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Theories of Gender: Crash Course Sociology #33

Theories of Gender: Crash Course Sociology #33


Why is gender even a thing? We’ve talked about what gender is, and how
it affects people’s lives. But we’ve skipped over a fundamental part
of the whole issue of gender: Why does it matter to us so much? Gender isn’t the same in all cultures. Mainstream Western ideas have focused on the
idea of gender as a binary, with masculinity and
femininity serving as mutual opposites. But other cultures have three genders, or
see gender as fluid, or describe gender as a
spectrum rather than a set of distinct types. For example, many Native American and First
Nation peoples recognize a third gender that
incorporates both the masculine and feminine, and
it plays a specific, sacred role within their culture. While different tribes all have different
terms for this gender within their own languages,
nowadays many use the umbrella term Two Spirit. But there are no known societies that have
no concept of gender. So, why is that? Why do we, no matter what society we live
in, ascribe so much meaning to gender? [Theme Music] To talk about why we have gender in the first
place, we need to go back to the three theories
that sociology is built on: structural functional theory, symbolic
interaction theory, and social conflict theory. All three of these theories have different
perspectives on why gender exists. Let’s start with structural functionalism. Remember, the structural functional approach
understands human behavior as part of systems that
help keep society organized and functioning. From this perspective, gender is a means
of organizing society into distinct roles that
complement each other. Some anthropologists have argued that
hunter-gatherer societies originated the idea that
men are providers and women take care of the home. Men were physically stronger and didn’t
have the demands of childbearing, which made it easier for them to take on more
aggressive, autonomous roles, like hunting or warfare. And these roles became institutionalized. Even once physical strength was no longer
important for many jobs, it was taken for granted
that men would be the breadwinners and women
would care for the children. But there are holes in this theory – namely that the early anthropologists who
studied this dynamic overemphasized the role
of things like big game hunting. More recent anthropological work suggests
that gathering, fishing, and small game hunting – all of which were also performed by women
– played a much larger role in providing food
in these societies. But the idea that we have two genders to play
complementary roles has stuck around, partially
through the work of sociologist Talcott Parsons. He argued that boys and girls are socialized to take
on traits that are complementary to each other, to make
it easier to maintain stable, productive family units. Boys are taught what Parsons calls instrumental
qualities, such as confidence and competitiveness,
that prepare them for the labor force. Meanwhile, girls are taught expressive qualities,
such as empathy and sensitivity, which prepare
them to care for their families. Parsons’ theory was that a successful family
needs people to have complementary skill sets, and
gender gives us a way of pairing off these skills. And society, in turn, encourages gender
conformity by making people feel that they have to fit
these molds if they want to be romantically desirable, and by also teaching people to reject those
who go against these gender norms. Though this theory was influential in the
mid twentieth century, it’s fallen out of
favor for a few reasons. First, Parsons was basing his theory on a
division of labor that was specific to middle-class
white America in the 1940s and 50s. It assumes a heteronormative and Western perspective
on what a family is. But not all families are nuclear units with
one man, one woman, and a gaggle of children. When you expand the definition of family to
include same-sex couples, single parents,
multi-generational families, or childless adults, it’s less obvious that you should assume
that a man works outside the home and
a woman works inside the home. Second, the idea of complementary genders rests
on there being two distinct and opposite genders. Again – a Western perspective. The idea of gender as a binary isn’t universal,
and it ignores all those whose identities don’t
conform to a two-gender system. Third, Parsons’ theory ignores the personal
and social costs of maintaining rigid gender roles. Critics argue that the idea that men need
to be the ones working outside the home to
maintain family stability is arbitrary, and it reinforces gender dynamics that give
men power over women. Now, another perspective on gender is the
symbolic-interaction approach. While structural functionalists are concerned
with how gender helps all of society work well, symbolic-interactionists are more focused
in how gender is part of day to day life. From this perspective, gender is something
that a person does, rather than something that’s
either innate or imposed by institutions. Let’s go to the Thought Bubble to talk about
different ways that people ‘do gender.’ Clothes, hairstyles, and makeup all telegraph
gender to the people around you. Take these two people. You probably have a gut reaction about the gender
of these people, even though the only thing that‘s
different about them is what they’re wearing. But what if the person in the suit had long
hair or was wearing makeup? These might flip a switch in our brain to start
seeing the person as a woman in a business suit. But having short hair and no makeup while wearing
a dress doesn’t necessarily flip the same switch. This pattern is an example of gender roles,
or how a society defines how women and
men should think and behave. A man wearing a skirt is seen as more of a
rejection of traditional gender roles than a
woman wearing pants is. Body language and how people interact with
each other are also part of how people do gender. Women are socialized to be deferential in
conversation, meaning that they’re more likely to
