Where We Have Been… History of Gender Studies From the study of women to theories of gender Sex/Gender Distinction Gender is built on sex differences but not determined by them. Becoming Male or Female Gender socialization; paths to learning gender.
Where We Are Going… Gender Systems Gender as systems of beliefs and behaviors Gender in Popular Culture Gender in Social Relations Gender and Power Gender and Work Gender, Here and Now Gender in Singapore
Today’s Lecture… Part 1: What are gender systems? Part 2: How do gender systems work?
What is Gender? Gender is our cultural interpretations of and social practices associated with (not caused or determined by) our biological system of sexual reproduction. GENDER: Is a social and cultural construct. . . the ways in which we organize our society, interpret, and give meaning to the fact that we are a sexually reproducing species. Gender systems are complex, multilayered and variable through time and from place to place.
Things (without Meaning) Dress Skirt Clothes Shirt Signifiers Jeans Sari Pondan/ T-Shirt Ah Kwah Girl Guy Boy Man Make-Up Feminine Masculine Sissy Woman Nurturing Handsome Pretty Shopping Estrogen Androgen Strong Sports TestesActivities Work Home Gentle Business Ovaries Petite Architecture Breasts Dispositions Muscles Tall Engineering Arts Aggressive Bodies
We pick out “meaningless things” and give them meaning by associating them with masculinity (or femininity) Chinese Batik Dress Skirt Clothes Dress Signifiers Batik Chinese Sari Pondan/ Shirt Shirt Ah Kwah Jeans Boy T-Shirt Guy Man Masculine Sissy Woman Feminine Shopping Nurturing Handsome Estrogen StrongActivities Sports Home Testes Gentle Business Ovaries Petite Architecture Breasts Dispositions Tall Engineering Muscles Arts Aggressive Bodies
The things we associate with masculinity or femininity are largely arbitrary. Chinese Batik Dress Clothes Dress Skirt Signifiers Batik Chinese Sari Pondan/ Shirt Shirt Ah Kwah Jeans A skirt is feminine not Boy masculine!! (Isn’t it?) T-Shirt Guy Man Masculine Sissy Woman Feminine Shopping Nurturing Handsome Estrogen StrongActivities Sports Home Testes Gentle Business Ovaries Petite Architecture Breasts Dispositions Tall Engineering Muscles Arts Aggressive Bodies
Mapping things onto agendered structure gives them meaning.
Gender: Binary or Plural? Binary “Two Gender” Systems: Divide the world into two and only two genders. All gender systems have at least two genders Plural or “Third Gender” Systems: Cultural recognition of more than two genders. Can have three, four, five or more genders. “Third” Genders may be seen as inferior, superior or equal to other genders. (Just as men or women may be seen as inferior, superior or equal to each other.)
A Gendered Structure of Meaning Woman Man Guy Girl Boy Gentle MasculineFeminine Nurturing Aggressive A T-Shirt Make-Up Two Gender Dress Jeans Sari System: Shirt Skirt Binary TestesEstrogen Ovaries Strong Androgen Breasts Oppositions MusclesPretty Petite Tall Handsome Arts Sports Shopping Engineering Home Work Pondan/ Ah Kwah ?? Sissy
A Different Gendered Structure of Meaning A Three Gender Boy Girl Nurturing System Man Guy Woman Gentle Masculine Skirt Feminine AggressiveBreasts Sports Androgen Estrogen T-Shirt Dress Jeans Engineering Pretty Ovaries Work Shirt Shopping Strong Petite Arts Handsome Home Tall Muscles Pondan/ Ah Kwah Testes Make-Up Feminine Sissy Dress
The Gender Tango Gender (Masculinity, Femininity) as a structure of appropriate behavior. Third Genders and Gender Pluralism (ex. Berdache) Gender diversity: in the Amazon, Sambia, Trobriands.
Gender Systems are Multi-Layered “Micro” level: subjective, personal, psychological How we feel about our selves. “Meso” level: interaction, relational, everyday How we relate to others. “Macro” level: institutional, systemic How cultures and societies are organized. Gender is operating at all of these levels, all of the time!
Gender Systems Change over Time andVary across different Places Masculinity and Femininity are constructed differently in different times and places. “Where Have all the Trans-Gender Ritual Specialist Gone?” (Peletz 2006) Hollywood Images of Masculinity in the Late 20th Century (More on this in Lecture 6)
Examples of Transgender Ritual Specialists(Peletz 2006, Current Anthropology) Pre-Colonial Southeast Asia: Widespread Evidence of “Trans-Gender” Ritual Specialists Sida-Sida (Peninsular Malay) Bissu (Bugis) Basir and Balian (Ngaju Dayak) Hau Bralin (Khmer Initiation Ritual) Acault (Burma) As well as others…
“Where Have All the Trans-Gender RitualSpecialist Gone?” Contemporary Southeast Asia: Apparently less “Tolerant” Attitudes; Marginalization of Trans- Gender Individuals (But still many examples) Pondan, Mak Andam (Malaysia) Banci (Indonesia) Khateoy (Thailand) Bakla, Bantut (Philippines) Why? Modernity? Bureaucratic Rationality? Religion (esp. Spread of Islam and Christianity)? Capitalism? Westernization? Transition from “Gender Pluralism” to “Gender Dualism”
Gender versus Sexuality Sex: Biology, Bodies Gender: Cultural Ideas and Social Practices. Sexuality: Sexual Practices and Preferences. Gender & Sexuality are closely related, but not the same. Gay, Lesbian, Straight, Homosexual, Heterosexual – refers to sexuality (sexual practices and preferences) Pondan, Katoey, Berdache, Man, Woman, etc. are “gender” identities (a broader category that mere sexual practices). Example of “Katoey” gender (gender, not sexuality)
Gender Systems at Play Gender systems (cultural beliefs) provide us a basis for knowing how to behave. This enables and empowers us to act (as gendered individuals) in society. It can also be constraining and limiting (for example, Billy Tipton, who had to go to great length to overcome gender constraints). Gender is also a source of pleasure, amusement and play in all cultures.
