148 posts categorized "Sex and Gender"

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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May 20, 2019

Guys Like Me: Life History Analysis and the Intersection Between Biography and History

To listen to Karen's interview with Michael, click below to hear the first episode of the Everyday Sociology Podcast!

Michael Messner

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author photoBy Karen Sternheimer

Life history analysis is a method that seems to perfectly fit sociologist C. Wright Mills’s concept of the sociological imagination. Mills encourages us to think of the sociological imagination and a way of thinking about the intersection between biography and history; it’s a wonder sociologists don’t embrace life history analysis more, as it helps us analyze how our informants’ experiences overlay with historical events.

Sociologist Michael Messner uses this method to better understand men’s experiences in war and how they come to make sense of these experiences over the course of their lives. His book, Guys Like Me: Five Wars, Five Veterans for Peace, examines the life stories of veterans to understand how they have grappled with their experiences in war and how this is connected with constructions of masculinity.

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April 15, 2019

The Men of Tomorrow: Gillette’s Call for a Healthier Masculinity

Todd SchoepflinBy Todd Schoepflin

The phrase “boys will be boys” irritates me. It suggests an inevitable outcome; that no matter what happens in life, it’s in the nature of boys to behave a certain way. It goes against what I’ve learned and believe as a sociologist, and runs contrary to my own experiences and observations as a parent. The idea that “boys will be boys” grossly downplays the significance of how children are raised, and says nothing about social contexts and cultural influences.

Contemplating how our social environment shapes masculinity is something that occurs on a regular basis in sociology courses. It’s not the kind of content you’d expect to see depicted in a commercial for razors. But the recent “We Believe: The Best Men Can Be” Gillette advertisement critically addresses the subject of masculinity and got a lot of attention for doing so.

Near the beginning of the ad, we hear a voice ask, “Is this the best a man can get?” followed by images about bullying, sexual harassment, and mansplaining. A man pinches the butt of a woman on a sitcom set, and we hear the voice say “It’s been going on far too long. We can’t laugh it off. Making the same old excuses.”

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March 25, 2019

Researcher Reflexivity: Why who we are Matters

Headshot 3.13 cropcompressBy Karen Sternheimer

If you are interested in researching something, there is often a personal reason. Maybe you have a parent who is incarcerated and are interested in understanding the relationships between family members of the incarcerated. Or perhaps your religious background gives you unique insight into a specific cultural practice that many people might not know about.

You might have your own point of view about these issues, even if they are not experiences you have had. Does having a perspective prohibit an individual from conducting research on a subject?

Of course, the answer is no. People conduct research on issues close to their experiences and interests all the time. Does this make their research “biased?”

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