Social construction of gender (and sex)
Crisis of Masculinity
Sex and Gender
Sex is the biologically based distinction between males and females
Gender is the culturally based distinction between masculine and feminine
Social construction of sex and
Gender differences presented as natural, this is wrong.
This is fairly contentious, evolutionary psychology/ sociobiology would
disagree with this!
Even sex can be socially constructed
Gender role socialisation
Gender as performative
How are gender differences
created and reinforced?
In groups, discuss gender role socialisation across
Problems with gender role
• Ignores other differences (ie class,
• Assumes that there are clear gender roles
• And assumes only two genders
• Assumes women passively adopt their
• Does not explain the power differences
Women tend to be paid less, more likely to work part-time, lower status
Global Gender Gap Index
• The index examines the gap between men and women in four
fundamental categories (or sub indexes):
• economic participation and opportunity,
• educational attainment,
• health and survival,
• political empowerment.
• 134 Countries assessed
Neither gender benefits from inequality
Aims for gradual change
Equal opportunities (e.g. Equal Pay Act 1970)
Feminist critiques of sociology
1. Sociology has tended to only study men
2. And extrapolate for whole population
3. Areas of life of particular concern to women not studied (e.g.
4. When included, women are studied in distorted way (e.g. female
5. Sex and gender rarely seen as explanatory variables (focus on class)
Sexual Division of Labour
Masculine jobs Feminine jobs
Public Private/ Domestic
Is this natural? Inevitable? Desirable?
Patriarchy and radical
Patriarchy is a society dominated and ruled by men.
Family is key institution of oppression.
Radical feminists want to overthrow patriarchy
wide range of views on how to do this, from androgyny to matriarchy
Patriarchy is descriptive rather than explanatory
Focuses on negative aspects of male-female relationships
Unnecessarily sees men as the enemy
Capitalism is principal source of women’s oppression
Mainly through women’s unpaid labour
production of new workers
Gender differences would be erased in communist society
But this hasn’t happened
Crisis of Masculinity
Decline of traditional male employment
Decline of male power and influence in society (+ rise of women)
Underachievement in education
Medical technology, men aren’t even necessary any more
Is there a crisis of masculinity?
What might the following say about it: