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Deconstructing Masculinities and Femininities.

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1 Deconstructing Masculinities and Femininities.
Lecture Nine Deconstructing Masculinities and Femininities.

2 Introduction. Gendered discourses an important means of formulating identities. Practices of 'masculinity' and 'femininity'. Where do ‘sex roles’ come from? Natural/biological or social/cultural categories?

3 Definitions Sex is a biologically and physiologically determined category, assigned at birth on the basis of genital appearance and reproductive function. Problems. The doctor present arbitrarily assigns people of indeterminate sex a ‘sex category’ at their birth. There are some that have chromosomes of a female nature but still possess male appendages! It used to be felt that you could change gender but not sex, this is arguably no longer the case.

4 Gender Gender is a social construct it is conceived of as the social roles allocated to men and women in society. Gender roles include behavior patterns, obligations, and privileges considered appropriate for each sex. Some sociologists suggest that gender identities, ideas about masculinity and femininity are partly constructed through the internalisation and acknowledgment of gender stereotypes that freely circulate in our social environment. Consider ‘Fallacy of internalisation’.

5 ‘Sex Roles’ Women. Expressive. Soft. Empathetic. Gentle. Nurturing.
Submissive Emotional. Talkative Anxiety prone. Men. Instrumental Strong Tough/hard Aggressive Ambitious/ provider Dominant Rational Discerning Heroic/ Brave

6 Connell (2002). ‘ Gender is the structure of Social relations that centres on the reproductive arena, and the set of practices (governed by that structure) that bring reproductive distinctions between bodies into social processes’

7 Questions. Are these roles natural or cultural?
Is this an ethnocentric model? Cultural and historical specificity of gender roles. Is there much deviation globally?

8 The role of social factors
1. language/ discourse (Dale Spender, Foucault) 2. Gender socialization in the home/ family. 3. Gender socialization in schools 4. Peer group. 5. Media/ image/ text.

9 Biological/ neuroscientific / psychological research.
Ethology- study of animals in their natural environment- can we extend these findings to humans? Men more aggressive. Men have better spatial awareness. Women are better at looking after children. Women are more emotional. Male babies have a preference for ‘systems’. Female babies have a preference for faces.

10 Nature or Nurture? Could all of these be framed in terms of cultural explanations? Are newborn babies inscribed with culture? Do cultural factors modify us physiologically. Le Doux – Plasticity of brain, brain inscribed with culture. Reification. Gender becomes ‘thing-like’ fixed, immutable. Social relations seem to be beyond the control of humans However reproductive capacities have impact

11 Fox and Tiger’s 4 biological rules.
Question. Are these rules socially or biologically determined? Everything can be reduced to biological rules. Four biological rules which govern social institutions. 1 Women have children. 2 Men impregnate women so they can have children 3 Close kin practice sexual avoidance. 4 Men control and dominate women. Only 1 and 2 are grounded in biology- 3 and four are just assumptions. Aren’t these rules socially constructed/ culturally and historically specific.

12 Social constructionism.
People actively construct their social world. Marginalises genetic and biological aspects of human life. Knowledge and reality are contingent upon social relations and are made and re-made out of continuing processes such as reification, habitualization and sedimentation. Schutz’s phenomenology- an analysis of the structure of the common sense world of everyday life- is an important influence. For symbolic interactionists and ethnomethodologists psychological and biological factors can be explained by reference to social facts.

13 Four main doctrines revisited.
How can we apply these to gender? 1 A critical stance towards taken for granted knowledge -all concepts are contestable etc 2 Historical and Cultural specificity. Universal rules do not exist they are local to particular times/places 3 Knowledge sustained by social processes 4 Knowledge and social action go together. How you think about something shapes how you act towards it. ie gender and sexuality

14 These four doctrines can be reduced to two main strands.
Anti-Realism. Concepts do not always reflect something that is real does gender pre-exist the social ? Anti-essentialism. There isnt necessarily for any one concept a singular essence, is there a masculine/ feminine essence?. Essential/real features of things are a product of how we as social actors think/feel/act about things.

