Archive for October, 2008

Women in stereotypically male sports

October 29, 2008

The recent discussions of gender roles made me think back to an article I had read about a girl that played on her high school’s varsity football team. I tried to find out more about this online and discovered a youtube clip about the Female Football League. According to the video clip, there are about 12 all-women’s football teams in the nation that practice regularly and play games against other women. It is not an attempt to compete with men but rather a means of playing football competitively. Here is the video:

While it may at first seem that this league is a step towards gender equality (at least athletically), I would argue that there are still major differences between women’s and men’s football. As the newscaster says, alterations have been made to the game in order to accomodate a woman’s physique, such as making the ball smaller. In addition, the women regard this as more of a pasttime than a profession. Most all have other jobs, some of which require significant amounts of their time, and others even have children. The fact that they make $12 a season and end up with a negative net balance due to self-funding their uniforms makes it impossible to rely on football alone to support themselves. Compared to the average NFL salary, which is $1.3 million per year, it is obvious that there are still glaring differences between men’s and women’s ability to rely on sports as a steady income. Perhaps the Female Football League satisfies Ferguson’s desire for women to be “active and assertive” and is a step closer towards an androgynous human, due to football being a stereotypically male sport. I do remember in 8th grade when two girls played on our middle school football team and it didn’t turn out very well. I suppose given that there are women that are both passionate about football and athletic there could be someday be a profitable women’s football league. However, it is clear that societal and minor physiological differences of men and women prevent absolute equality at this time. 



October 29, 2008

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While reading Ferguson, Natasha Bedingfield’s song “I Wanna Have Your Babies” came to my mind. The video presents Natasha B. who is looking to build a relationship and a family; however the men she encounters get scared by the thought of responsibility and children or are too invested in their career and end up leaving her. The video also brings to mind some of the “vulnerabilities of women in a heterosexual love relationship” that Ferguson mentions. For example, Ferguson says that the role of women as caring wives and mothers is preconditioned during childhood. Similarly, in the video it can be conceived that Natasha B. is adamant about having children and a perfect husband because she has always had this notion that this is what she has to do in life. Other vulnerabilities that Ferguson mentions such as the sexual role of women are also hinted in the video. She says that women dress in the latest fashion “to please the men” and that therefore a woman “can’t see herself as an individual,” and in a very similar manner Natasha B. dresses up for the men ( 366).

What if women ranked above men?

October 28, 2008

“From society’s point of view, one gender is usually the touchstone, the normal, the dominant, and the other is different, deviant, and subordinate” (296). Something we didn’t talk about the other day is Lorber’s interesting side comment in her article in which she asks the reader to consider what a society would be like “where Woman was A (the dominant gender) and Man was Not-A (the non-dominant/subordinate)” (296). I tried to imagine what our society would be like if this were the case, but I’ve become so accustomed to our traditionally male-dominated society, I found it nearly impossible to imagine a differently gender-stratified society where woman ranks above man. What would such a society be like? Do any exists or would one even be possible in today’s world? Any thoughts?

‘You Rock Me Out, Sarah!’

October 28, 2008

While we’re on the subject of gender:  in the research briefs, quite a few folks saw the liberal-conservative divide in terms of differing attitudes to the question of gender equality.  But consider a recent story from the NY Times that reports on the dude-heavy turnout at Sarah Palin’s campaign events.  You might think her rallies are just horndog-fests, but something more complicated is going on, I think, when truckers are telling reporters that ‘they bear us children, they risk their lives to give us birth, so maybe it’s time we let a woman lead us’.

Boys and Girls

October 28, 2008

I also found this video that really shows us how gender differences are forced upon us since childhood. The means by which this is done might not be as blunt as this animation, but I think it brings about a good point.


Gender Roles

October 28, 2008

I read Kwasi’s comment on Lorber’s article and I must say that to a
certain extent I do agree with him. There are five types of stratification
systems: 1. Primitive communal societies (most equitable) 2. Slavery (most persistent
form of inequality) 3. Caste (ascribed, it is a closed system without upward
social mobility) 4. Estate (feudalism) and 5. Class (formed with industrial
societies, allows some social mobility by merit). Primitive communal societies
are the earliest forms of social organization and their economy is based on
simple hunting and gathering methods, using little if any agricultural methods
to produce food. These groups of people also tended to be nomadic and because
they didn’t settle down or had well established agricultural methods one may
perceive that they did not have a surplus of food. Therefore, leisure wasn’t
available and meaning that people did not have the opportunity to focus on
other things and perhaps even specialize in an area. Now I’m not saying this is
wrong but if you have somebody that has a skill that few others have, then that
person will be honored as a doctor is today. This form of stratification system
is said to be the most equal of them all because there really weren’t any
people with “special” skills. 


