Monthly Archives: January 2014

Dress Codes and Equal Pay in Professional Sports

By Cassie Walter

While doing this weeks reading, specifically the articles Becoming a Gendered Body by Karin Martin and Tuck in that Shirt! by Edward Morris, I was reminded of the ways that males and females are treated differently because of the gender norms that society forces on them, specifically in the way they dress and are reacted to because of their clothing choices. While Tuck in that Shirt! discussed the discrimination males are subjected to based on their dress, I’ve always thought more about the way girls are negatively affected by the attention that is focused on what clothing they choose to wear. Perhaps this is because I am a girl myself and I have experienced it firsthand. Earlier this year, a girl from my high school posted a photo of our old dress code that she had found in her younger sister’s student handbook (I included a slightly blurry picture of it below) and the ridiculous list of prohibited clothing items it contained created outrage among the female students from my old school. My personal favorite from the list, and perhaps the most nonsensical item, was a rule that stated “clothing which draws attention to physical characteristics” is not allowed. First of all, I’m pretty sure that all clothing that isn’t a shapeless sack will draw attention to ‘physical characteristics’ so I’m not really sure what the administrators here are referring to. Secondly, when the dress code is created and enforced as something that ‘keeps students from being distracted’ it becomes even more upsetting to me because it targets girls as being distracting to males simply because of the clothes that they wear.

 

I think there is a much bigger problem here, however, if boys are thought of to be at risk of being distracted in class simply by seeing girls dressed in tank tops or shorts. It ties into discussions of rape culture, such as that girls shouldn’t be told that they cannot become intoxicated or wear revealing clothing without fear of getting raped, but rather boys should be taught that they are not allowed to touch/interact with women they don’t have consent from.

While the ways in which girls and boys in middle and high school are treated differently when it comes to clothing are upsetting, it is rather appalling the way it influences children in preschool as described in Becoming a Gendered Body. While observing preschool classrooms, Martin noticed the way that teachers were frequently adjusting the clothing of the girls which then “call[ed] girls’ attentions to their appearances and bodily adornments” (p. 499). It is sad that so early on in their lives, girls become gendered by society to pay attention to their appearance and the effects their clothes have on them. The boys hardly ever had their clothing adjusted or were told to behave in a certain way that was appropriate for their gender. The way this is done in preschool sets the girls up to grow up constantly thinking about their bodies and the way they present themselves.

In Believing is Seeing, Judith Lorber talks a lot about the inequality between men and women’s professional sports. It was while reading about the injustices she discusses, such as female figure skaters in the 1992 Winter Olympics being limited to only one triple jump in their routines while the men were required to have at least three, that I was reminded of the gender pay inequality that used to exist in professional tennis. I played tennis in high school and had been a fan of the sport for much of my life so I was shocked when I learned that only recently did the women champions of the Grand Slam tournaments win equal prize money to their male counterparts. For a long time the women earned significantly less money and tournament officials justified this because the women only played best two out of three sets while the men played best of five sets. This could be considered somewhat fair until it is pointed out that the women did not actually choose to play only three sets, they were more than willing to play matches as long as the men, but the tournaments would not allow for it because it would then mess up their TV broadcasting schedule. So while the women now have equal pay, there is still not equality for women in professional tennis because they are not allowed to compete at the same level as men even though they are more than capable of doing so.

Image

 

(My old school’s dress code)

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Athletes And Teachers In Our Society

Alex Apkin:

         Believing is Seeing immediately speaks to the idea of separating men and women into two distinct categories. The reading begins by saying that while the bodies of females and males have not changed what has changed are the justifications for inequalities. Although the basic body materials are the same for both men and women society has built up the idea of two genders that are clearly very different from each other. The author says, “Bodies differ in many ways physiologically but they are completely transformed by social practices to fit into the salient categories of a society…”(569) Lorber then goes on to argue that the gender is made up of many variables that society seems to ignore, saying that sex and gender are not, “pure categories.” Then she delves into the world of sports and what they say about sex and gender in society. Even though it seems that men have historically had a deeper passion for sports there are aspects of this arena of entertainment and athletics that show an unfair acknowledgement of women’s capacities. For example Lorber brings up the way in which gymnastics attempts to cater to women by using equipment meant for more petite females, while the men have equipment designed for larger and stronger men to use. Clearly the sport plays into the designated roles that society has created for women and men but why is it that they have done so. While it makes sense that men will be more muscular and capable of certain feats in gymnastics it seems that it is taken to the extreme for both men and women. While women and men tend to have talent directed in certain areas, gymnastics rules slant to the extreme in an attempt to reveal these abilities and they go too far. The men if they were allowed the opportunity, could show their talents in more finesse areas of gymnastics and the women could show their strength and power. In the sport of golf the rules are the same but the women have their own to tees from which to begin at each hole, which are closer to the target. However this is not an aspect of the game that was installed only for women, the forward tees were a creation for the novices, the old, and the young, to make the game more fun and accessible to all who wanted to play. With the difference in driving distance between professional men and women golfers it makes sense for the tees to be moved forward. Where the women lack in power they make up for in their short games and ball striking ability and the tees being pushed slightly forward does not take away from that since golf is won and lost on the more precision and shorter shots that do not require power but rather touch and feel that all the elite male and female golfers possess. Gymnastics can learn from other sports such as golf, which creates an equal playing field for all ages, genders while keeping the essence of the game intact for all.

