WGST 1F90 Thursday October 3, 2013
Lecture Title: “Doing” Gender: Performing Femininity and Masculinity
Video Key Terms & Concepts:
1. Gender Identity: Not the parts that make up your body…it’s what in your head.
How you make sense of yourself in your head. Dependent on country, continent, state, culture, etc…
2. Gender Expression: The way you present yourself, and what those things stand for…
It changes from culture to culture
Scale of masculinity and femininity
It ranges in your daily activities…that may change depending on your place.
3. Biological Sex: The physical traits you’re born with. The traits you develop that make people assume which
gender you are. Penises and vaginas.
4. Explain the idea of gender being a script performed on a stage:
We are given a script on life once we are born…what we have to do, who we have to be depending on which
gender we are classified to be.
5. Who are the directors?
Our parents, our teachers, our peers, our preachers…
6. Why is our limited version of gender potentially dangerous?
80% of people considered suicide, half of them attempted it.
Lecture Key Terms:
- Sex category
- “Doing” gender
- Micro/macro reasons
- Repetition of gender Introduction:
1. Gender is one of the most pervasive organizing factors in our social world.
2. Key component of our self-identity.
3. The basis for many of the c/overt unequal divisions in our world; ‘justifies’ violence, wage inequality, etc.
4. Race, class, sexuality intersect with gender.
5. Gender is a stratifying and dividing concept; the values we assign to ‘different’ genders is troubling.
6. Gendered attitudes limit us; i.e., ‘Boys will be boys’. ‘Girls can’t do math’. ‘Women are naturally caregivers’.
‘Boys don’t cry.’
7. We experience & demonstrate a range of the qualities; to limit ourselves is damaging.
8. Confusing term: multiple misconceptions about gender and sex, how ‘natural’ it is, biological basis, etc.
Dichotomy: Gender’s Basis:
1. Gender is structured upon a binary: we are either male or a female, but not both.
2. Binary: dividing an idea/concept into two distinct parts.
3. Result: polarizing.
4. Examples: instinct/reason, nature/nurture, Madonna/whore, man/woman.
5. Devalue one half while overvalue the other.
6. Traits associated with the masculine are overvalued; those associated with femininity are devalued.
7. “Male” traits: independence, emotional, reserve, strength. “Female” traits: (inter)dependence, emotional,
8. Ancient mythology structured masculine codes and exceptions in the west.
9. To “be” a “real” man: independent, reject weakness, fear the feminine, control environment, others, etc.
10. West is based upon masculine codes.
The result of this is hegemonic masculinity.
Examples of Gender Dichotomies in the West (nursery rhymes, Halloween costumes, Toys R Us advertisement).
1. Note how differences are exaggerated. 2. Examine how male and female ‘qualities’ could be valued/devalued.
3. Why have we assumed such differences exist?
4. Who benefits from these divisions?
“Things are the way they are by virtue of the fact that men are men and women are women—a division perceived to be
natural and rooted in biology, producing in turn profound psychological, behavioural, and social consequences. The
structural arrangements of a society are presumed to be responsive to these differences” (West and Zimmerman, 1991,
Q: What are the structural arrangements of the West to which the authors refer?
- The workplace
- Separate washrooms
- Sports teams
- Media and material consumptions
- Personal safety and security
Where do we Learn Differences?
1. Family: our first introduction to gender; central role in gendered behaviour; parents often accentuate differences.
2. Parents: encourage gender conformity – particularly for boys.
3. Peers/friends: serve as sites of regulation of gendered behaviour.
4. Language: words/language used to address girls and boys emphasizes difference in physical ability, etc.
5. Media: commercials, television programs/movies, music videos and lyrics, children’s books/tv shows.
6. Education system: routinely separates/divides girls and boys. Teaches a heteronormative curriculum, emphasizing
7. Medical System: little room for a third gender, supports two gender model based upon sex. Key Terms: Sex, Sex Category, Gender
1. The term se