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G325 b gendermags_handout1_gender-


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G325 b gendermags_handout1_gender-

  1. 1. Ensure you understand the concepts and the terms on this sheet. Gender and sex What are little boys made of? What are little girls made of? What are little boys made of? What are little girls made of? Frogs and snails Sugar and spice And puppy-dog tails, And all that's nice, That's what little boys are made of. That's what little girls are made of. In our society there are certain attributes and behaviours which are seen to be more appropriate for one sex than the other. The following opposing lists illustrate how men and women are seen to be different: MEN are / should be: WOMEN are / should be: masculine intelligent feminine intuitive dominant rational submissive emotional communicative strong active (do things) Weak (talk about things) aggressive passive There are several other likes and attributes you can probably think of that are stereotypically male or female. However, it is also clear that these neat lists are not truly representative of what men and women are really like. You all probably know a woman who likes cars and can be aggressive or a man who doesn’t drink and cries at weepy romantic comedies.  Sex refers to a person’s biological sex: whether they are male or female.  Gender refers to the role or behaviours a person has been socialised into according to their sex, whether they are masculine or feminine.  Sexuality refers to a person’s sexual preference: whether they are heterosexual, homosexual or bisexual. Gender is fluid, ever-changing and not static The issue of gender is not static. Acceptable behaviour for each sex changes over time. Contemporary ideas of masculinity and femininity will be different to those of previous generations. For example, your grandmother would probably not, enter a pub alone and order a pint of beer, whereas young women today may well do just that. These stereotypes exist, to a certain extent, because they are easier than getting to know every man and women in the world personally. Advertisers are especially prone to using stereotypes to sell products for the same reason. They assume that all women or men are similar to make targeting audiences a simpler process. The magazines are using gender stereotypes but also perpetuating them. Consider the following questions:  Does nature or nurture make young women want to wear make-up and young men want to drink and fight?  To what extent does the content of magazines like those mentioned here encourage men and women in their choices? Adapted from
  2. 2. How are these stereotypes promoted/ developed by the society Western society? In the Argos store catalogue the heading “Business Travel Range – designed to meet the needs of today’s professionals” shows a man in a grey suit carrying his suitcase. Even though the majority of people in higher positions are male, this portrayal of “today’s professionals” does not reflect the real situation, but helps to preserve gender stereotypes. In the toy’s section, we see one boy and seven girls playing with plastic cookers. Toys related to cleaning and childcare are only shown together with girls, whereas the pages advertising tool kits, workbenches and cars only feature boys. Fancy dresses for children promote a defined idea of appropriate roles: girls dress up as nurses, fairies and princesses and boys as racing drivers, astronauts, cowboys or firemen. The titles of the Little Miss/Mr. Men books sum up the notions of femininity and masculinity expressed in the stories. There are Little Miss Tidy and Mr. Messy, Little Miss Wise and Mr. Clever, Little Miss Tiny and Mr. Small, Little Miss Shy and Mr. Brave. Little Miss Busy and Mr. Busy seemed to be the first equal couple on the bookshelf (not taking into account the difference in marital status). Only at first sight, though: “Little Miss Busy” is “as busy as a bee” cleaning the house “from top to bottom – and then from bottom to top,just to make sure”; “she even dusted the bread and polished the butter”. “Mr. Busy does things ten times faster as ever you or I could” and “he lives in a very busy-looking house which he’d built himself”. Little Miss Busy is diligent and dutiful; Mr. Busy is fast, productive and efficient. While Barbie’s role has changed, presenting her in a profession, as a baseball player or a racing driver, we still haven’t seen Action Man as a daddy, nurse or in a pyjama-party outfit. These roles seem very trivial in contrast to his usual “missions”. Barbie taking on traditionally masculine roles, but Action Man not adopting feminine roles reflects the real situation: women claim space in ‘male’ domains, but men do not question their own role, or identify with feminine roles to such an extent. Because I was a girl some years ago, playing with girl’s toys (no Barbies, though), I was instantly aware of the ‘missing’ information in Action Man’s presentation: Where does he live? Who are his family or friends? Is he married? What does he have for tea? Does he have pets? What hobbies does he have? I was wondering if boys had these questions, too. When I asked, the sober answer was: “He lives in his machines, and anyway, Action Man isn’t real, and you don’t get to see him eating and stuff, that’d be boring!” I decided to give Action Man a private life. In a storyboard for an interactive animation3 I show him after work, when he returns to his empty flat in Brockham, Surrey, where the only one awaiting him is his goldfish. As he’s not ‘in action’ anymore, he’s got a lot of time to toss and turn at night and think about wrinkles, his age and how long he will still be able to do the job. The depiction of a private life that is rather prosaic compared to the usual “missions” and “operations” deconstructs the ‘hard as steel’ image of Action Man. I was wondering why it destroys a hero to have a pet, a home and a private life. The reason is that the body of a human being with emotional needs and the occasional urge to eat, sleep, or go to the toilet cannot remain the invulnerable, perfect combat machine Action Man is presented as. From Something to think about Comparing ‘Mistress’ with ‘Master’, ‘Queen’ with ‘King’, ‘Madam’ with ‘Sir’, ‘Dame’ with ‘Earl’ or ‘Lady’ with ‘Lord’, it becomes clear that almost all terms for women acquire negative connotations (often sexual) over time, while most terms for men retain their original meanings.