          As Lorber brings in the idea that the bodies of male athletes are considered powerful and females’ bodies sexual, this seems to be an even greater hurdle that society must overcome. Power is always worthy of praise when it comes to male athletics, which can be seen in various forms including the explosion in popularity that baseball received during the homerun chase of the late 90’s. This period is now considered the height of the steroid era for the sport. Many of the top baseball players and most of the one’s hitting so many homeruns were cheating as they attempted to become stronger and gain more power to shatter records. The use of steroids and other human growth hormones have become a massive problem in various sports as athletes are always trying to become more powerful and keep up with others. While this is also an issue in female athletics it is to a lesser degree than men’s sports. The portrayal of the female athlete is mostly that of a graceful being rather than powerful. This is not necessarily a bad portrait to paint of the female athlete but when she becomes more sexual than graceful the athlete is lost. This I believe is the biggest issue facing female athletics. It seems that women’s athletics are watched if those competing are considered attractive, or else they are not watched at all.  Instead of searching for power in men and beauty in women, viewers should search for ability, effort, and greatness in both. The highest compliment that can be given to anyone is to say that they have drive and push themselves to reach their potential. This ability is usually incredibly visible with top-notch athletes; because to reach that stage they are on they must work incredibly hard to get there. So it is not physical but rather mental. Being a phenomenal athlete is not an issue of gender, which is why male and female athletes should be perceived in the same light, as incredibly talented and driven individuals.

          Becoming a Gendered Body speaks to the hidden curriculum of schools which helps push genders. While it seems upsetting in many ways that children are pushed into one of two genders at an early age, the teachers’ actions through the hidden curriculum are also preparing students for the society that is in place today. The teacher is showing them the current norms that exist now, and so are the parents. How do we brake this cycle as a society? The teachers and parents believe that these ideas are correct because they are the norms, this is what they grew up learning was right and it is now ingrained in them. However in reality girls and boys should not be pushed in certain directions due to gender. Schools are a good place to start changing this philosophy about gender because this is where people grow and learn. Change is difficult though especially with teachers and parents entrenched with thoughts about how things are supposed to be and in a world where these messages about what boys and girls are supposed to be are accepted by nearly everyone. Martin speaks to the restrictive nature of dresses, and this fits into parents giving into the norms of society. To parents of a young daughter putting a dress on her does not seem at all restrictive but rather normal. It is hard to break this mold, but if parents are more aware of their restrictive actions more change will likely occur.

          In Tuck In That Shirt more of the same ideas of teaching boys and girls the correct way to behave is seen. Teachers repeatedly ask girls to act like young ladies and the boys to behave like gentlemen. One teacher, Ms. Taylor, explains how she attempted to get the girls to sit up straight and to close their legs. She sights a lack of parental involvement as to why these girls are not acting like young ladies. Ms. Taylor believes it is necessary to teach all girls to behave in a certain manner associated with being a lady, and if the parents don’t do it then she must. The rest of society has imprinted this on her. Most of the other teachers in the reading stated that they thought that they needed to improve the behavior of the girls so that they could find some social skills that Mr. Neal perceives to be missing because of the way in which most of them speak and move. This study showed a detailed example of teachers attempting to heap the societal norms and expectations for boys and especially girls upon the students attending the school, and the resistance from many students who acted naturally unaware of their wrongdoing. By the end of the reading Martin writes about the inhibiting capabilities that the teachers constant scolding holds as some of the students who are repeatedly disciplined for acting as themselves may lead to disinterest in school. When the gender push hurts students success that becomes the most harmful part of all. 

Martin, Lorber, & Morris

Emma Houser:

Growing up, our experiences in our schools and communities very rarely encouraged us to question the behaviors of boys and girls. It wasn’t until I came to college that I really began to understand the effect that gender, race, and class have on the way we behave and the ways in which we are treated by those around us. Last semester I read Martin’s article, Becoming a Gendered Body, for the first time. As I read the article I was surprised by how obvious the effect of each behavior was, but how infrequently it is actually noticed or acknowledged. Thinking back I can remember the ways boys and girls were treated throughout my educational career. The boys in my classes we always considered to be “disruptive and loud”, they were frequently reprimanded, but they very rarely received any real instructions about how to behave, as Martin describes. It is not only the teachers’ responses to students, but also the way in which boys and girls are encouraged to behave and act from a young age.

