SOC 603: Lecture 1
Conceptualizing Gender: Sex & Gender
What is Gender?
Male or female?
• Are these indicators reliable?
• To what extent do we rely on biological features alone?
• Gender cues are socially learned
- How they dress, hair, facial hair, etc
- Lipstick is a cue
• Signifiers: taken for granted
- High heels are a signifier of femininity
• These cues are also culturally specific: some cultures may
think its attractive to be skinny while others find it attractive to be
-- On the basis of culturally/ social cues we infer biological sex
West & Zimmerman, pp 31-33
• Sex: refers to biological fact of maleness or femaleness (as determined by for
example, genitalia, chromosomal makeup, hormones).
• Sex categorization: process of applying sex criteria; in daily life, we establish &
sustain categorization by drawing on cultural cues about membership in a category
-- Using signifiers or cues to put individuals into different
categories, which we call male or female
• Gender relations: the managing of behaviors as defined for sex categories
Exploring Gender: Gender as a Social Construct
• Gendered learning is an integral part of identity and interactions
-- The way that you learn how to interact is based on your gender (males act
differently with males than they would with females)
• We learn gendered behaviors though social interaction: