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Gender Roles. Anthropology 393 Cultural Construction of HIV/AIDS Josephine MacIntosh. Shifting Language. Previously known as sex roles Currently known as gender roles The term sex is properly used in a biological context The term gender is properly used in a cultural/social context.

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gender roles

Gender Roles

Anthropology 393

Cultural Construction of HIV/AIDS

Josephine MacIntosh

shifting language
Shifting Language
  • Previously known as sex roles
  • Currently known as gender roles
  • The term sex is properly used in a biological context
  • The term gender is properly used in a cultural/social context
slide3
Sex
  • A social status usually based on genital appearance (what we can see)
  • Persons may be:
    • Female
    • Male
    • Intersexed or Hermaphodrite (having sex characteristics of both females and males)

(Aaron H. Devor, 2000)

g ender
Gender
  • A social status usually based on the convincing performance of femininity or masculinity (Aaron H. Devor, 2000)
  • Persons may be
    • Women or girls
    • Boys or men
    • Transgendered
gender roles are
Gender Roles Are…
  • Culturally constructed
  • They affect how we:
    • Perceive and are perceived
    • Evaluate and are evaluated
    • Learned through interaction w/ group
    • Not inherited
  • They prescribe expected behaviours
  • They vary from group to group
3 new guinea tribes margaret mead s classic study 1935
3 New Guinea TribesMargaret Mead’s Classic Study (1935)
  • Arapesh
    • Both genders worked cooperatively, non-aggressive, responsive to others, sexual contact not a driving force (feminine?)
3 new guinea tribes margaret mead s classic study 19357
3 New Guinea TribesMargaret Mead’s Classic Study (1935)
  • Mundugumor (Men DOO guh mor)
    • Both genders ruthless, aggressive, positively-sexed (masculine?)
3 new guinea tribes margaret mead s classic study 19358
3 New Guinea TribesMargaret Mead’s Classic Study (1935)
  • Tchambuli
    • Females dominant
    • Males more dependent
mead s conclusions
Mead’s Conclusions
  • Many, if not ALL, masculine and feminine traits are socially constructed
  • Gender roles are NOT biologically based
  • Additionally- male dominance in contemporary society reflects a prior need for physical strength to ensure survival
  • Current value structure continues to give men higher status tasks and assignments
gender expectations
Gender Expectations
  • Things you like doing that are expected of your gender
  • Things you don't like doing that are expected of your gender
  • Things you like doing that are expected of the other gender
  • Things you like doing but can't because of your gender
sexual stratification
Sexual Stratification
  • Division of labour based on gender
  • Gender similar to racial or caste distinctions
  • Lower ranking gender or class kept from prestigious work
  • Jobs that women do are automatically ranked as less important
sexual stratification12
Sexual Stratification
  • BUT… the sexual division of labour is an ancient primate trait
  • Does it serve us to try to change this?
sexual stratification13
Sexual Stratification
  • What about the feminization of poverty?
  • Worldwide, women earn on average slightly more than 50% of what men earn
  • How might this affect HIV infections among women?
dimensions of social inequality
Dimensions of Social Inequality
  • Social status depends on
    • Wealth (money, access to resources)
    • Power (agency, independence)
    • Prestige (social esteem)
  • Does everyone have the same choices and opportunities?
    • In a class system?
    • In a caste system?
gender roles status
Gender Roles & Status
  • Males are afforded more choices and opportunities because masculinity is an achieved status
    • Prove you’re a man
  • Females have fewer choices and opportunities because femininity is an ascribed status
    • Act like a lady
gender roles hiv
Gender Roles & HIV
  • Prevailing gender roles
    • Considered by many to be the most pervasive and universal problem associated with HIV prevention
    • One of the few ethnographic commonalities between women as a group
  • Globally, may present the largest obstacle to HIV prevention
women are
Women Are…
  • Generally of lower social status
  • Often economically dependent
  • Expected to be sexually passive
  • Often labelled negatively if they are too knowledgeable about sex
    • The prevailing attitude is that only sluts and whores use condoms
slide19

Women Only

Muslim Females

men are
Men Are…
  • Generally of higher social status
    • Even gay men
      • As a group, may have lower perceived status
      • As individuals, have same access as other men
  • Often socialized into ‘machismo’ roles
    • Superior knowledge of sexual matters
    • Authority over women
    • ‘Marianismo’ is the opposite extreme of female dependence, passivity and ignorance of sexual matters
social sexual equity
Social & Sexual Equity
  • Integral to HIV/AIDS prevention
  • It is important to change
    • Accepted patterns of male behaviour
    • Expected patterns of female behaviour
  • Then, women can be in a position to protect themselves from the very real threat of HIV infection -- which leads ultimately, to death