Starting at a young age, my female friends became obsessed with the color pink and with wearing dresses because they had learned that these were the things that represented femininity in our society. It wasn’t until recently that I realized the negative impact that these behaviors can have on young boys and girls. After reading this article I began to understand the ways in which masculine and feminine dress and behaviors limited girls and boys’ success. Girls are encouraged to act in a very confined manner and they are taught to behave in more socially acceptable ways. Morris and Martin both discuss the fact that female students are frequently told to “act like young ladies.” What does this statement mean? They are encouraging female students to be “slow, controlled, and quiet”. Historically, these characteristics have been viewed as stereotypically feminine and ladylike, but what Morris also mentions is that this kind of behavior can actually keep the girls and young women from experiencing success in the classroom setting. These actions push girls towards low-paying, more domestic jobs. Similarly, boys are rarely given instructions to improve their negative, disruptive behaviors. As one can see in Morris’s article, these stereotypes about gender are perpetuated throughout different classes and racial backgrounds.

Tuck In That Shirt also examines the effect that race and class have on the ways in which students are treated and the success they experience. Regardless of students’ actual backgrounds and skills, teachers make assumptions about the students based on their appearance. Once Morris pointed out the differences between the ways in which African American, Latino, Asian America, and White students were treated it was so plain and simple to see, yet few people actually recognize that it’s happening. An African American or Latino boy is scolded for getting up to get a tissue, but an Asian American or White boy can do the same thing without even gaining the attention of the teacher. Although this seems to be a rather harmless example, something as simple as this reinforces harmful stereotypes about the race, class, and gender in our society. African American and Latino boys especially are taught that they are bad kids, they aren’t encouraged to do their work, and as a result they are less driven to succeed.

Similarly, Lorber’s article discusses the success that men and women experience based on stereotypically feminine and masculine attributes. One of the things that she focuses on is this issue as it relates to sports. I remember being surprised a few years ago by the differences between the filming quality of men’s and women’s sports on television. It’s seems as if nobody cares about women’s sports and they always receive “secondary status” to men’s sports. When I turn on the tv I can easily find a men’s hockey, football, baseball, soccer game, or basketball game, but it is so much more difficult to find a women’s game of any sport. Further, all major sporting events, such as the Super Bowl, the World Series, and the Stanley Cup, all involve men.  This focus on men’s sports is an example of the ways in which masculinity and femininity are regarded in our society. Men are expected to be stronger, faster, and more intense than women, meaning that their games are much more exciting to watch. Women are not expected to excel in these areas, so the emphasis is put on their artistic abilities and small bodies. Similarly, Lorber discusses this idea as it relates to technology. Women are secondary to men when it comes to their spatial and mathematical abilities, so they are not encouraged to pursue work in more skill based, high-paying careers.

Success in our society is highly dependent on one’s appearance related to gender, class, and race. It is easy to ignore the ways in which individuals are funneled into certain paths, but we have to start questioning the paths we’re encouraged to take and recognize that one’s success shouldn’t be predetermined based on the way they look or where they come from.

Lorber, Martin and Morris

Luis Ramos:

I find Karin A. Martin’s Becoming a Gendered Body: Practices of Preschools to be very insightful and touching because in a way, it took me back to my preschool days and sort of made me rethink whether or not this curriculum that is often talked about in the reading was already implemented during my time. Yes, it was. But in a way, I violated those gendered norms by resisting to being gendered. My body moved differently from how a “normal” boy’s body was supposed to move. The reading touches up on gendered characteristics that basically identify the difference in body movements between a boy and girl. Boys are often associated with relaxed behavior: crawling on the floor, yelling, or even running around, and are encouraged/allowed to pursue that type of behavior while girls must be more formal. Boys are meant to be much noisier. They must be loud when expressing their fun or enthusiasm, while girls are forced and constrained to a much softer, quieter voice. When it comes to instructions, boys are less attentive to them compared to girls, and are often directed to stop doing something. In my case, I wasn’t that kind of boy. I was the boy that didn’t mind playing dress-up. I was the boy that preferred to read, color, or cut out pictures rather than play blocks or superhero with the other boys. I was the boy that often tagged along with the girls, since a young age, because my choice of activities resembled theirs most of the time. In a way, I blame this gendered construction on my mom and sister, since they definitely impacted my cognitive learning through socialization as most of my days were spent with them, until my dad arrived from work late at night. Despite that, I still identity as “male” and “man” because it’s what physically and socially defines me now.

