PSYC 5 Lecture Notes - Lecture 19: Caitlyn Jenner, Social Constructionism, Role Theory
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Psychological Aspects of Human Sexuality
Social construction of gender relations
● The social construction of gender relations
o The intersection of biography and history.
o Studies social structures and institutions. Referring to an arrangement in
o Assumes that individuals shape their lives within historical and social contexts.
- Also began with a critique of biological determinism.
● A social constructionist perspective
- Social constructionism: Definitions of masculinity and femininity vary
o From culture to culture, permitted to be homosexual in some cultures and in
others it’s prohibited.
o In any one culture over historical time
o Over the course of a person’s life. We change depending on our level of
o Within any one culture at any time. What it means to be masculine in your
household isn’t the same definition for others.
● Beyond the sex role theory
- Sex role theory minimizes the importance of gender.
- Sex role theory posits singular normative definitions of masculinity and femininity.
- Sex role theory posits two separate spheres:
o Ignores that definition of masculinity relies on comparison with definition of
femininity and vice-versa.
- Sex role theory ignores that gender is situational.
- Sex role theory depoliticizes gender.
o Makes gender a set of individual attributes and not an aspect of social structure.
- Sex role theory is inadequate in comprehending the dynamics of change.
● A note about power
- Power, like gender, is not the property of individuals, but a property of a group/social
- Even though some men are not ’in power’ or do not ‘feel powerful’, their group is in
power, and this cannot be ignored, even though it is invisible to those most empowered.