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Chapter 9: Constructing Gender and Sexuality

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Title: Chapter 9: Constructing Gender and Sexuality


1
  • Chapter 9 Constructing Gender and Sexuality

2
What is Sex? What is Gender?
  • Although the terms sex and gender are often
    used interchangeably, sociologists differentiate
    between the two.

2
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What is Sex? What is Gender? (contd)
  • Sex refers to an individuals membership in one
    of two biologically distinct categoriesmale or
    female.

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What is Sex? What is Gender? (contd)
  • Gender refers to the physical, behavioral, and
    personality traits that a group considers normal
    for its male and female members.

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Essentialist Approach to Gender Identity
  • Essentialists see gender as biological and
    permanentit is a simple, two-category system.
    Your chromosomes, hormones, and genitalia
    determine your identity.

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Constructionist Approach to Gender Identity
  • Most sociologists use a constructionist approach
    and see gender as a social construction and
    acknowledge the possibility that the malefemale
    categories are not the only way of classifying
    individuals.

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Gender Inequality
  • Gender inequality can be found in all past and
    present societies.
  • There are several sociological theories that
    attempt to explain why this inequality has
    persisted in contemporary societies.

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Theories on Gender Inequality
  • Functionalists
  • Believe that there are social roles better suited
    to one gender than the other, and that societies
    are more stable when certain tasks are fulfilled
    by the appropriate sex.

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Theories on Gender Inequality (contd)
  • According to Talcott Parsons
  • Men were more suited for an instrumental role
    (the person who provides the familys material
    support and is often an authority figure).
  • Women were more suited for an expressive role
    (the person who provides the familys emotional
    support and nurturing).

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Theories on Gender Inequality (contd)
  • Conflict theorists
  • Believe men have historically had access to most
    of societys material resources and privileges.
    Therefore, it is in their interest to try to
    maintain their dominant position.

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Theories on Gender Inequality (contd)
  • Interactionists emphasize how the concept of
    gender is socially constructed, maintained, and
    reproduced in our everyday lives.

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Gender Role Socialization
  • Gender role socialization is the lifelong process
    of learning to be masculine or feminine,
    primarily through four main agents of
    socialization families, schools, peers, and the
    media.

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Gender Role Socialization (contd)
  • Families are usually the primary source of
    socialization and greatly impact gender role
    socialization.
  • Social learning theory suggests that babies and
    children learn behaviors and meanings through
    social interaction and internalize the
    expectations of those around them.

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Gender Role Socialization (contd)
  • Schools also socialize children into their gender
    roles. For instance, research shows that
    teachers treat boys and girls differently. This
    may teach children that there are different
    expectations of them, based on their sex.

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Gender Role Socialization (contd)
  • In Western societies, peer groups are an
    important agent of socialization.
  • Teens are rewarded by peers when they conform to
    gender norms and stigmatized when they do not.

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Gender Role Socialization (contd)
  • Finally, there is no question that sex-role
    behavior is portrayed in a highly stereotypical
    manner in all forms of the media television,
    movies, magazines, books, video games, and so on.

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Sex, Gender, and Life Chances
  • Sex and gender affect almost every significant
    aspect of our lives. Even lifespan is different
    based on sex!

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Sex, Gender, and Life Chances
  • Women are disadvantaged in institutional settings
    in our society. Women tend to
  • Do a disproportionate amount of housework
  • Earn less on average than their male peers at
    work
  • Remain more likely to live in poverty

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Sex, Gender, and Life Chances (contd)
  • This has led to a situation called the
    feminization of poverty, which is the economic
    trend showing that women are more likely than men
    to live in poverty, due in part to the gendered
    gap in wages, the higher proportion of single
    mothers compared to single fathers, and the
    increasing cost of child care.

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Female-to-Male Earning Ratio
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Sex, Gender, and Life Chances (contd)
  • Second Shift is a term that describes the unpaid
    housework and child care often expected of a
    woman, even after she completes a day of paid
    labor outside of the home.

