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Celebrities, particularly women, are often asked if they consider themselves feminists. Some agree that they are, some agree they are not, and others try to redefine the term. Using an internet search, research and find recent examples of public figures (celebrities, politicians, etc.) who have identified as feminist and address the following questions.


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Do you think celebrities or politicians influence how individuals perceive the cause of feminism? Why or why not?

Based on the information you have read in this text, do you think feminist is still necessary? Why or why not?Feminid

Korgen, Sociology in Action, 1e

SAGE Publishing, 2019

Chapter 8: Constructing Gender, Sex, and Sexuality

Lecture Notes

Learning Objectives:

8-1: What are the sociological definitions of sex, gender, intersex, and transgender?

8-2: How do the four major theoretical perspectives help sociologists understand gender?

8-3: How do we learn and create our gender?

8-4: How does gender affect workforce experiences?

8-5: How do women’s and men’s experiences in intimate relationships differ?


1. Defining sex, gender, intersex, and transgender.

0. Sex is a biological construct and is determined by a person’s external genitalia, chromosomes, and internal reproductive organs.

0. One in 1,500 babies is born intersex because they are not clearly biologically male or female.

0. Someone who is transgender sees themselves as a gender different from the one assigned at birth.

0. Gender is a social concept, and it is created through interactions with others.

1. Major perspectives used to understand gender.

1. Gender is about who we are as individuals and the expectations others have of us.

1. Structural functionalist perspectives.

1. This perspective sees the concepts of sex and gender as the same.

1. Men and women are viewed as different and complementary.

1. Men are viewed as natural leaders, and women are viewed as best suited for caretaking roles.

1. This perspective of gender no longer receives much attention.

1. Conflict perspectives.

2. Theorists in this perspective who study gender are referred to as feminist theorists.

2. Feminists focus on how social institutions influence lives through the unequal distribution of resources to each gender, gender role assignments, and the messages these assignments convey.

2. Women now work and are still expected to take responsibility for household and childcare duties.

2. The inequality between men and women is a result of unequal distribution of resources because of male dominance in society.

1. Symbolic interactionist perspectives.

3. Gender is seen as socially constructed, but difficult to modify once it is learned.

3. Gender is constructed based on what is viewed as “appropriate” for each gender.

3. Clothing, hairstyle, use of or lack of makeup, and body language are relevant to gender identity.

3. Gender is constrained by cultural norms.

1. A more inclusive perspective: Gender as social structure.

4. Risman argues that gender should be studied as a social structure.

4. All perspectives of gender should be used to understand gendered behavior.

4. Gender incorporates socialization, social interaction, and organizational structures.

1. Learning and creating gender.

2. Socialization tells us the ways to properly behave as a boy or a girl.

2. Starting gender socialization at birth.

1. Parents can decide if they want to know the sex of a baby before it is born.

1. Baby outfits clearly demonstrate whether a baby is a boy or girl.

1. Parents assume there are greater differences between boys and girls than actually exist.

2. Gender socialization through children’s media.

2. The media instructs how men and women should be and the consequences for not living up to those ideals.

2. Children’s stories—“The Ugly Duckling” and Where the Wild Things Are, for example—teach gendered lessons to children.

2. Central female characters are beautiful, while lesser female characters are often considered “ugly.”

2. Learning gender in school.

3. Gender lessons are part of a school’s hidden curriculum.

3. Most teachers in kindergarten and elementary schools are women, while men hold leadership positions or traditionally masculine occupations.

3. Peers, gender socialization, and masculinities.

2. Gender scripts are expectations for behavior appropriate for our assigned genders.

2. Violations of gender scripts can be treated harshly by peers.

2. Sexuality is the emotional and physical attraction to a particular sex.

2. Categories of sexuality include heterosexual/straight, homosexual/gay/lesbian, bisexual, and asexual.

2. High school boys must adhere to strict gender scripts.

2. Boys who engage in any feminine behavior can be labeled a “fag.”

2. Masculinity is central for high school boys and means one must be heterosexual.

2. The media and gender, sex, and sexuality.

4. The media teaches teens how to create gender and sexual identities.

4. Music.

1. Male performers play instruments aggressively, engage in displays of force, and sing about sexual conquests.

1. Female performers are more likely to touch their hair and bodies in a delicate manner.

4. News and advertisements.

2. Viewers are 3 times more likely to see male newscasters reporting the news on the major networks.

2. In advertising, men are usually portrayed as independent and aggressive, while women are presented as cleaning clothes and taking care of others.

2. Advertisers often present idealized images of women.

4. Challenging stereotypes.

3. Recent Super Bowl advertising has challenged stereotypes of women.

4. The media, sexuality, and backlash.

4. Television shows and some celebrities have had positive influences on attitudes toward the LGBT community.

4. The percentage of people characterizing themselves as LGBT increased from 3.5% in 2012 to 4.1% in 2016.

4. In 2014, LGBT adults were more likely to be a target of hate crimes than any other group (Figure 8.1).

4. Many states in the United States and countries in the world do not provide protections for LGBT individuals (Figure 8.2).

