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C Sex and Gender Devaluation


									Chapter 11 – Sex and Gender
Learning Objectives

      Define gender stratification and distinguish between sex and gender.
      Understand the controversy over what most accounts for gender differences in
          behavior, biology or culture, and explain the dominant socio logical position in the
        Describe the global nature of gender inequality and provide concrete examples of
          global gender discrimination.
        Evaluate the different theories as to the origins of patriarchy.
        Define feminism.
        Describe the two "waves" of the women's movement in the United States.
        Discuss the rights, and gains, women have achieved over the last 100 years.
        Talk about different forms of gender inequality in everyday life, including the general
          devaluation of femininity.
        Provide examples of gender inequality in education, the workplace, and politics in the
          United States.
        Know what constitutes sexual harassment and understand how unwanted sexual
          advances are part of a structural problem in the United States.
        Discuss gender relations in the workplace, including the pay gap, the glass ceiling, the
          glass escalator, and sexual harassment.
        Explain how and why violence against women continues to be a significant social
          problem in the United States.
        Discuss how and why women are underrepresented in American politics.
        Describe future scenarios of gender definitions and relations in the United States.

Chapter Summary
Gender stratification refers to males' and females' unequal access to power, prestige, and
property on the basis of their sex. Ge nder is especially significant because it is a master status
that cuts across all aspects of social life.

Sex refers to the biological characteristics that distinguish males from females; gender refers
to the social characteristics that a society considers proper for its males and females. Primary
sex characteristics consist of organs directly related to reproduction, such as a vagina and
penis. Secondary sex characteristics are those not directly connected to reproduction that
become evident during puberty. These secondary characteristics include muscle development
and a change to a lower voice in males and the development of broader hips and breasts in
women. Although human beings are born male or female, they learn how to be masculine or
feminine. This process of gender socialization begins at birth and continues through the life
course. In short, we inherit our sex, but learn our gender.

There is a significant debate over whether biology or culture is most responsible for gender
differences. The dominant sociological position is that social factors, not biology, most account
for gender differences in behavior, such as male aggressiveness and female nurturing. A
minority view within sociology, however, attributes male dominance in society to biological
differences between males and females. A classic study addressing the nurture versus nature
argument is the case study of an identical twin who was subjected to a sex change shortly
after birth due to an inept physician severing the baby's penis during circumcision. Another
study of Vietnam veterans measured the relationship between testosterone level and
The issue of sex typing is not an invention of the industrial society. Anthropologist George
Murdock found that premodern societies sex typed activities as male or female, and that
activities considered "female" in one society could be considered "male" in another society. In
practically every society, however, greater prestige is given to male activities, regardless the
types of activities. Globally, females are discriminated against in areas of education and
politics, average less pay them men, and are frequently subjected to acts of male violence. To
some degree, this unequal treatment is caused because women are considered a minority
group because they are discriminated against on the basis of a physical characteristic, their

A society in which men dominate women and authority is vested in males is referred to as
patriarchy. Although nobody knows the origins of patriarchy, the dominant theory contends
that patriarchy was a social consequence of human reproduction. Frederick Engels, an
associate of Karl Marx, proposed that patriarchy developed with the origin of private property.

In response to patriarchy, the feminist philosophy was develo ped. Feminism is the belief that
men and women should be politically, economically, and socially equal, and that gender
stratification must be met with organized resistance. Feminists further believe that biology is
not destiny and that stratification by gender is wrong.

In the United States, the "first wave" of the women's movement, early in the twentieth
century, resulted in women gaining the right to vote. The "second wave," beginning in the
1960s, contributed to women achieving more rights and gains. Fo r example, women earn
more bachelor's and master's degrees than men, have made significant breakthroughs in the
political arena, have sharply increased their proportion of the labor force, and have made
significant increases in their income. However, there are still many forms of gender inequality
in various aspects of everyday life that continue to persist. Among these are a devaluation of
things feminine, violence against women, and sexual harassment.

