SOCB22 Midterm Review
1. How is gender hierarchy connected to binary thinking? Explain and
illustrate your explanation with an example.
The gender binary is a basic classification in human thinking and appears in
human usage in every culture. That is, the masculine and the feminine are
always differentiated, yet "masculine" and "feminine" have no predefined or
necessary content. The two appear to be stable classifications only because
they both are there, relative to one another. One doesn't exist without the
Gender hierarchy is the distinction of men or women being stronger than their
counterparts. Some societies show men to be more valued, while others value
women more. In a patriarchal society, men are obviously seen as the superior
gender. Essentialists would emphasize this upon biological differences, while
social constructionists would emphasize sociological differences. In patriarchal
societies, gender hierarchy compliments the binary thinking, which deploys a
mind/body dualism. In this view, men are seen as being more rational, civilized,
engaged in the public sphere, and admired for their minds. On the other hand,
women are seen as being emotional, one with nature, engaged in the private
sphere, and seen for their bodies. This is the reason why in tv
commercials/advertisements, in which both sexes are presented, the man is
always seen as more dominating. Women are presented as flexible, and
emotional, while the man would have his arms around her, with a furious gaze as
if to protect her from outside danger. In a sense, women are seen as property of
Binary only looks at the two traditional genders: male, and female. Thus, any
other gender deviating from these traditional ones are forced into one of the two
categories. For this reason, trans-sexuals, hijras are oppressed in societies, as they
deviate from the norm. Gender hierarchy connects to this because the hierarchy
of gender, from the top, men, and then women show the significance and value of
the genders. Any gender deviating from the two traditional ones are much lower
on the hierarchy, and are of insignificant value in majority of societies. While
many societies, particularly those of patriarchal values, have moved away from
binary traditional sense of the gender and have accepted a gender hierarchy, little
difference is seen. This is essentially because other genders are only acknowledged, yet individuals are still forced to take one gender or the other in
Gendered relations are differentially ranked and evaluated according to a
standard of masculine norms and behaviour. It is an institutional medium of
power, marked by immense inequality in status and rewards, with the valued
attributes of science being those more ascribed to men compared to women.
Example: before WWII, in the US, women with doctoral degrees in science were
often unemployed, and if employed, had prospects limited to either working in a
dependent position as a research associate in a laboratory controlled by the
principal investigator or teaching in women’s college.
Few women choose science compared to arts, humanities, etc because of:
- Social constructions of what is regarded as appropriate work for women,
and thus issues of social and gender identity
- An educational pipeline for science fields that starts early in life and forms a
tracked and ordered sequence of study
- Perceived barriers for women in science
- Inequitable resources and opportunities to women compared to men
2. Name, explain, and illustrate two aspects of West and Zimmerman’s
theory “doing gender.”
Performing gender, gender display
3. Name three different types of feminism and how the differ in their
approach to the study of gender inequality.
- Focuses on equality
- Says that women need to have rights.
- Women don’t start out at the same position as men.
- Argues that society holds the false belief that women are less
intellectually and physically capable than men. - Emphasize the equality of men and women through political and
- Masculine traits are privileged.
- Cultures perception is not valued.
- It still looks at women’s primary role as a mother.
- Target males’ psychology and biology as the source of women’s
- Focuses on patriarchy as a system of power that organizes society
into a complex relationship based on the assertion that male
supremacy oppresses women.
- Critique: not all women are into child bearing, nurturing.
- Thinks about the sexual division of labour.
- Women are always available to do the lowest paid jobs.
- The sexual division of labour: women are doing unpaid work and
reproducing which is reproducing labour.
- Traces the oppression of women to inequalities that developed in
connection with the class system and private property.
- Critique: they looked at women as a group but did not consider
the differences between women & men.
- It does not account for the factors such as race and sex.
4. Explain the view that colonization was a patriarchal and racial project.
Illustrate with an example.
- Colonization was gendered through the patriarchal and racial
project. The history of Canada, in large part, is the history of the
colonization of Aboriginal peoples. Colonization can be defined as
some form of invasion, dispossession and subjugation of peoples.
The invasion need not be military; it can begin—or continue—as
geographical intrusion in the form of agricultural, urban or
industrial encroachments. The result of such incursion is the
dispossession of vast amounts of lands from the original inhabitants. This is often legalized after the fact. The long-term
result of such massive dispossession is institutionalized inequality.
The colonizer/colonized relationship is by nature an unequal one
that benefits the colonizer at the expense of the colonized. It is
the process of conquest, or taking over land revolved around
weakening Aboriginal communities. Aboriginal communities were
once less patriarchal and women held respectful positions and
held power within their communities. In terms of governance, a
lot of this was lost. Their roles were affected by colonization.
Patriarchy was used against women and Aboriginal communities
as a whole.
- Aboriginal women in Canada frequently experience challenges
and discrimination that are not necessarily shared by non-
Aboriginal women, nor are by Aboriginal men. Aboriginal women
have been described as facing a “double-burden” – that for being
discriminated against as a woman, and further for being
Aboriginal. To begin to understand this situation, and why the
circumstances of Aboriginal women deserves their own careful
consideration, we must examine how both Native/non-Native
relations and gender relations were developed throughout
Canada’s colonial history, where these two types of relations
intersect, and where they diverge.
- Women were respected for their spiritual and mental strength
and men were respected for their spiritual and physical strength.
Women were given the responsibility in bearing children and
were given the strength and power to carry that responsibility
through. Men had always respected that spiritual and mental
strength and women respected the men's physical strength. There
was always a balance between men and women as each had their
own responsibilities as a man and as a woman.
- Despite the vast socio-cultural diversity amongst Canada’s
hundreds of First Nations, historians and experts largely agree
that a balance between women and men’s roles typically existed
in pre-contact Aboriginal societies, where women and men had
different, but complementary roles. Many First Nations were matrilineal, meaning that descent – wealth, power, and
inheritance -- were passed down through the mother.
- Women were able to hold positions of power and leadership in
their community. Lisa J. Udel, for example, explains that
motherhood was honored and revered as key to the thriving of
the culture, and was not always strictly defined by its biological
role, but was understood as a position of leadership and
responsibility for caring for and nurturing others.
- As settlers arrived in what is now North America, they brought
with them a foreign patriarchal European value system. European
settlers imposed their own frameworks of understanding onto
Aboriginal social systems, which had particular ramifications for
Aboriginal women. As schoalr Julia V. Emberley describes, settlers
made sense of Aboriginal societies by viewing them through a
European, patriarchal lens, assuming that Victorian principles
represented the natural order of things. For instance, many
settlers held onto Victorian beliefs that women were delicate and
ill-equipped for hard labour, and thus viewed Aboriginal women
who worked the land as proof that Aboriginal men treated
women as inferior, for they were doing the men’s work. The
power and agency of Aboriginal women were invisible to them.
Some people even converted to Aboriginal ways, but for many
colonizers, the ways of the Aboriginal women were seen as a
threat. So they started to discourage European men to marry
Aboriginal women. There were a lot of things Aboriginal women
resisted, such as Christianity and a nuclear family system. The
project of colonization was to attack the power of women. And
for this very reason, they turned it into a patriarchy society. The
imposition of patriarchy has transformed Indigenous societies by
diminishing Indigenous women’s power, status and material
- 5. Explain the difference between an essentialist and a social constructionist
view of gender and illustrate with an example.
According to “Sex gender and the prism of difference,” essentialism is the
notion that women’s and men’s attributes and indeed women and men
themselves are categorically different. Male control and coercion of women