The Social Construction of Gender in the Real World
Gender is all around us, but we are trained not to see it because we believe it is ‘natural’ or ‘normal’. However, sociologists want to analyze the way that gender is constructed because it helps
us understand our society’s beliefs and values. This assignment will give you an opportunity to examine gender in the world you see around you.
1) Find an example of one item that is “gendered” or assigned as masculine or feminine in “real” (non-online) world. Some categories you may want to think about clothing and accessories, personal
hygiene products, toys, magazines, electronics and their accessories, games, workouts, television shows or music, etc. You cannot choose a razor. Every other Intro to Sociology Student has chosen
it, and I want to see different things! You want to pick one item to compare for this assignment .2) Take a picture of it, so you can show your classmates.
3) Analyze it like a sociologist! The questions you want to answer:
What makes one set of things “masculine” and what makes the other set “feminine”? What specific criteria define them? What messages do the items you chose to analyze send about what is “male” and
what is “female”? In other words, if you were an outer-space alien looking at these items as artifacts from the Planet Earth, what would you think was true about men and women after seeing these
things? Why do you think a gendered version of these items was created? Would it make sense to have one “un-gendered” version instead? Why or why not? What does the fact there are gendered items
tell you about how our society views gender? Which one of Lorber’s three classifications of gender (gender as sameness, gender as difference, gender as structure/stratification, and process) do you
think would apply to these set of products? Why? In what ways do these items prove the theory that gender, as distinct from sex, is a “social construct”? You will be graded on the depth of your
analysis, your final discussion should amount to 1500-2000 words single-spaced; you can attach your answer in a word.doc or pdf. You want to think about answering each question as thoroughly as
possible. Think about it: These are objects that we see in our everyday life- what do they mean? And what do they tell us about gender!