SOC102H1 Lecture Notes - Lecture 3: Masculinity, Social Constructionism, Symbolic Interactionism

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11 Apr 2012
Lecture 3: Gender Relations
Text: Social Problems, Chapter 4 & Sense of Sociability, Chapter 3
Sex Universal biological distinction and social differentiation between
males and females
Societies vary in the degree to which they make sex differences seem
large/small, important/unimportant
Waves of feminist movement
o Pressing for gender equality and related social concerns
o Ann Oakley’s The Sociology of Housework drew attention to
domestic inequality and its relation to gender inequality
o Large-scale entry of women into higher education throughout the
o Embracing racial and class diversity, accommodating differences in
nationality and cultural background (compared to domestication
and higher education primarily white)
Sexism: Discrimination and derogatory attitudes and beliefs that promote
stereotyping of people because of their gender. Sexism and gender
stereotyping are two problems for both men and women, and are most
often experienced in institutions and social relationships
Gender Inequality: The differential success of men and women in gaining
access to valued rewards. This tends to stem from structural
arrangements, interpersonal discrimination and cultural beliefs.
Sex and Gender
Sex: A biological concept that differentiates female and male. Most people
are (mainly) male or (mainly) female from the moment of conception, with
biological differences between the sexes that are anatomic, genetic, and
We can consider unusual cases by viewing ‘male’ and ‘female’ as a
continuum of sexual variation rather than discrete biological categories
These biological differences have few unavoidable effects on social life
o Though there is no biologically based psychological differences (eg.
Maternal Instinct), men and women hold different reproductive
Gender: A social division rederring to the social and psychosocial
attributes by which humans are categorized as ‘male’ or ‘female’. Biology
is deemed somewhat irrelevant to understanding social distinctions
between males and females. Gender encompasses the shared
understandings of how women and men, girls and boys, should look and
act. It is a label that subsumes a large assortment of traits, beliefs, values,
and mannerisms, and defines how we should practice social interactions
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o Gender is the social enactment of a biological difference.
Works within social institutions to decide the roles that men and women
enter, and what experiences that will have in those roles.
Gender Roles: the patterns of behaviour that a society expects of males
and females and that all members of the society learn, to a greater or
lesser extent, as part of the socialization process.
Masculinity: A socially constructed idea of how boys and men should act;
qualities that people in our society expect to find in a typical man
Femininity: A socially constructed idea of how girls and women should
act, or the various qualities that people expect to find in a typical female
Gender Socialization: The process by which people learn their gender-
based behaviour. The socialization process links gender to personal
identity in the form of gender identity and to distinctive activities in the form
of gender roles. The major agents of socialization all serve to reinforce
cultural definitions of masculinity and femininity.
Both men and women suffer from gender stereotypes (women as sex
objects undermines their pursuit of respect, men as aggressive causes
dissonance when displaying emotional or creative dimensions)
o This can have serious effects on mental health
At Home
Reproduction and childbearing are mainly female activities
o Effective birth control has made the outcome of sex more
o Today, women spend less time bearing and raising children
o Education, work, career, marital companionship has become more
Housework is more for women than men
o Separation of home and paid work removed men from the home
o Domestic labour is gendered labour we expect adult women to
carry out more of the work than men, daughters more than sons
o Primary caregiver is usually wife, mother or daughter
o Remarried couples report less complete version of gendered
o Parents in their twenties are more traditional in gendering of
domestic work
o Women who cohabit do less household work than women who are
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