Chapter 2: Gender Identity

Chapter 2: Gender
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Sex/Gender System
 Organizing society in a way such that
men and women are pressured to
perceive themselves and act “opposites”
and in which men as a group have more
power than women as a group as a
Sex/Gender System
 1) If female/male were purely biological there
wouldn’t need such elaborate rituals and
control mechanisms to ensure people stay
 2) Sex/Gender system is an organizing system
that is created through a complex interaction
between biology and ritual, rules, expectations
and action.
Theories of Gender
 1) What do we mean by the term
 2) Most theories are simplistic. They
focus on:
 One cause.
 Are static over time
 Don’t allow for variation across cultures.
Biological Theory of
Gender Identity
 1) Biological differences exist; as do
similarities. We tend to focus on the
 A) Hormonal differences and gender identity
 B) Brain lateralization theory and gender
identity theory
Biological Theory Cont
 2) Problems - It’s hard to show cause/effect (nonspuriousness and temporal order).
 Often theories are reductionist and
 Selective Perception affects what we observe.
 Third Genders exist.
Gender and Social Institution
and Gender Identity
 1) Sex/Gender system, Sexuality, Race/Ethnicity are organizing
principles which dictate rules and expectations and teaches
people what is appropriate.
Roles – prescribed expectations, duties and rights.
Gender is built into the rules of society. For examples, Monopoly.
You have to have a winner/losers. With Gender, you can only
have two genders in our society. When there are more, we make
those “others” deviants” or “cheaters.”
Socialization Theory and
Gender Identity
 1) Peers, Parents, Teachers, Religious leaders teach
us through sanctions and expectations what it means
to be male/female of various races/ethnicities, ages,
2) Tools of Socialization
 1) Regulating Transgressions (punishments)
 2) Hegemony – Cultural tools which convince people that there
is not other way or organizing except the present way. Thus,
oppression is inevitable.
 Books, Movies, T.V shows. Parents “protect” their children.
Socialization Theory
 3) Problems
 Theory sees people as passive.
Symbolic Interactionism
and Gender Identity
 1) What we become emerges through our
relationship with others and interpreting the
symbols of society which help us interpret and
act upon reality.
 2) Tools of SI
A) Taking the role of the other – Mead –
seeing yourself through others
B) Doing Gender
 1) Problems
 While sees people as active, does not take
into account institutions and their affect on
gender identity.
Identification Theory and
Gender Identity
 1) Chodorow– Psychoanalyst
 Mothering leads to attachment in girls and
individuation in boys. Unconscious
process in which boys learn to devalue
connections and girls put premium on
 Tools: Mothering
Identification Theory
 Problems:
 Too much focus on family
 Assumes family form is static and constant
Cognitive Developmental
Theory and Gender Identity
 1) Stage theory that argues children interpret
information about gender as it relates to their
cognitive stage.
 Tools: Schemas – cognitive stage affects
information and how it is interpreted
 They learn gender is dichotomous and they must fit
in one category. Over time, they learn gender is
NOT fluid.
Cognitive Developmental
 Problems
 They claim gender is fixed at a young
 Ignore Institutions.