15 Garfinkel and Ethnomethodology
Ethnomethodology- approach associated with Garfinkel. Unspoken rules of social interaction. Asks where do we get our notions of sexuality and gender. He claims that all our thoughts on sexuality are social. We have what Garfinkel calls a ‘Natural idea of Sexuality’

16 4 part model of the Natural Idea of Sexuality.
1 There are 2 sexes- male and female. 2 Everybody has one or the other. 3 They are invariant 4 Sexual organs determine what sex you are.

17 Gender as Performance For Garfinkel sexuality is a game of presentation and convincing by role playing. Notions of masculinity and femininity change overtime. The notion of the sexes is socially constructed- Garfinkel uses the notion of transexualism to test our ides of the natural body. Garfinkel says you can change your sex but only by becoming ‘other’ Yes! 2 sexes but they are not invariant.

18 Reproducing Orderliness in Everyday life
Garfinkel identifies a series of practices through which we continually reproduce orderliness in our day to day lives. Indexicality, context dependant language/statements/utterances/actions. We become experts in documentary interpretation as we constantly re-interpret and unpick what people actually mean. Accountability. We constantly give accounts of what we do and why. Accounts are always situated, they are glossing practices, they mobilise attitude, make sense of action, help us to order the world. Accounts are never neutral Naïve Realism. Also called a natural attitude. The statement/ view “Its only natural” is for Garfinkel naïve realism.

19 Reproducing Orderliness in Everyday life 2
Reflexivity. We make the world fit our naïve realist expectations through constant verbal and symbolic affirmation and expectation. The stability of the social world is not based on laws and rules but mutual expectation and a reciprocal exchange of that expectation. Gender not all about rules but reciprocal expectations. Passing. A term originally used in deep south usa for Black men and women trying to behave as if white, by inventing false histories etc. G’s use misleading as orig means passing as what you are not. For G it is about passing as what you are. Behaving in certain ways commensurate with your role- as male, female, mother, lover, husband, child, manager, teacher etc, etc

20 Ian Hacking- ‘The Social construction of What?’
Examines the social construction thesis. Because concepts are socially constructed does it really follow that the thing that the concept refers to is also? Are we dealing with the social construction of ideas or practices? How far do we take this thesis?

21 Difference and Otherness.
Focus on difference Emphasis on measuring difference For biologists difference natural For social constructionists difference mostly social. One femininity/ One masculinity? Gendering an othering process. Binary models with femininity negatively valued.

22 Hegemonic Masculinity
A Dominant Masculinity White/ heterosexual/ misogynistic/ intuitional and personal/ performance. But not performed by all men. ‘Ideal of Masculinity’ Is this masculine ideal attainable or desirable? Other masculinities subordinated (Homosexual, black etc) Vietnamese boys in schools Resistance Masculinity needs to be proved. Man is forever at war. (Norman Mailer in Segal 1990) masculinity is in a state of uncertainty; it continually has to be proved Butlers ‘Queer Theory’ celebrates the symbolic disruptions of gender categories like 'man', 'woman' and 'gay' (Connell, 1995) Foucault -there is no essential masculine quality because the body and every other aspect of masculinity is subject to re-interpretation. Men can be masculine in different ways.

23 Femininity. Can it be hegemonic? No subordination of an ‘other’.
More femininities that masculinities- De Beauvoir many femininities. Limited scope to construct institionalised power (Connell 1987) Feminine qualities devalued. Discursive construction of femininity subordinates. Mens collective power over women Gendered economy. Women subordinated through language. (Dale Spender Invisible women) Sign, signifier, signified- link to de Saussure.

24 Doing Gender. Subversion of gendered categories
Butch dykes/ drag queens/ Trans Transgressing boundaries. Donna Haraways cyborgs. Butler (1990) emphasizes performance of gender Gender fluid. More or less male or female in different contexts. Sue Lees- ‘Slags and drags’- oppression and transgression. Do we have identity choices?

25 Conclusion. Gender as performance. More choices in contemporary world?
Only within certain parameters. Many possibilities but historical, spatial and cultural factors exert considerable influence. Postmodern ‘play’ not available to all. Many models of fluid gender profoundly ethnocentric. Gender/ sexual identity embodied. Some aspects more fixed than others- sex/ gender distinction.

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