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Chapter 8

MDSA01 - Chapter 8: Feminist Analysis

Media Studies
Course Code
Ted Petit

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8. Feminist Analysis *(M) = masculine (F) =
Feminist scholars concentrate on how biological categories like male and female
become conflated with cultural gender expectations, resulting in discriminatory social
systems that privilege men over women
A political project that explores the diverse ways men and women are socially
empowered or disempowered
Contrary to popular belief, feminism is not anti-male. It is “a movement to end sexism,
sexist exploitation, and oppression
A discrimination based upon a person's sex
Feminism is focused on deconstructing sexist oppression present in our everyday
norms and experiences
A number of interlocking factors contribute to the creation of a sexist social system.
The first is the confusion between sex and gender
sex – biological
The innate, biological differentiation between men and women: anatomy, reproduction,
hormones, etc
gender – cultural
The culturally constructed differences between men and women: tastes, roles,
activities, etc
It is a biological fact that only women give birth to children, but the tendency to view
women as nurturing and mothering is a gendered quality
A good way to distinguish between sex and gender is to look at the respective
categories they govern.
Sex refers to the categories male and female, while gender refers to the categories
masculine and feminine
A Y chromosome is a male trait, whereas aggressiveness is a masculine one
The belief that gender distinctions are innate and natural
Trouble arises when we confuse gendered qualities with sexual ones, understanding
culturally constructed norms as innate biological traits.
Ex: the common belief in American society that women are naturally more
emotional than men is a result of this confusion
Another factor intrinsic to our sexist social system
It is a system of power relations in which women’s interests are subordinated to those
of men
Essentializing a group is one way of defining them and marking their worth, and
patriarchy essentializes women in a way that devalues them while predominantly
serving the interests of men
Patriarchal systems empower men and disempower women by making constructed,
gendered power imbalances seem natural and innate
Ex: If we believe that women are biologically predetermined to fail at math and
science, then it “makes sense” that the majority of workers in high-paying
engineering and medical occupations are men.
The often tangible benefits that men reap from this system make them less likely to
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