Week 8: Gender and Sexuality
Sex and gender are related but different categories
Gender inequalities present cultural and historical variations.
Although men are seemingly the beneficiaries of patriarchal social structures, like other
ideologies that justify inequality patriarchy is not beneficial to all men, nor reproduced by
Sex refers to the biological and anatomical differences between females and males.
Sexual orientation is a preference for emotional-sexual relationships with members of the
opposite sex (heterosexuality), the same sex (homosexuality), or both (bisexuality).
Problems with binary thinking: the need to look at sex and sexual orientation as a continuum
not just as an either/or category.
Heteronormativity assumes that all „normal‟ people are heterosexual.
People are packaged into boxes.
We see certain types of behaviour as normal, natural, and inevitable.
is a social distinction based on culturally conceived and learned ideas about what
constitutes appropriate appearance and behaviour for males and females.
We learn gender-appropriate behaviour through the socialization process. Our parents,
teachers, friends, and the media all have an important influence on the gender roles we
Gender is a social construction with important consequences in everyday life; gender
stereotypes hold that men and women are inherently different in attributes, behaviour,
is the ideology that justifies subordination of one sex, usually female, based on the
assumed superiority of the other sex. Sexism is interwoven with patriarchy--a hierarchical
system of social organization in which cultural, political, and economic structures benefit
refers to the institutions, practices and ideologies that have created and legitimized women's
subordination to men.
a) Although men are the beneficiaries in general patriarchy is not reproduced by men alone
b) patriarchy does not benefit all men
Gender Food and Body
Feminist debates dealing with the relationship between food and body point out that:
women seek emotional heights, intensity, love and thrills from food. restriction of food and denial of hunger serve as central features of the
Ballentine and Ogle (2005):
The media constructs idealized images of the thin and well-toned body and also
promotes consumer products that help people, especially women, achieve this
Paquette and Raine (2004)
While the push for thinness may be media driven, women's social networks with
partners, families, and friends also reinforce the media's message for acceptable
Ben Fine (The Political Economy of Diet, Health and Food Policy)
Eating disorders + obesity are outcomes of the same tensions between physical
compulsion to eat and mental control over self (weight)
Commodification of food and commodification of female beauty by different
corporate sectors are behind eating disorders
Middle class/educated women use self-control (anorexia) to demonstrate
independence and personal identity
Working class/ poor women use food as a compensatory indulgence for
disappointments about missing the impossibly high standards of the society
(obesity) (Fine 1998)
Fat studies scholars show the stereotypes, and stigma placed on fat and the fat
body, and question society‟s obsession with the thinness that it has disciplined
women and shaped their relationships with food (Brady, Gingras and Power,
2012: 125) - in Koc, Sumner and Gingras, 2012.
Neo-liberalism healthism & nutritionism
Healthism is “an overly individualized effort to achieve health while neglecting
the complex social determinants that inform health practices” (BGP, 2012: 124)
Neo-liberalism emphasizes citizens to govern their own choices and everyday
practices in conformity with the latest health and nutrition information. “For
women who care for others in the household, this means that they are responsible
for their loved ones‟ health and nutrition choices as well” (Br