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Chapter 11

SOCA01H3 Chapter Notes - Chapter 11: Grammatical Gender, Reliable Man, Gender Role

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Mc Kinon

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Intersexed infants: babies born with ambiguous genitals because of a hormone imbalance
in the womb
Gender Identity and Gender Role
A persons gender comprises the feelings, attitudes, and behaviors associated with being
male or female
Gender Identity a persons identification with a particular sex biologically,
psychologically, and socially
When you behave according to shared expectations about how males or females are
supposed to act, you adopt a gender role
If gender reassignment occurs before the age of 18 months- it will usually be successful
but once the social learning of gender takes hold, it is difficult to undo social learning of
gender begins very early in life
Perspectives on gender differences
oGender is inherent in our biological makeup and society must reinforce those
tendencies to function smoothly Functionalist theory is compatible with this
oGender is constructed by social influences and may be altered to benefit societys
members - Conflict, feminist, symbolic interactionist theories are compatible with
this assumption
People learn gender roles during socialization in the family and at school
Essentialism: views the gender as part of the nature of a persons biological makeup
Gender differences as a reflection of the different social positions occupied by women
and men is called social constuctionism because it views gender as constructedby
social structure and culture
Freud believed that differences in male and female anatomy account for the development
of distinct masculine and feminine gender roles
Freud says since women are never able to resolve their penis envy, they are naturally
immature and dependent on men
Sociobiology and Evolutionary Psychology
According to sociobiologists and evolutionary theorists, all humans try to ensure that their
genes are passed on
Their point of view gender differences in behavior are based in biological differences in
women and men (women look for a reliable man, man just wants sex)
Functionalism and Essentialism
Functionalists reinforce the essentialist viewpoint when they claim that traditional gender
roles help to integrate society
Women raise household and the men work in paid labor force people learn to perform
these roles by means of gender role socialization
Masculinity instrumental traits rationality, self-assuredness, and competitiveness

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Femininity expressive traits nurturance and sensitivity to others
A Critique of Essentialism from the Conflict and Feminist Perspectives
Conflict and feminist theories disagree with the essentialist account
oEssentialists ignore the historical and cultural variability of gender and sexuality
the variation between the sexes deflates the idea that there are essential and
universal behavioral differences between men and women
In societies with low level of gender inequality, the tendency for women to
stress the good provider role in selecting male partners, as does the
tendency for men to stress womens domestic skills
When women become corporate lawyers or police officers, the production
of testosterone hormone is stimulated, causing them to act more
aggressively aggressive is role related.
Women are developing traits that were considered masculine they have
become more assertive, competitive
oGender differences are not constants and they are not inherent in men and women
they vary with social conditions
oThe second problem with essentialism is that it tends to generalize from the
average, ignoring variations within gender groups e.g. many women are more
aggressive than the average man and many men are less aggressive than the
average women
oThird, there is little or no evidence directly supports the essentialists major claims
there is no genes found that can cause male jealously, female nurturance,
unequal division of labor
oFinally, essentialistsexplanation for gender differences ignore the role of power
they explain it in terms of survival of the species and dont take into consideration
that man are usually in a position of greater power and authority than women are
oConflict theorists said that male domination came from in the beginning because
men could own property and secondly, by means of socialization and force, they
ensured that women remained sexually faithful to their husbands
oMale domination increased because industrial capitalism made men still wealthier
and powerful
oFeminist theories says that male domination is rooted less in industrial capitalism
than in the patriarchal authority relations, family structures, and patterns of
socialization and culture
oFrom the conflict and feminist viewpoints, functionalism, sociobiology, and
evolutionary psychology can themselves be seen as examples of the exercise of
male power rationalizations for male domination and sexual aggression
Social Constructionism and Symbolic Interactionism
Essentialism in the view that masculinity and femininity are inherent and universal traits of
men and women
In contrast, social constructionalism is the view that apparently natural or innate features
of life, such as gender are sustained by social processes that vary culturally and
Gender Socialization

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Barbie has served as an identifiable symbol of stereotypical female beauty
Toys and mass popular culture are a part of gender socialization
From birth, males and females are treated differently by parents girls are delicate, weak,
cute while boys are strong, alert and well coordinate
Gender Segregation and Interaction
Contest, chasing games and other activities often involved self-segregation but they was
quite a lot of “boundary crossingwhich involved boys playing stereotypically girls
Act ivities requiring cooperation such as an art project lessened attention to gender
Mixed gender interaction was also more common in less public and crowded settings
e.g. neighborhood
Children are ACTIVELY engaged in the process of constructing gender roles they are not
passive recipients of adult demands
In single sex schools girls experience faster cognitive development, higher occupational
attention, respect, and encouragement in the classroom and develop more egalitarian
attitudes toward the role of women in society
Gender ideologies interrelated ideas about what constitutes appropriate masculine and
feminine roles and behavior
Adolescence make course choices with gender ideologies in mind most girls are
inclined to consider both home responsibilities and careers
The Mass Media and Body Image
In the media, women are seen as cleaning, taking care of children, modeling clothes and
men are seen in aggressive and authoritarian roles
Women are more concerned than men with their stomach and men are more concerned
about their chests than women are with their breasts
Body dissatisfaction prompts some people to take dangerous and even life threatening
measures to reduce their size e.g. smoking to control their weight, eating disorders.
Male-Female Interaction
The gender roles that children learn in their families at school and through mass media
form the basis of their social interactions as adults girls are taught not to act bossy
Gender specific instruction styles also have serious implications for who is heard and who
gets credit at work (i.e. women tend to use Weinstead of I women aren’t getting the
credit they deserve, and that may be a reason why they complain of a “glass ceiling a
social barrier that makes it difficult for women to rise to the top level of management
Transsexuals: individuals who want to alter their gender by changing their appearance
Some say homosexuality is mainly genetic, some say it’s hormonal, while others point to
life experiences during early childhood
Research suggests that some anti-gay crimes may result from repressed homosexual
urges on the part of the aggressor - aggressors are homophobic or afraid of homosexuals
because they cannot cope their own, possibly subconscious, homosexual impulses but
that’s only one reason
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