make eye contact to show that they’re listening, or to smile as a way of encouraging
their speaking partner. Crossing your legs is called ‘ladylike’ whereas if
you sit on the subway with your legs spread out,
you might get glared at for ‘manspreading.’ Thanks Thought Bubble. These exercises in ‘doing gender’ are good examples of how our society’s definitions of masculinity and femininity are inextricably linked to each gender’s power in society. Masculine traits are associated with power
– taking up more space, directing the conversation
– and are often valued more than feminine traits. In other words, everyday social interaction
reflects and helps reinforce gender stratification. But a limitation of the symbolic interaction
approach is that it focuses on the micro,
rather than the macro. Because of its focus on situational experiences,
it misses the broader patterns of gender inequality. For that, we need social conflict theory. You might remember gender conflict theory
from our episode about Harriet Martineau. But in case you’ve forgotten, gender conflict theory
argues that gender is a structural system that distributes
power and privilege to some and disadvantage to others. Specifically, that structural system is the patriarchy,
a form of social organization in which men have
more power and dominate other genders. We can see examples of this structure in
institutional practices that disadvantage women, like restricting higher education to men or
refusing to allow women to vote. But we also see this in less official ways. Think about the traits that our society values
– rationality is often praised as a desirable
way of thinking, especially in leaders, while irrationality means letting emotion affect
decisions and is seen as a weakness. Women are stereotyped as more emotional and
men as more rational, which makes people falsely see
men as more natural fits for leadership positions. The way that patriarchy privileges certain
people over others also isn’t as simple as saying that
all men are at the top of the power distribution. This is why there’s more attention paid
in sociology to intersectionality, or the analysis of the interplay of race, class,
gender, sexual orientation and other identities, which often results in multiple dimensions
of disadvantage. While all women are disadvantaged by gender,
it’s also true that some women experience more
disadvantage than others. And the converse is true for men – all men benefit
from living in a society that privileges masculinity,
but some men benefit more than others. To see this in action, let’s go back to
the stats on the gender wage gap we talked
about in the last episode. White women make 80 cents for every dollar
a white man makes. Black women make 65 cents for every dollar
a white man makes. If we divide those two numbers, we get the
wage gap between white women and black women: a black woman makes 81 cents for every dollar
that a white woman makes. But what about black men? Well, they make 73 cents for every dollar that
white men make. So black women do worse economically than
black men, who do worse than white women,
who do worse than white men. Just looking at gender or just looking at
race misses the way that disadvantages can
stack on top of one another. Our understanding of social conflict theory also would
not be complete without discussing a movement closely
entwined with gender conflict theory: feminism. Feminism is the support of social equality for
all genders, in opposition to patriarchy and sexism. Broadly speaking, feminism advocates the
elimination of gender stratification, expanding the choices that women, men and other
genders are allowed to make, ending gender-based
violence, and promoting sexual freedom. There are many forms that feminism can take,
but let’s highlight three major schools of thought
within feminist theory. The first is liberal feminism – and no,
I don’t mean liberal in the political sense. I mean liberal in the classical sense, rooted in the
ideals of freedom of choice and equal opportunity. Liberal feminists seek to expand the rights
and opportunities of women by removing cultural
and legal barriers to women’s equality, like implementing policies that prevent discrimination
in the workforce or improve reproductive freedom. This contrasts with socialist feminism, which views capitalism as the foundation of
the patriarchy and advocates for full economic
equality in the socialist tradition. Socialist feminists tend to believe that the
liberal feminist reforms don’t go far enough since they maintain most of the existing institutions
of power. The third feminist school of thought is
known as radical feminism, which believes that to reach gender equality,
society must actually eliminate gender as we know it. Radical feminism has clashed heavily with
other subsets of feminism, particularly on
transgender individuals’ rights. Many radical feminists refuse to acknowledge
the gender identities of trans women and have accused the transgender movement
of perpetuating patriarchal gender norms. And these three ways of thinking about
feminism are only a few of the many views on
how to best advocate for gender equality. Kinda like how there are many theories within
sociology about how we should think about gender. Today, we learned about three of those schools
of thought on gender theory. Structural functionalism sees gender as a
way of organizing society and emphasizes the ways that men and women
can act as complements to each other. Symbolic interactionism looks at gender on
the micro level, exploring how gender guides
day to day life. And gender conflict theory, intersectional theory,
and the theories of feminism focus on the ways
that gender distributes power within society. Crash Course Sociology is filmed in the Dr.
Cheryl C. Kinney Studio in Missoula, MT, and
it’s made with the help of all of these
nice people. Our animation team is Thought Cafe and Crash
Course is made with Adobe Creative Cloud. If you’d like to keep Crash Course free for
everyone, forever, you can support the series
at Patreon, a crowdfunding platform that allows
you to support the content you love. Thank you to all of our patrons for making
Crash Course possible with their continued support.