As females come to play a larger role in the decision-making processes of American social
institutions, structural barriers and traditional stereotypes will continue to fall. This should
result in less gender stratification as both males and females develop a new consciousness.
Key Terms in Chapter Eleven

feminism: The philosophy that men and women should be politically, economically, and socially
       equal; an organized activity on behalf of this principle. (p. 304)

gender: The behaviors and attitudes that a society considers proper for its males and females;
       masculinity or femininity. (p. 292)

gender stratification: Males’ and females’ unequal access to power, prestige, and property on
       the basis of their sex. (p. 292)

glass ceiling: The mostly invisible barrier that keeps women from advancing to the top levels at
        work. (p. 315)

glass escalator: The mostly invisible accelerators that push men into higher-level positions, more
        desirable work assignments, and higher salaries. (p. 316)

matriarchy: A society in which women dominate men. (p. 294)

patriarchy: A society in which men dominate women. (p. 294)

sex: Biological characteristics that distinguish females and males, consisting of primary and
        secondary sex characteristics. (p. 292)

sexual harassment: The abuse of one’s position of authority to force unwanted sexual demands
        on someone. (p. 316)

Key People in Chapter Eleven

Janet Chafetz: Chafetz attributed the second “wave” of the women’s movement in the 1960s to
       more women taking jobs, thinking of paid work as a career, and comparing their
       unfavorable working conditions to those of men. (p. 306)

Donna Eder: Illustrating the devaluation of femininity, Elder notes that junior high school boys
      call one another “girl” if they don’t hit hard enough in football. (p. 312)

Frederick Engels: Engels proposed that patriarchy developed with the origin of private property.
       (p. 300)

Cynthia Fuchs Epstein: Epstein attributes gender differences in behavior solely to social factors
       including, specifically, socialization and social control. (p. 294)

Sue Fisher: Found that surgeons often recommend total hysterectomies even when no cancer is
       present. (p. 308)

Douglas Foley: Foley points out that football coaches contribute to the devaluation of femininity
       by telling boys who don’t play well that they are “wearing skirts.” (p. 312)
Steven Goldberg: Goldberg attributes gender differences in behavior, including male dominance,
       to inborn differences that direct the emotions and behaviors of males and females. (p.

Marvin Harris: Harris proposes that because most men are stronger than most women and hand-
      to-hand combat was often necessary in tribal groups, men became the warriors and
      women “the rewards” used to entice them into battle. (p. 300)

Karen Hossfeld: Found in one silicone valley manufacturing firm that the company had a
      reserved area called the “ladies corner” but no such area for men, and that male
      employees wore different colored smocks related to their jobs while all women wore the
      same color smocks. (p.316)

Gerda Lerner: Lerner points out that according to the historical record, there are no known
      societies in which women as a group have more power than men as a group. She also
      suggests that patriarchy may have had different origins in different places. (p. 298)

George Murdock: Surveying 324 premodern societies around the world, Murdock found that all
       of them sex typed activities as male or female; furthermore, activities considered
       “female” in one society might be considered “male” in another. (p. 300)

Alice Rossi: Rossi suggests that women are better prepared biologically for “mothering” than are
       men; they are more sensitive to the infant’s soft skin and to their nonverbal
       communications, and that it is not an issue of biology or society, but biological
       predispositions which are then overlaid with culture. (p. 295)

Jean Stockard and Miriam Johnson: Illustrating the devaluation of femininity, Stockard and
       Johnson observed how boys playing basketball call each other a “woman” when they
       miss a basket.    (p. 312)

Samuel Stouffer: In a classic study of combat soldiers during World War II, Stouffer found that
      officers and drill sergeants often use feminine terms to insult and motivate other men and,
      in the process, devalue women. (p. 312)

Christine Williams: Williams found that men working in traditionally “female” occupations
       often experience a glass escalator—they are promoted more quickly, given more
       desirable work assignments, and paid higher salaries than their women counterparts. (p.

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