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Week 1 readings

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Ping- Chun Hsiung

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Sociology and Gender Readings 1
White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack Peggy
denials protect male privilege from being fully acknowledged, lessened or ended.
since hierarchies in our society are interlocking, there was most likely a
phenomenon of white privilege that was similarly denied and protected
Had learnt others were disadvantaged, not that she was advantaged
whites are carefully taught not to recognize white privilege, as males are taught
not to recognize male privilege
Whites are taught to think of their lives as morally neutral, normative, and
average and also ideal, so that when we work to benefit others, this is seen as
work that will allowthem to be more likeus.
In proportion as my racial group was being made confident, comfortable, and
oblivious, other groups were likely being made unconfident, uncomfortable, and
alienated. Whiteness protected me from many kinds of hostility, distress and
violence, which I was being subtly trained to visit, in turn, upon people of colour
Power for unearned privilege can look like strength when it is in fact permission
to escape or to dominate
do not seewhiteness as a racial identity
Since racism, sexism, and heterosexism are not the same, the advantages
associated with them should not be seen as the same
Oppression; both active forms, which we can see, and embedded forms, which as
a member of the dominant group is taught not to see
I was taught to recognize racism only in individual acts of meanness by members
of my group, never in invisible systems conferring unsought racial dominance on
my group from birth

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To redesign social systems, we need first to acknowledge their colossal unseen
Most talk by whites about equal opportunity seem to me now to be about equal
opportunity to try to get into a position of dominance while denying that systems
of dominance exist
It seems to me that obviousness about male advantage is kept strongly
inculturated in United States so as to maintain the myth of meritocracy, the
myth that democratic choice is equally available to all
-keeps power in the same hands that has it already
Doing Gender
Sex was what was ascribed by biology
Gender was an achieved status; constructed through physiological, cultural and
social means
Gender seemed much less an achievement- the division of labour, the formation of
gender identities and the social subordination of women by men
Gender socialization theories conveyed the message that while gender may be
achieved by about age 5, it was certainly fixed and unvarying- like sex
We have now learnt that the relationship between biological and cultural processes
was far more complex
We also discovered that structural arrangements actually produce or enable some
capacities (work and familymother)
Purpose of this article is to propose an understanding of gender as a routine,
methodical, and recurring accomplishment
doing gender; undertaken by women and men whose competence as members of
society is hostage to its production
-doing ender involves a complex of socially guided perceptual, interactional, and
micropolitical activities that cast particular pursuits as expressions of masculine
and feminine natures’

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When we view gender as an accomplishment, an achieved property of situated
conduct, our attention shifts from matters internal to the individual and focuses on
interactional and institutional arenas
Individuals do gender; is a situated doing carried out in presence of others who are
presumed to be oriented to its production
We conceive gender as a feature of social institutions
-as an outcome of and a rationale for various social arrangements
-as a means of legitimating one of the most fundamental divisions of society
The notion of a gender as a role obscures the work involved in producing gender in
everyday activities
The notion of a gender as a display relegates it to interaction
Argue that participants in interaction organize various and manifold activities to
reflect or express gender and are disposed to perceive behavior of others in similar
Sex is a determination made through the application of socially agreed upon
biological criteria for classifying persons as females or males
Placement in a sex category is achieved through application of the sex criteria, but
in everyday life, categorization is established and sustained by the socially required
identificatory displays that proclaim ones membership in one or the other
Ones sex category presumes ones sex and stands as proxy for it in many situations
Sex and sex category can vary; can claim membership in a sex category even when
the sex criteria are lacking
Gender is the activity of managing situated conduct in light of normative
conceptions of attitudes and activities appropriate for ones sex category
-gender activities emerge from and bolster claims to membership in a sex category
Recognition of independence of sex, sex category, and gender is essential for
understanding the relationships among these elements and the interactional work
involved in being a gendered person in society
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