Morris’ Tuck in That Shirt examined the relationship between race, gender, and class within the urban school system, specifically at Matthews Middle School.  The concept of the dress code at Matthews Middle School reminded me so much of my own school experience.  I attended a charter school with somewhat of a strict dress code policy. On Mondays, students were forced to wear a blue, long-sleeve, buttoned up shirt, referred to as the “professional” shirt that each and every single one of us hated wearing, especially at the beginning of a school week. Apart from that, we also had to wear a tucked in blue or gold collar shirt (if you were a middle school student) or a blue, gold or white collar shirt (if you were a high school student)  with either khaki or navy blue pants, skirt, or shorts. On Fridays, they were more lenient of our dress code, allowing us to wear jeans and any college-gear, since my school was very big on college readiness. In a way, the interplay that Morris talks about in his article was not visible within my own experience. I wasn’t able to witness students receiving different treatment from teachers. We were all treated similarly, at most points. I guess because we were all from a low socio-economic status, 99% Hispanic or Latino, and basically conformed to this lifestyle that was implemented by the school, there was no need to be treated any differently. Yes we had our differences, but we were all working together to achieve the same goals, graduating from high school and getting accepted into college being the main goal.

Believing is Seeing by Judith Lorber is also an interesting read, especially because it provides the reader with reasoning on why gender is a social construction. When we think about gender or sex, people often associate it to this idea of existent categories: men and women or male and female. Plus, it’s always believed that the two are differentiated biologically when in fact, they are also noted differently through social institutions. Hormones, genes, and genitalia just point of the obvious as to what sex you are, but gender-wise, it takes more than the obvious to figure out what one is. I like how Lorber explains that labeling is based on many other things. One can’t be completely man or completely woman. The boundaries must always be justified.  I dislike that when it comes to seeing who is better at this or that, women are generally referred to as inferior or subordinate.  I generally think that men and women are able to do the same things if intended to, but unfortunately, society doesn’t think so, and therefore there’s this preconception that one category is better than the other.

As for this weekend, I thought it would be a great idea to attempt shaving my legs as a way to reverse gender norms, BUT when I mentioned the idea to my friends, I was given weird faces, some clearly depicting disgust and repugnance to such an idea. Shaving your legs is often associated with women, although there is no entirely practical need for such thing, other than it being an appearance issue to partake in beauty. Anyhow, I’m glad I didn’t shave my legs. I don’t think hairy legs define masculinity, but they sure do have some benefit to our lives. They help protect us from the cold.

I’ll Believe it When I see it… That You Have Tucked in Your Shirt…. Becoming a Gendered Body?

Haris Kuljancic

 

           I have personally grown up around sports during my entire life. I played Soccer, Basketball, Volleyball, and threw javelin in Track and Field. I listened to countless speeches about taking care of your body and making sure you are healthy throughout the season. However, one lecture that stood out to me was during track season. My coach, who was also an amazing science teacher at the school, talked about women and men athletes. He was referring to the long distance runners when he said something along the lines of, “Men’s bodies allow them to grow and improve at a steady incline, while women’s bodies hit a plateau at a certain point where it doesn’t matter how hard a girl trains, she will be getting the same result”. He gave us this speech to make sure that the girls didn’t get discouraged because they didn’t see improvement for a season or lengthy period of time. I thought that Judith Lorber’s article, “Believing is Seeing”, was very interesting because of the many comparisons that were made between men and women. I thought it was very interesting that she brought up how a man and a woman was defined, “men are not always sperm-producers, and in fact, not all sperm-producers are men” (570). However, I feel like Women and Men can’t ever be compared or put in the same category because of the immense biological differences each have. Nobody can ever truly say, “If Michael Jordan was a women he would average x number of points, rebounds, and assists; And nobody can ever really say, if Mia Hamm was a man she would have scored this many number of goals, had this many assists and would have won this many trophies. The genetic make up of a man and a woman is completely different. Men are capable of building bulky muscle, while women tend to get toned while doing the same amount of work. Overall, the biological make up of a male and female would make it very difficult to compare the athletes. I also think that it is very unfair in regards to the amount of testing that is being done to females in the Olympics. This however, would bring up the issue of defining a male and female once again. I think it’s very unfair that society allows men to shower for fifteen minutes after a hard workout and then hit the door, while a women has to spend another 30 minutes getting ready because of the amount of make-up and different outfits she has to try on.

           

            Karin Martin’s article is a perfect transition because she talks about the early stages of development and how society, even in a protected preschool can effect the actions and behaviors of males and females. Martin provided examples of teachers enforcing gendered stereotypes by promoting the color pink for girls, advising girls to wear dresses, and allowing boys to rough house while minimizing the physical activities for girls. I spoke with someone about this while I was reading it and emphasized how much I would hate to send my son or daughter to a preschool or daycare like this. Why should a three or four year old girl be scrutinized if she wasn’t “sitting like a lady”, or be reprimanded for being too loud? I would make sure adult’s didn’t focus on what a student wore, or what their hair looked like. Rather, I would hope that the people that were in charge of taking care of my 3 year old for 8 hours of the day would focus on my child’s health and well-being. That includes their state of mind and their freedom as a three year old. It is very important not to forget that young boys should be held to the same expectations as young girls. Although people say it might be easier to raise boys I feel like it is just as challenging if not even more challenging. Kimmel’s “Guyland”, discussed the culture of guys in college life. When a student was asked what it meant to be a guy, his answer was, “not to have any feelings”. That was one of many answers that guys gave. However, these ideals weren’t built just in a day.

           

            Edward Morris conducted a study in a middle school in Texas where Latinos, Blacks made up the majority of the student population. Over the two years in which he conducted his study, Morris interviewed faculty as well as observed students from random backgrounds. I thought it was very important to note the distinction between dressing poorly and not caring about school. Morris writes, “Carla’s dress, while normative in her neighborhood, acquired the connotation of opposition within the school’s walls, causing educators there to assume she did not care about school” (Morris 27). This brought up a very important and reoccurring theme in the school. The school had enforced uniforms, but students were opposing them involuntarily because of their social backgrounds and the definition of priorities. The students’ homes were primarily in poor communities and their parents were (hopefully) working as hard as they could in order to get out of these difficult situations; Sometimes working two or more jobs. However, it is very difficult for these individual families to do so because of their surrounding society. Even though they work two or more jobs, these parents make minimum wage and can barely pay the bills. After coming home, they are too tired to cook and spend quality time with their families, so they grab fast food. This triggers more unhealthy customs. The children don’t have the most promising opportunities at home. They are required to the strenuous chores or even take care of other loved ones. While student’s are at school, why should they be ridiculed and reprimanded for the way they dress? School is the one part of their day where they can express creativity. Like Derek said, uniforms are expensive and feel like prison outfits on kids who did nothing wrong. These kids came to school to learn and interact with kids in similar situations as themselves.

 

            I did not get as much feed back as I wanted for doing things the opposite gender would this week. But, I did find this video very interesting and I wanted to share it.

 

http://vidcy.com/what-if-guys-and-girls-changed-roles-social-media/

The Female Voice

By Emma Weisberg

For me, one of the most fascinating aspects of the three readings was the discussion of male and female relationships: how men are given more power to express their opinions and frustrations with one another while women are given little to no power.  I had already read Martin’s “Becoming a Gendered Body” in Introduction to Sociology, but the same excerpts that had made an impact on me last year still struck the same chord within me this week.  Martin states in her results, “girls were told to be quiet or to repeat a request in a quieter, ‘nicer’ voice about three times more often than were boys” (503).  For instance, when a girl named Amy yelled “Stop it!” to resist Keith’s rough play—in which he was very close to destroying the building she had created—the teacher’s first reaction was to quiet her down instead of focusing on the act of disruption itself (504-505).  From this interaction Amy is learning that it is wrong to raise her voice, even in dangerous situations when she or someone else around her could be at harm.  As a member of SafetyNet—Conn’s organization to educate students about sexual assault, dating violence, and stalking—I can’t help but think: what would happen if Amy were sexually assaulted then or later on in life?   Would she feel vocally restricted from defending herself and attempting to get help?  Limiting or lowering women’s voices can negatively impact situations when women are in immediate danger and do not know how to protect themselves.

Also, if women are restricted from using their voices, they will engage in quieter, less productive forms of communication such as gossip.  In Martin’s article, she claims that whereas boys were less reprimanded for yelling at one another, girls were asked to resolve issues softly and kindly.  For instance, when a teacher instructed a group of girls to be quiet and play together, they made up a game very similar to gossip where they’d whisper back and forth in the circle (504). I wonder if this difference in vocal level stays with men and women later in life as they deal with conflicts within individual and group relationships.  While I’ve often seen my male friends fighting more out in the open, I’ve observed and—let’s face it—been a part of gossip sessions that comment on issues in relationships without actually confronting the person involved.  Women are socialized to deal with relationship problems quietly and even secretly, as if it is wrong to be having issues with, say, another friend.

When allowed its full potential, voice can serve as a useful tool for self-expression and individual progress, as seen by Morris’s discussion of black girls in the classroom in “‘Tuck in That Shirt!”  When the teacher Mr. Wilson talks about the loudness of some of his students, he explains, “The black girls up there I don’t worry about, they can fend for themselves—they’re loud, but they’re a sharp bunch and do their work” (35).  While I’m sure many of these female students were called out for their loudness in other classes, Mr. Wilson saw their vocal openness in a positive light.  These girls knew how to speak up for themselves, to state their own opinions.  (However, I don’t like the phrase “fend for themselves.”  I have read studies examining how black women are ignored at times when they should be helped or given more assistance.  Of course all women should assert their independence; however when a person needs help, others should recognize that and check in to see what he/she needs. I hope Mr. Wilson made sure to check in with these girls, even if he wasn’t worried about them.)  Mr. Wilson saw these girls’ voices as a source of power, and I hope they did too.

As Lorber states perfectly and succinctly in “Believing is Seeing,” “Neither sex nor gender are pure categories.”  If our society’s definition of femininity is not inherited at birth, that means women are being socialized to act their own gender: we can talk but not too loudly, perhaps we can argue but not too much, and above all, we should not resist the systematic structure of socialization and gendered bodies at play.

Lorber, Martin and Morris

By Brittany Juliano

Karin Martin’s article, Becoming a Gendered Body: Practices of Preschools, begins with a particular description of gender, which I think resonates well with the evidence she collects throughout her observations. Gender is often described as a socialized category rather than a natural categorization between male and female peoples. Martin uses Butler, West and Zimmerman’s definition that  “suggests that gender is something that is ‘done.’ These two concepts, ‘gender performance’ and doing gender,’ are similar—both suggest that managed, adorned, fashioned, properly comported and moving bodies establish gender and gender relations” (Martin 495). I like this definition of gender so much more, because one of the more interesting topics of gender socialization that interests me is the physical way in which females are socialized to move. As Martin lays out in her research, I have read previous sociological articles that describe how women are physically subordinate to men simply because they learn from an early age to behave in such a way. Women will sit taking up as little physical space as possible while a man will dominate the open space around him.

In connection to this, Martin points out that this positioning in relation to men produces insecurity in women. This point surprised me, because I have never taken the time to think about how this physical difference impacted females mentally. Martin quotes Iris Young from her article Throwing Like a Girl saying, “that the general lack of confidence that we [women] frequently have about our cognitive or leadership abilities is traceable in part to an original doubt of our body’s capacity” (156). This quotation struck me as a very real consequence of socialized gender norms. In Race, Class, and Discipline in an Urban School, Edward Morris depicts this phenomenon when describing the African-American girls at the middle school where his research takes place. This particular group of girls is often reprimanded for being boisterous or instructed to act more “ladylike.” What Morris observes is that this outspoken quality the young ladies are reprimanded for actually give them an advantage in the classroom. They are not afraid to speak their minds, but their educators are actually hindering this advantage with constant instruction to contain themselves. This infuriates me! I really cannot fathom that as a woman I have been trained to be small and speak quietly or not at all. I want my voice and the voices of other women to be heard. As a personal challenge this week, I am daring myself to speak up more. I have never thought of myself as a quiet person nor have I ever hesitated to share my academic opinion in classes, but then again, I have never looked at myself as a restricted woman. So my self-challenge is to be aware of myself if I shy away from speaking my mind and to then assertively give my input. Also, just for fun, I want to experiment for a day by sitting in class in a more physically expansive way.

After this strong reaction, I was happy to read Judith Lorber’s article, Believing is Seeing: Biology as Ideaology. She too points out several areas in which women are constrained by gender normative expectations and presumptions, but there are points that gave me more hopeful perspective on this issue of inequality. When discussing the West Point drills catered towards the male physique, she points out that “women’s pelvises will do just as well as men’s shoulders” (577). Not only did this strike me as a funny comparison, but it brought home the point she was making very well. Women may not seem as successful in this wall climbing challenge not because they are less capable, but because the task itself is biased. Despite this, the female cadets learned to overcome their challenge using their particular strength in the lower-body. Society has trained us to think of thinks in a gender-biased way that triumphs the male physique while ignoring the strength of the female body. Lorber made me think hard about the way things might be if the opposite were traditional, if the female body’s agility, flexibility and balance were more revered than brute aggression and strength. I liked looking at this alternative. It certainly made me think in a new and different way.

On a semi-relevant topic, if you have not heard of the Texas women kept on life support despite her wishes, this is pretty interesting. The fact that Marlise Munoz’s choice was not headed after she was declared brain-dead because she was pregnant is a reflection of Texas’ strong anti-abortion policies. In relation to the readings for this week, it simply gives another example of how women’s bodies are controlled.

http://feministing.com/2014/01/06/the-harsh-reality-of-abortion-restrictions-in-texas

Lorber, Martin, Morris

Carly Ozarowski

When reading these chapters and passages I took most interest in Lorber’s “Believing is Seeing”. The reason I was most intrigued by this reading is because Lorber spoke a lot about athletes and the differences between men’s and women’s athletics. Since I am a female athlete it is very interesting to see what Lorber speaks about just on the college level. Men’s athletics, on the professional level, are marketed and viewed very differently than women’s athletics. As Lorber also explains, men’s athletics are viewed as macho men showing off their physical ability. Men’s athletics are also hugely economically based and ran. Based on current societal norms women’s athletics are viewed as lesser and not at impressive, which in term makes sense why there are far fewer opportunities for female athletes in the professional realm. All the major sporting events are men’s athletics. On the college level this is expressed in the way the athletics teams are viewed and also how they handle themselves, on this campus. With, despite common belief, some men’s teams receiving more field time and also feeling entitled to receive more field times than some women’s teams.