100 comments on “Theories of Gender: Crash Course Sociology #33

  1. you spit in the face of all our planets women to suggest that women aren't ever taught to be confident. you insult your sisters who collapse onto their beds exausted and satisfied with their careers with a small sweat and a smile. confident women are brilliant forces of nature — and they are taught confidence and teach it to their children when their husbands may lack the ability. hillary clinton said the large percentage of women who voted for trump were just herded like sheep by the men in their lives to believe what they want them to. translation — the women who i wanted to vote for me have minds so weak that they can't think for themselves. stop. stoppppppppp

  2. why didnt you mention the Asian – White wage gap sweetheart, then we can see what an Asian supremacist country the USA really is. Dismantle the Asian Patriarchy NOW!!!!!!!!!

  3. I'd like to see a merit based society, where you advance according to your skills and intelligence, not your gender or birth origin.

  4. everyone's saying the comments are gonna be lit… till you look at the comments and the only thing they're saying is "the comments are gonna be lit"….. yeah boy, so lit

  5. But what if your a girl and you feel like some of your genetics are more boi then gurl genetics type because I feel that way

    AMERICA EGGSPLAIN

  6. WHy is radical feminism only described as women "opposing transgender rights"..? It seems clear how you want your viewers to interpret radical feminism

  7. Gender and gender ID are two different things. If you have a winky, regardless of what you deem yourself to be, you are male and visa versa.

  8. Men spread for one specific reason and if women had their breasts down there, we'd have babespreading too. Having you boys scrunched together can be quite uncomfortable. If I'm on a bus that's crowded, I don't spread, otherwise I do. Don't punish men for a biological necessity.

  9. Economic equality is a pipe dream, not rooted in reality. Corporations could not exist in a society where everybody made the same income. All we'd have are entrepreneurial mom and pop businesses and along with it higher prices, due to lower volume.

  10. Of course men are more fit for leadership positions. Have you ever seen any great female leader in history? No offense to women.

  11. Disturbed and deranged ideology explained and accepted by disturbed brainwashed people that will bring humanity to the edge of abyss and push it down….God help us, please

  12. I would like to see a video where the social understanding of gender and biological perspectives (like evolutionary perspectives) and both discussed. Even within a social perspective there are way more possible theories that aren't typically discussed. I rolled my eyes to the idea of patriarchy it's so bias. How are you not explaining the wage gap? This is ridiculous.

  13. Omg I don't like the sociological and scientific theories and research on gender! Time to dislike!

  14. All good and nice. Now 1. include a few criticism of these theories from other disciplines 2. Include possible counter theories (I know they rarely exist in sociology but you could try) 3. Use "statistics" that are reliable and not debunked by a thousand people

  15. the editing is too fast D': we need a second after a cut to allow the brain to move on to the next information

  16. I haven’t even watched the video and somehow I can tell what she’s gonna say just by looking at her.

  17. pAtReArChY iS bAd even thou humanity achieved all its progress during the presumed patriarchy era…stop blaming men for women's laziness.

