94 posts categorized "Sex and Gender"

February 27, 2014

The Social Evolution of Gender

RaskoffBy Sally Raskoff

In February 2014, Facebook updated the choices that users can use to describe their gender. Their options for gender were previously limited to “male” and “female” but it seems that Facebook is acknowledging both the cultural patterns outside our dominant cultural norms and the ability of people to define themselves, particularly in social settings.

These, according to Slate.com are the 56 choices for “gender” on Facebook.

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January 22, 2014

Misogyny and Passive Activism

RaskoffBy Sally Raskoff

I came upon some graffiti in a campus women’s restroom recently and I just had to take a photo. The messages from women to other women are fascinating from a sociological perspective.

Many students resist the theories, data, and research findings about how gender and power structure our lives even though the dynamics of how women as a group are devalued surround us every day.

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January 06, 2014

Challenges in Naming Gender Identities: Cis and Trans

RaskoffBy Sally Raskoff

Issues of sex and gender are popular and common topics in sociology; we discuss the complexities of defining sex as physical (male, female) and gender as social (women, men).

We assume that males take on the gender identity of men and females that of women. Social roles are built on these identities and gender is structured into the fabric of society, including our workdays, occupational aspirations, and social obligations. Our society presumes that people are heterosexual, thus expecting men and women to prefer each other as sexual partners. These pathways and definitions are all supported by societal norms.

With more cross-cultural, biological, and social science research on the subtleties and issues in how sex, gender identity, gender expression, and sexual attraction (or orientation), we can see that these issues are all much more complex than we are taught. Other cultures have more than two genders yet our dominant social norms either do not recognize these categories at all or consider them to be viable or valid realities.

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November 11, 2013

The Dangerous Dynamic of Gender

RaskoffBy Sally Raskoff

Have you noticed the demographics of the people who tend to perpetrate mass shootings in public spaces? I’ve noticed they tend to be young, male, from middle class backgrounds, and socially isolated. These are not trivial factors.

Gender is key to this pattern. The age, class, and lack of social networks link with gender to create a situation in which the person sees the public shooting as a viable option to express their frustration. More maturity (which hopefully comes with age) and social support may allow frustrated people alternative outlets. Middle class resources bring the possibility of purchasing sometimes costly weapons and ammunition that are kept in one’s home. Most of these crimes utilize legal weapons that are part of the lifestyle of the perpetrator’s family and culture.

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October 04, 2013

What’s in a Title?

Headshot 3.13 cropcompressBy Karen Sternheimer

A title is a way of framing the meaning of a paper, a movie, a book, a song, a job, and even a person. You might take great pains to come up with a catchy title for a term paper (or just stick with the tried and true “Term Paper”). What do human titles represent?

We use titles, information that precedes peoples’ names, in order to provide meaning about that person. In public forums, titles convey status and expertise. News programs regularly confer expertise on the people they interview by including a title, even it is one that is only meaningful for the story (like “witness,” “neighbor” or “resident”). Our more stable titles reveal how we create order and meaning of others’ identities on a more regular basis.

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September 12, 2013

When Men Get All the Credit: Gender and the Construction of Knowledge

Peter_kaufmanBy Peter Kaufman

There is a common theme that often plays out in television sitcoms and movies that goes something like this: A wife and husband are trying to accomplish a task—maybe trying to put something together or convey a life-lesson to their children. The husband takes first crack at the task and fails miserably. Next, the wife tries and is eventually or even immediately successful. Despite her prowess in accomplishing the task the husband finds a way to butt in and somehow take all of the credit. The woman often gives a knowing look to her husband (or the audience) and laughs it off (along with the audience) as typical male behavior.

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July 11, 2013

What You See Isn’t Always What May Be: Confirmation Bias

RaskoffBy Sally Raskoff

Confirmation bias is a fascinating dynamic. What we see may not be what we judge it to be. What we think we are seeing may just be what we expect it to be.

A new study by sociologists Aliya Saperstein and Andrew M. Penner highlights how social status cues, mixed with gender, may change judgments and perceptions about racial group membership.

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June 06, 2013

On My Honor: The Boy Scouts and Sexual Orientation

RaskoffBy Sally Raskoff

The Boy Scouts of America voted recently to change their membership policy. They passed the resolution to "remove the restriction denying membership to youth on the basis of sexual orientation alone." The resolution actually reads: "No youth may be denied membership in the Boy Scouts of America on the basis of sexual orientation or preference alone."

This is a large change for the organization as they have long denied membership – and leadership positions – based on sexual orientation. They also require members to have particular religious beliefs that are reflected in the oath.

The last word in the resolution sentence noted above is particularly interesting, as it suggests that sexual orientation may be still used as a reason for denying membership if other factors are present. Alone? Why would they need to keep that word there if they were opening up membership to youth of any sexual orientation?

May 12, 2013

Honoring Parents

RaskoffBy Sally Raskoff

How do you spend the two days of the year that we honor the challenging and important job that parents do? Mother’s Day and Father’s Day are celebrated in the U.S. in May and June, respectively. Both days generate many family interactions, restaurant orders, greeting card sales, and phone calls.

On the surface, these days appear to be equivalent and equally valued holidays that are meant to honor those who generate and raise children. However, the history and current practices highlight some differences in what mothers and fathers mean to our society.

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April 18, 2013

Social Interactions

Todd sBy Todd Schoepflin

There I was, sitting on a bar stool, having a beer and shooting the breeze with my brother-in-law Jim, and watching people bowl together. I don’t get out much, so it was eventful just to hang out at a bowling alley for a few hours. But a surprising interaction occurred that night. A woman, who appeared to be drunk, touched my face as she walked by me and said something about my eyes that I think was intended as a compliment.

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