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Abby Hildebrand

SOC 175.10
Take Home Final
December 17, 2009

1. Although not fully explored in the short class discussion, the articles regarding marriage

and gender helped change my ideas about the different roles men and women play in

relationships, as well as how marriage effects men and women differently. The articles by

Bernard deeply examine how different marriage is for the husband and wife. The first section,

The Husband’s Marriage, focused much of its analysis on the positive impacts of marriage and

the negative impacts of bachelorhood. While Bernard explains that marriage is not necessarily

the cause in the disparity between the categories of men, it is hard to determine a single factor

and marriage is definitely a contributing factor. The suicide rates, as we went over in class, were

very compelling evidence. Men who were once married or were widowed are much more likely

to commit suicide than women of the same categories or men or women who are married. There

are many reasons for why unmarried men are unhappier and more likely to commit suicide. They

have ties to society in their wives and children and once they loose those ties, they can become

detached and depressed. Further, men traditionally have less of the same skills that their wives

have (i.e.

Further, marriage gives men better mental health and is better for their careers. The

observation that men are always the one seemingly opposed to marriage while they are the ones

who profit from it the most was particularly thought provoking because women are often

socialized from a young age that they must marry in order to be happy. Women, on the other

hand, are often less happy once they are married. They tend to receive more counseling and also

file for divorce more than men. It is also interesting that the causes of problems in marriage are

generally thought of as problematic yet the problems are made out to be her fault, which
reinforces the mental health problems many married women experience. Additionally, single

women have are generally happier than single men.

The other article, "Popping the Question," also confirms the different experiences men

and women have before even walking down the isle. The article points out that the proposal is

done more to confirm for other people that the relationship is serious and that the marriage will

actually happen. The proposal signals the wedding planning can begin. The gendered division of

labor and power between the male and female is evident in the process of proposal since the man

has the control; the women can chose to say yes or no but the man has to ask her first.

Additionally, the importance of the ring was an interesting topic. As we discussed in class,

diamond companies who had surpluses in the 1920s invented the idea of the diamond

engagement ring. It was also interesting to hear a group member speak about the differences

between engagement rings here as opposed to Europe, where rings are much more simple and

modest. The idea that women control the men, that there is no surprise anymore in an

engagement, seemed to be true. Many women have fantasized about their wedding day and the

entire process leading up to it because of all the social pressures to have the perfect day. All in

all, the articles and class discussions made me think much more critically of marriage and its

effects on men and women, both positively and negatively.

2. Gender and power are very closely linked. One example where the relationship between

the two can be seen is through communication. Men and women communicate differently when

in situations with only members of the same gender or when with a mixed group. From Celia

Ridgeway's article Gender, Status, and the Social Psychology of Expectations, we see that

expectation states theory plays into the disadvantages women experience in goal-oriented
interactions. The theory maintains that women have lower status value than men do and

therefore, have less power. They will not have as much influence, participation, or attention

received as men will in group interactions because women are already assumed to have a lower

status than men. One experiment cited in the article found that when gender is activated

(meaning gender is salient in a situation) in goal-oriented interactions, it shapes performance

expectations that in turn drive verbal and nonverbal interaction. This finding supports the idea

that women have less power in goal-oriented interactions, because unlike men, women cannot

have interactions where gender does not influence the other persons response.

This is also supported by other examinations of gender and ineraction. In the Interuptions

in Group Discussions article by Smith-Lovin and Brody, the study finds that men discriminate

when they interrupt others and women do not. The study shows that men more frequently

interrupt and also do so based on sex. Similarly, in Sex and Power in Interaction: Conversational

Privileges and Duties, the study found that among couples, the more powerful person interupted

his or her partner more and produced lower rates questions. Women are dominated by men in

conversation, and in turn, do not receive the same benefits that men do from the same ideas, and

women are less likely to even share these ideas since they are generally considered of lower

status.

Gender and power may not always be linked but I cannot think of a situation in which

they are not. In terms of space and gender, women have to be much more careful than men about

entering certain situations. Women cannot just walk down the street, anywhere, anytime of day,

without either fear of danger or fear of social ostracism (e.g. other women or men staring or

verbally inquiring why a woman would go to a certain neighborhood). Stalking cases are also

mostly men stalking women, as with rape cases. We explored these ideas in a class discussion. I
think it was very telling that there was an extensive list of pieces of advice women had received

or given, while men had not given or received nearly as much. Men have the power to hurt

women and women, while not completely helpless, do not have an equal amount of power in

order to act in the same way as men. As mentioned earlier, even in an act like proposing

marriage, the man has the power because if the woman asks the man it does not seem legitimate

to others or sometimes even to the man. Also, when men

3. Space is very gendered. One of the best examples (I'm not sure if we talked about it in

class or not) I can think of is the weight room at the gym. The weight room is a space mainly

reserved for men. It is kind of an unwritten rule that women do not enter the weight room, even

though just feet away women are working out just as hard as the men, but because it is the cardio

room it is acceptable. Why can't women cross this line? There is no physical barrier, only social

stigma that keeps women from entering the weight room.

