SOCI 118 De Anza College Week 1 Sociology Gender Binary Memo




Write a memo 

For your first memo, please review the readings and lectures assigned in Week  1.  Then answer the following prompt, using specific examples from readings.

1.  Wade & Ferree argue that the sex/gender BINARY is a cultural ideology or illusion, and that men and women are not fundamentally “opposite.”  Explain  their argument, using specific evidence from at least 2 course readings.  Spend most of your word count on this part 1 of memo.

2.   Pick two persons in your life as examples.   (You don’t have to say who they are.  You can choose yourself, if you like, for one of the examples)

a.   Very briefly, discuss some of the ways in which one  or both of the persons you selected conforms to behavior expected by the gender binary.

Peer 1:

Kal Lising (They/Them)YesterdayJul 6 at 11:18pmManage Discussion EntryIn the introduction of Wade and Ferree’s chapter on gender, they argue that the concept of sex/gender is culturally influenced and an ideology that shifts depending on socialization. They also argue that men and women are not fundamentally “opposite” due to influence of the binary ideology imbedded within culture and sex parts. Wade and Ferree introduce an important identity, Intersex, that challenges the binary system at the biological level, however, there is a hush that falls over intersex identities as there are many unconsented surgeries performed to “correct” the body (Wade and Ferree 15). This is concerning in the nature that it strips the individual’s choice from being their own, as well as, denying the validity and experience of intersex people in order to make them conform, and it could lead to gender dysphoria and effect their mental state. Furthermore, the reiteration of gender stereotypes and binary genders within society can add to the stress of having an “abnormal” body, in comparison to the rest of the majority.In going off of the socialization of intersex identities, the socialization of what is masculine and feminine is reinforced within systems of society. For example, the common stigma that men are logical, and women are emotional, two halves of a whole, create a narrow view of how men and women are to be perceived by society. This can best be exemplified by an article, “The NFL’s in denial about depression,” by Dave Zirin, in which he utilized a study on 2,5000 retired NFL players that showed the relationship between concussions and likelihood of being diagnosed with depression to reinforce his point of how professional football players are being dehumanized and shamed/shunned for addressing their mental health issues (Zirin). The sport has been associated with masculinity, perhaps due to a perceived aggressiveness of the sport, but it is also a big part of American culture, which directly informs how a sport is played. Connell and Messerschmidt raise a  point in “Hegemonic Masculity” that risk taking is how a man can notify others of their masculinity and position within groups of peers (Connell and Messerschmidt 851). Referring back to football and the NFL, this display and conception of masculinity is concerted by societal expectations to play into those roles of macho, ruthless men. In line, when looking at the televised version of football for women the women are wearing little padding and more often sexualized. The contrast in the expectations of entertainment stands differently for men and women, but with sports being mainly appointed to male audience, the “othering” of feminine identities in sports culture is reduced to something substandard to that of the male version of the game.In looking at the ways I conform to behaviors expected by the gender binary, I find that they are more dedicated to femininity. Things like doing my nails, wearing make-up, crossing my legs; I look “neat” and “clean”. Though, I identify as Non-Binary, in a way, I am not conforming to the idea of how someone who is Non-Binary should look – the idea being that enbys are supposed to look androgynous. There is a person in my life who I know identifies as a woman but prefers to wear baggy clothing and attending to the ”skater boy” aesthetic, while also attending to feminine behaviors like doing skin care and picking flowers. {556 words}SourcesConnell, R.W., and James W. Messerschmidt. Hegemonic Masculinity: Rethinking the Concept. Gender & Society, 2005.Wade, Lisa, and Myra Marx Ferree. “Chapter 2: Ideas.” Gender: Ideas, Interactions, Institutions, W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., New York, 2015.Zirin, Dave. “The NFL’s in Denial about Depressio

b.  Very briefly discuss some of the ways one or both of the persons you selected  does not conform.

Peer 2:

Faith HageYesterdayJul 6 at 2:58pmManage Discussion EntryDespite misconceptions surrounding the idea of “opposite sexes,” this belief of a gender binary has been debunked as a socially constructed illusion. The underlying reason behind why we display these differences is that we are socialized, starting through childhood, to take on expected interests, qualities, behaviors, and appearances. However, men and women are not fundamentally opposite from one another based on the specific identity that they take on. In. their article, Wade and Ferree state “.. Male and female bodies are not in a biological binary at all. They are far more alike than different (Wade and Ferree, 2019).” This means that we don’t naturally gravitate toward and develop “masculine” or “feminine” traits based on our sex. However, our society has played a role in reinforcing this illusion and ideology. For example, this idea is showcased in the clothing industry. The way that clothing is made gives off the impression that men and women are natural opposites of one another. The article states, “Fitted clothes reveal women’s curves, while less fitting or even baggy clothes on men make their bodies appear more linear and squared off (Wade and Ferree, 2019).” Although our body types don’t differ much from one another based on our sex, clothing reinforces these stereotypes and misconceptions. Another example is body hair. Since its seen as a masculine trait, men are mistakenly perceived to be “naturally hairier” than women since they’re less likely to shave it off. This also reinforces the binary and gives off the false illusion that men and women differ in the amount of body hair that they produce. The article goes on to explain that this notion of oppositeness makes blurring the boundaries between masculinity and femininity queer, and enables men and women to accentuate their differences, which wrongly implies that a binary exists (Wade and Ferree, 2019).Another reading that highlighted this topic presented by Wade and Ferree was Dave Zirin’s article on depression in the NFL. Men are expected by society to hold back their emotions and reject symptoms of mental health issues such as depression. There is a stigma surrounding the idea of depression in males because it rejects the label of being “tough” and “invulnerable.”These societal standards have helped create the illusion that men are immune to mental illness. However, despite this viewpoint, a person’s gender does not determine their likelihood of experiencing depression. According to the article, men in high pressure sports are especially. vulnerable in developing depression symptoms, “One 2007 study that examined more than 2,500 retired NFL players found that those who had suffered at least three concussions had triple the risk of clinical depression… (Zirin, 2008).” Both men and women have the same likelihood of developing mental health issues, but symptoms in men are less likely to be medicalized and taken seriously. 2.A. One person I know perfectly conforms to behaviors expected by the gender binary becauseshe’s very nurturing, emotionally in touch, and kind. These attributes fit into societal standardsof femininity. A woman is expected to take on a sensitive and gentle personality. Because of the fact that she displays these traits and conforms to this behavior, it allows her to fit in with the typical description of womanhood.B. The other person I know does not fit into the behavior expected by the gender binarybecause he has depression and anxiety. Mental health in men is often looked down upon andseen as more of a feminine trait than a masculine one. Depression and anxiety affects theability for him to conform to a masculine label because of the way mental illness is perceived bysociety. This idea was also displayed in the above reading about NFL players and their struggleswith this as well. It makes it harder for him to be taken seriously about his depression due tothe negative stigma it has. (Word count: 559)


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