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Unit 6: Stratification by Gender

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1 Unit 6: Stratification by Gender
Topic 1 - The Social Construction of Gender Aim: To what extent are conceptions of gender a social construct? How do we ‘do’ gender everyday of our lives?

2 Gender defined… Social agreement as to what is ‘male’ or ‘female’ - helps construct social meaning. This agreement is vastly different in different cultures and different historical times. -Signifies relationships of power -Most likely to be accepted as natural (biological)


4 Sociological Perspectives on Gender

5 The Interactionist Approach
We ‘do gender’ everyday with our common interactions with one another - we can either confirm or go against gender roles, but our actions dictate messages about gender. Interactionsts study language, dress, actions. E.g., men interrupt women more than the converse

6 Functionalist Perspective
Maintains that gender differentiation has contributed to social stability. In particular, family functions most effectively when adults specialize in particular roles (Parsons & Bales, 1955). They argued that women take expressive, emotionally supportive role, while men take the instrumental, practical roles.

7 Conflict Theorists say that…
Gender roles contribute to the subjugation of women - Marx/Engles argued this began with capitalist industrialization - prior to that it was more egalitarian.

8 The Feminist Perspective
Similar to conflict theorist viewpoint - however feminists noted that the female voice was missing in most scholarship on gender (including Sociology). Contemporary feminists recognize subjugation for women not just by gender, but by race, class, and other social factors as well.

9 Theories of Gender: nature versus nurture/nature and nurture
Nature: Biology determines our action. In other words, boys are simply born with male characteristics, and vice-versa, or… Nurture: Society and our environment determine our actions. In other words, we are taught what is ‘male’ or ‘female’

10 Binary Gender System: Idea that only 2 genders exist – male and female
Rejected by the gender queer/gender neutral community Further complicated by biological factors- chromosomal disorders and physiological birth defects (i.e.-hermaphrodites)

11 The David Reimer Story:

12 What are some genuine physical/physiological differences between men and women?

13 Gender Development: Children develop a concrete understanding of gender by age 7, but this develops in stages from birth: 7 months – distinguish male/females faces 1 year – distinguishes male/female voices 2 years – understands gender stereotypes (dress, behavior, etc) 2-3 – develop a sense of gender identity By 7, children believe that gender is a constant, permanent thing that cannot change (if mommy wears pants, she’s still a girl!) 13

14 Women’s brains mature sooner - 2 key language centers larger in women
Men’s brains 8-10% larger - section linked to arithmetic abilities larger in men (however, women are better at straightforward math like addition/subtraction, men better at reasoning problems) Women’s brains mature sooner - 2 key language centers larger in women Women process pain signals in the parts of their brains that handle emotion, while men process same signals in the analytic regions 14

15 Enter puberty 2 yrs. sooner
Women: Has 70% more body fat, possesses 40% less muscle and are 5 inches shorter Enter puberty 2 yrs. sooner More likely to smell faint odors, express emotions freely, speak more words per day 2x more vulnerable to depression & anxiety, and 10X for eating disorders Men: 4X more likely to be diagnosed with autism, color-blindness, hyperactivity, and antisocial personality disorder More likely to offer opinions, speak assertively, interrupt, smile less, and stare more; while women are more likely to express support. 15


17 How would you define a ‘gender role’?
Expectations regarding the proper behavior, attitudes, and activities of males and females - these expectations exist largely unrelated to biological differences. Where do we learn these?

18 Pottery Barn Kids Christmas Catalog

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25 Gender-Role Socialization in the United States:
Homophobia is a key element of rigid gender-role socialization since many associate male homosexuality with femininity and lesbianism with masculinity.

26 Masculinity is gendered - women are supposed to attract - men to be attracted - when this ‘predator/prey’ model is shifted men often feel threatened by it. What point is this making?



29 Activity: We will split into male/female groups It will then be your task to come up with TEN terms/phrases that you associate with: A.) Your own gender (so female if you’re female) B.) The opposite gender (so male if you’re female)


31 Multiple Masculinities (Connell, 1987): men play a variety of gender roles, including a nurturing-care role and an effeminate gay role, in addition to their traditional gender roles of domination - society nonetheless reinforces traditional roles… Interviewed 400 men – mostly white, from the East Coast, and college educated -“Guyland” – social space where guys live by ‘guy code’ – emphasis on drinking, hooking up, and other behaviors. Very tied to video games, sports, and frequent (but disconnected) sexual conquests “Bitch or Babe” - Women in ‘Guyland’ must drink, be thin, and willing to hook up.

