by Ellen Gillingham
Reading Title(s) (Author, “Title”):
Lorber, “Paradoxes of Gender”
1.) What is this week’s readings major arguments/points?
Gender is constantly created and recreated out of social life, and is the texture and order of that social life. Gender signs and signals are so ubiquitous that we usually fail to note them, unless they are missing or ambiguous.
Gender Bending is easier in Western societies in which jeans, T-shirts, and sneakers are worn by both genders. Sometimes political figures shift genders in order to converse with men in a different culture. Despite the ease of crossing gender boundaries, gender status remains.
Gender is looked at differently from the view of individuals verses society. For the individual, making members of gender statuses similar to each other is important for maintaining a limited amount of gender statuses. For society, it is important to have a divide between genders, so they are perceived as different.
Gender is also ranked, meaning there is a hierarchy and moving from one gender to another also means moving up or down the social scale.
2.) What are some things that you did not understand? Or, are there questions you have for Professor McCune, or the author?
If gender is created and re-created by “the mass media” (22) why is gender bending “prevalent in theater or dance” (19)?
3.) What did you learn about Gender and Spectacular Consumption?
I learned that gender is viewed differently by society than the individual. Gender has many components and is not a unitary essence. As a social institution, gender is a process of creating distinguishable social statuses for the assignment of rights and responsibilities. As part of a stratification system that ranks these statuses unequally, gender is a major building block in the social structures built on these unequal statuses. For social institutions, gender is composed of statuses, labor division, kinship, sexual scripts, personalities, social control, ideology, and imagery. An individual’s identity is a combination of the major ascribed statuses of gender, race, ethnicity, religion, and social class, and the individual’s achieved statuses. For an individual, gender is made up of identity, marital and procreative status, sexual orientation, personality, process of learning, beliefs, and display. For Spectacular Consumption, this is important because performers see themselves differently than society sees them. If they deviate from gender norms, society sees this as problematic for assigning rights, while individuals look for sameness and identification.
4.) How might you apply the author’s ideas to other examples, beyond what is
presented in the essay?
In the essay, Lorber presents the idea of the paradox of human nature. This is the notion that it is always a manifestation of cultural meanings, social relationships, and power politics; not biology, but culture, becomes destiny. The paradox of human nature applies to other examples beyond what is presented in the essay. For example, social relationships and power politics are governed by sex, sexuality, and gender, in the case of Great Britons, Elizabeth I. She is well-known and admired English monarch. Her ability as a woman to exercise power successfully in a man’s world earned her respect in today’s world. Her honored bravery and leadership qualities coincide with her difficulties as a female ruler. Although her religion, the succession and international affairs are factors in her success as a ruler, her sex and gender along with their societal challenges are what are primarily praised.