So, I was asked to make a Transgender 101 presentation/PDF for Three3littlebirds, that she would show her class. I ended up making this presentation, and I thought I’d show you fine folks what the end result turned out to be.
In this video, Raewyn Connell touches on her research on academia in the Southern hemisphere and on education, but most of her discussion is on her considerable research on masculinities. This is a very accessible overview of Connell’s work. She says her research is motivated by a desire to make the world safer for herself as a transgender woman, for her daughter, and for her community. I like this representation of sociology - producing research and activism to create a safer world. It’s poignant to remember that as another International Women’s Day passes, sociology and the feminist movement have a responsibility to all women, including transgender women.
- Source: zeezeescorner
Sociology PhD student Elizabeth Sweet writes for the New York Times that gendered toys were “remarkably absent” from toy advertising at the beginning in the 20th Century, but appears around WWII. It declined by the early 1970s only to rise again in the 1990s. Today it’s almost impossible to find gender neutral toys (I can attest to this when I tried to buy science toys for my niece over Christmas. I will share my photos soon.) Why did gendered toys take hold? Sweet writes:
There are several reasons gender-based marketing has become so prevalent. On a practical level, toy makers know that by segmenting the market into narrow demographic groups, they can sell more versions of the same toy. And nostalgia often drives parents and grandparents to give toys they remember from their own childhood.
Such marketing taps into the deeply held beliefs about gender that still operate in our culture; many parents argue that their daughters and sons like different things. This is particularly true for boys: parents tend to stick with gender-typed toys for boys, either because they understand that the social costs for boys who transgress into the “pink” zone are especially high in a homophobic culture or because of their own desire for gender conformity.
This becomes a self-reinforcing cycle: as toys have become more and more gender segregated, the social costs of boundary crossing and the peer pressure to stay within the lines are huge, for kids and parents alike.
Read the whole article, it’s a great example of public sociology.
Go sociology students, go!
- Source: zeezeescorner
Kristen Schilt discusses how a more sophisticated understanding of transgender experiences have shaped sociology’s approach to sexuality and gender. She notes that in traditional sociology, such as in Harold Garfinkel’s Studies in Ethnomethodology, transgender people have been seen to be “over-doing gender… that they have to be 120% male or 120% female because they’re trying to show to the outside world this is real, this is valid.” Schilt’s study, Just One of the Guys, finds that transgender men are not welded to a dominant style of masculinity (also known as hegemonic masculinity). They are comfortable with representing their gender identities in diverse ways. Instead, it is transgender men’s cis-gender co-workers who are invested to policing gender in constrained ways (men don’t wear earrings, men cut their hair in particular ways and they wear particular styles of clothes).
- Source: zeezeescorner
Depressing: The Advocate reports on a survey by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and National Center for Transgender Equality. Among the findings: “Fifty-six percent (56%) of American Indian and Alaskan Native transgender respondents reported having attempted suicide compared to 41% of all study respondents.”
So over the last few weeks there has been a little bit of fuss surrounding Ikea as their culturally sensitive catalouge in Saudi Arabia has erased all traces of the female models apparent in the same catalouges in the rest of the world.
A similar thing happened to Hilary Clinton in an Isreali conservative newspaper which erased her from the Obama’s opertaion room when Bin Laden’s compund was raided. Just to show that it isn’t simply an anti-Hilary bias, the next photo shows the Isreali parliament with and without its female members in order to appease the ultra-orthodox. For parity we have a ‘girls only’ version of the Bin Laden opertaion’s monitoring room too.
The media in the UK are currently trying to come to terms with the blatant sexism that exists in the media. It has oddly taken a plethora of abuse claims against a dead BBC Radio personality for this introspection to occur. Women make up less than 30% of journalists yet women are ubiquitous on the covers of our magazines and newspapers argues the Guardian today.
The process of erasing women is actually entrenched. The very crude and obvious examples by Ikea and the conservative Israeli camp are actually upfront and obvious in comparison to the insidious erasing that has become endemic. This erasing is the photoshopping of women on magazine covers, removing blemishes, making limbs more slender, straightening natural curves. Creating an imagined femininity, which values no one and has no real role model.
At the very same time the promotion of women in purely glamorous and sensual ways continually erases the social progress that so many women have fought for. This erasing of value was brought in to sharp relief by the recent suicide of Amanda Todd. There is simply so much commentary about women’s appearance. Such is the pursuit of beauty that we have seen beauty clinics in Hong Kong offering expensive medically questionable procedures that have hospitalised 4 women and killed 1.
I think Ikea is the least of our problems.
- Reblogged from everydayhybridity
This is a wonderful resource: A Map of Gender-Diverse Cultures. Click on the map and take a tour around the world, to see just a few examples of how other societies organise gender beyond a male-female binary. It’s a neat way to show the social construction of gender, illustrating that what we see as the “natural”, fixed and oppositional differences between masculine and feminine are actually fluid.
- Source: pbs.org
This great clip comes from the PBS documentary, Two Spirits. “We’re in a many-gendered world”, explains one of the participants featured.
According to old Navajo traditions, there are 4 basic genders which include the nadleehi and dilbaa — persons born, respectively, as males or females, but who fulfill the roles of their opposites in adulthood. These individuals are described as having two spirits. In this excerpt from the film, a more fluid way of describing gender is considered.
- Reblogged from pamalamela
So, first, we had the whole Caster Semenya saga: a female athlete who is really good… so good indeed that it is suspicious. Is she really a woman? Let’s test. Ok, she is. But she is not feminine enough, so, let’s pump of her full of hormone to increase her femininity and lower her performance because she is getting way to close to men’s performance levels and that is just wrong.
