Last week, we discussed gender – we learned that both sex and gender are socially constructed. We also covered how gender is performative – that is we do gender each day by constantly recreating gender meanings and/or reproducing gender when we act in gender-typical ways.By this, we mean that we might reinforce taken for granted realities of the gender binary by adhering to gender norms, or we might challenge the status quo by defying these norms. We receive influences from multiple sources – parents, teachers, peers, the media, and other important figures in our lives.I want you to think back to when you were growing up – around the age of 8 or 10. What chores were expected of you? How did this influence your understanding of gender? How did this affect your understanding of a social role in the family? Think of about 2 or 3 of these.Next, I want you to think about activities you enjoyed as a child, these can be examples like the ones in figure 5.6 (where they show “gender-typical” activities), but it would be much more interesting to think of your own. Think about 2 or 3 of these as well.As you draw on these examples, answer the following questions.What were these activities? Looking back, do you see these activities as “gender typical”, challenging gender norms, or gender neutral? How did your involvement in these activities influence your own understanding of gender growing up? How did it influence the understanding of your own social role in society? In your family?What influence did your family have over these activities? Your friends? Other authority figures? The media? Were you discouraged to perform certain activities? What type of interactions do you remember shaping your influence over these activities?Thinking about our taken for granted reality of gender norms, how do social institutions shape our understanding of gender as it applies to social expectations? What are some consequences to receiving social cues from family members and authorities when they discourage challenges to the status quo? What type of work is considered “menial” thinking about these social expectations? Who is typically delegated to these responsibilities?
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