32 Gender Role Activity - Describe the rituals of
dating/engagement/marriage from start to finish…


34 Now, consider how these gender roles/stereotypes
contribute to global and domestic gender discrimination and stratification…

35 Gender Transgressions: engaging in
actions, behaviors, or feelings that seem to transgress from defined gender social norms…examples?

36 Terms defined - ‘trans’ mean across…differentiate the following terms which are often used interchangeably Someone who dresses in opposite gender of their (not ‘cross dresser’) Transvestite Someone who believes they are born into the wrong body Transgender A transgendered person who has undergone gender reassignment surgery Transsexual

37 The Transgendered Community:
General term for those whose behaviors deviate extremely from traditional gender roles Feel they were ‘born in the wrong body’ Diagnosed with Gender Identity Disorder Gender Reassignment: surgery & hormone treatment to change biological sex 37

38 Trans-Man: Someone who is born physiologically female, but identifies as male

39 Trans-woman: a person who is born physiologically male, but identifies as female (e.g, Lavern Cox of “Orange is the New Black”)

40 The Gender Queer Community:
Think of themselves as both male and female, neither male or female, or outside the gender binary completely (androgyny) Challenges traditional views on both gender and sexuality

41 Gender in other cultures:
Bugis people of Indonesian island of Sulawesi have 5 gender categrories: Oroane (masculine male) Makkunrai (feminine female) Calalai (masculine female) Calalai (feminine male) Bissu (embodying qualities of both male and female) Calalai are anatomical males who adhere to responsibilities of women. They engage in homosexuality and dress as women, yet they don’t follow all cultural suggestions Taboo - 3 mins

42 Access to Power: Patriarchy: Society in which men dominate
Matriarchy: Society in which women dominate Quick Activity - list 3 advantages and 3 disadvantages of being the opposite gender than you are (anything, from social to political…)

43 A Thought Experiment… Imagine that you wake up tomorrow and the United States Is now a Matriarchy (not a patriarchy)…so, Politically: Women hold the highest political offices (including the presidency- there hasn’t been a male president in 30 years). Women have better access to jobs, and are generally thought of as controlling the course of national events. Socially: women always ask men out, propose marriage to men, and make higher salaries than men in every state. Men are primarily responsible for the raising of children (they stay home and the woman goes back to work after childbirth). Men do dishes, clean, and cook every night for their wives. When couples go out, women drive the cars, pay for things, and make all major decisions about the family.

44 Sex-Typed Activities:
Associating activities or forms of work as being either “male” or “female” in nature. Finish the following prompts and explain your answers:[ “Because of my gender I would never ________” “Because of my gender I would never do ______ for a living” “Because of my gender I would never wear _________”

45 What do you think are some theories as to why and now
patriarchies came to be the dominant societal arrangement?

46 Theories of Patriarchy:
Because women gave birth to children, early in human societies women were bogged down with child birthing/rearing, while men hunted and gathered Subsequently, men came to dominate society

47 How do you think living in a patriarchal society
impacts the social policy and social debates we have in the U.S. - such as…


49 Gender Stratification
Inequalities in access to power, prestige, and property Politics - Globally women lack equal access to decision making The Pay Gap - In every nation, women are paid less than men Violence - examples include witch burning, suttee (burning a woman with her dead husband), rape, beatings, female infanticide. Can you personally think of any instance in life where you had a particular advantage or disadvantage just because of your gender?


51 Social Consequences of Women’s Employment:
Juggling of work and family Maternity leave Housework responsibilities

52 Hochschild’s ‘Second Shift’ - Men still resist doing housework, forcing working women pick up slack at home after working full time jobs Wives who average 8 hour work day average 11 more hours of housework weekly than their husbands do. Wives are 8 times more likely to feel that division of housework is unfair. 52

53 Husband “Strategies of Resistance” to Housework (Hochschild, 1989):
Waiting it out: Many men won’t volunteer, but wait till their wives do things. Playing dumb: men will do housework poorly so as to force their wives to see them as incompetent and do the work themselves. Needs reduction: Men felt things didn’t ‘need’ to get done - i.e., kids don’t ‘need’ ironed clothes. Forces wife to step in. Substitute offerings: praising wife for being able to ‘do it all’ subtlety encourages her to continue to do so. 53

54 The Good Housewife’s Guide:

55 The Emergence of a Collective Unconscious - Feminism
The belief in social, economic, and political equality for women. First wave feminism began in 1848 with women’s suffrage. Second wave feminism took hold in the 1970’s with the publication of…

56 Potential Topics: Rape culture on college campuses Islamic garb Abortion The Pay Gap/Discrimination in the workplace

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