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SOSC 1920 (14)

The Social Construction of Gender

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York University
Social Science
SOSC 1920
Elizabeth Brule

The Social Construction of Gender Readings: Candace West and Don H. Zimmerman, “Doing Gender” p.p. 28-41 [Reader]. Notes: [28] • Sex: what was ascribed by biology -- anatomy, hormones and physiology • Gender: was an achieved status--constructed through physiological, cultural and social means [29] • Gender may be achieved, its also certainly fixed and static • Gender is a routine, methodical and recurring accomplishment • ‘doing’gender involves a complex of socially guided perceptual, interactional and micropolitical activities that cast particular pursuits as expressions of masculine and feminine ‘natures’ • Rather than a property of individuals, we conceive of gender as an emergent feature of social situations: both as an outcome of and a rationale for various social arrangements and as a means of litigating one of the most fundamental divisions of society. • Gender role and gender display focus on behavioural aspects of being a woman or a man • However we believe gender role deals with work that is involved in producing gender in everyday activities • Notion of gender display relegates to the periphery of interactions • Sex: a determination made through the application of socially agreed upon biological criteria for classifying persons as males or females (genitalia at birth, chromosomal typing before birth, etc) • Sex category: achieved through application of the sex criteria--categorization is established and sustained by the socially required identificatory displays that proclaim ones membership in one of the other categories ---ones sex category presumes ones sex and stands as proxy for it in many situations. • Gender: the activity of managing situated conduct in light of normative conceptions of attitude and activities appropriate for ones sex category [30] • Gender, sex and sex category must interlink to understand what is involved in ‘being’a gendered person Perceptions on sex and gender • Western societies-- women & men naturally defined categories of being with psychological and behavioural propensities that can be predicted by their reproductive functions • Sex and gender in social science often retain a conception of sex-linked behaviours and traits as essential properties of individuals • Jobs sometimes have gender attached to them--but trying • Gender is not a set of traits, nor a variable or a role, but the product of social doings of some sort Gender display • When human beings interact with others in their environments, they assume that each posses an ‘essential nature’(can be discerned through the natural signs given off by them. [31] • Femininity and masculinity are ‘prototypes of essential expression’--be conveyed fleetingly in any social situation and yet something that strikes at the most basic characterization of the individual • Goffman “if gender be defined as the culturally established correlates of sex (whether in consequence of biology or learning), then gender display refers to conventionalized portals of these correlates” • Gender is a cordially scripted dramatization of the cultures idealization of feminine and masculine natures [32] Sex, sex category and gender Sex • Male and female are cultural events--products of what they term the gender attribution process rather than some collection of traits, behaviours or even physical attributes. • We just assume they must have the genitalia if they dress according to one gender. • We do not think to question ---most persons who dress like men have penises Sex categorization • If people can be seen as members of relevant categories, than categorize them that way [33] • Not only do we want to know the sex category of those around us, but we also presume that others are displaying it for us, in a decisive a faction as they can [34] Gender • Produce configurations of behaviour that would be seen by others as normative gender behaviour • Doing gender consists of managing such occasions so that, what ever the particulars, the outcome is seen and seeable in context as gender appropriate. Gender and accountability • Members of society engage in descriptive accounting of states of affairs to one another and place it within some social framework. They’re then held accountable • If sex category is omnirelevant of sexual status to affairs of daily life, then a person engages in virtually any activity may be he’d accountable for performance of that activity as a woman or man. [35] • To ‘do’gender is to engage in behaviour at the risk of gender assessment Resources for doing gender • Doing gender means creating differences between girls and boys and women and men, differences that arent natural, essential or biological.---then used to reinforce the essentialness of gender • In NA, public bathrooms distinguish ladies from gentlemen --biology, organized sports, matin preferences, etc • The arrangement is a totally cultural matter (not biologically recommended of segregation) [36] • Our identificatory displays will provide an ever available resource for doing gender under an infinitely diverse set of circumstances • When you depict behaviour not of your gender, you are challenging the routine [37] • Sex category is onmirelevant, any occasion offers the resources for doing gender • Sex category and gender are managed properties of conduct that are contrived with respect to the fact that others will judge and respond to us in particular ways • Gender is not simply an aspect of what one is, but more fundamentally it is something that one does recurrently in interaction with others Research agendas - recruitment ti gender identities • Conventional role of girls and boys is sex role socialization • Preschool children differentiate between eachother as baby vs big boy/girl. Not gender essentially • Boys appropriate the gender ideal of efficaciousness--affect physical and social environment through physical strength and skills • Girls appropriate the value of appearance • Being a girl/boy then is not only being more competent than a baby, but also being competently female or male( learning to produce behavioural displays of ones essential female or male identity) [38] • New members of society come to be involved in a self regulations process as they begin to monitor their own and others conduct with regard to its gender implications. • Helps them identify gender identities and ideals and help them rationale different fates of women and men within social order Gender and division of labour • Gender plays a part in the role a gender is told to take on in the workplace or home • Women rationalize their level of contribution and underscored the presumption that wives are essentially responsible for household production [39] • Members do gender, as they do housework and child care, and what has been called the division of labour provides for the joint production of household labour and gender; it is the mechanism by which both the material and symbolic products of the house hold are realized. • Wifely and husbandly roles Sex and sexuality • Gender vs cultures perception of obligatory heterosexuality • One must establish a categorical status as a female/male first before fostering indicators of their categorical status through dress, behaviour and status [40] Gender, power and social change • Doing gender is unavoidable • Due to social consequences of sex category membership---owner and resource distribution in the domestic, economic and political domains and broad interpersonal relations. • Social arrangement based on sex category accountable as normal and natural ways of organizing social life---creating differences between women and men • The institutional arrangement of a society can be seen as responsive to the differences--the social order being merely an accommodation to the natural order. • We are trained to behave differently as women and men and to behave differently towards women and man • We become what we practice being • If we do gender appropriately, we simultaneously sustain, reproduce and render legitimate the institutional arrangements that are based on sex category. • Why, if we wish to treat women and men as equals, must be have two sex categories at all? • The sex category/gender relationship links the institutional and interaction levels • In appreciating th
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