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Lecture

Gender Lecture and textbook notes (chapter eight) that details sex and gender, dominany forms of masculinity and femininity, reproducing gender, gendered bodies, gender and work, and sociological approaches to gender.

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Department
Sociology
Course
SOC 101
Professor
Barry Mc Clinchey
Semester
Winter

Description
Gender February-09-11 7:30 PM Sex and Gender  Sex: a determination of male or female on the basis of a set of socially agreed upon biological criteria o Refers to physical bodies. o Divides human population into binary construction, mutually exclusive categories o Implies that these groups are diametrical opposites  Gender: social distinction between masculine and feminine. Socially constructed characteristics associated with girls and boys, called masculinity and femininity o Binary opposition between masculine and feminine  Biological discoveries are also laden with gender, as scientists describe the role of the egg and sperm in markedly feminine and masculine ways. o Part of contemporary feminist work is to convince biologists that their social assumptions shape scientific accounts of the natural world. Sex and gender are not distinct but intertwined  Intersexed individuals: individuals born with ambiguous genitalia. o Don't fit either category of male or female and further problematize the sex/gender distinction. o Previously referred to as hermaphrodites o Tend to have some combination of male and female genitalia and/or chromosomes  Ideas about appropriate gender vary across cultures and time o 17th century France, masculinity was wearing frilly shirts, makeup and a wig. That is not the case in today's society  Gender relations: organising principles that shape and order interactions between, as well as the relative social importance of, women and men. o In most of the world, that which is associated with masculinity and men is more highly valued than that which is associated with femininity and women.  Gender intersects with race, class and sexuality. o Experiences shaped by location in various social hierarchies. As a result, there are dominant constructions of masculinity and femininity when in reality there are multiple masculinities and femininities.  Transgender: an umbrella term for a range of people who don't fit in to normative constructions of sex and gender o People who live as the gender they identify themselves as being, with or without sexual reassignment procedures. o Include transsexuals, transvestites (including drag kings and queens), intersexed individuals and those who don't define themselves as either male or female.  Transsexualism: diagnostic term in the early 70s, meaning that it appeared as a pathology or something in need of treatment.  Transsexual: a person who undergoes sex reassignment, which may include surgeries. o More precise category o Terms post-operative, pre-operative and non operative refer to whether an individual has undergone or is waiting to undergo sex reassignment surgery o Transvestites engage in cross dressing but do not necessarily identify as another gender. o Trans studies: exploring the experiences of trans people, whether trans is part of the LGBT community, exploring existence of a range of genders, whether people who do not undergo sex surgery can be called transgender, tension between trans theory and queer theory Dominant Forms of Masculinity and Femininity February-11-11 11:28 PM Hegemonic Masculinity  Hegemonic masculinity: normative ideal of dominant masculinity  What men are supposed to strive to achieve  Most socially endorsed form of masculinity  Notion of hegemony comes from Antonio Gramsci, a western Marxist theorist. Term implies a large measure of consent, and requires participation  In North America, it is associated with traits of aggressiveness, strength, drive, ambition. Constructed as the opposite of everything that is feminine  Also associated with whiteness, heterosexuality and the middle class  Requires men to be successful, capable and reliable; a man in power, with power and of power. Helps maintain power that some men have over other men and women  Tied to heterosexuality; precursor for defining masculinity is western societies. Homophobia is a central organising principle of our cultural definition of manhood o Homophobia is more than an irrational fear of gay men. Also a fear that men will unmask other men, emasculate them and reveal to the world that they do not measure up to ideal constructs of masculinity  Fear of being unmasked leads to shame and silence. Men then become complicit in the subordination of other men and women; occurs when there is a failure to intervene in sexist or racist jokes, laughing at gay bashing jokes, ignoring a woman being harassed on the street etc. Men's fear of being discovered as "not man enough" results in perpetuation of gendered behaviour and stereotypes. Emphasised Femininity  Emphasised femininity: normative ideal of femininity, based on compliance with women's subordination to men.  Oriented to obliging men's interests and desires  Most culturally valued form of femininity  Understood as the ideal that women should try to achieve  Characterised by supportiveness, enthusiasm, sexual attractiveness Female Genital Cutting or Female Genital Mutilation  Which term you use locates your position on the matter  Genital cutting: o Generally approach the debate from a cultural standpoint o Why is it practised, benefits, consequences  Genital mutilation o Represent's violation of a woman's rights o Those who take this approach tend to be from the west, and constitutes an example of Said's Orientalism  Encouraged to take a polythetic approach to understanding genital surgeries (multiple meanings associated with it) rather than monothetic approach (seeing it as having one meaning, usually sex or control)  Practiced mostly in African countries Reproducing Gender February-12-11 12:40 AM Families  Gendered expectations begin at birth o Baby girls often get pink balloons, teddy bears, ribbons, frilly dresses etc  Parent child-rearing practices also deeply gendered o Mothers respond more quickly to cries of baby girls than boys; idea that it’s okay for girls to cry o Girls are more likely to be held rocked and kissed within the first 6 months of birth, o Idea that boys are meant to be more independent than girls o Tend to spend more time talking to little girls o Parents punish sons more often o Girls and boys generally receive toys that reinforce their stereotypical roles; girls will get dolls, kitchen toys etc and boys will get toy cars, sports equipment etc o Chores tend to reinforce gender roles as well; boys take out the trash and shovel the driveway, girls do the dishes and wash the floors (inside tasks vs. outside tasks) Education  Teachers tend to interact more with boys than girls o Boys praised more when they successfully complete tasks, girls praised for being quiet and neat. Gendered interactions may contribute to the promotion of girls' dependence and boys' independence  "chilly climate" o Represents women's experience on university campuses o Male students continue to be engaged more with o Women's issues are downplayed and trivialised Media  Gender divisions reflected and reinforced in all forms of media  TV o Female characters remain manipulative, use helplessness or seduction to get their way o Female characters are all beautiful, heterosexual and in most cases, white o Black men tend to be portrayed as frightening and scary; black women are constructed as being on welfare and aggressive  Commercials during the Superbowl o Ads for alcohol primarily construct men as losers who hang out with male friends, self mock, are ironic o Male friendships are the centre of most ads o Men in ads not in a committed relationship, always ready to engage in sexual activity with fantasy women o Women are depicted as sexualised fantasy objects or "bitches" who undermine men's freedom to enjoy male bonding o Reinforce notion that average men cannot pursue beautiful women o Non fantasy women depicted as wanting to capture men for commitment and limit their freedom  Talk shows o Usually portray lower class masculinities and femininities which are linked to being loud, crass and behaving badly according to middle class standards Gendered Bodies February-12-11 12:58 AM  How we present our bodies, efforts to shape them, how we interpret others' bodies; all accomplished socially  How we feel about our bodies and how we present adorn and present them are influenced by societal messages about a feminine or masculine body should look and feel Television  Whole networks are aimed at helping individuals achieve beauty ideals , like TLC; What not to Wear, Makeover Train, Big Medicine  Emphasise improving ones' physical appearance  Conve
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