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SOCI 303 (1)
Chapter 1

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SOCI 303
Fiona Nelson

Chapter 1 - Gender Across Cultures  The ‘interplanetary theory’ of complete and universal gender difference is also typically the way we explain another universal phenomenon: gender inequality. Gender is not simply a system of classification by which biological males and biological females are sorted, separated, and socialized into equivalent sex roles. Gender also expresses the near universal inequality between women and men. When we speak about gender we also speak about hierarchy, power, and inequality not simply difference.  Every general explanation of gender must address two central questions in their ancillary derivative questions. o Why is it that virtually every single society differentiate people on the basis of gender? o Why is it that virtually every known society is also based on male dominance?  Virtually every society known to us is founded upon assumptions of gender difference and the politics of gender inequality  Two basic schools of thought prevail: biological determinism and differential socialization. (we know them as nature and nurture)  Both schools of thought sure two fundamental assumptions. o Both see women and men as markedly different from each other. (Nurture does allow for some possibility of change but it still argues that to the process of socialization males and females become dramatically different from each other.) o Assume that the differences between women and men are far greater and more decisive the differences that might be observed among men or among women. o Both schools of thought assume that gender domination is the inevitable outcome of gender difference, that difference causes domination.  Sex refers to the biological apparatus, the male and the female - our chromosomal, chemical, anatomical organization.  Gender refers to the meanings that are attached to those differences in a culture  Gender means different things to different people and it varies cross- culturally. (Femininity and masculinity)  The differences between two cultures are often greater than the differences between two genders.  Argue that both of these propositions are false using what social scientists have come to call a social constructionism approach. (Neither gender difference nor gender inequality is in evitable in the nature of
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