Chapter 9: Gender. What Makes Men and Women Different?. Is it something biologically determined, or is it the result of social and cultural processes? The term sex was taken to refer to the biological characteristics associated with maleness and femaleness.
Is it something biologically determined, or is it the result of social and cultural processes?
The term sex was taken to refer to the biological characteristics associated with maleness and femaleness.
The term genderwas used to refer to the social and cultural characteristics of masculinity and femininity.
However, this distinction appears likely to be come less clear because the cultural processes of gendering have been found to have a multitude of effects on biology.
Auguste Comte believed that the division of labor between males and females was biologically determined.
Sociologists today regard gender not as a inevitable outcome of biology but as a process and product of social construction.
Gendering is a fluid process that intersects with other identities or aspects of identity, including class, status, ethnicity, and sexuality.
For example, gender ideologies about women’s roles and the lower value of their work help to perpetuate the lower wages they receive relative to men.
The way the economy works encourages the development of a reserve army of labor
Many feminists have argued that gender inequalities and discrimination are promulgated by terminology that subtly implies masculine dominance and, accordingly, have campaigned in favor of everyday speech that employs gender-neutral language such as humankind and they.
For example, because cultural scripts for men differ from those for women, there are different expectations for single males and females on a first date.
Michel Foucault maintained that the body is a central location for the expression and reproduction of power relationships. Through self-surveillance and everyday disciplinary practices, he argued, individuals internalize and reproduce hierarchies of social status and power, transforming their bodies into “carriers” or representatives of relations of domination and subordination.
For liberal feminists, who emphasize the classical liberal philosophy of individual rights, the main task is to increase women’s freedom of choice and provide more opportunities to exercise their talents.
Social feminists advocate more fundamental changes, especially in the economic system, where the exploitation of women’s labor, whether through low-paid employment or unpaid housework, is seen as just one aspect of the drive to make profits by keeping down labor costs.
Radical feminists want fundamental changes as well, but they believe that male dominance will be abolished only when our cultural ideas and practices base on gender are eliminated altogether. Their goal is a “gender-free” society.