Gender - Routledge Student Readers Series Editor: Chris...

Info iconThis preview shows pages 1–9. Sign up to view the full content.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
Background image of page 1

Info iconThis preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full DocumentRight Arrow Icon
Background image of page 2
Background image of page 3

Info iconThis preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full DocumentRight Arrow Icon
Background image of page 4
Background image of page 5

Info iconThis preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full DocumentRight Arrow Icon
Background image of page 6
Background image of page 7

Info iconThis preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full DocumentRight Arrow Icon
Background image of page 8
Background image of page 9
This is the end of the preview. Sign up to access the rest of the document.

Unformatted text preview: Routledge Student Readers Series Editor: Chris jenks, Professor of Sociology, Goldsmiths College, University of London Already in this series: Theories of Race and Racism: A Reader Edited by Les Back and john Solomos Gender A'sociological reader Edited by Stevi Jackson and Sue Scott 0“: L 50 o o M rm s; r . U 4 Front“ London and New York 2002 Contents First published 2002 by Routledge 11 New Fetter Lane, London EC4-P 4EE Simultaneously published in the USA and Canada by Routiedge 29 West 35th Street, New York, NY 10001 © 2002 editorial matter, Steri lackson and Sue Swtt; individual chapters, the contributors Typeset in Perpetua and Bell Gothic by series editor/5 preface X- Florence Production Ltd, Stootlleigh, Devon ' M i 1 Printed and bound in Great Britain by Asknow'ledgements Xlll T} International Ltd, Padstuvr, Comwail i All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reprinted or Stew JaCkson and sue 850“ ! reproducedorutilisedinanyformorbyanyelectronic, INTRODUCTION: THE GENDERING-OF SOCIOLOGY 1 mechanical, or other means, now known or hereafter invented, including photocopying and recording, or in any information storage or retrieval system, without permission in writing 1 from the publishers. P A R T 0 N E British Libra»)! Camiugumg in Publication Data Gender and RHOWIEdge . 27 1 Liz Stanley SHOULD ‘SEX’ REALLY BE ‘GENDER’ — 0R ‘GENDER’ i A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library i i Library afCunflrexs Camiogi‘ng in Publication Data Gender: a socioiogimi reader 1' edited by Stevi ]aekson and Sue Scotti p, cm. ~ (Routietlge student readers} R E A L L Y B E l S E X '7 31 i Includes bibliographical references and index. I I I. Sex role, 2. Sex 7 Social aspects. 3. Feminism. 1. Jackson, Stevi. 2 candace We“ and Don H - Zlmmerman ll. Scott, Sue. lil, Series. - DOING GENDER 42 HQIO'J'S .G4-26 2001 _ 305341.21 2001032590 3 Judith Butler PERFORMATIVE SUBVERSIONS ISBN 07415720179 9 {11bit} 48 ISBN 04157201804 (pbk) ' 4 Christine Delphy RETHINKING SEX AND GENDER 5 Bob Connell HEGEMONIC MASCULiNITY 6 Dorothy E. Smith 1 ‘ WOMEN'S PERSPECTIVE AS A RADICAL CRITIQUE 0F SOCIOLOGY (=3 290 BRONWYN DAVIES Wex, M. (1979) Let’s take back our «Space: female and male body language as a result of patriarchal structures, Berlin: Frauenliteraturverlag Hermine Fees. Young, I. M. (1980) 'Throwing like a. girl: a phenomenology of body comportment, mortality and spirituality’, Human Studies, 3. Chapter 36 Barrie Thorne D0 GIRLS AND BOYS HAVE DIFFERENT CULTURES? Much of the literature on girls and boys growing up assumes that they inhabit, in school and play, separate, gendered cultures. Similar presuppositions inform much popular advice literature on relations between adult women and men. In this account, based on ethnographic work in North American schools, Barrie Thorne contests the ‘separate cultures’ thesis. The separate cultures thesis assumes that boys roam in large groups whose ethos is based on hierarchy, competitiveness, team games and sports, toughness and aggression. Girls, on the other hand, are assumed to socialise primarily through shifting alliances of ‘best friends’, to engage in co—operative rather than competitive play, to value emotional and physical inti- macy and to prefer ‘nice’ behaviour to ‘meanness’ and ‘toughness’. All this seems very stereotyped, yet much existing research data appears to support the idea of a. sharp gender divide between the social worlds of girls and bays. However, as Barrie Thorne demonstrates, there are considerable biases built into this work and the gendered worlds children inhabit are far more complex, shifting