Tag Archives: Gender role

Big Question: What is the gendered body?

To put a gender onto a set of organs is inaccurate at best and incredibly harmful at worst.  In Dean Spade’s reading “About Purportedly Gendered Body Parts,” he talks about how reinforcement of certain organs being attributed to certain genders is inaccurate and enables the perpetuation of stereotyping and enforcing certain gender norms. It additionally presents unfortunate consequences to the people that don’t align with the gender that people typically associate with that set of genitals.  This can also pose problems, as brought up in Spade’s other reading “Resisting Medicine Re/Modeling Gender”  with regards to there being such a heavy influence on organs and gender that people who identify as non-cisgender who would like top/bottom/”facial feminization”surgeries (I recognize the also heavily gendered connotation of the phrase “facial feminization” however that is the only current term for what that surgery does) need a special diagnosis of GID to even get it because of how heavily gendered the body parts are. Another way that gendering body parts is dangerous is very explicitly outlined in “The Sexual Politics of Sickness” where it is discussed that not too long ago, all ailments of cis women were blamed entirely on the uterus and ovaries.  There was an assumption that cis women (which was really the category of “all women that anyone cared about”) and the gendering of that specific body part led to thousands of women being forced to lead a life that caused them nothing but depression because of some “mysterious” illness that was the “female condition” relating heavily to the uterus and ovaries.

Ad critique: Woman, the Holiday Swiss Army Knife

As we begin the official holiday shopping season, retailers are inundating the American public with advertisements online, in print, and in mailings with the hopes of luring in shoppers and their wallets.  Bed, Bath & Beyond, well-versed in all the above advertising approaches (I can wallpaper my bedroom with the amount of $5 coupons they’ve sent me), posted this image as part of their online holiday catalog.  The 8-limbed woman in the image perfectly illustrates the domestic expectations placed upon women year-round, especially during the holiday season.  At the holidays, women are expected to cook, clean and entertain at a higher level than the rest of the year, and BB&B is here to make that happen!


Don’t bother enlisting the help of spouses, children, family, or friends–instead pick up 5 or 6 kitchen gadgets (starting at the low price of $9.99!) and get to work slicing, dicing, carving, mixing, sous-vide-ing, mashing, stuffing, peeling, sauteing, warming, brining, frying, baking, and pouring.  When everyone has fallen into a food coma, you can get to work clearing, scrubbing, soaking, soaping, rinsing, spraying, wiping, washing, drying, polishing, and packing away all your fine china til next year.  Make sure to quip about how sinful the pumpkin pie is, and thank God you’re doing all this manual labor to burn off the calories–you put so much butter in the mashed potatoes, after all!

Woman’s Work or Manly Duty?

Is the current stigma accurate….Is it woman’s work to tend to the children, or is it also part of the manly duty? This question is something that many families reflect or object. There are different categories of work that are necessary to maintain a family household. Housework, is defined as cooking, cleaning, and home repair. Child care, on the other hand, “is attending to the physical needs of a child — dressing a child, cooking for a child, feeding and cleaning them,” this does not include recreational activities such as reading or playing (Belkin, 5).

In a family where the father works and the mother stays home, the average care the mother spends on the child is 15 hours and the father spends 2 (Belkin, 5). However, in a family where both parents work, the average hours the mother spends caring is 11 and the father spends 3 (Belkin, 5).

The most convincing factor that the stigma of women as the child carers still holds is that the numbers have not changed over 90 years! Think about it…. since the days when women tended to the fire and the men hunted. The ratios are still the same. “Where the housework ratio is two to one, the wife-to-husband ratio for child care in the United States is close to five to one.” 

Belkin, Lisa. “When Mom and Dad Share It All.” NY Times. 15 June 2008. Web. 01 Dec 2013.

Is there such a thing as free choice?

 As we talked about the history of women’s housework in class, it became ever more clear to me that even in the increasingly progressive, egalitarian world we live in, in which more women have careers than ever before, the female role in the house has not changed very much. Today being Thanksgiving simply gave me another opportunity to witness this issue – that females are maintaining their housework responsibilities, even if they are also climbing the corporate ladder.

