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SOCB22H3 (48)

Lecture 2: What is Gender?

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Vanina Sztainbok

1/31/2013 10:17:00 PM SOCB22 – Week 2 Lecture. What is gender?  Not self-evident  Biological difference? o Essentialist View  Sex and gender differences are due to biology  Example: “Boys will be boys”, or that women are naturally better at parenting and keeping the home.  Socially constructed difference? o Based on social and culture values/meanings o Social Constructionist View  Gender differences due to social and cultural meanings that are mapped onto bodies.  For many feminists:  Gender: Socially constructed differences  Sex: Physiological differences  Judith Butler:  The way we understand physiological differences is also socially constructed  Simone de Beauvoir, philosopher  “one is not born, but becomes a woman” (The Second Sex, 1949)  Man/Woman Binary  Enlightenment: “I think therefore I am” Descartes  Basically that you can only be a man OR woman, not both.  Doesn’t leave room for ambiguity  Gender puts people in a hierarchy, and overlaps with other categories.  Mind/Body Dualism o Man/Woman  Woman seen as slaves to their bodies as a result from cycles, and pregnancies.  Woman naturally linked to nature, which itself is hierarchical. Nature is something that is wild, and needs to be tamed. Not as intelligent, etc. o Mind/Body o Rationality/Emotion o Civilization/Nature o Public Sphere/Private Sphere  Margaret Mead, anthropologist  Gender roles differ in different societies.  Some societies were patriarchal, but in other societies it was matriarchal or there was no gender roles.  Provides solid evidence that gender is socially constructed.  Post-Structural Feminists: o Judith Butler  Might be the most radical of all because she takes a Foucauldian model and asserting that all identity categories “are in fact the effects of institutions, practices, and discourses with multiple and diffuse points of origin” Gender Produced Through Discourse  Discourse constructs the topic. It defines and produces the objects of our knowledge. It governs the way that a topic can be meaningfully talked about and reasoned about. It also influences how ideas are put into practices and used to regulate the conduct of others.  Michel Foucault was interested in how
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