In Carol Gardner's article, she writes about how women's access information are more

exposed and more frequently violated. Gardner maintains that men view women as more openly

accessible, and that having a conversation at bar/nightclub or giving someone a business card is

perceived as an open invitation for men to access the woman's private life. Many women in the

study she conducted said they employed different strategies to appear less open to strangers

while the men gave their personal information away to see more open and friendly. Men do not

wear different clothes in order to seem more guarded or closed off, but because of the pursuits of

men, women change their habits to avoid unwarranted contact with strangers. This idea points to

the gendering of public space.

In Beth Quinn's article, The Power of Meaning of "Girl Watching," she finds that men
often engage in girl watching and women find it uncomfortable but it often becomes trivialized

as boys playing ("boys will be boys..."). While it is a form of bonding for men, it also makes men

likely to objectify a woman without her consent. This leads to confusion when a woman

complains. This article, like Gardner's, shows that women have to change their appearance to

avoid unwanted attention, which reveals the power men hold over public space.

4. I can hardly think of an activity where gender is not relevant, except if you are at home

sitting by yourself, in a gender neutral apartment, in gender neutral clothing, thinking gender

neutral thoughts. It is my opinion that whether people would like to believe it or not, everything

we do is gendered. From the way we walk down the street, to the food we buy at the store, to the

movies we watch, people have been socialized from birth to view the world as either male or

female. Some of the most innocuous things are gendered: cocktail drinks, for instance. Men and

women can both drink beer (the woman might have a light beer) but a man cannot order a

cocktail without his getting sexuality questioned. (True story: watching a Yankee's playoff game

at a bar with a friend and he ordered a Mango-tini and the waitress kept giving him surprised

looks when he'd order another and he turned to me and asked me why the waitress was giving

him looks and not me, so I said it was because he was getting such a fruity drink, but he didn't

understand.) In the same way, men smoke cigars but it is rare to see a woman do so.

One thing we discussed in class was greetings among friends. Women shake hands, hug,

or give a kiss on the cheek when greeting a man or a woman. Men would do the same to greet a

woman, but to greet another man, a man can only give a full hug in certain situations. They can

do a half-hug/shoulder bump or shake hands. Only in Europe would a man kiss another man on

the cheek, and even then it is not as common as it used to be. Another class discussion topic was
in posture. Many times women will sit with their legs crossed at the ankles or knee and try to

take up as least amount of space as possible. Men, on the other hand, can sit with feet flat on the

floor, knees spread, and slouching. Dress also comes into play here. Men and women wear very

different types of jewelry and rarely do men have purses or bags of any kind beyond a backpack

or satchel. Shoes are also important to gender-- men do not wear high heels. Hair is also

extremely gendered. Women will generally have longer hair than men, and gender can become

ambiguous when this line blurs.

Sports are another activity where gender is extremely relevant. Men's and women's sports

are often the same in name but are completely different sports in practice. For instance, both men

and women's lacrosse is played with a sick and a ball but women are not allowed to have any

physical contact and their sticks are completely different than men's. Similarly, women are not

allowed to play baseball except when very young, and then they are forced into softball, which is

a completely different game. Also, smaller differences are in many sports, like in basketball

where women play with smaller balls. Even areas of study for college are gendered; there are so

many fields that are full of men and lack women or vice-versa. In virtually all areas of life

gender is a factor.

5. There have been variations from very feminine body types with tiny waists, wider hips,

and modest busts to more boyish figures that lack curves completely. This variation in body type

shows that society determines what is desirable and what is unattractive. The evolution of beauty

shows that the ideas about what the body should look like can and will change eventually.

Beauty is absolutely a social construct; we decide what is attractive by rewarding certain body

types over others and promoting those types. Acceptance of different body types can only come
from promotion of healthy lifestyles and body types.

The body is important to gender in that women are supposed to have curves and men are

supposed to be broad shouldered and bigger. Also the way people use their bodies is important to

gender. Women's clothing is often tailored to promote certain aspects of the female body, in the

same way that men's clothing does. If someone does not have a traditionally female or male

body, one is encouraged by images of attractive and normal body types that they can attempt to

change their body to appear more appropriate to their sex through natural or cosmetic means.

For instance, in the Kaw article, shows that Asian American women felt a lot of social pressure

to conform to more "white" standards of beauty so they would get plastic surgery on their eyes.

Additionally, many women feel like they have to get breast implants in order to become more

womanly and more attractive to men.