149 posts categorized "Sex and Gender"

April 18, 2022

Work and the Body

Author photoBy Karen Sternheimer

Several years ago, the small company my husband worked for had an employee challenge: get the company’s logo tattooed on a visible part of your body, and the company would donate several hundred dollars to the charity of your choice.

My husband did not take them up on this offer (and his team was soon after acquired by another company anyway), but several of his coworkers did. More than just a charitable impulse, it seemed like a way for these employees to demonstrate their commitment to the small startup. This was a company that expected its workers to be not just good employees, but “heroes” that would be available at any hour to meet its clients’ needs, albeit with little room for growth in terms of career or salary.

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November 29, 2021

Hookup Culture

Jenny Enos author photoBy Jenny Enos

Going to college is something that many U.S. teenagers strive for. Often advertised as the “best four years of your life” by college-educated family and friends, a college degree can bring a multitude of social and economic benefits to students. In spite of rising costs of tuition and the potential burden of student loans, research consistently shows that completing a college degree leads to higher income, better health, and improved overall wellbeing. Considering such desirable benefits, many still see the financial costs of college as worthwhile.

However, there may also be social, physical, and psychological costs associated with going to college. Recently, the public has begun paying more attention to various social issues plaguing college campuses, such as binge drinking, hazing, racism, and class bias. Drinking in college, which many students see as an integral part of the “college experience,” is estimated to be related to over 1,500 yearly deaths caused by unintentional injury among college students aged 18 to 24.

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August 05, 2021

Unconventional Combat: Exploring Intersectionality through the Study of Military Veterans

Author photoBy Karen Sternheimer

When you picture a military veteran, what image comes to mind? A buff young man? An older man wearing his weathered uniform?

Michael Messner’s new book, Unconventional Combat: Intersectional Action in the Veterans’ Peace Movement, gives us insights into the lives of veterans who may not neatly fit into the public image of what a vet “looks like.” In this follow-up to his 2018 book Guys Like Me, Messner shares the often-hidden experiences of veterans: women, those who identify as gender fluid, persons of color, including Native Americans, and LGBTQ+ people, including two-spirit individuals.

These categories, of course, are not mutually exclusive, which is the main point of the book: people’s identities are intersectional, which shapes the way they navigate their relationships with institutions (such as the military) and organizations (like those formed as part of the veteran’s peace movement).

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April 26, 2021

One and Done: Gender and Sports Coverage

Author photoBy Karen Sternheimer

More than 10 years ago I wrote a post called “Doing Research while Watching Sports Center” about a study of women’s sports coverage on local news and ESPN. The study found that women’s sports coverage declined between 1989 and 2009. The authors repeated the study in 2014 and 2019; has news coverage of women’s sports improved in recent years?

The short answer is yes, but the amount of coverage is still lower than it was during their analyses in 1999 and 2004. And the authors found that 80% of televised sports news includes no mention of women’s sports.

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February 15, 2021

Are Dogs People? Dog Valuation, Sacralization, and the Dog Consumer Market

Jenny Enos author photoBy Jenny Enos, Sociology Doctoral Student, Rutgers University

Long considered “man’s best friend,” dogs have undoubtedly come to occupy a significant role in U.S. society. Their popularity with Americans is striking: an estimated 63.4 million households owned a dog in 2019-2020, which makes up 67% of all households in the U.S.  Dogs are by far the most popular pet in America.

Dog owners are increasingly opting for more affectionate terms for their pets like “companion,” “family member,” or even “person.” And perhaps rightly so. An abundance of research demonstrates that for many owners a dog can serve as an attachment figure– someone who the person turns to for psychological and emotional support. Indeed, the psychological benefits of being in the presence of an animal, and of a dog in particular, have proven to be plentiful: dogs can reduce a person’s anxiety, depression, and stress, as well as increase their self-esteem and playfulness.

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November 09, 2020

The Meaning of Masks in Everyday Life

Todd Schoepflin author photoBy Todd Schoepflin

A recent article about masks in Australia caught my attention. It’s written by a group of scholars who are working on a book about masks in the COVID-19 era. As they note in the article, wearing masks is compulsory in Victoria, a state in southeast Australia. As indicated by the Victoria state government, “all Victorians must wear a fitted face mask when they leave home, no matter where they live” (there are several exceptions to the requirement). 

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August 05, 2020

Gender, Ethnicity, and the COVID Recession

Author photoBy Karen Sternheimer

The recent economic downturn has impacted millions of Americans. As of this writing, about 30 million Americans are collecting unemployment benefits. Those earning less than $40,000 have endured the greatest job losses; according to the Federal Reserve, 40 percent of these workers have lost their jobs in recent months. In contrast, just over one in ten households earning more than $100,000 have experienced job losses.

You might have seen news reports that women have been more likely to experience job losses during the current recession. The Great Recession of a decade ago hit construction and finance particularly hard, and came to be known as a “mancession” because those fields tend to be male dominated.

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July 13, 2020

Who Gone Check Me Boo? The Backlash to Women and Power

author photoBy Myron Strong

In season two of The Real Housewives of Atlanta, a now iconic scene is featured where co-star Sheree Whitfield demanded to know “who gone check me boo?” Her powerful retort came in response to her blatantly disrespectful party-planner refusing to follow her instructions. While meeting with him, the planner started screaming profanities and calling her names saying that someone needed to “check her.”

His aggressive manner prompted Sheree to verbally remind him that not only does he work for her, but also that she was in control. Sheree’s calm but strong-willed comment illustrates how she refused to back down. As she asserted her point of view, the male party-planner felt insecure and powerless--prompting him to say that someone was going to check her to which she defiantly replied, “who gone check me boo?”

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April 06, 2020

Race, Class, and “Hybrid” Masculinities

Jessica poling author photoBy Jessica Poling

In 1995, gender theorist R.W. Connell wrote her seminal book, Masculinities. In this book, Connell expands our understanding of gender by focusing on gender relations (rather than roles) with a specific focus on masculinity. Connell argues that rather than a universal quality among men, masculinity refers to a practice with the goal of embodying the dominant, male position in the gender hierarchy. In this perspective, masculinity is not an innate quality of men but rather a practice that aims to achieve some hierarchical relationship in reference to the female “other.”

Moreover, Connell argues that a multitude of masculinities exist, but that they are not all the same. While masculinity is always defined in opposition to the feminine, not all masculinities occupy a dominant position. Connell refers to the dominant masculinity as “hegemonic masculinity,” borrowing Gramsci’s original term which described how social groups claim power through dominant ideologies in addition to politics and economics.

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August 26, 2019

Beyond the Binary and “Doing Gender”

Jessica poling author photoBy Jessica Poling

Sociology Ph.D. student, Rutgers University

Gender has become more intensely interrogated by many people who criticize the social expectations that accompany femininity and masculinity. The beauty industry, for example, has repeatedly come under fire for the unrealistic (and often financially burdensome) ideals it sets for women. Others have noted that women are held to unequal expectations when interacting with male peers, such as maintaining a “polite” and accommodating demeanor.

The emergence of the term “toxic masculinity” acknowledges the restrictions that accompany masculinity and the negative effects it has on both women and the men beholden to it. There is thus a growing acknowledgment that gender shapes how we live our daily lives, sometimes in harmful ways. While we still seem far away from completely throwing away the shackles of femininity and masculinity, there is a growing consciousness that gender impacts us and the way we move about the world.

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