 

Something that I took away most from SOC 103 and reading Martin’s “Becoming a Gendered Body” is the idea of doing or performing gender (495). The line: “[Girls] are generally tentative when using their bodies”, stood out to me the most in this reading (Martin, 494). This line, for me, correlates to women’s sexuality. Often times some women are tentative and almost tabooed when it comes to their bodies and sex, something they are socialized to do at a young age before sex is even introduced.

 

Martin states on 495, “Connell (1995) suggests that masculine gender is partly a feel to one’s body and that bodies are often a source of power for men. Young (1990), however, argues that bodies serve the opposite purpose for women-women’s bodies are often sources of anxiety and tentativeness.” This relates back to men and women’s athletics in Lorber’s. Athletics, for men, are a chance to show off their strength and power, while women’s athletics can be seen and scrutinized in a different way depending the sport. Some sports sway to women’s version being daintier and more artistic (like gymnastics) while others can sway to the ideas that the women participating are “too butch” or “man like”.

 

In Morris’ “Tuck in that Shirt!” something I found very interesting was the way the teachers were socialized to view their students. While the teachers did want better for the students and wanted to teach them, there was a theme of having strong gender and racial stereotypes for many students and groups. For example multiple teachers spoke about the correlation between gangs and the Hispanic students, well their assumed correlation at least (36). I found this very weird that these teachers who are supposed to help students almost wrote some of them off because of their preconceived notions. Morris’ also explains how many of the girls had their bodies directed (40). While the teachers were doing this in hopes of helping the girls and teach them how to be more proper this is just another way young girls are socialized and taught to be made uncomfortable by their own bodies, a theme seen in Martin’s work. 

Lorber, Martin, and Morris

By Gracie Hall

Lorber’s article “Believing is Seeing: Biology is Ideology” (1993) gives a solid foundation for understanding how gender is a social construction. Lorber contradicts the common misconception that sex and gender are synonymous. Firstly, sex itself is not a binary, for as Lorber discusses there are infants born with ambiguous genitalia. In one of my other classes we used this as evidence to further argue that the idea of two discrete sexes is a social construction in itself.  Furthermore, evidence from other cultures that have multiple genders further enforces this idea.

Lorber also explains how men are constructed as normal, and women as deviant. This is highlighted in the example of what happens when women qualifying for the Olympics have chromosomal ambiguity. Lorber explains how in this situation women must undergo extensive testing, whereas men do not; she explains that this is because they hope to “make sure men don’t enter women’s competitions” (570).  Similarly, large systems such as organized sports and the military are organized so that men and the male body are normal, and women deviant. Our conception of sports, and the skills needed to be successful in them perfectly align with what we construct to be valuable and desirable for men: speed, size, and strength. Lorber makes this point explicit as she quotes: “if women had been the historically dominant sex, our concept of sports no doubt would have evolved differently” (572). Instead, as men are the dominant group, women are seen as not as athletically gifted. Lorber further notes that in order to be recognized and praised, female athletes must not only excel in sports that are designed around the male body but also focus on their feminine beauty.

In her final conclusion, Lorber quotes Butler saying, “not biology, but culture becomes destiny”; this concept is especially important in understanding the two other readings (578). Firstly, this can be applied to Martin’s article “Becoming a Gendered Body: Practices of Preschools” (1998) which looks at the ways in which institutions, such as schools, help to socialize children to learn to adhere to gender norms through hidden curriculum. Martin provides examples of dressing up, the permission of relaxed behaviors/the requirement of formal behaviors, acts of controlling voices, and verbal or physical instruction regarding children’s bodies by teachers or peers–to show the ways in which children become gendered. She explains that as children learn what is expected, there is a direct correlation to behavior.

Girls learn to be aware of their body and keep their bodies and voices constrained and contained. Boys learn to see their bodies as a source of power and a means to let out aggression and anger. Martin shows how these behaviors and others are not innate, but instead learned through discipline as she compares 3 and 5-year-old children. Furthermore, Martin highlights how this institutionalized socialization has serious effects and leads to issues of inequality: “differences create a context for social relations in which differences confirm inequalities of power” (510).

This same idea is also relevant in Morris’ article “‘Tuck in That Shirt!’ Race, Class, Gender, and Discipline in an Urban School” (2005). Morris’ research looked at the ways in which discipline from school educators regarding bodily discipline with concern to dress and behavior is influenced by race, class, and gender and can help perpetrate inequality. Like Martin, Morris suggests a hidden curriculum, however, unlike Martin this curriculum not only teaches students about gender but also race and class. In his article, Morris explains how the school in which he conducted most of his research had a strict dress code and uniform, which was seen by the teachers to promote “student discipline and order in general” and “upward mobility in this working class context” (31-32). However, Morris theorizes that this is not always the case; the imposition of the dominant cultural capital can actually lead to resistance and marginalization and therefore further reproduce inequalities along the intersections of race, gender, and sexuality.

