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Introduction to Gender

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1 Introduction to Gender

2 Lecture Outline Definition of Gender ‘Masculinity’ and ‘Femininity’
Key Terms Sexuality Gender Roles: nature or nurture? The Third Space of Gender Intersex Transgender

3 Definition of Gender The term ‘gender’ is used to describe the social roles and characteristics that are attributed to males and females based on their biological differences Male and female distinctions ‘Gender’ is distinct from ‘sex’ which relates to the biological differences between men and women. Gender identities are not fixed but change according to time, place, and cultural context.

4 ‘Masculinity’ and ‘Femininity’
Stereotypical gender roles for men and women are as follows: men: tough, rational, unemotional, and aggressive women: loving, caring, mothering, emotional and passive Gender theorist, R.W. Connell writes: ‘Gender is the structure of social relations that centres on the reproductive arena, and the set of practices that bring reproductive distinctions between bodies into social processes’ (11).

5 Key Terms Private Sphere: ‘the private realm is characterised by activities undertaken with particular others, relatively free from the jurisdiction of the state. It is the realm of the household, of home and of personal and family relationships’ (Pilcher & Whelehan 124) Public Sphere: ‘The public realm is characterised by activities individuals undertake in wider society and in common with a multitude of others, such as engaging in paid work, and exercising political, democratic rights, under the overall jurisdiction of government and state’ (Pilcher & Whelehan 124) Patriarchy: a male-dominated society Matriarchy: a female-dominated society

6 Sexuality Heterosexuality has been seen as the norm; homosexuality as an ‘unnatural’ sexual preference Connell writes: “Belief that gender distinction is ‘natural’ makes it scandalous when people don’t follow the pattern – for instance, when people of the same gender fall in love with each other. So homosexuality is frequently declared ‘unnatural’ and ‘bad’” (5)

7 Gender Roles: nature or nurture?
Biological Determinism: biological determinist argument is predicated on significant differences in male and female hormones and in the make-up of the male and female brain. Social Constructionism: Social constructionists argue that gender is the result of socialisation Connell argues that sex-role stereotyping oppresses both women and men because they are expected to conform to ‘masculine’ and ‘feminine’ stereotypes (7-8). Further, men and women construct themselves as gendered subjects (6).

8 The Third Space of Gender
When we speak of gender we are not simply referring to ‘masculinity’ and ‘femininity’ but to a range of gender identities, some of which blur the traditional binaries of man/woman, masculine/feminine. We can speak of these gender identities, identities that are neither male nor female, that are gender ambiguous, as the ‘third space of gender’.

9 Intersex Intersex, also sometimes referred to as hermaphroditism, is the condition of being sexually dimorphic; that is, being born with both male and female genitalia or, at least, a mixed anatomy. In the West, intersex babies are usually ‘fixed’ at birth so that their bodies conform to the one-sex per person cultural norm.

10 Transgender Refers to going beyond the gender binary
Has been used as an umbrella term for transvestites and transsexuals Now moved away fro these categories for terms trans-or transperson Distances the term from the gender binary and medicalised terms such as transvestites and transexuals

11 Gender in Journalism: Women as sources
Task: “ The Gender Gap” Click on the icon to go to the podcast on this issue then answer the questions below: Questions Why aren’t women used as sources of information in stories? How could using women as sources enhance news coverage?

12 Summary Introduced to key concepts of gender studies
Gender is socially constructed depending on time and place Many types of gender identities – not merely binary opposites Raised issues of the oppression of women, constructed as the ‘weaker sex’ Viewing gender as constructed enables us to contest hierarchies

13 References, The gender gap: Women are still missing as sources for journalists, R.W. Connell, Short Introductions: Gender, Cambridge, UK: Polity, 2009 Richard Elkins and Dave King, The Transgender Phenomenon, London: Sage, 2006 Jane Pilcher & Imelda Whelehan, Fifty Concepts in Gender Studies, London: Sage, 2004


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