and fluid than the separate cultures thesis would indicate. From Gender Play, Buckingham: Open University Press (1993). A F A M l L I A R S T O R Y LIN E. runs through the literature on gender and the sociai relations of children. The story opens by emphasizing patterns of mutual avoidance between boys and girls and then asserts that this daily separa- tion results in, and is perpetuated by, deep and dichotomous gender differences. Groups of girls and groups of boys have contrasting ways of bonding and expressing antagonism and conflict; they act upon different values and pursue divergent goals; in many ways they live in separate worlds The story often concludes by drawing lessons for adults.1 For example, in one popularized version, Deborah Tannen argues that because they grew up in the gender-separated worlds of childhood, 292 BARRIE THORNE adult men and women are locked into patterns ofmiscommunication, with women repeatedly seeking intimacy, while men are preoccupied with marking status} Reading the social science literature and sorting through my own observations, I have circled around and around this influential portrayal. The separate-and- diilerentiworlds story is seductive. It gives full weight to the fact that girls and boys often do separate in daily interactions, especially when they create more lasting groups and friendships. The marking of boundaries between groups of boys and groups ofgirls . . . further drives the genders apart and creates spaces in which they can build and teach dilferent cultures. And when I, like other observers, haVc compared the dynamics of groups of girls with those of groups of boys, [ have been struck by apparent diflcrcnces. Furthermore, boys and girls 7 the Inative informants’ — sometimes use different rhetorics to describe their same-gender relationships: 'boys talk about ‘buddies' ‘leams’, and ‘being tough', whereas girls more often use a language of 'best friends’ and 'being nice'. And when girls and boys come together. they occasionally comment on experiences of gender difference. When a troupe of Ashton Sixth, grade girls grabbed a football from the oil—going play of a group of boys, the aide tried to reason with the warrng parties by asking the boys, ‘Why can't the girls play football with you?’ The boys hotly replied, 'They don't do it our way. They can't tackle; when we tackle ’em, they cry.I A similar episode emerged on the Oceanside playground when a group ofgirls vied with a group ol‘boys for use ol'a foursquare court. The yard duty tried to resolve the dispute by suggesting that the girls and boys join into one game. This time the girls protested, saying, ‘They don't play our \vay.' One ot'the girls later explained, ‘The boys slam the ball, and we don't,‘ In short, much of what has bccn observed about girls and boys, especially in s the relationships they create apart from the surveillance of adults, can be fitted into the model of ‘differcnt worlds or culturcs’. But as I've tried to line up that model with my own empirical observations and u ith the research literature, 1 have found-so many exceptions and qualifications, so many incidents that spill beyond and fuzzy up the edges, and so many conceptual ambiguities, that l have come to qut tion the model's basic assumptions. . A . Problems with the different—cultures approach The central themes of the different—cultures portrayal -- large versus small, public versus private, hierarchy versus connection operate like well worn grooves on a dirt road; when a new study is geared up, the 'wheels of description and analysis slide into the contrastive themes and move right along. This path may be compelling because it mokes experience-,adults have seen groups of boys insulting and chali lenging one another and girls negotiating who is 'best friends' with whom, These patterns may also resonate with childhood memories. . . . But does the evocative power of these themes come solely from the force of reality, or in part from deep-seated cultural beliefs about ‘the nature' of girls compared with boys? Because the portrayal skirts around stereotypes (cg. boys are tough, girls are nice), and because the contrastive groom‘s by no means cover all the. pathways of experience, we should view the dit‘icrentvcultures approach with a degree of skepticism. GIRLS’ AND BOYS’ DIFFERENT CULTURES 293 i will now give voice to the questions, to the array of ‘but what about . . . P’s that kept popping up as I tried to fit my own observations into the dualistie frame work. When I searched through my Heldnotes to see