Sociology BA LLB for Sociology Notes

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Gender based inequality

Gender according to sexual orientation

  • Heterosexual: attracted to individuals of the opposite sex (straight)
  • Homosexual: attracted to individuals of the same sex (gay, lesbian)
  • Bisexual: attracted to both sexes
  • Queer: attracted to the same or both sexes and/or transgendered individuals
  • Asexual: not experiencing sexual attractions

Types of gender identity

  • Maleness/Masculine
  • Femaleness/Feminine
  • Two-Spirited- an Aboriginal term for an individual who possesses both male and female spirits, and is thus neither male nor female
  • Transgendered- a person who challenges strict gender norms (may be transsexual, biologically Intersexed, etc.)
  • Third Gender- individuals who are categorized as neither male nor female (by their own will or social consensus); term also used in societies who recognize more than two genders
  • Androgyny- a term that refers to a combination of masculine and feminine characteristics

How were women seen in typical society?

  • Women as Male’s private property (Father’s property in case of Kanyadan)
  • No one agreed that forced sex in marriage was sex.
    • Sexual relation in marriage was to satisfy husband.
    • Women was to be enjoyed.
    • Her enjoyment was secondary or accidental only.
  • Woman’s GOD GIVEN PLACE was – in the kitchen
  • Women who worked outside their home were
    • Embarrassment for their husband and father and brother
    • Women who earned more than then husband or boyfriend were embarrassing them.
  • Unmarried mothers were considered as immoral
  • Boys who flirted with many girls were considered as naughty and natural but girls who did the same were considered as a slut
  • University
    • Educated women goes to university to find educated men

Gender stereotype

Masculine Feminine
Active Passive
presence absence
independent dependent
organized scattered
rational emotional
logical illogical
intellectual intuitive/imaginative

Important gender term during the research

Male-centered research, or approaching the topic from a male-only perspective

Using data collected from one sex and applying the findings to both sexes

Gender insensitivity
The failure to consider the impact of gender at all in the subject matter in question

Double standards
The same standards should be applied to both sexes in order to not distort findings

This occurs when a subject under study reacts to the sex of the researcher rather than the subject matter under study


OXFORD DICTIONARY OF SOCIOLOGY: ‘According to Ann Oakley who introduced the term to sociology, sex refer to the biological division into male and female, gender to the parallel and socially unequal division into femininity and masculinity. Gender draws attention therefore to the socially constructed aspects of differences between women and men.

Anthony Giddens: ‘Social expectations about behavior regarded as appropriate for the members of each sex. Gender does not refer to the physical attributes in terms of which men and women differ, but to socially formed traits of masculinity and femininity. The study of gender relations has become one of the most important areas of sociology in recent years, although for a long time they received little attention’

Social Construction of Gender

Nancy Chodorow

  • Both boys and girls are attached to
  • Revised Freud’s theory of psycho-sexual development: emphasized “pre-Oedipal” period (birth to about 3)
  • Attachment & identification, not sexual attraction
  • Both M & F begin “as if” female: develop “feminine” sense of self in experiencing world with & through mother
  • Females: develop by continuity — sustaining identification with mother
  • Males: develop by discontinuity — separating from mother and creating new identity
    • Misogyny: “masculinity” created via repression / expulsion of “feminine”

Janet Sayers (critique of Nanacy Chodorow)

The theory ignores the need of women to be detached and autonomous.

Women have aggressiveness. This needs to brought out not repressed.

Gender stratification theory

Functionalist approach

Anthropologist George Murdock saw that women should concentrate on domestic and family responsibilities. And men should work outside.

This argument of his was based on his work that involved the cross-cultural studies of more than 200 societies.

He considered the gender based division of labour as the most logical organization arrangement in society.

Talcott Parson:

Talcott Parson studied industrial society.

Women’s role is to socialize children through emotional or expressive roles: caring for others, forgiving etc

Men’s role is to socialize children through rational role like being aggressive, competitive.

Another role of women is to comfort men who are stressed in their work by providing them with emotional comfort.

John Bowlby

Every children needs mother or at least ‘mother substitute’.

This role cannot be performed by male.

Feminist perspective

Raewyn Connel’s theory of The gender hierarchy

Hegemonic masculinity  Social dominance not through violence but through culture.
  • Hetrosexuality
  • Marriage 
  • Authority
  • Paid work
  • Strength 
  • Physical toughness 
Complicit Masculinity People who are almost like the hegemonic males and enjoy benefit in society due to it.
Homosexual masculinity  Seen as opposite of real man. Rank at the bottom of gender hierarchy 
Emphasized feminity   Old women-motherly characteristics Young women: Sexual receptivity  Women like dress Someone to accompany the real men.
Resistant feminities  Hidden from history  Who revolt against the system

Shulamith Firestone
‘We are no longer just animals. And the kingdom of nature does not reign absolute. … Thus the ‘natural’ is not necessarily a ‘human’ value. Humanity has begun to transcend Nature: we can no longer justify the maintenance of a discriminatory sex class system on grounds of its origins in nature.’

Elimination of Gender: Firestone did not want to eliminate men, although she didn’t like them much. She believed the gender system oppressed men, too. What she wanted was radical equality. The only way to achieve this, she thought, was to eliminate gender entirely.

Elimination of pregnancy: How? At the core of gender — and inequality — was an accident of biology, she theorized. Women are the ones who are physiologically capable of carrying babies. All gender roles have their roots this simple fact. If you eliminate pregnancy and childbirth, you can eliminate gender. So, she argued, we need to devise ways to reproduce artificially. And until then, women ought to be celibate.

Commune taking care of the children.

Firestone didn’t confine her radicalism to her writing. In 1969, while she was living in New York and writing Dialectic of Sex, she co-founded a women’s organization calledRedstockings that published manifestos, ran consciousness-raising meetings, and organized activism on behalf of a number of feminist causes. Their values included leftist beliefs that we don’t today associate with feminism, like a commitment to socialist revolution. But they also believed deeply in, and campaigned for, the right to safe and legal abortions.

Gender issues Nepal

Literacy Rate: Overall literacy rate (for population aged 5 years and above) has increased from 54.1 percent in 2001 to 65.9 percent in 2011. Male literacy rate is 75.1% compared to female literacy rate of 57.4%. The highest literacy rate is reported in Kathmandu district (86.3 %) and lowest in Humla (47.8%).

Female ownership of fixed assets: Altogether, 19.71 percent of households reported the ownership of land or house or both in the name of female member of the household. In urban areas, 26.77 percent of the households show female-ownership of fixed assets while the percentage stands for 18.02 in rural areas.

Household Head: Female-headed households in the country has increased by about 11 point percent from 14.87% in 2001 to 25.73% in 2011.

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