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Chapter 12

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What Is Race? What Is Gender?

© 2018 W. W. Norton & Co., Inc.

What kinds of category are race and gender?

Are race and gender:

biologically real,

entirely illusory,

(externally) socially constructed, or

(internally) subjective?

© 2018 W. W. Norton & Co., Inc.

From where did the human species come?

Human ancestry:

200,000 years ago: Homo sapiens evolves in Africa

50,000 years ago: Wave of migration to Europe, Asia, and Australia

15,000 years ago: Humans reach the Americas.

© 2018 W. W. Norton & Co., Inc.

“Fivefold Division” within our species?

Clusters of genetic markers (but no single gene) can identify one’s primary continental ancestry. “But the real controversy starts when we ask how our everyday racial categories fit into the broad-brush scientific picture just sketched.” (p.545)

© 2018 W. W. Norton & Co., Inc.

Everyone is Mixed

Not like Nickel and Iron being blended in equal parts into Bronze

Race is like variation in water samples from different parts of the Pacific. (545)

Sex and Biology

Our species is sexually dimorphic (546)

Different aspects of being categorized as belonging to a certain sex:

Genetically

Externally

Gonadally

Sexual Orientation

Sexual Identity (547)

Non-scientific use

Outside of scientific contexts, female and male are terms we use infrequently

We use the terms woman and man much more often.

What’s the connection between the social term ‘man’ and the scientific term ‘male?’

Simple, but probably wrong to say just that male=man. (548)

Sex/Gender Distinction

Why can’t we equate them?

Theorists draw the sex/gender distinction.

Being a woman is not a biological category.

Gender refers to “facts about the social meaning or significance attaching to biological categories.” (548)

But yet it is not clear how to explain it as a social category

It’s a category associated with subordination of individuals, and Haslanger argues we should eventually do away with the category.

Females would still exist, but they would not be oppressed by the social restrictions associated with the category ‘woman.” (549)

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