After reading Belkin’s, “When Mom and Dad Split it All”, I started to wonder if there will ever actually be free choice when it comes to gender norms in parenting roles, or will families forever be somewhat restricted by the more traditional male and female parenting roles that have existed in society? In Belkin’s article, parents attempt to allot equal housework and childcare responsibilities to mothers and fathers, thus generating “equal parenting”. Even though some families were able to maintain this equity in parenting, the majority could not. I even witnessed this today on Thanksgiving – even though all the fathers in my family attempted to lend a helping hand, in the end it was the mothers who did the majority of the housework – cooking, baking, serving the table, cleaning up, looking after the children, etc. In the majority of situations, men may have good intentions, but women end up doing more of the housework, which is what led me to asking – do we actually have free choice? Or will women always end up doing more labor in the house? Is this because women just have a lower tolerance for letting dirty dishes accumulate in the sink? Are women simply better at cooking? Or born with the ability to bake pies? I don’t think so! These questions all demonstrate the impact of the culturally constructed notions of women’s roles in the house, which helps us understand how we are limited in our free choice when it comes to gender roles.

Belkin, Lisa. “When Mom and Dad Share It All.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 15 June 2008. Web. 29 Nov. 2013.

Gender Stereotyping

This hearing advertisement by Widex takes on a different marketing approach to their products as they use a stereotypical portrayal of a man to their advantage. The caption “Men never listen. Still, it’s nice to know they can” speaks to the notion that men have selective hearing when communicating with women. This advertisement suggests that, if men buy this product they do not have an excuse not to listen to what women are saying. As mentioned by Lorber, “in social interactions… individuals learn what is expected, see what is expected, act and react in expected ways, and thus simultaneously construct and maintain the gender order” (Lorber 115). This add reiterates her point because it demonstrates how men may behave with women based on the social constructions that encourages them to detach from expressing emotions and fully communicating. Men are encouraged to look at women but not listen. Paying attention to details is not considered a macho trait and is not widely used to describe a man’s personality. This social construction as well as the many other traits learned by men encourages rational and less sensitivity to details whereas women are stereotyped as natural listeners capable of empathy. As Gloria Anzaldua mentions in La conciencia de la mestizo, acting macho is a learned behavior that is the result of hierarchal male dominance. With these gender roles men may become “confused and entangled with sexist behaviors that they have not been able to eradicate” (84).For these reasons, men may oppose the behaviors they feel inclined to in order to maintain their constructed gender roles.


The Social Construction of Gender by Judith Lorber

La conciencia de la mestiza; Towards a New Consciousness by Gloria Anzaldua

Cultural Pressures of Thinness and Disorderly Eating


The above video shows a mildly clothed thin woman on the beach eating a large sandwich. This video is from a Hardees television commercial that depicts Nina Agdalin in provocative poses in comparison to the sandwich. When I first viewed the commercial I noticed the way she devoured the food in a sexual manner. After viewing a second time I noticed how this commercial has the potential to promote disorderly eating. As Biber mentions “The media bombards us with images of every imaginable food…at the same time women are subjected to an onslaught of sources devoted to dieting and maintenance of a sleek and supple figures” (67).   Physical perfection is displayed in advertisements of thin women eating immense portions of food. Physical perfection is often associated with thinness but yet foods that are harmful to the heath and have the possibility to make people fat are promoted along side skinny women. The representation of a skinny woman eating unhealthy food is damaging to a society that polices body conformity. Many people try to control their body weight by not eating fast food in order to obtain a similar body to ones viewed in commercials such as Hardees. These kinds of advertisements promote disorderly eating in an environment that juxtaposes unhealthy eating habits with unattainable figures.

Source: The Cult of Thinness by Sharlene Nagy Hesse- Biber


What is gender oppression?

An article titled “The Real Boy Crisis: 5 ways America tells boys not be girly” on Salon.com lists five behaviors that are unacceptable for boys because it diverts from masculine gender norms. The article reveals the notion of men and gender representation. Gender norms and its association with masculine and feminine traits create gender oppression. Gender oppression often focuses on the oppression of women in a patriarchal society because women are constantly encouraged to assert feminine characteristics. Women are seen as the oppressed gender and men are seen as the suppressors. However, gender oppression also has an affect on men’s behavior as they are constantly bombarded with images that tell them how to assert masculinity. Masculinity limits men’s ability to express their feelings. The idea of masculinity needs to be proven by asserting strength in the forms of aggression and independence. Being a man implies that a person is able to handle situations on their own without expressing any emotional empathy or vulnerability. These characteristics aim to devalue feminine traits men may obtain that are associated with being unmanly. Feminine traits are described as showing emotions such as compassion, love and sensitivity. Boys are told not to act like girls because it is shameful to their masculinity.  These limitations allow men to be criticized when acting in a feminine manner. Men are encouraged to conform to these gendered stereotypes, which lead to an oppression of true thoughts and actions. Performing masculinity prevents men from being themselves. These ideas shape the way men and women treat one another because men are devalued for expressing the same traits women are expected to perform.