And now, we have the Chinese Superwoman, as Le Monde calls her. We are talking about Chinese swimmer Ye Shiwen who’s killing it at the Olympic Games in London. She’s good. Too good. Well, she’s obviously a woman so her men-level performances can only be explained by doping (Chinese, y’know).
“The world of swimming may have spent 36 hours in a ferocious debate over the means by which she could achieve such astonishing feats, but the 16-year-old had other things on her mind. As the electronic beep sounded to mark the start of the race, she leapt from the blocks, put her head down, and swam.
On Saturday, Ye had stunned a crowd that thought it had already seen the shock of the evening 40 minutes before, when the great Michael Phelps failed to win a medal in the men’s 400m individual medley.
In the women’s race of the same event, Ye swam a final freestyle leg of such jawdropping acceleration that she overhauled the race leader, finishing almost three metres ahead in a time which shattered the world record. On Monday, in qualifying for Tuesday night’s event, she had gone on to break the Olympic record for the longer distance.
It was awesome, astonishing, unbelievable. And it didn’t take too long for a leading US coach to say what many had been muttering.”
And the real issue is this:
“La Chinoise Ye Shiwen, 16 ans, médaillée d’or sur 400m 4 nages samedi, a battu le record du monde de cette éprouvante discipline (4 m 28’ s 43 centièmes), mais elle a surtout crawlé les cent derniers mètres de sa course presque aussi vite queRyan Lochte (58 s 68 contre 58 s 65), sacré la veille chez les garçons, au terme du deuxième 400m 4 nages le plus rapide de l’Histoire (4 m 05 s 18 centièmes).”
She swam almost as fast as the male winner in the same category. Something is wrong. Except not:
It is interesting that when women performance improve and get closer in line with male performance, then, that is an issue. The same thing happens with scholarly achievement. How many books have been (and continue to be) written about the relative greater success of girls in school and women in universities? All of them deploring the loss of gender supremacy for boys and men. And sometimes calling not so subtly for a restoration of such supremacy through intervention (all couched in terms of making school less ‘feminine environments’ and more attuned to alleged masculine needs).
The case of these women athletes getting closer to men performance levels generates the same kind of anxieties, if not direct intervention, as in the case of Caster Semenya.
- Reblogged from globalsociology
Photo by Maria Heyaca.
This image stands as a cheeky but clever piece of visual sociology on the social construction of gender: wives shop while husbands rest away from their company. Conversely, husbands do not enjoy shopping. I also see that this photo belongs in the rubric of my beloved sociology of the mundane: shopping is not simply a boring, routine leisure activity, it is a way of doing gender. Women/wives live out or “do” femininity by shopping; while men/husbands do masculinity by not shopping.
The gender-appropriate activities we choose to participate in, as well as the activities that we opt out of, are socially prescribed. Steering away from these gender-appropriate scripts that society expects of us can mark people out as being abnormal, or worthy of ridicule. Husbands provide women the funds for shopping and they should be rewarded with solitude - but men who enjoy shopping must not be “good” men.
The sign is an example of heteronormativity: the heterosexuality of the public assumed to inform only one reading of the activity of shopping. The shop appears to display glittery bangles, bracelets and necklaces which are items that Western culture associates with “women”. Husbands are men. Men don’t like this type of jewellery. In other cultures around the world, such as in various Central Asian societies, men wear a lot of coloured and glittery jewellery, sometimes as a sign of status or wealth. In some sub-cultures within Western societies, men wear various pieces of chunky jewellery, but often such pieces signal strength or character or the aesthetics of belonging, such as with some elements of rap culture. In other cases, men wear jewellery as a counter-hegemonic expression of identity, such as with some queer men. In other cases still, bracelets and necklaces are symbols of counter-culture or rejection of the mainstream, such as with goth sub-cultures.
The sign captured by this photo is meant as a joke, but the punchline works because it rests on the heteronormative presumption that there is only one way of being a husband - by rejecting women’s activities, like shopping.
There’s more to be drawn from this photo about the interplay between consumer culture, class and gender, but I’ll leave it to your sociological imaginations to take it further!
- Source: zeezeescorner
Alyx Gorman quotes her friend in a good deconstruction of the latest Australian advertising beauty campaign to condescend to women. The ad pretends to “get real” about women’s bodies by using the word “vagina”, feeling pleased with itself, thank-you-very-much, for being so honest. The ad features a thin, white, naked and conventionally attractive woman talking about “that bit of discharge” in the middle of a woman’s menstrual cycle. The ad then usefully offers women a solution to our dampness/wetness problems: we should wear panty liners every day! Hooray and thank you!
Gorman does a great job of showing that this ad is part of a long line of advertising that pushes a product most people do not need and manufactures it as a solution to our (non-existent) problem. This is a stock premise of advertising: it creates problems and solutions for consumers to guilt or shame us into spending money. The issue here is that the message is twisted: vagina is not a dirty word, says the ad - it’s just women’s bodies that are gross.
Read Gorman’s article on The Vine.
- Source: zeezeescorner
South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill delivers a public apology to the parents, children and communities affected by the State-sanctioned practice of forcing unwed mothers to give up their babies. It is estimated that 17,000 children in South Australia were adopted before 1980 “and some of these were forced adoptions.” Forced adoptions were a common practice around Australia between the 1950s and the 1970s, affecting around 150,000 unmarried mothers across the country.
Source: SBS Australia.
- Source: zeezeescorner