how they related to patterns put forward in the literature, i found that much ofthe supportive evidence came from my observations of the most popular kids in Miss Bailey's classroom. This tips off one central problem with the scparate~andidillcrent-w orlds literature: not everyone has had an equal hand in painting the picture of what boys and girls are ‘like'. Furthermore, because it is based on dichotomies, the different’culturt‘s approach exaggerates gender difference and neglects \vithinigender variation, including crosscutting sources of division and commonality like social class and ethnicity. These facts seriously undermine the tidy set of contrasts that build up the tlitlerent-cultures view, and they raise the challenge of how to grasp complex patterns of dillerencc, and commonality, without perpetuating stereotypes. Whose experiences are represented? In an early phase of my project, when I largely accepted the (lilferent—cultures framework, 1 went through my l'ieldnotes on Miss Bailey’s fourth to fiftirgrade class and tried to compare the dynamics ofboys' groups with those of girls. During this search I felt like an explorer shining a flashlight on selected parts of a dark cave. Guided by prior expectations (tag. that boys would move in larger, more hierarchical, and girls in smaller, more intimate groups), I could indeed light up those patterns in my Heldnotes. But the light mostly hovered around the 'popular kids’ — the group of six or seven boys (and one girl) who deferred to john as their leader, and, to a lesser degree, the dyads and triads that maneuvered around Kathryn, the most popular girl in the class. i am not alone: a dear [onurd the most visible and dominant — and a silencing and marginalization ofrhc others 7 run bckfound in much ofthc research on gender relations among children and youth john's group was visible in part because it was the largest and most stable clique in the classroom . . . Members ofthe group shared food, maneuvered to sit together, and called one another ‘buddies'; they routinely played team sports (soccer, basc~ ball, and basketball, depending on the season) and talked about their games in the intc seemed to anchor the boys' world included a girl, jessic . . . [SIhc acted out what ces of the school day. (Here lies a striking 'but what about?’ The group that has been called ‘boys' cullure' more dramatically than did many other boys in the classroom, and she was also part ofa shifting alliance among girls, Not irrelevantly, shc was the. only African-American student in the classroom.) john‘s group not only was large but also included the most popular boys in the classroom. Kathryn shared this source of visibility since she was by far the most popular girl, The bus of the popular often become public drama, and Kathryn's break-ups and renewed affiliations with Jessie and judy drew attention and even participation, as gossips and messengers, from the rest of thc class. . , . Kathryn also got more than her share of attention in my iieldnotcs; socially Constructed contours of visibility skew ethnographic reports. The ‘Big Man bios’ in research on boys. What about the other boys? Apart from John‘s group, they did not hang out in large, bonded ‘gangs', ‘llocks', or "teams", as the literature claims boys do. Matt, Roger, Eddie, and Don were sociable and regularly played team sports, so they could be seen in large groups heading to and 294 BARRIE THORNE from the soccer or baseball fields. But they were not part of a stable clique. Others were loners, including joel, who was overweight, afraid of sports, and brought extra food and fancy toys from home to gain momentary attention; Neil, who was shy and physically uncoordinated; and Bert, who was slow on the uptake and at the bottom L a: of the in academic performance. Miguel and Alejandro, the recent immigrants from Mexico, hung otit on the playground with a group of Spanish-speaking boys and girls who played mile dodgcbail day after day. Their mixed—gender experiences are, of course, totally obscured by the different-cultures approach, which assumes virtually total separation between boys and girls. The relationships of four ofthe boys — jcremy, Scott, Bill, and Don lit the ‘(lyatl into triad' description better than relationships among any girls in the class— room, except for Kathryn, jessic, and Judy.! jercmy, who had a creative imagination, spun fantasy \\ orlds with one other boy at a time . . . The identity of Jeremy‘s adventuring partner shifted between Scott and Bill via a ‘brcal'. up' process often