Yet there were already some gender differences; can we guess who took
the role of the hunters and the gatherers? 
Women cared for the infants and therefore gathered food that was
the home base while men hunted. They are both doing what is needed to
survive but hunting is seen as more respectable and challenging since
they provided food. How is that even primitive societies that were
near equality already had gender differences?  Perhaps this is a result of our physiological differences. A woman is weaker
during pregnancy and needs assistance with many tasks, therefore a woman may
look ‘inferior’ to the male at this point in time. This may have been the
mentality of males during primitive societies as a result of what they observed. This mentality may have carried on after
pregnancy establishing in some minds that women were inferior. Now I’m not
saying that pregnancy is responsible for gender differences, but it may have
helped. Somebody at some point in time decided that there were gender
differences and society has only taken it further by emphasizing these
differences with symbols such as clothing, colors, mannerisms, showing of emotions


Now the video that I found is called “Gender Roles- Male and Female.” I
don’t want to give it away so I will only say that is a very simple video.  There
are only images with simple shapes and
colors; nobody speaks throughout the video since all we hear is music
and sound effects. Yet when I watched I could easily see which
representation was
supposed to be of the woman and which one was of the male. I found
laughing at some of the stereotypes because I felt that some were true.
But why
are some of these stereotypes true? Perhaps it has been so engrained in
us that
we believe that we must follow them since they are the norm and we
don’t want
to feel like an outsider. By following these norms that we might not
follow, we are perpetuating gender differences. With this said I must
say that I
also agree with Lorber when she says that, “gender is both ascribed and
achieved” (Lorber, 293).


Child X

October 27, 2008

Here’s a link to a pretty awesome story I read my sophomore year in Gender & Society. Thought of it immediately when androgyny was mentioned in class…;

Gendering in Pakistan

October 27, 2008

I grew up in Islamabad, Pakistan where
“gendering” occurred to the greatest extent that I have experienced. In
Pakistan, social norms require women to be well covered and kept away from many
public areas. It is unlikely for women to be strolling around in western
clothing and when women do wear such clothing they were likely to be started at
by men (not exactly in an inferior manner, but rather what many recall as a sort
of voyeurism) and by many conservatives in a judgmental manner. Men on the
other hand can wear western clothing and they never complain about getting
stared at. Living there, I was not necessarily forbidden from wearing jeans and
a t-shirt which was how I normally dressed when going to my International School.
However, I made a conscious choice to cover myself appropriately by wearing the
traditional Pakistani dress, a Shalwar –
when I went out for shopping. This made me feel more comfortable.
Even as a child, besides while playing sports and lounging around at home, I
actually wore jeans throughout all seasons and I stopped wearing shorts. Our
school’s dress code even restricted shorts that came above knee-length. What
was interesting about my clothing trend was that it influenced my parents to
the extent that they like me to dress the way I dress in Pakistan even in my
home country, Nepal, where the dress codes for women are not as strict. Since
I’ve come to the United States, it was initially difficult for me to adjust to
the clothing here for women. Women here are comfortable wearing backless tops,
miniskirts, etc, during the day and night because they do not get started at
while I for example only wore dresses during school dances). While gendering
may occur in the United States it is different forms, the type of gendering
that occurs in Pakistan demonstrates how some societies are more restricting in
regard to gender. My experience in Pakistan and in the United States
demonstrates the extent to which societies influence individual choices.

Biological construction of gender

October 27, 2008

Although a majority of people in the class agree with
Lorber’s claims, I find it hard to assent to her thought. Most of the ideas she
brings out are noteworthy, however I do not think that society created all the “gender”.
I believe that nature also has a dominant role in shaping gender. That is,
biological formation of gender is stronger and overrides the society’s
construction. Nature instills in people certain features that it becomes,
somehow, impossible to change. Broad shoulder, facial hair, and deep voice are features
that can distinguish between males and females. When you see a girl with broad
shoulders and a deep voice what comes to your mind? Although the society might
have changed the man; made her appear more feminine, her biological features make
you know who she is. This biological view is what you will have of her; not the
social one. In this case, your view of her will remain that she is a man. This
is the same as for gays. Have you ever called a gay guy a lady before? I have

“Doing gender” in Language

October 27, 2008

It took me a while to think about specific examples of ‘doing gender’ until I realized that I do it all the time through language. In French, we add an ‘e’ at the end of words for feminine objects and adjectives (I think it’s an ‘a’ in Spanish).  By adding this extra vowel, we immediately label someone or something as female.  I find it interesting how we feel the need to identify between male and female to a point where it is embedded in the language(s) we speak. In Japanese, men and women use two different vocabularies. The way men say ‘I’ or ‘me’ is completely different from how women are allowed to speak; when a woman uses the male word for ‘I’, it sounds rude or vulgar.  It’s impossible to avoid ‘doing gender’ because it exists in language.