1. Gender, sexuality, and work.

3. The majority of women now work outside the home (Figure 8.3).

3. Gender segregation in the labor force.

1. Gender segregation is the extent to which women and men are segregated into different jobs.

1. Almost all (95.6%) of secretaries are women and almost all (97.6%) construction laborers are men.

1. Financial management is the only top occupation where there is close gender parity (47% are men, 53% are women).

1. Male dominated professions tend to pay better.

1. More women are receiving college, advanced, and professional degrees (Figures 8.4 and 8.5).

1. More women are becoming biological, chemical, and material scientists, but fewer are going into computer and mathematical occupations (Figure 8.6).

1. Gender socialization tends to lead men into STEM careers and women away from them.

1. Gender segregation is a key factor in the gender wage gap.

3. The gender wage gap.

2. The gender wage gap—the difference women and men earn for the same jobs—has not decreased much since the 1990s.

2. Women who work full-time earn between 80 and 83 cents for every dollar men earn (Figure 8.7).

2. The wage gap and segregation within occupations.

2. Women tend to be in the lowest paying medical specialties.

2. The availability of female mentors in medicine influences which specialties women select.

2. Women make up only 36% of lawyers.

2. Fathers spent about 7 hr a week on childcare duties, while mothers spend at least twice that amount, even while working.

2. Only 20% of companies offer flexible work schedules.

2. Discrimination and the wage gap.

3. Sometimes men are paid more simply due to discriminatory attitudes.

3. People are socialized to view men as more competent than women.

3. Research shows that transgender men received more authority and prestige, even when keeping the same position.

3. The glass ceiling.

3. The glass ceiling is the unofficial barrier women and minorities face when trying to advance to the upper levels of an organization.

3. The “glass” is invisible and not publicly acknowledged.

3. The glass ceiling becomes a “maternal wall” for women with children.

3. In 2014, only 5.2% of all CEOs of Fortune 500 companies were women (Figure 8.8).

3. The impact of breaking the glass ceiling.

4. When women break through the glass ceiling, the wage gap of the organization tends to significantly decrease.

3. The glass escalator.

4. The glass escalator is the unfair advantage that men who work in female dominated occupations can receive over women in the same job.

4. Men of color, gay men, and working class men do not receive the same advantages as White, heterosexual, and middle-class men.

1. Intimate relationships.

4. Family work.

0. Women still do more housework than men, even when they work more hours and earn more money.

0. Married mothers do about twice as much housework as married fathers.

4. Intimate partner violence.

1. Intimate partner violence is violence between partners who are, or were, involved in a romantic or sexual relationship.

1. About 25% of women and 11% of men have been the victim of sexual abuse, physical abuse, or stalking by an intimate partner that resulted in injury.

1. Sexual assault on campus.

2. Sexual assault is defined as “nonconsensual sexual contact” including “physical force, threats of physical force, or incapacitation” which “generally meets legal definitions of rape (penetration) and sexual battery (sexual touching).”

2. Sexual assault is a national issue and is addressed by the Violence Against Women Act of 2014.

2. The act made several changes to the Crime Awareness and Campus Security Act (Clery Act) of 1990 including requirements that campuses report sexual assaults and provide educational programming.

2. Rates of sexual assault on campus vary between men and women and are likely underreported (Figure 8.9).

2. One reason women fail to report assaults is the fear they won’t be believed.

2. Less than 10% of sexual assault reports are false reports.

1. Domestic violence.

3. Domestic violence is violence (physical, sexual, and psychological) between married or cohabitating partners.

3. Between 12% and 18% of women report at least one incident during the past year.

3. Thirty percent of divorced couples report violence in their marriage.

3. Situational couple violence is violence that results when arguments escalate, such as throwing objects, shoving, or slapping.

3. Intimate terrorism consists of physical violence and other tactics used for overall control of a partner.

3. Women may stay in a violent relationship because they feel there are no legitimate ways to leave.

4. Romantic relationships: From bundling to hooking up.

2. The colonial era.

0. Unmarried couples could sleep in the same bed, but with a board in between them.

0. Bundling involved sleeping in a sack together, with a seam up the middle to prevent contact.

0. Marriage had a greater impact on men than women.

2. The Victorian age.

1. The “Cult of True Womanhood” defined the norms for women and included adherence to “piety, purity, submissiveness, and domesticity.”

1. Working class girls and poor women were unable to meet these norms.

2. The 20th century.

2. Opportunities for sexual intimacy increased.

2. The 1920s are viewed as the first sexual revolution.

2. By the 1950s, couples would “go steady” or only date each other, even if it did not end with marriage.

2. The 1960s produced the second sexual revolution, with the first birth control pill being available to women.

2. A gay movement arose during the 1970s.

2. Hooking up.

3. Hooking up means getting together at the end of an evening for the purposes of no-strings-attached sex.

3. Men or women can initiate a hook up.

3. Hooking up is common on college campuses.

3. Women who engage in casual sex are viewed more negatively than men who do it.

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