claimed to be typical oligirls. The boy on the outs would sometimes sulk and talk about the other two behind the" backs. When Scott was excluded, he would activate a longstanding aililiation with Don; \\ hen Bill was on the outs, he went solo. Over the course of the school year i saw each of the shifting pairs — Jeremy and Bill; Jeremy and Scott; Scott and Don celei hrate themselves as ‘bcst butltiies’. , . . The overall pattern in the shiftng alliances claimed to typify girls‘ social relations, but boys were the protagoni s. in short, when l mold my data intoshapes provided by the literature charac- terizing boys' social relations (in this case, the claim that boys are organized into large, hierarchical groups), I have to ignore or distort the experiences of more than hali‘the boys in Miss Bailt -" s classroom. And I am not alone. The literature on Ithe bovs’ world’ suffers from a ‘Big Man bias' akin to the skew found in anthropolog- ical research that equates male elites with men in general.4 in many observational studies of children in pre-schools and earlv elementar school, large, bonded groups of lmys who are physically assertive, engage in 'tough taik', and actively (lexalue girls' anchor descriptions of ‘the boys' world’ and themes of masculinity. Other kinds oi‘boys may bc mentioned, but not as the core of‘thc gentler story.E Ry fourth grade, as in Miss Bailey‘s classroom, the Big Men are delined not 'ill. In the United States, ethnograle s typically detail the social relations of older boys onlv bv pbvsical self-asisertion and group bonds, but also lay their athletic . from the vantage point of a clique of popular athletes: “Don’s group' in Robert Everbart's study of a junior high; ‘the athletic group' in Philip Cusiek's etbnog raphy of a hiin school,- in a participantobservation study of Little League baseball teams, Gary Alan Fine chose the ‘leatiers' as his chief informants." I detect a kind of yearning in these books; when they went back to scenes from their earlier lives, the. authors couldn't resist hanging out at the top. Cusitk writes about his efforts to shake oil male ‘isolates': ‘[ was there to do a study not to be a friend to those who had no friends.’7 British sociologists and anthropologists have done pioneering ethnographic research in schools and on ‘youth culture' more generally. This literature also has a systematic bias, but because Marxist assumptions guide the British researchers, the ‘Big MenY who get attention are the ones again bonded in larger groups 77 who are \torkingiclass, flamboyantly masculine, and resisting dominant class structures. learning to labor, an ethnography (lone in a vocational high school in England, is GIRLS' AND BOYS’ DIFFERENT CULTURES 295 the classic of this genre. The author, Paul Willis, focuses on ‘thc lads', a group who created an oppositional culture of aggression and joking tied to the working- class masculine subculture of factory workers. The latls’ subculture, dill'erent from that of more conforming boys (whom the lads called the ‘ear ’olcs‘), ironically helped reproduce their eventual position in the working cla s, We have yet to see an ethnography written from the experiences of more lconlormist' Working-class boys like the ‘ear 'olcs'.“ . . . ln .-lIa.l:ing the Diffcrcnre, a pathbrcaking ethnography ofclass and gender relations among secondary school students in Australia, R. W. Council and his colleagues argue that there are multiple masculiiiitl some hegemonic and others submerged or marginalized; the patterns are. contradictory and continually negotiated. The authors also point to varied forms of femininitv, ranging from the ‘emphasized' '(a term they have chosen because masculinity claims ultimate hegemony mei- femininity) to less visible forms.” Connell and his colleagues observe that although powerfully symbolic, ‘hcgemonic masculinity" and ‘emphasized femininity" are not necessarily the most common patterns. This useful approach prics open unitary notions of masculinity and femininity anti rai' the question of why and how some forms come- to be seen as masculinity and femininity in general. . . . By junior high and high school, named cliques, or ‘groups', as kids call them, consolidate; some are samcigentler and others include both girls and boys. Joyce Canaan, an anthropologist who did extensive participant observation in the middle school and high school of a suburban US community, found that from sixth to eighth grade, kids’ social relations became increasingly hierarchical. Middle-school girls and boys enacted-a three-tiered ranking system: ‘popular‘ (with two ‘eool’ subgroups, ‘joeks' and ‘freaks'), ‘middle’, and ‘low’ (‘scums', ‘wimps', and 'fags’ the latter two terms used for boys; lbrains’, including both boys and girls, had an ambiguous status). Students more often labeled and tallied about the ‘popular' than other groups. Canaan found that over the course of high school the group system became more open and ambiguous; it was both present and not present as kids manipulated contradictory values. l” Research of this kind helps challenge overly coherent and monolithic portayals of ‘bo‘ s‘ culture” versus ‘giris’ culturc'. li‘har about ‘girls?” The (liilcrcnt-culturcs portrayal is as problematic for girls as it is for boys, although in both cases the conventional picture does illuminate some recurring patterns. Among the girls in Miss Bailey's classroom there were no large, bonded groups of the sort that john led.ll And there indeed were ‘tense triani gles' and shifting alliances, notably the axis of Kathryn, Jl .'sic, and iudy. jud} also had strong ties to Connie, and Jessie bridged to Johnls group. Another shifting threesome, rife with conflict, encompassed Nancy, jcssica, and Shelly. Shelly was also friends with Lenore from the other linurtlrgrade classroom; together they formed the core ofa wandering playground troupe, Sheila and Tracy, another pair, often hung out together, especially (lurng baseball season \vhcn they journeyed across the playground to seek entry into the boys! games. \lccra, Beth, Rosie, and Rita didn't seem to have close friends, at least not at school, As with the more isolated boys, their experience- spill beyond the generalizations. The conventional emphasis on iriendship pairs and shiftng alliances masks not only the experience of those without intcnst‘ alhliatinns, but also the complex range of girls’ interactions. in some acti\itics girls interact in large groups. l‘or example, the play-ground troupes . , . sometimes included as many as live or six 296 BARRIE THORNE girls, and shifting groups of six to eight girls often played on the bars, talking, doing tricks, and sometimes lining up in a row to twirl their bodies in unison Although games of lump rope and f‘ourszluare involved only three or four active players at any one time, other girls lined up waiting for a turn'and joined in the general and often contentious disputes about whether a given player was out. Drauiiig on a detailed study oi' fourth- and lifthigrade girls on a school play- ground, Linda Hughes has challenged the depiction offoursquare as a simple, turn- laking type of play. She notes that within the formal rules ol'the game, the focus of Lever's generalizations about turnslaking, there may be varied ways of playing.- (When the Oceanside girls said that boys 'slammcd the ball' and didn’t play Ioursquare ‘our way', they recognized this point) Hughes found and, alerted by her insights, l could also see this in my observations that in their playing- of fiiui'square, girls created 'complex, largeigroup activity", elaborating a complicated structure of rules.” These patterns cannot be grasped if one adheres to Lever‘s con- trast between the play of boys (large-scale, competitive, with complex rules) and that ofgirls (small-scale> cvoperativc, \\ ith a simple structure). H Girls, and not just boys, sometimes play in larger groups and negotiate and argue about rules. if in short, \‘Cllltli‘tllcril'ui'lth Jithuiomiev gloss the/liar! that interaction varies by uerii'ig- and context,” This point is also central to Goodwin’s research in an urban neighborhood. The girls who used collaborative language like ‘let's’ and ‘we gotta’ when they were engaged in the shared task of making rings out of bottles, shifted to hieraiu chical interaction, repeatedly giving and obeying direct commands, when they played house.” And while these girls used more mitigated and indirect (Lug. gossip) forms of conflict among themselves, they used aggravatdl verbal forms, including insults, when they argued with boys.I7 Other researchers have also found that Ali‘ican-r‘tinerican girls, as well as boys, tend to be skilled in direct verbal conflict, and several studies also report insult exchanges among white \\-‘orkirig-class girls who value ‘being tough‘tl‘l (.cncrulizuiions alwut Ltjil'llv‘ culture fume pi'irnurih'ji'aiii research done iiiii'i girls Ith are (‘losvipriiile‘ch and ii hit; the experiences qf‘lti'll'i'S iifothcr clan, rare. and ethnic dekHTGllntlb' tend to he :iitirqiiitilizcd. My own l'icidnotes' contain enough instances of girls using insults, threats, and physical lighting to make me uncomfortable with the assertion that these behav- iors are somehow distinctively ‘male't Girls directly insulted hiin . . . and occasionally they insulted one another. -. . . . . . {Ms Miss Bailey class was gathering by the classroom door at the end of recess, Matt Yelled, “You lagot!