculine identity Masculinity in prison is more of an attitude a hazy cluster of concerns and expectations that get translated into emotion and physical movement in ways that never quite come clear For men in prison masculine identity is earned enacted rehearsed refined and relived through each day s activities and choices 16 Ruth What disadvantage can occur in traditional marriage and what reward differences exist for men and women in marriage The different expectations of course is responsibility women even if they work a fulltime job the housewife role is required to be done Not saying that the husband does not have any responsibility after work but the wife is expected to have dinner ready and the housework finished The rewards are far more beneficial to the male because female who stay home and take care of the kids do not have that true work experience that most jobs search for Males never really lose that creditability in the work force because they rarely stay home So if a divorce were to happen then the only person who suffers is the woman 17 Messner how are sports and boys socialization into masculinity related How does social class matter in his research Messner believes that masculinity is taught through socialization and through the interaction with organized sports The method that Messer uses is the feminist theories of masculine identity that theory is explained by exploring how masculinity develops and changes as boys and men interact within the socially constructions of organized sports Also he uses Connell s idea known as collective practice He found that the high class was exposed to sports while in a lower class that was pretty much all you had That it was luck if you had athletic abilities in other word it was a survival strategy That if you were poor you either lost into sports or else you were lost to the street There were only two choices and the best choice of course is into sport Highclassed and lowclass sports are their importance while middleclass environment seem less threaten by sports and some even shied away from it 18 What is mommy job How has this procedure in uenced how people see postpartum bodies This article describes the mom job as a mommy makeover consisting of surgical procedures intended to hoist slackened skin and reduce stretch marks on women s bodies These procedures are not a medical necessity and does not guarantee better health The marketing of the mom job portrays the postpartum female body as physiologically abnormal or unhealthy which can be overhauled with the help of scalpels l9 Gilman why does she think Barbie is an issue I agree with Gilman s idea that kids do mimic the characteristics of their dolls toys because as a child your mind easily drifts into a fancy world as you interact with such toys Parents and other adults are partially responsible for this phenomenon because it s their responsibility to remind the child that these are just toys and do not represent the majority of society 20 What is Title IX Title IX is a provision in the Education Amendment Act that required equality in all educational programs and activities that receive federal funding This law prevented discrimination in higher education on the basis of sex Due to title IX women were allowed to receive athletic scholarships this was huge because during this time early 70 s men where the only recipients of athletic scholarship money 21 Problems with gender testing athletes The first problem with gender testing is using the term gender at all Sex determines your female or male anatomy whereas gender is culturally defined Athletes like the ones in the case of this article should have female anatomy in order to compete in female sports regardless of their testosterone levels Some of these women may not identify as women but they are physically the same Even this though could stir up controversy Some women naturally have higher testosterone levels and there are not enough scientific tests to determine if this increases their athletic ability or if it is attributed to some other cause Referring back to the earlier article by Begley these women who seem to excel more in sports may just have been treated equal to males as children and therefore it affected their performance in later life And of course the concept of gender testing is just plain cruel We do not test people or eliminate them from sports because of their race so why would we because oftheir sex 22 Why separate toys by theme instead of gender The article addresses the notion that when toys are separated into different isles isles for girl toys and isles for boy toys the kids are socially constructed that if they deviate from their designated shelves then they take a chance of being ridiculed When kids toys are sold by theme instead of the traditional way of color coded isles the kids are no longer gendered divided This system offers both genders a larger variety of toys and allows the kids to see that all options are open Offering princess stuff only to girls reinforces outdated gender roles as well as suppresses creativity to a limited scope The same is for boys as well if train sets where restricted to boys only it leaves a whole range of possibilities out Boys violent toys help encourage them to be more aggressive because kid s minds are like sponges at an early age therefore they absorb concepts quickly In the early stages of childhood as kids play with their toys they are created ideas about what they can do what they like and they aspire to be 23 Experience of rst marathoner The rst American woman to run in a marathon was Merry Lepper in the 1063 Western Hemisphere Marathon in Culver City She disguised herself as a boy to run because ever since the marathon was created in 1896 women were prohibited from entering the races Men declared that women s bodies were not built to withstand the rigors of running 262 miles 7 even though women could birth men who could This example shows that gender ideas are socially constructed because now we all know that there are many women in the world who could outlast men in marathons but back during that period no one knew it because society rejected it and most people are not willing to step out against cultural norms 24 Moore how are sperm portrayed in children s books As fast competitors it s all about the race and they have to go get their woman 7 the egg While the egg is just like Rapunzel just waiting there for her prince charming 25 What does studying children s books tell us about gender This was a quantitative study based on nearly 6000 children books published from 1900 to 2000 The findings reveal that books are more male dominated and there is limited female representation in children books Even animal characters are male dominate Researching the context and content of children s books is important because these books help shape a child s mind therefore author s should be careful not to create a


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