  18. I love how it's either the people who, think this is too fast and is ok with this. While the other side of this is people complaining about how she looks, and etc. I hope you guys realize these are theories, their not necessarily fact. So what's the point of being so butthurt? It's just a theory and if you disagree with it, well you just disagreed with a theory. If you argue that you're not disagreeing on these theories, well i'm sorry to tell you but you are. She isn't preaching like this fact, it's Sociology, and the study of Social Life.

  19. So you lied about the wage gap, you lied about the gender conflict theory, you lied about feminism, you lied about the rights of women to vote, you lied about how other cultures interpret gender, you lied about the historical "roles" of men and women. This entire 10 minute video is presented so many scientifically and historically incorrect ideas. Good job on spreading false information to further your political narrative. And I say lie because you didn't simply misinterpret the true information which can be found any grade school history book, an undergraduate anthropology book, or a first year medical text. You blatantly ignored it. You're actually a terrible person.

  20. Do we really need this twaddle? Having been raised in an advanced culture we were taught always to listen to and accept others. At the very least there surely is no need for an actual degree and PhD in it?? That said there are many places in the world where LGBT issues are a nightmare. Why not raise money to help people in Africa etc instead of yelling at your own navel?

  21. Also, its not worth watching for the full 10:36 but in order to avoid racial hate can anyone reassure me that as 'male,pale and stale' that no victimisation happens and that it is viewable without causing undue stress?

  22. Gender Studies is a useless degree. If it were up to me it wouldn't exist anymore and the Frankfurt School would be burned to the ground.

  23. It’s almost like these “know it all” LGBTQQUTSTIF people never heard of GAY people !
    Haha … watch video again but change relationships between a man and woman to gay man and ANOTHER gay MAN!!
    Good luck

  24. the pseudo-scientific rational gamer community has logged on according to the dislike ratio, completely ignoring the sources and general scientific accuracy of the video being quite decent

  25. die die die DIE DIE DIE die die die DIE DIE DIE die die die DIE DIE DIE die die die DIE DIE DIE die die die DIE DIE DIE die die die DIE DIE DIE die die die DIE DIE DIE die die die DIE DIE DIE die die die DIE DIE DIE die die die DIE DIE DIE die die die DIE DIE DIE die die die DIE DIE DIE die die die DIE DIE DIE die die die DIE DIE DIE die die die DIE DIE DIE die die die DIE DIE DIE die die die DIE DIE DIE die die die DIE DIE DIE die die die DIE DIE DIE die die die DIE DIE DIE die die die DIE DIE DIE die die die DIE DIE DIE die die die DIE DIE DIE die die die DIE DIE DIE die die die DIE DIE DIE die die die DIE DIE DIE die die die DIE DIE DIE die die die DIE DIE DIE die die die DIE DIE DIE die die die DIE DIE DIE die die die DIE DIE DIE die die die DIE DIE DIE die die die DIE DIE DIE die die die DIE DIE DIE die die die DIE DIE DIE die die die DIE DIE DIE die die die DIE DIE DIE die die die DIE DIE DIE die die die DIE DIE DIE die die die DIE DIE DIE die die die DIE DIE DIE die die die DIE DIE DIE die die die DIE DIE DIE die die die DIE DIE DIE die die die DIE DIE DIE die die die DIE DIE DIE die die die DIE DIE DIE die die die DIE DIE DIE die die die DIE DIE DIE die die die DIE DIE DIE die die die DIE DIE DIE die die die DIE DIE DIE die die die DIE DIE DIE die die die DIE DIE DIE die die die DIE DIE DIE die die die DIE DIE DIE die die die DIE DIE DIE die die die DIE DIE DIE die die die DIE DIE DIE die die die DIE DIE DIE die die die DIE DIE DIE

  26. It’s not that they gained the idea it’s that we were biologically adapted for said roles, a big difference because this effects our actions even on the cognitive and mental level hence bringing about the idea of gender. The idea that something so fundamental as gender is something we constructed on the deeper level and can just be done away with is very pathetic

  27. I'm only here because this is an "important lesson" in college.

    PS
    I'm not even studying gender sciences or any kind that is related to this topic.