‘ at Nancy. Nancy, who \\ as taller and bigger, ran after and knocked Matt down, pulled at his hair \\ bile she kicked him hard, and then walked away with a triumphant look on her face. Matt crumpled oycr and sobbed, ‘Sbe pulled my hair.' A group gathered round, discussing how ‘a girl beat him up’. Nancy was white, Jessie, who was Black, also didn't shrink froin physical lights with boy 5; in fact, it was widely acknowledged that she could beat up any boy in the school Both Nancy and jessie were skilled at insulting and threatening (‘hhut Lip or l'll punch you out'). It's true that these two girls were relatively execp tional compared with others in Miss Bailey’s cla .' But either by ignoring the occasions when girls hurled insults, made threats, and got into serious physical lights, or by rendering them as forms of gender deviance, the dillerenticultures framework diverts us from examining important sources of complexity, I As the. difficulties multiply, I find myself wanting to return to fundamentals: GIRLS' AND BUYS’ DIFFERENT CULTURES 297 What does it mean to have different cultures? what does it mean to claim, as Deborah 'l‘annen does, that 'hoys and girls grow up in |s . . . I., what are essential y (lillerent cultures! Assertions about gender dii ences in actual behavior refer, at best, to (llCi‘d‘t'lL' differences between girls and boys, or between groups of girls and groups of boys. . . . . ._ _ , l H t The issue of relative Inequcncy appears in words like ‘on aieiage , more than , Ill \\'()i‘l(l‘l and ‘trend to’ that sprinkle through the contrastive rhetoric of dilh c stories. Since qualitative researchers generally a\oid careful counting, our tend to's and ‘more oltt‘i‘i's are, at best, general impre ms or perhaps ‘qua. statisi tics' gleaned from counting Lip descriptions in heldnotcs. But some of the evidence cited—in the tlifferent—cultures literature comes from quantitative studies. The patterns are instructive. I n _ For example, in a widely cited study of sex differences in rough-andstumble play, Janet Dil’ietro coded observations of prc-schuol girls and boys at play. Ciniiparirig boys and girls as groups, she found an unusually large (lil‘lerence: 15 to 20 per cent of' boys scored higher than any of the girls on the measure of rough-and- tumble playful Nonetheless, as Carol lacklin has observed, in this study ‘50 to as .1, per cent of the boys remain imiistinguisl‘iablc from 80 to 85 per cent ol the girls . Roughiaiiditumble play may he a ‘scx-rclated difference , but it is not a dichotw moo;- rlil'l'erence, since the behavior of most of the boys and girls overlapped. Other studies show not only commonalities between girls and boys, taken as a whole, but also complex variation within and across those groups. For example, Elliott Mcdrich and his colleagues inleryiewed 764 children from different racial/ethnic backgrounds about how they spent their time outside school.” Forty, five per cent of the boys and 26 per Lt‘lii of the girls reported playing team sports (note the sizable overlaps between boys and girls who did, and boys and girls who did not, play team sports). There was no gender difference in the median number of reported close friends (three), but African-American girls and boys reported more friends than either whites or those ofothcr ethnic backgrounds. for all racial- ethuie groups and for both genders, lacing imolvcd in team sports correlated with reporting more friends. Ali'ican-American boys had the highest I'fll‘cs- ol sports participation, and number of friends, and AfricaivAmerican girls had higher rates than white girls. it is a scrious distortion to reduce this complex variation into nu dichotomous claims, like ‘boys play team sports and girls engage in turn-t ,‘ 37‘ plav’ or ‘boys organize into large groups and girls into dyads and triads 1 In these studies, as in other statistically based rcsearch on scx/gendt‘l‘ dilleit ences, iriihinngrmler rurmtiun is ‘tft‘c’di'cr ihun alga-mm betiiecn boy: and girls token dx‘ groups. Although the variation may be dutilully reported, the point gets lost when the conclusions and secondary reports fall into the binary language of ‘boys \crsus girls‘. . . . These