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WGST 303 Day 2 Introduction
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WGST 303 Day 2 Introduction


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  • The idea of “gender” arose out of social construction theory. In GWSS gender is distinguished from sex. Sex is a category that is assigned at birth based on a doctor’s assessment of our genetalia. In modern Western society there are only two categories assigned (male and female) This is not always true in all parts of the world or at all times! GENDER is how we learn to behave based on the sex category into which we were placed. So if we were categorized as female we are gendered feminine and raised to be a woman. It is important to note that these three words (female, feminine, woman) in GWSS likewise (male, masculine, man) …
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    • 1. Introduction Dr. Sara Diaz WGST 303: The *isms: Race, Class, and Gender Gonzaga University
    • 2. WGS 101: A CRASH COURSE
    • 3. Central Concepts • Social Construction (vs Essentialism) • Gender • Race • Class • Sexuality • Privilege • Intersectionality
    • 4. Social Construction Theory • Differences between people are the result of complex socialization processes rather than inherent, biological or “essential” differences. • Essentialism – the idea that differences between people can be reduced to some essential (unchangeable and inherent) difference (often biological, sometimes religious).
    • 5. Examples of Biological Determinism • Women are nurturing because they bear children, therefore they should stay home and raise children. • Women are more emotional than men and therefore not well suited for jobs that need rational decision making. • EG President, example of premenstrual syndrome • Men are better at math and science and therefore should go into fields like engineering, architecture, physics.
    • 6. WGS 101: Sex vs Gender • In WGST we do not use “gender” and “sex” interchangeably. • “Sex,” sometimes called “assigned sex,” is the biological category we assign people do based on perceived differences between anatomy (specifically genitalia). Eg. male, female. • “Gender” is the process of socializing males to be “men” and females to “women.” • Gender is not something we achieve. • It is something we actively do or perform in order to conform to social norms, expectations, and roles.
    • 7. WGS 101: Sex vs Gender Sex Category Gender Gender Expression Binary Sex/Gender System Male Female Man/Boy Woman/Girl Masculine Feminine
    • 8. WGS 101: Definition of Gender Gender is a social construction that establishes our definitions of self, our relations with others, and our life chances...Moreover, is not just an individual attribute. Instead, it is part of the social structure of society and thus has an institutional component... --Margaret Anderson, Thinking about Women, p. 30
    • 9. Power Dynamics • Power differentials between “Men” and “Women” had to be justified during the Enlightenment period when the first discourse about “equality” of human kind emerged. • One way this was achieved was to “naturalize” the social differences between “Men” and “Women.”
    • 10. WGS 101: Hierarchical Binaries Man Heterosexual Woman Human Homosexual Western Animal Parent Eastern Able Child White Disabled Christian Black Rich Muslim Cisgender Poor Transgender
    • 11. Impact of Gender • There are different rules for the behavior of males and female in all aspects of our lives. • Because we live in a society that places higher value on men (among other social categories) these rules result in differential access to power and resources.
    • 12. Privilege The social positioning of one group over another group that leads to unearned, systematic advantage for those who are privileged and unwarranted systematic disadvantage for those who are subordinate.
    • 13. Intersectionality • We all occupy multiple social locations. • Our identities cannot be reduced to a single location (only female, only heterosexual, only black, etc) • We all occupy a mix of privileged and subjugated position (though the mixes are different). • Oppressions based on socially defined identities do not simply “add.” (a black woman is not simply twice as oppressed as a white woman).
    • 14. Intersectionality • Instead oppressions are interlocking, intersectional or mutually reinforcing. • Sexism is reinforced by racism. Classism is reinforced by heterosexism. Etc. All the “isms” work together to create a system of domination. • That system of domination creates a hierarchy of privilege. • Not all privileges and oppressions are equivalent to each other. • Because the system of domination uses interlocking oppressions, we cannot work towards liberation along a single line of oppression.
    • 15. Seminar Guidelines • Break into six groups. • Each group will take a do and don’t from the list. • Discuss your do and don’t and decide what you think it is all about. • Assign someone to report back to the class.