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A Primer on Sex, Gender and Society

Gender and Society
 1) You meet a couple and find that the children have
the woman’s last name, not the man’s. What goes on
for you?

 2) You walk into class and see a female professor at

the podium? What do you expect?

 3. Equality. What is it?

 1. Knowledge is political. -- powerful people
who convince others that their interpretation of
reality is fact.
 What is considered knowledge changes over time and across

 For example – Sun went around the earth. How was this

 Give examples of present day knowledge that’s political.

 Global Warming. Sex Education
 2. Knowledge is political in what is taught.
But knowledge is also political in what is
 Think about what subjects are taught in school.
What is absent?
 3.Women’s studies classes are political. So are
other classes.
 1) Define what the word “opposite” means on
a piece of paper.
 2) Give some examples
 3) Justify how those examples are “opposites
using the definition you provided.
 4) Can you now apply that same definition of
“opposite” to men and women? Justify.
What is Sex/Gender
 1) Definitions
 "Butler argues that gender, race, sexuality, etc., are the
products of a "ritualized repetition" of normative
understandings constructed through relations of power through
which individuals are compelled to recognize themselves and
performs their identities." from Luann Duesterberg. 1999
 2) What does it mean to be:

 Masculine

 Feminine?
 Write down your own definitions of the terms sex,
sexuality, and gender
(5 mins)
 Compare your definitions with those of the person
next to you
(5 mins)
 Each pair to report back to whole group
(10 mins)
 Brief group discussion
(10 mins)

Characteristics of males and females
attributable to biology:
Sex includes the different chromosomal,
hormonal, and anatomical components of
males and females that are present at birth

Culturally learned differences

--in characteristics and behaviors--
between women and men.
Gender Roles

Behavior patterns, obligations, and

privileges that are considered
appropriate for each sex
Gender Identity

The degree to which an individual

views her- or himself as masculine or
feminine based on society’ s definition
of appropriate gender roles
 Sexuality: Includes everything from
their biological sex, gender identity,
and sexual orientation to pregnancy
and reproduction.
An example
 The Bugis are the largest ethnic group in South
Sulawesi, numbering around three million people. Most
Bugis are Muslim, but there are many pre-Islamic
rituals that continue to be honored in Bugis culture,
which include distinct views of gender and sexuality.
 Their language offers five terms referencing various
combinations of sex, gender and sexuality: makkunrai
(female women), oroani (male men), calalai (female
men), calabai (male women), and bissu (transgender
priests). These definitions are not exact but suffice.
The Social Learning of Gender
 The case of Bruce/Brenda/David suggests that unlike
sex, gender is not determined just by biology.
 Research shows that babies first develop a vague
sense of gender identity between the ages of 2 and 3.
 Once the social learning of gender takes hold, it is
apparently very difficult to undo, even by means of
reconstructive surgery, hormones, and parental and
professional pressure.
Maccoby & Jacklin

Identified areas of psychological

functioning in which clear
male/female differences could be
• Females have greater verbal ability

• Males have greater visual-spatial


• Males perform better on math tests

• Males are more aggressive

Theories of Gender Differences
 Essentialism: A school of thought that sees
gender differences as a reflection of biological
differences between women and men.
 Functionalist theory
 Social Constructionism: A school of thought
that sees gender differences as a reflection of
the different social positions occupied by
women and men.
 Conflict, feminist, and symbolic interactionist
Functionalists and Essentialism
 Functionalists reinforce the essentialist
viewpoint when they claim that traditional
gender roles help to integrate society.
 In the family women traditionally specialize in
raising children and managing the household.
 Men traditionally work in the paid labor force.
 Each generation learns to perform these
complimentary roles by means of gender role
Conflict Theorists and Gender
 Conflict theorists believe that:
 The root of male domination is class inequality.
 Men gained substantial power over women when
preliterate societies were first able to produce more
than their members needed for survival – some men
gained control over the economic surplus.
 They soon devised means of ensuring that their
offspring would inherit the surplus.
 As industrial capitalism developed male domination
Feminist Theorists and Gender
 Feminist theorists believe that gender
inequality is rooted in patriarchal authority
relations, family structures, and patterns of
socialization and culture that exists in most
Gender Socialization
 Barbie v. GI Joe
 Research conducted in the early 70s showed that from
birth, infant boys and girls who are matched in
length, weight, and general health are treated
differently by parents – fathers in particular.
 Girls tend to identified as delicate, weak, beautiful,
and cute.
 Boys tend to be identified as strong, alert, and well-
The Mass Media and Body Image
 Outside school, children, adolescents, and
adults negotiate gender roles as they interact
with the mass media.
The Mass Media and Body Image
 The effect of these messages is to reinforce the
normality of traditional gender roles.
 Many people even try to shape their bodies
after the body images portrayed in the mass
The Earnings Gap: Four Factors
1. Gender discrimination.
2. Heavy domestic responsibilities reduce
women’s earnings.
3. Women tend to be concentrated in low-wage
occupations and industries.
4. Work done by women is commonly
considered less valuable than work done by
men because it is viewed as involving fewer
Equality Progress
 The 20th century witnessed growing equality
between wm and men in many countries.
 Many forces have brought about a massive
cultural shift, a fundamental reorientation of
thinking on the part of many Americans about
what women could and should do in society.
 One indicator of the progress of women is the
Gender Empowerment Measure (GEM).
GEM, 2005
 HOW??
1. Collect information about Gender Equality
(and inequality) in the Philippines. Cite at
least 3 sources.
2. Based on your collected information, write a
one-page reflection paper to answer the
question: In your opinion, does the
Philippines practice gender equality or
inequality? Justify your answer.
3. Cite the bibliography of your sources.
4. Upload your reflection paper on Blackboard.
5. Deadline: