Welcome to the lecture for module 2. Remember, you should read the articles for this module before viewing this lecture.
Define Ideology Define Dominant ideology: american dream and meritocracy Define paradigm: the generally accepted perspective of a particular discipline at a given time (similar to ideology as a worldview) In the Ponton and Gill article they describe 3 main paradigms with respect to the relationship between the individual and society: Liberalism: focus is on individual freedom Conservativism: emphasize “social whole” over individuals “ Collectivism”: state intervention necessary for individual potential to be realized Notice this use of liberal and conservative is different than how it is used in describing political orientation in the united states. Today, in the US, conservatives typically want little government and liberals want social welfare. This discrepancy is a very good example of how paradigms and ideologies are historically and culturally dependent. In other words, they change over time and across locations. Regardless of how liberal and conservative are used in everyday speech today, you should also remember that in terms of political theory, liberalism is all about the individual’s rights. This will be important later when we are discussing activism and social change.
In this class, of course, we’ll be talking a lot about how women and men are impacted by ideology. In studying ideology, some Women’s Studies scholars have found it helpful to distinguish sex from gender. When this is done, sex is the biological or physical differences between men and women (genitalia), and gender refers to the expression, the social aspects, or what it means to be masculine and feminine. One reason that early feminists wanted to separate sex from gender was to move away from biological determinism. Biological determinism is the belief that biology determines your destiny. So, for a long time, most people believed that a woman’s ability to get pregnant and reproduce meant that women were inherently more nurturing, caring, and so on. Of course some people still believe this, but as an ideology, it is not as dominant as it once was. Biological Determinism is a form of a larger body of thougtht called “essentialism.” Essentialism refers to all those theories that suggest that differences like gender, race, and sexual orientation are rooted in the body. In other words, they are inherent, biological aspects. The opposite of essentialism is “social Constructionism.” As the name suggests, these theories argue that differences like gender, race, and sexual orientation are determined by socialization and social influences. It is important to note that nowadays the lines between essentialism and social constructionism, and between sex and gender, are becoming blurred. For example, many people now suggest that the biological and the social influence each other. For example, my female hormones may influence how I express femininity. Likewise, my expression of femininity can change my body (for example, I may decide to get breast reduction surgery because breasts are not part of my definition of feminine). So, the body impacts the social, and the social impacts the body. Similarly, current theorists have also problematices the idea that sex isn’t socially constructed. It may seem so clear cut: the precense of a penis means male, the presence of a vagina means female. But what if a baby is born with both? What if the baby is born with a large clitoris, no vagina, and ovaries? Being both male and female (in some combination) is called intersex. And it may surprise you to know that intersex people are not that rare. According to the Intersex Society of North America, about 1% of the population has some type of intersex condition (there are different types). It is standard practice for a doctor to do surgery on a baby born intersex to make the baby fit our ideas of male and female. Based on the length of the penis/clitoris structure, the doctor will determine to make the baby a boy or a girl. This reveals that, literally, where we draw the line between boy and girl is arbitrary! Intersex people, along with other contemoprary gender scholars, argue that biological sex is not nearly as natural as we like to think. Regardless, the distinction between sex and gender does remain useful, because it helps us focus on gender socialization, or the ways in which we all learn how to be a man or a woman, and what it means to be masculine and feminine.
Society makes certain kinds of difference “good” (white, male, use of legs, use of glasses) acceptable, attaches privileges to those people that meet those markers.
Unearned advantages -being unmarked, not having to think about privilege -feeling safe -access to educational and career opportunities Conferred dominance -being believed -controlling conversation -controlling another’s reproduction, eduction, career
Social system can shape (broken window phenomenon), but not inevitable.
Sex and gender module 2
SEX/GENDER AND THE SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION OF DIFFERENCE Module 2 Dr. Sarah Rainey
Ideology <ul><li>The myths, beliefs, principles, ideas that a person or culture holds. These ideas are believed to explain “the way things are” (worldview) and how things should be done (common sense). </li></ul><ul><li>Dominant ideology </li></ul>
Sex/Gender <ul><li>Sex: biological/physical (male and female) </li></ul><ul><li>Gender: social (masculine and feminine) </li></ul><ul><li>Essentialism </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Biological Determinism </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Social Constructionism </li></ul>
Other forms of difference <ul><li>Sexual Orientation </li></ul><ul><li>Race </li></ul><ul><li>Dis/ability </li></ul><ul><li>Class </li></ul>
Social Construction of Difference <ul><li>Difference only has meaning (bad and good) in systems of privilege and oppression. </li></ul><ul><li>Thus, what counts as “normal” is culturally and historically specific (i.e., changes over time and across cultures). </li></ul><ul><li>FEELS “real” and natural, even immutable. </li></ul>
Types of Privilege <ul><li>“ unearned entitlements,” things of value that none of us should have to earn; however, when only certain groups given it, becomes “unearned advantages” </li></ul><ul><li>“ conferred dominance”—gives on group power over another, not desirable </li></ul><ul><li>Male Privilege </li></ul><ul><li>White Privilege </li></ul><ul><li>Heterosexual Privilege </li></ul><ul><li>Nondisabled Privilege </li></ul>
Paradox of Privilege <ul><li>Experienced by individuals, but privilege is all about categories and groups </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Privilege conferred based on perception (not necessarily reality) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Systematic versus particular </li></ul></ul>
Individuals and Systems <ul><li>Socialization </li></ul><ul><li>“ Paths of least resistance” – rewards and punishments </li></ul><ul><li>Autonomy within system </li></ul>