STUDENTS SHOULD RESPOND FIRST– why do they think people (or we) might study gender??? Understand complexity of cultural values and practices that influence your views of masculinity, femininity, men, and women Gender is ubiquitous, visible and invisible, performative, and unconscious. Enhance insight into your own gender Strengthen your effectiveness as a communicator
Where do we learn about how to be a girl, boy, woman, or man? These are the agents of gender socialization. Definition: thinking and speaking as if there were some stable, distinct essence that is woman or man This reduces something or someone to certain characteristics we assume are essential to their nature. AND Obscures the range of individual characteristics, possibilities for other genders and performances of gender
Judith Lorber: Gender as a process (that creates and recreates gender statuses), stratification (ranking these statuses unequally), and structure (society and institutions are built upon that ranking). As a process: Society creates the categories of man and woman (see slide re: sex v. gender) This process is reflected, practiced, and reinforced throughout history, and in social interaction with others. This involves gendered norms and expectations As a system of stratification Gender ranks women of same race and class (race and class are another stratification scheme) This changes whose work or contributions we value, whose voices we privilege, listen to, etc. As a structure (52) Gender divides the world– work/home, public/private, etc., and creates systems of authority These create structural inequalities– valuing one side over the other Structure appears in institutions and their discourse—that we will interrogate throughout the session Biological and medical discourses– have created sets of structures around gender. Legal discourses Religious discourses
Sex vs. gender– what is the difference? (Do not use the terms interchangeably!) What are the multiple ways to determine sex? –external and internal genitalia/gonads, Chromosomal (xx, xy, xxx, xxy, xyy) variations that can present differently—, hormonal: androgens and estrogens– changing process/levels throughout life; Biology INFLUENCES how we develop but does not DETERMINE it– this is where social construction process enters– at birth. Paradox that Lorber notes: “human nature” as a social construction– a set of meanings, social relationships, and power politics– presents as normal and natural -- it uses the language of science to explain nature– even the way we interpret genitalia is based upon a collapsing of gender and sex.
Michael Kimmel maintains that it is impossible to adequately understand gender without understanding power—not because power is the CONSEQUENCE of gender difference, but because power it what PRODUCES those gender differences in the first place. It is important to realize it is not about blaming one group over another, but recognizing the fact that hegemonic or dominant constructions of gender can and do negatively affect girls, boys, men and women, GLBT and straight folks, etc. Men and women historically and contemporarily struggle with expectations of gender– and we tailor our performances consciously or unconcsiously as such.) Kimmel points out: like gender, power is not the property of individuals, -- but a property of group life, social life. (93) Ideology: system of ideas and ideals– grounded on the stratification and differential valuation of gender in this case. *Constructions of symbols and images that explain, express, reinforce, sometimes oppose gender divisions (we can study public discourse/language, or gendered images) *Legitimating– of the divisions of gender and serve to value one over the other (we will talk about the use of diminutive language to discuss women) *Gendered ideology and stratification involves a system of ranking– and we can merge this with other identities including sexuality, race/ethnicity, nationality or citizenship status, ability, and sexuality. **Wood and Kimmel argue that the dominant gender ideology in the United States and many other countries is patriarchal– meaning ruled by male-ness or privileging masculinity in the system of ranking.
To structure social life, we rely on gender as a means of differentiating. TO understand why gendering process starts at birth, we need to understand gender as a social institution. Gender is defined by society and expressed by individuals, and those meanings are associated and communicated by structures and practices (creating a binary where there was actually fluidity). (Lorber) Gender is as much a property of institutions as it is part of our identities (Kimmel, 94) Wood defines culture: made up of structures, primarily institutions, and practices that reflect and uphold a certain order– do this by defining certain social groups, values, expectations, meanings, and patterns of behavior as natural and good and others as unnatural and bad or wrong. (30) [ Lorber divides this into the structure and stratification process.] **ON the individual level, gender as a social institution privileges sameness- including the creation and support of gendered scripts, norms, and patterns of childhood development and socialization AS a social institution, on the societal level, gender relies on and privileges the PERCEPTION of difference! – relies on performances of gender that fall within and outside of prescribed cultural boundaries. Gendered structure is culturally specific: Cultural ideas stipulate meanings and expectations associated with gender We organize our lives through gender: predictable division of labor ::: Allocation of goods::: Responsibility for childcare ::: Creation of common values around gender ::: Notions of legitimacy– in terms of work, family, and other societal values. ::: Creates basis for group membership Boundaries: what are the consequences of going outside of gendered boundaries? Disciplining those boundaries– religion, legal, social, and sometimes VIOLENT means of disciplining.
Take a minute to jot down three ways life in the US is governed or organized by gender. Organization: Process of gendering is legitimated by religion, law, science, and societal values We trace the construction of gender (meanings and expectations) throughout U.S. history and trace the challenges to gender over time. Queer identities and performance: Wood explains that conventional views of sex and gender constructs are being challenged by people who define themselves as queer or genderqueer. This is NOT to collapse gender and sexuality– these are not necessarily the same thing! It is important to realize the specificity of many terms– and queer as a term has a lengthy history itself– as an epithet, as a term of liberation, of political activism, of theory– the way Wood uses it and we will also use it today– involves the questioning of binary categories and boundaries. Consequences: Disciplining– from the small, everyday actions we perform, to violent responses to those who challenge the boundaries or refuse to conform. ---We can trace the anxiety and struggles surrounding gender OVER TIME by looking at the ways in which people RESPONDED to those who were challenging gender boundaries.
