Introduction to Gender 2000
• In the middle to late • By 1980, over twenty
1960s, courses explaining thousand courses were being
and developing feminist taught in that “discipline.”
theory began to be taught • Today there are programs at
on college campuses. all levels of study—
• By 1970, the phrase undergraduate major,
“Women’s Studies” was master’s degree, doctorate.
applied to them. It even has its own
association, the National
Association, and journal.
• Women’s Studies • Many school have
programs have been so Women’s Studies and/or
successful as part of an Gender Studies programs
that there is now a greater “Women and men are
awareness of the more alike than they are
importance of gender in different. Men are not
people’s lives. from Mars; women are
not from Venus—we are
all from planet Earth.”
Michael S. Kimmel
History of Ideas
• Study of Women • Women’s Studies
– Done by Men – Done by Women and men
– Views Women as – Views women as subjects
Objects and authorities
– Excluded women’s – Includes women’s opinions
opinions – Sees women as different
– Saw women as from men but disagrees on
different than , and how different, in what ways
usually inferior to, they are different, and why
men they are different
• Study of Women • Women’s Studies
– Sigmund Freud – Karen Horney
thought women critiqued Freud’s
believed women were conclusions, arguing
vengeful, castrating, that men both fear and
penis-envying “envy” the womb,
creatures who seek which accounts for
domination by men their “need” to
Terms to Learn
• For our purposes, sex will be used to indicate the
biological categories within which people are
typically placed, or the biological difference
between males and females. Sex is a
physiological concept and is thought to be natural
to a person; it cannot really be changed (at least
not without surgery and hormone treatments, and
even so, one’s DNA will still hold the original
unaltered code). Sex is an ascribed social status.
• Gender is the social significance of the
difference in sex. Gender, according to Professor
Lois Self, the Chair of the Women’s Studies
Department at Northern Illinois University, “is
the difference the [sex] difference makes.”
Gender is a social concept. Masculinity and
femininity are the usual descriptors of gender,
and they refer to a complex set of characteristics
and behaviors that are prescribed for members of
a particular sex category; it is an achieved social
A role is the pattern of behaviors prescribed for
and expected from a person that corresponds to
their position in society. A person may, of
course, have multiple positions in society and
multiple role expectations.
A stereotype is a composite image of
characteristics and expectations pertaining to
some group. This image is present in the social
consciousness, but it is generally not accurate or
is skewed in one or more ways.
Equality is the condition of being alike in value,
having the same potential for accomplishment,
and having the same inherent worth—in spite of
individual differences. In other words, even
though people are not the same, they can (and
should) be considered and treated as equals.
Most of the societies that we know of have
tended to be patriarchal. They are based upon an
organizing principle that privileges the males—or
the fathers, specifically, from the Latin patrí?
family and archós leader—over the females. In a
patriarchy, power is held by and transferred
through men. This can be through educational
and societal restrictions on women or by laws
that favor men.
An ideal is a concept concerning a role, a
position, or a physical image that contains only
the most desirable traits or behaviors. It can be a
standard of judgment, a goal, or both. It can
contain ideas that are actually exclusive of each
other, and it is—as a hypothetical concept of
perfection—unobtainable in reality.
Feminism is a philosophy that holds with this
ideal of equality. It is the belief that although
they are different, men and women are equal.
Feminism recognizes that women have been
oppressed and repressed in certain societies
throughout history. It also carries with it the
commitment to change the attitudes and
behaviors of those who do not see men and
women—all people, really—as equals. This
equality should be manifested in economic,
political, and social equality for both sexes.
The concept of positionality recognizes that
people’s perspectives, their perceptions of reality,
and their actual realities—their truths—are
dependent upon where they are positioned in
society. In other words, it sees truth and reality
as being relative and multi-faceted.
Misogyny and Ideology
Misogyny is the hatred of or hostility toward
women. In a society that subordinates women it is
easy to understand that people within that society
would or could hold such beliefs.
In this class we will analyze cultures in order to
study their ideologies—the “hidden” as well as the
explicit values that societies and people hold—to
see what people have believed about gender and
Looking Ahead: A Few Key Ideas
from Kimmel’s “Introduction”
• Gender varies cross culturally. It depends on where you
are, who you are, and when you are living.
• “Invisibility is a privilege in another sense—as a luxury.
Only white people in our society have the luxury not to
think about race very minute of their lives. And only men
have the luxury to pretend that gender does not matter” (6).
• Assuming neutrality perpetuates the status quo.