PART 2: “Unpacking” Gender SystemsHow do gender systems work?
Gender Is Not an Essence Gender is systems of beliefs and practices. It is not something we are but something we think and do. We come to think of gender as identity or essence (“who/what I am”) as a result of regular reinforcement of these beliefs and enacting these practices. Masculinity and Femininity are “Structures of Appropriate Behavior” (see: The Gender Tango); they are socially constructed in relationship to each other.
“Unpacking the Gender System”(Ridgeway and Correll 2004) Gender is a System of: Gender Beliefs Institutionalized Social Practices “Unpacking” the Gender System means Critically* examining these Beliefs and Practices *”Critical” Social and Cultural theory does not mean “criticizing” or bashing; it means carefully and reflectively examining.
Rules for Acting in Society Gender systems guide our behavior; they give us a blueprint for: How we ourselves should act. How we should act toward others. How we evaluate others. How we evaluate ourselves. Masculinity and Femininity as “Structures of Appropriate Behavior”
“Doing Gender” Gender is something we do (a performance) not something we are (an identity). West and Zimmerman 1987 – “Doing Gender” Judith Butler 1990 – Gender Trouble Masculinity and Femininity are beliefs and guidelines for appropriate behavior – they are beliefs that guide us in doing gender. Because gender is something we do all the time, everyday, we experience it as identity – as something we “are” rather than something we “do”. We “do gender” in relationship to cultural rules and beliefs.
Hegemonic Gender Beliefs Cultural Beliefs – beliefs that are shared by two or more people. Hegemonic Gender Beliefs A belief is hegemonic when everyone in society must act in relationship to it – whether they believe it or not. Hegemonic Masculinity (from Connell). Alternative (Nonhegemonic) Gender Beliefs Many alternative beliefs may exist in a society Different beliefs may be hegemonic in different groups or different contexts.
Hegemonic Masculinity(Connell and Messerschmidt 2005) Not necessarily “normal” (in the statistical sense)… but “normative” (it sets the standard – it is the way a man should be). Not a fixed idea; differs over time and from place to place. Plurality and Hierarchy of Masculinities. The power of Hegemonic Masculinity requires men (and women) to act in relation to the set of beliefs that are “hegemonic” Adoption, complicity, privilege, defense of status-quo Resistance, alternative masculinities, “passing”
Hegemonic Femininity? Hegemonic Femininity vs. “Emphasized Femininity” Debate over whether forms of femininity can be called “hegemonic” (because femininity is more often than not culturally devalued compared to masculinity). Can we assume that masculinity is always hegemonic (powerful) and femininity “emphasized” (subordinate)? As with Hegemonic Masculinity; “Emphasized” or “Hegemonic” Femininity is normative – it sets standards in relation to which everyone in society must act.
Cultural Operations Sex Categorization Categorization by sex/gender is a First Order Cultural Operation; before any interaction with other people we place them in abstract gendered categories (man, woman; boy, girl). Gender as Background Identity Gender is something “always there” but often implicit (and taken-for-granted); (Ridgeway and Correll 2004) Effective Salience Gender comes into effect in certain social contexts (but not always, in all situations).
Gender Beliefs and Practice, Example 1:Gender Beliefs and Evaluation One example where there seems to be good evidence for the effect of Gender Beliefs… Peoples skills are evaluated differently, based on whether they are men or women. Many studies have shown that resumes (e.g. in applying for jobs or schools) with a MALE NAME are judged more favorably than the same resume with a FEMALE NAME. There is also evidence that men are negatively evaluated when performing traditionally female tasks (e.g. domestic work, childcare).
Gender Beliefs and Practice, Example 2:Product Evaluation Products are evaluated more highly when portrayed as produced by men than when portrayed as produced by women. If the products are “masculine” (engineering, military) then the effect is very strong. If the products are “feminine” (domestic and childcare products) then the effect disappears or slightly favors women.
Gender Beliefs and Practice, Example 3:“Men in Crisis in Russia” (Ashwin 2004) In the 1990s, Russia experienced severe economic crisis. Unemployment among men was high. Although men were available to help with domestic work, women actively excluded them from housework by controlling the domestic sphere. Men were doubly marginalized: in the economy outside the home (through unemployment) and in the domestic sphere. S. Ashwin “Men in Crisis in Russia: The Role of Domestic Marginalization,” Gender and Society (2004)
How do Gender Systems Change? Do changing gender Beliefs change Social Practices (inequality, discrimination)? Argument: The Feminist Movement changed ideas about women’s place in society, leading to social change. Do changing gender Beliefs follow rather than lead Social Change (changes in practice)? Argument: Changes in society (urbanization, industrialization) broke down traditional gender roles, leading to changing ideas about women and men’s place in society. What do you think?