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Department
Women's Studies
Course
WMST 1000
Professor
Andrew Robinson
Semester
Summer

Description
Women Studies 1 Week 10 Pg. 68-70 Night to His Day: The Social Construction of Gender  Gender is such a familiar part of daily life that it usually takes a deliberate disruption of our expectations of how women and men are supposed to act to pay attention to how it is produced.  Gender signs and signals are so uncomfortable until we have successful placed the other person in a gender status; otherwise, we feel socially dislocated.  Transvestite- a person who dresses in opposite gender clothes  Transsexual- a person who has had sex-change surgery.  Transvestite and transsexuals constructs their gender status by dressing, speaking, walking, gesturing in the ways prescribed for women and men and so does any normal person.  Gender construction starts with assignment to a sex category on the basis of what the genitalia look like at birth.  A sex category becomes a gender status through naming, dress, and the use of other gender markers.  Sex doesn’t come into play again until puberty, but by that time, sexual feelings and desires and practices have been shaped by gendered norms and expectations.  As a social institution, gender is one of the major ways that human beings organize their lives. One way of choosing people for the different tasks of society is on the basics of their talents, motivations, and competence ascribed membership in a category of people.  The process of gendering and its outcome are legitimated by religion, law, science, and the society’s entire set of values. Gender as Process, Stratification, and structure.  As a social institution, gender is a process of creating distinguishable social statuses for the assignment of rights and responsibilities.  As a process, gender creates the social differences that define woman and man. Members of a social group neither make up gender as they go along nor exactly replicate in rote fashion what was done before.  As a part of a stratification system, gender ranks men above women of the same race and class. Women and men could be different but equal.  Fro society’s point of view, one gender is usually the touchstone, the normal, the dominant, and the other is different, deviant and subordinate.  In a gender stratified society, what men do is usually valued more highly than what women do because men do it, even when their activities are very similar or the same.  Societies vary in the extent of the inequality in social status of their women and men members, but where there is inequality, the status woman is usually held in lesser esteem than the status man.  Men and women members if the favoured groups command more power, more prestige and more property than the members of the disfavoured groups.  As a structure, gender drives work in the home and in economic production, legitimates those in authority, and organized sexuality and emotional life. The Paradox of Human Nature  The paradox of human nature is that it is always a manifestation of cultural meanings, social relationships, and power politics.  Gendered people emerge not from physical or sexual orientations but from the exigencies of the social order, mostly from the need for a reliable division of the work of food production.  The moral imperatives of religion and cultural representations guard the boundary lines among genders and ensure that what is demanded, what is permitted, and what is tabooed for the people in each gender is well known and followed by most. Pg. 82-87 The Sexual Politics of Interpersonal Behaviour  Social interaction is the battlefield on which the daily war between the sexes is fought.  Social interaction serves as the locus of the most common means of social control employed against women.  Verbal, nonverbal and environmental cues aid this enforcement of one’s social definition.  Formal education emphasized the verbal message but teaches us little about the nonverbal one.  Female subjects are more responsive to nonverbal cues than male subjects. The world of everyday experience  When a woman is introduced to others or fills out s written form, the first thing she must do is divulge her marital status, acknowledging the social rule that the most important information about her is her legal relationship to a man.  Advertisements from a large part of our visual world, and their subtle messages suggest that the way the genders are shown in them is the usual and appropriate arrangement.  6 themes involving gender distinctions in advertising pictures: o relative size: symbolizing the greater importance of men o feminine touch: not fully grasping o function ranking: with males directing the action o The family: in which fathers are linked with boys and mothers with girls Women Studies 3 Week 10 o The ritualization of subordination: in which women, by lower spatial position, a broken body line, smiles and clowning, display subordinate status o Licensed withdrawal: in which women are relatively less oriented to the situation and dependent on men. Asymmetry in social reaction  Environmental cues set the stage on which the power relationships of the genders are acted out and the assigned status of each gender is reinforced.  Way in which status affects interpersonal behaviour: o Between status equals we may expect to find interaction guided by symmetrical familiarity. o Between subordinate and superordinate we may expect to find asymmetrical relations, the superordinate having the right to exercise certain familiarities in which the subordinate is not allowed to reciprocate.  Rules of demeanour, like rules of deference, can be symmetrical, typical of equals, or asymmetrical, typical of equals: o Doctors had the right to saunter into the nurses’ station, lounge on the stations, laugh at jokes with the nurses’; other ranks participated in this informal interaction with doctors but only after the doctors initiated it.  A status variable that illustrates rules of symmetry and asymmetry is the use of terms of address, widely studied by Brown and others.  According to Brown, the pattern evident in the use of forms of address applies to a very wide range of interpersonal behaviour and invariably has two other components: (1) whatever form is used by a superior in situations of status inequality can be used reciprocally by intimates, and whatever form is used by an inferior is the socially prescribed usage for non-intimates. Thus friends use first names with each other, whereas strangers use titles and last names. (2) Initiation or increase of intimacy is the right of the superior Demeanour, posture and dress  Men are allowed such privileges as swearing and sitting in undignified positions, but women are denied them.  It’s often considered unladylike for a woman to use her body too forcefully, to sprawl, to stand with her legs widely spread, to sit with her feet up.  Many of these positions are ones of strength and dominance.  Symbols and gestures used by males tend to be those of power a
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