Morris gives three examples of how inequalities are reproduced through bodily discipline. Firstly, Morris highlights how African-American girls are instructed to “act like a lady”, a process requiring certain ways “to sit and get up properly, dress appropriately, and speak quietly” (34). Although educators believed that this was a process that would help with upward mobility, it actually “seemed to curtail some of the very behaviors that led to success in the classroom” (35).  Secondly, Latino boys were made to seem potentially dangerous largely by associations of class-which in turn lead to resistance and reproduction. Finally, Morris observed how white or Asian-American students were not as frequently disciplined as African-American or Latino boys who were engaging in the same behavior. Instead, the acts of the teachers and the larger educational institution reinforced whiteness as dominant, and Asian Americans as the “model minority” who were most closely fitting the dominant mold.

The Olympics, Education and The Patriarchy

By Alia Roth

The article that resonated with me the most in this weeks reading was Believing Is Seeing: Biology as Ideology by Judith Lorber.  Much of my PICA work focusses on education, ed policy and curriculums in early childhood so some aspects of the other articles did not completely shock me – but what Lorber revealed about the Olympics, and professional sports in general infuriated me so much that my housemates were stuck listening to me rant about The Olympic National Committee and their outrageous accusations and invasive testing of Caster Semenya* just because they were uncomfortable with her incredible ability to outrun the standards that were predetermined for women.  I wonder if a man broke every record in this sport would he be tested as aggressively as Semenya was, and further, if it would then mandate every female to go through hormonal and gynecological testing before being accepted by the Olympic committee (Lorber 570).

Not only had I never heard that the attack on Semenya’s sex ambiguity led to an attack of sex and gender on every female olympic athlete, but Lorber’s article raised other critical points that have led me to truly want to completely boycott the Olympics (even more so than I already had with Putin’s consistent homophobic comments towards gay athletes and illicit statements about gay men being pedophiles…).  But the points she raised around female vs. male gymnasts were infuriating.  Why we only accept young, smaller, girls as gymnasts, who strain their bodies so much to the point where they may or may not stunt their menstrual cycle, whereas male gymnasts are accepted as “men” who can be larger, stronger, more built and in an overall healthier state of being.  Lorber’s quote, “Gymnastic equipment is geared to slim, wiry, prepubescent girls and not to mature women; conversely, men’s gymnastic equipment is tailored for muscular, mature men, not slim, wiry prepubescent boys. Boys could compete with girls, but are not allowed to; women gymnasts are left out entirely. Girl gymnasts are just that-little girls who will be disqualified as soon as they grow up” (Lorber, 571) states the reality of gymnastics perfectly.  How has this become the accepted norm for sports?  How have nutritionists, health professionals and athletes fought this socialized norm that not only restricts female gymnasts but perpetuates men dominating fields and forcing out adult female professional athletes.  It actually makes no sense at all.

This is where Becoming A Gendered Body by Karin Martin came into play.  The socialization of gendering bodies and that bodies must be “trained, manipulated, cajoled, coaxed, organized and in general disciplined” (Martin, 493) was laid out so perfectly in this article.  Martin went deeper than merely ‘boys wear pants and girls wear dresses’ but observed what this means for young girls who are still developing their physic, how they play and how they physically interact with peers.  I had never even considered that wearing dresses or skirts in preschool limits girls’ physical ability to do what most young boys can do (Martin, 498) and that teachers even expressed confusion when young girls showed an interest in physically playing as opposed to merely sitting at the table, and that this was inherently “rough” behavior because the teacher was expressing concern (508).  All of these micro-aggressions, whether as explicit as “act like a young lady” (Morris, 34) or scolding a girl for hitting someone and not a boy (Martin, 509) the blatant implications of gender socialization is so deeply embedded and unquestioned in our society that teachers and trained professionals do not even take notice of it.  Children do not think critically when a teacher (a strong, trusted and influential authority figure) says “Okay, girls and boys” – as if those are the only options, or when a teacher pairs up girls and boys for a dance class – as if those are the only appropriate pairs that exist.  If this is how deep the paradigm of gender goes – so far that it is rooted and accepted in educational, athletic, corporate and political institutions – how do we even begin to shift the dialogue from an obsessive compulsion to identify and categorize individuals to the reality of how and why the patriarchy crafted sex and gender?

*For more information on Caster Semenya:

http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/caster-semenyas-gender-controversy-raises-questions-scientic-line/story?id=8379135