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SY101 (172)

7 - Inequalities of Gender

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INEQUALITIES OF GENDER ISSUES OF SEX AND GENDER - Gender inequality – males’ and females’ unequal access to power, property, and prestige on the basis of sex - Gender inequality cuts across all aspects of social life - Sex – the biological characteristics that distinguish males and females o Primary sex characteristics – organs such as penis or vagina o Secondary sex characteristics – become evident at puberty - Gender – a social rather than biological characteristic o What a group considers proper for its males and females - Sex – male or female - Gender – masculinity or femininity - Sex is inherited but gender is learnt - The sociological significance of gender is that it is a device by which society controls its members Biology or Culture? The Continuing Controversy - Almost all sociologists take the side of “nurture” The Dominant Position in Sociology - The dominant sociological position is represented by symbolic interactionists o The visible differences of sex do not come with meanings built into them - Ideas of gender vary greatly from one culture to another Opening the Door to Biology - Alice Rossi – the issue is not biology or society, but rather nature provides biological predispositions, which are then overlaid with culture GENDER INEQUALITY IN A GLOBAL PERSPECTIVE - Gender is the primary division between people - Hunting and gathering societies – women and men were social equals - Horticultural societies – much less gender discrimination than exists in contemporary world - “There’s not a single society known where women-as-a-group have decision-making power over men.” - Females classified as a minority group – discriminated against on the basis of physical or cultural characteristics Sex Typing of Work - Activities are sex-typed: every society associates certain activities with one sex or the other - From Murdock’s cross-cultural survey, we can conclude that nothing about biology requires men and women to be assigned different work Prestige of Work - Universally, greater prestige is given to male activities, regardless of what those activities are - It is not the work that provides the prestige, but the gender with which the work is associated GENDER INEQUALITY IN THEORETICAL PERSPECTIVE The Origins of Patriarchy - Women assumed tasks associated with the home and child care, while men took over the hunting of large animals and other tasks that required greater speed and absence from the base camp for longer periods of time - Women were transformed into second-class citizens, subject to men’s decisions Evaluating the Theory - Men were prepared for their roles in combat while women were socialized into submissiveness - Patriarchy has been interwoven with culture, custom, ideology, and practice Theoretical Perspectives on Gender - The functionalist perspective consider the different roles in family and society typically played by men and women as distinct and as necessary for well-being -
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