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Sex, Gender, and Life Chances (contd)
  • Even our language and vocabulary tend to reflect
    a hierarchal system of gender inequality.

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The Womens Movement
  • Feminism is the belief in the social, political,
    and economic equality of the sexes and the social
    movements organized around that belief.
  • In the United States, the history of the Womens
    Movement can be divided into three historical
    waves.

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The Womens Movement (contd)
  • The first wave was the earliest period of
    feminist activism and included the period from
    the mid-nineteenth century until American women
    won the right to vote in 1920. The campaign
    organized around gaining voting rights for women
    was called the suffrage movement.

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The Womens Movement (contd)
  • The second wave was the period of feminist
    activity during the 1960s and 1970s, often
    associated with the issues of womens equal
    access to employment and education.

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The Womens Movement (contd)
  • The third wave is the most recent period of
    feminist activity and focuses on issues of
    diversity and the variety of identities that
    women can possess.

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The Mens Movement
  • The Mens Movement, called male liberationism,
    was a movement that originated in the 1970s to
    discuss the challenges of masculinity.

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The Mens Movement (contd)
  • Although originally broadly sympathetic with
    feminism, the mens movement has now split into
    the mens rights movement (a group that feels
    that feminism creates disadvantages for men) and
    the pro-feminist mens movement (a group that
    feels that sexism harms both men and women and
    wants to fundamentally change societys ideas
    about gender).

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Sexual Orientation
  • Sexual orientation is the inclination to be
    heterosexual (attracted to the opposite sex),
    homosexual (attracted to the same sex), or
    bisexual (attracted to either sex).

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Sexual Orientation (contd)
  • Is sexual orientation a continuum rather than a
    few simple categories?
  • Those who are asexual may simply reject any
    sexual identity at all.

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Homophobia
  • Homophobia is a fear of or discrimination toward
    homosexuals or toward individuals who display
    purportedly gender-inappropriate behavior.

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Kinseys 7-point continuum
  • Scale based on both feelings of attraction
    sexual behavior
  • Distinctions between gay and straight are not as
    clear cut as many believe them to
    becontradicting common sense notions of fixed
    orientation

Fig. 9.2 Kinseys continuum of sexual orientation
(adapted from Kinsey et al., 1948, p. 638).
36
Vocabulary-
  •  Heterosexism Attitudes and practices that
    value heterosexual people or relationships over
     non-heterosexual ones
  • Heteronormativity - Cultural processes that
    construct heterosexuality as natural and normal
    while homosexuality is constructed as deviant
  • Homophobia - Hatred or fear of homosexuality or
    of individuals who identify as LGBTQ

37
Discussion
  • What stereotypes of lesbian, gay, bisexual and
    transgendered individuals have you gotten from
    the media? How do you think this impacts your
    own levels of hetersexism or homophobia?
  • Do you think that societal changes are necessary
    before we see changes in the portrayals of LGBT
    individuals in the media? Or do you think that
    more accurate portrayals will bring about change
    in social attitudes?

38
Structures Disadvantaging LGBTQ Citizens
  • Marriage
  • Housing Discrimination
  • Hospital Visitation
  • Adoption
  • Employment Hiring/Firing
  • Legal Protections/Hate Crimes
  • Economic Benefits taxes, property transfer, etc.

39
Homosexuality Legal Homosexuality Illegal Dark
Blue Marriage Orange Heavy PenaltyLight
Blue Other Legal Partnership Red Up to life
in PrisonAqua Foreign marriages
recognized Maroon Up to deathGray No
recognition
40
DiscussionHeterosexual Questionnaire
  • Did you find the questions hard to answer? Were
    some harder than others? Which? Why?
  • How did the questions make you feel?
  • What does it say about our society that LGB
    people are frequently asked similar questions?
  • Heterosexual Privilege
  • Privilege an advantage, right or immunity
    attached to a particular social position
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