Gender as something we do: (performance theories following scholars like Judith Butler Differs over time Situationally and culturally contingent Connected to the gendered process and our desire to “know” gender on the basis of sex Gender identity and transgendered identities
Given our definition of Gender as a process, stratification, and structure… OUR GOAL (in the first section) IS TWOFOLD: After we consider these shifts, we will then look at interpersonal theories related to gender by looking at how the resulting norms and expectations have impacted families, workplaces, and other locations of gender socialization. We will consider childhood gender development and socialization, relationship ((familial, friendship, and romantic) norms, and other contexts like the workplace. Then, in the final section, we will consider how these messages are replayed, reproduced, and challenged by the media– another agent of socialization.
Social truths depend on individual perspective and experience We can get a sense of social truths by analyzing how people in a community make decisions.
The study of what is _PERSUASIVE._________ Purposive use of _MESSAGES_____ to invite assent The _CRAFT_ of producing reason-giving discourse that is grounded in __SOCIAL_____ ___TRUTHS___.
Isocrates: a sophist in Ancient greece – rhetoric is power– a talent, or a good thing to have! Cicero: themes of persuasion through all of these dfinitions Burke– a rhetorical theorist in the 20th century,-- humans at the center– rhetoric separates humans from animals – cooperation akin to persuasion
Things tend to be rhetorical when….. Purposive: distinguished from expressive (poetry)
It is important to consider these purposes as we study the public discourse of women and institutions throughout history--- as well as considerations of media messages about gender later in the term.
When we think about how rhetoric functions in society, there are typically two approaches scholars take: Instrumental: rhetoric is a tool, an instrument to achieve a specific purpose (you can see this running through Campbell’s purposes of rhetoric… Constitutive: how rhetoric influences our worldview– dos something bigger than just achieve a specific purpose– constituting the way we and others see the world.
Times where we apply force/energy to objects to alter reality– Rhetoric changes reality by changing the way we think about something! (This is important for our purposes)
This shows the RANGE of ways we can understand rhetoric– the variety of purposes it has, the ways in which it can function to constitute social reality, and how we, as scholars can use rhetoric as a lens to view historical events, people, discourses, and ideas. Rhetorical analysis will inform our historical investigation of gender– and it will also inform our media unit– as many rhetorical scholars view the media as persuasive and rhetorical– both in instrumental and constitutive ways– For this first unit, though, we will look at the ways people, largely in the U.S. struggled over gender by way of public argument, public discourse as a means to challenge gender boundaries, reinforce existing gender boundaries and norms, or revert to older notions of gender norms.
Gender and Communication
What does it mean to study gender
from a communication perspective?
What characteristics, traits, behaviors, styles,
or other aspects fit these categories?
Why study gender?
1. Understand complexity of cultural values and
practices that influence your views of
masculinity, femininity, men, and women
2. Give you insight into your own gender
3. Strengthen your effectiveness as a
• Investigate multiple agents of gender
• Moving beyond only notions of difference
• Moving beyond essentialism
Definitions of Gender
Gender as a process,
Gender as a process:
Sex versus Gender
• How do we understand
and assign sex?
• When does the
• Gender as an ascribed
and avowed identity
– Construction of
– Shift over time
• Power is central to the process of
• Gendered ideology
– Constructions of symbols and images that explain,
express, reinforce, sometimes oppose gender
– System of ranking
– Patriarchal (Wood; Kimmel)
Gender as Structure
• Society and institutions are built upon
• Gender is a social institution
– Individual level
– Societal level
• Gendered structure is culturally specific
Gender as Structure, cont.
• Gender functions as a major way we organize
• Non-normative gender identities and
performances challenge the gendered binary
• Boundaries have consequences/implications
Theories of performance
• Contrary to notions of fixity and deterministic
theories of gender
• Gender as something we do
“Gender is a kind of doing. . . an incessant activity
performed. . . it is a practice of improvisation within
a scene of constraint. Moreover, one does not “do”
one’s gender alone. One is always doing with or for
another, even in the other is only imaginary.”
1)To trace gender in each of these ways
throughout history and consider how it has
shifted, changed, and not changed over time.
2)We will study how men and women have
been part of encouraging or halting these
shifts in different ways.
“A Rhetorical Perspective”
• Focus on language
• Focus on “social truths”
• Here, considering these in the construction
and maintenance of gender over time
• Contingency of truths:
– Culturally dependent
1. The study of what is persuasive.
2. Purposive use of messages to invite assent
3. The craft of producing reason-giving
discourse that is grounded in social truths.
• Isocrates: “that power which, of all the
faculties which belong to the nature of man, is
the source of most of our blessings”
• Aristotle: “Let rhetoric be [defined as] an
ability, in each case to see the available means
• Cicero: rhetoric is “speech designed to
• Kenneth Burke: “the use of language as a
symbolic means of inducing cooperation in
beings that by nature respond to symbols”
• Campbell: An intentional, created, polished
attempt to overcome obstacles in a given
situation with a specific audience on a given
issue to achieve a particular end.” (7)
Seven Characteristics of Rhetoric
• Problem solving
Approaches to Rhetoric
• Richard Weaver: “We have no sooner uttered
words than we have given impulse to other
people to look at the world, or some small part
of it, our way.”
• Lloyd Bitzer: “rhetoric is a mode of altering
reality, not by the direct application of energy
to objects, but by the creation of discourse
which changes reality through the mediation of
thought and action.”
Discipline of Rhetoric
• The study of the persuasive
– Rhetorical theories
– Rhetorical applications
– Critical analysis (examines rhetorical acts in order
to describe process of influence and explain how
• Lorber, Judith. “ ‘Night to his Day’: The Social Construction of
Gender,” in Paradoxes of Gender, edited by Judith Lorber, 13-
36. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1994.
• Kimmel, Michael. The Gendered Society. Oxford: Oxford
University Press, 2000.
• Reid, Ronald F. and James F. Klumpp, American Rhetorical
Discourse. Long Grove, IL: Waveland, 2005.