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Gender and Cultural Construction

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University of Toronto Scarborough
Maggie Cummings

st Lecture Three: Gender and Cultural Construction February 1 , 2011 Biology as part of our Worldview The way we seebiology is part of how we seethe world Our interpretation of biology reflects our interpretation of the world The importance of biology to our worldview as our explanations NA: Biology = Natural world ; Natural world is caused by biology Cultural Construction Cultural Constructionism - human behaviour and ideas explained as the result of culturally-shaped learning Biological Determinism - biological features such as genes and hormones are used to explain behaviour and ideas In real life, they are often both factors Social Construct - Concept or practice that is seen as natural, common-sense, essential, etc. but is in face an invention of the culture itself o Social constructs are created through choices of individuals and groups, simultaneously reinforcing our own worldview o Social constructs impact our understanding of everything - all knowledge is seen through the eyes of our cultural construction Gender as a Social Construct Sex - Biological categories (male and female) determined by genital, chromosomal, and hormonal differences Gender - Patterns of culturally constructed and learned behaviour and ideas attributed to the different sexes All known cultures use gender and age in some way to identify people Anthropology and Gender Originally an ignored aspect of life Cross-cultural and comparative aspects of anthropology showed that gender is variable Gender and sex are not the same; gender is a non-natural human construction By extension, concepts relating to gender such as marriage and child-rearing are not natural occurrences but a result of culture Key Points Gender = Culture; Sex = biological Gender is learned and elaborated upon through culture The neccesity of sexual reproduction is not enough to explain gender differences as inevitable or essential Gender norms are not fact, particularly in individual cases
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