Thereason why I took this class was because it fits into my schedule andrequirements for graduation perfectly. I learned a lot about genders andidentities in this class.
It impacted the way I understood the environmentaround me and answered some questions about gender that have confused me for along time. Overall, there are two readings that impressed me the most, “TheSocial Construction of Gender” by Judith Lorber and “Identities and SocialLocations: Who Am I? Who Are My People?” by Gwyn Kirk and Margo Okazawa-Rey.In the article, “The Social Construction of Gender,”there were three main points that stood out me. First, the article illustratedthat gender is very pervasive in our daily lives. It painted a picture of a manon the subway carrying a baby in a carrier on the front of his chest.
The manwas smiled at by many people that were near him because he was playing the roleof what women were supposed to be doing. The author, Judith, used her personalexperiences in the subway as an example of how we are constantly “doing gender”without even realizing that we are. The article also talked about how peopleact and dress the way they are expected to. It reminded me of a question thathad confused me for a long time, “Do girls born to be like flowered floweredand laced-trimmed wears?” How does “a pair of little flowered sneakers andlace-trimmed socks” become a gender mark for a girl? After studying Goffman’sidea about identity and performance, I’ve learned that we do not have a naturalgender identity. It is shaped by the external environment.
There is noso-called being naturally “feminine” nor “masculine,” they are created. Thesecond main idea Judith argued is that gender is what makes “men” and “women”different. These are the terms that defines and creates the differences betweenboth men and women. Society ranks women below the men. Gender plays a huge partin the social structure that men and women are unequal in status.
Whatinterested me most about this idea was that the author claimed that in agender-stratified society, what a man does is usually more highly valued thanthat compared to what a woman does, even though they are both doing similarjobs. It reminds me of the equal-pay issues in many enterprises. In anotherbusiness class, we studied the Starbucks case.
I learned that Starbucks had eliminated99% of its unequal-pay issue, it is a part of the effort of its CSR(Corporation Social Responsibility). A good CSR benefits Starbucks in manyways, such as, it Starbucks a good reputation and brand image and it reducesemployee turnover rate which saves Starbucks money on training new employees. Ibelieve if there are more companies like Starbucks that can understand andeliminate unequal-pay, they can build their CSRs and a good CSR can benefitthem a lot, and women can get paid more equally. Thethird point that Judith illustrated was that, the reason that gender evenexists is that it fits the social orders. There is a need for one to work tobring food to the table and another to reproduce new members.
It also statesthat sex is a biological identifier, but gender is who we choose to be, who wewant to be, or who we feel like we are. Before we are born, we are unable tochoose our sex, whether we want to be a girl or a boy. However, with gender, wecan. We see homosexuals and transgenders having a different gender as theirbiological sex.
Nowadays, the world trend is to have flexible policies forgenders. It is a symbol of the development of civilization and respect forgenders and human nature.Anotherarticle that impressed me is “Identitiesand Social Locations: Who Am I?Who Are My People?” by Gwyn Kirk and Margo Okazawa-Rey. This articlehelped me identify myself and told me what communities I belong to and who aremy people. The model has three levels, from micro to macro and to analyze andidentify. Thefirst level, the micro-level, is when we define ourselves by what we need andwhat our preferences are. At this level, we start to get a feel on identityformation. The events or experiences that we deal with will start to shape ouridentities.
The second level is the meso-level. At this level, we identifyourselves through the outside world, our communities, and workplaces. We alsotry to meet group standards, expectations, and we compare ourselves with othersand others will have compared us to them. The third level is the macro orglobal level. At this level, we classify and label human beings by our biologicalor physical differences. It is how we can tell who are included in the groupand who are not. I agree with the author’s argument of how social categories,like race and gender, are the foundation of structural inequalities present inour societies today.
It reminded me of when Obama had won the election. Peopledescribed him as “the first black president of the United States.” In myopinion, overemphasizing biological differences in race is racism. We shouldrespect people biologically.
We should not compare ourselves to others or viceversa and we should not use a structure to identify which group is superior andwhich is inferior.In this article, GwynKirk and Margo Okazawa-Rey also talked about the idea of “marginality.” My personalexperiences perfectly apply to the authors’ description of how people who movein two or more worlds experience marginality. I am an international studentfrom China and it is my fourth year attending a university in the UnitedStates. I take every summer quarter off and I would go back to China to visitmy friends and family.
Every time I visit China, I noticed that I no longerhave the same interests nor habits than those of my friends and family and itmakes me feel sad. In the article, it says people who grow in one culture andthen move to another will experience marginality. Marginality is the feel ofnot accepted by either cultural. However, Marginality has a positive side toit, or a positive effect. It gives one the ability to see and experience bothcultures clearer than those who live in only one community.