  28. My gender is actually the 16 digits of whoever I’m talking to’s debit card and the pronouns are the 4 digit pin to that same debit card.

  29. Love how the basis of this video relies on the audience already agreeing that gender is different than sex

  30. This video literally just starts with a question-begging assertion that "Gender isn't the same in all cultures." It's certainly true that beliefs about gender aren't the same across cultures but even this is misleading. Non-standard views about gender are in the vast minority of cultures. It's arguable that descriptions of other cultural practices would be better described as having feminine men and masculine women, not that they have biologically female men or biologically male women. Besides would we care if a small minority of cultures believed that the sun was a deity or that 2+2=5? What person would say different cultures have different suns or different numbers and number-relations?

  31. The speaker also seems to think that the fact that the binary view doesn't incorporate, or ignores (whatever that means), other views is somehow an objection to the theory in question (at about the 3:40 mark). That's obviously not an objection because if it were it's a symmetric problem. The non-binary views she's talking about evidently don't incorporate the view that gender is exclusively binary. So if it were a problem for the first view (it isn't), it would equally be a problem all other incompatible views.

  32. all your emotional decisions have caused so many problems in Europe. large amounts of immigrations. can't believe she talks about rational decision making has something derogative. after what the scientific method helped us to become who we are as a society. if we were only feeling. imagine what that would be?

  33. someone needs to watch the red pill documentary. most of the inventions were made by men. almost all of the technology innovations. all major scientist have been men. problem with blaming the patriarchy is you see it as something oppressive when it's not. advancements were made to benefit all of the humankind, not men alone. it's easy to blame everything that is wrong with the world on patriarchy. self-righteous hoe.

  34. Wow! I love love love your videos! You provide a lot of information and really explain what it is that your speaking about by using examples. I am a criminal justice major & although your topic targets sociology , I am taking a “Female Offenders” course which starts off talking about the historical perspective of the disadvantages of women as offenders, victims of crime, and professionals in the legal system. It briefly talks about feminist theories but concisely enough to where you have to already know what feminist theory is . So when I pulled up your video, it helped me understand that concept A LOT. Thank you so much 😊

  35. 0.4-0.6 % of the population has a gender question or issue. Forcing the other 99+% to change their language is the main issue. I do not care that you believe you are the opposite gender, change your gender day to day, or fell any other of the dozens of other options that the world has brought to the surface. Do what you want, but I am not going to call you something outside the standard English language.

    Also the reason why there is such a gap in pay across the board is because of environment. On the average whites have an advantage of more schooling than blacks because of the environment each child is raised in. There are many poor whites and many well off blacks, but on the average there is a difference in environments that will influence who has a better education. The differences between the gender pay is mainly due to the amount of time a woman must be away from her career over her life time if she has children.
    If a white man, a white woman, a black man, and a black woman all have the exact same resume and standings when leaving college; in the beginning they would have the same pay. It is only later that the women fall behind due to child birth. I have hired many people over the years and have never had gender or color make any difference in my choices of hiring. It is always who is the best candidate for the position.

  36. It's alarming how even a dry summery of sociological theories like this leads to such an impressive amount of dislikes. Our society is doomed if mere opinion is considered equally important as scientific research. Mankind spend thousands of years building an impressive apparatus of intellect by connecting those capable of contributing something of value. The knowledge about bias being poisonous for all of us is visible in all of history and yet the internet – supposed to bring the world even closer – mainly became a tool of ignorancy and a breeding ground for all these dark ideas, decent people fought for ages.

    Poor humankind! Mephisto will be right in the end – and I'm not looking forward to that next fall of the cicada… Might well be our last one.

  37. If a person wants to believe they are a different gender, thats is fine – just keep it to yourself, and don't expect other people, to go out of their way, to enable your fantasy.

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