problems seriously qualify general assertions that boys ha\e a ilillercnt ‘culturc' than girls, if ‘eulture‘ is taken to mean clearly differentiated patterns of behavior, . I Claims that hnvs and girls haie (hill-rem cultures sometimes seem to rcler not to externallv obseryablc bcha\ior, like the amount of roughand~tu1nhle play, but to the brriilwulit u'iiiicmion olevpericncc patterns of meaning, stereotypes, beliefs, ideologies, metaphor, tlist'tiui'sesi (Each of these concepts has a different tuisl, lint 293 BARRIE THURNE they cluster at the symbolic lcvei. Note aiso that in daily experience 'hchavior’ and ‘meanings' are not easily separable; human conduct is always infuspd with meanings.) As feminist scholars have thoroughly demonstrated, gendered mean- ings are deeply embedded in many of the discourses we draw on to make sense of the world. As Valerie 'Walkerdinc has written, femininity and masculinity are powerful fictions or ideas, 'imbued with lantasy and lived as faet'.“ The discours s of ‘girls are nice' and ‘boys are tough’ cuter kids” experiences, but so do other, sometimes contradictory discourses, iike the argument of a boy who insisted that boys couid be ‘nice', or the talk of girls who value-being ‘tough’, An ambiguous mixing of the. symbolic with claims about differences in behavior can be found in Carol Gilligan‘s research on gentler and moral reasoning. After close and respectfui listening to girls and, to a lesser degree, boys as they .diSCussed moral problems, Gilligan concluded that girls have a ‘diffcrcnt voice’, emphasizing relationships and care, in contrast with boys’ preoccupation with individual rights and abstract principles of justice}; There is some ambiguity about what Giliigan intends to claim. in some statements she seems to be arguing that there are actual empirical gender differences in modes of morai reasoning, but the evidence for this has been much contested.“ In her more recent work, however, Gilligan acknowledges that the same individual (male or fem-ale) may use both voices, mixing them as ‘contrapuntal‘ themes.” The voices may be gendered nonetheless because themes of ‘connection and care’ are historically and symbolically associ‘ ated with girls and women, and 'rights and justice' with boys and men. Once they are identified, systems of meaning -- for example, the belief that caring and connection are ‘feminine' —- can be studied in the context of social action, In her research on girls playing Foursquare, Hughes pressed beyond the ' talk about ‘being nice' within their ongoing interaction. She found that the girls icompeted in a t-(Hipcrative mode', using a language of ‘bcing friends" and ‘being nice’ while imagerv of" girls as cooperative and seeking intimaev by situating gir 7,-.--'-.- .' .n . \‘v‘r‘. v. \ -, . v" . '--' J‘s-\LILSsHLl) gttnng othtis otit so their li itiitls tould Lnttr tht gaint. ll'tt gll ls did not seem to experience ‘nice and ‘mean as sharva dichotomous; thev maneu- vered their rhetoric (associated with symbolic notions of femininity) and expressed , . . i ’.' nuances through mixed phrases like ‘nice-mean’ and not really mean'." Cl1()()lr In a related vein, Amy Sheldon, who analvxed conversations among pre ei's, describes the girls as using: a ‘double-voice style‘ that enmeshed or masked sell: assertion within an orientation to relationships and maintaining group harinonv. in- intcracting with one another, girls tried to avoid the appearance ofhierai by and overt conllict, but much .else conllict, self-assertion, sometimes aggression went on beneath the surface. Sheldon found that boys sometimes used this doubleivoicc style, althouin she argues that it is more often a leature ofgil'ls' talk because they are con, strained by gender prescriptions to display themselves as egalitarian and harnmnioustN Sensitii'ity'to gender meanings within varied social contexts and practices may enrich our understanding of boys as well as girls. in an interpretive study of the sex talk of a group of boys in a London secondarv schooi, julian wood Observes that ‘maseulinitv has at its heart not unproblemati streiigth but often weakness seifaloubt and confusion'. The outward face inav be brash and full of ‘ )rescnce' . . j , lil or the promise of power, but the inward face is often the reverse. In short, a given piece of social interaction mar be simultaneouslv cooperative and competitive, selliasscrtivc and oriented to others, and brash and \ulnci‘able. GIRLS’ AND BOYS’ DIFFERENT CULTURES 299 And these qualities do not sharply divide by gender. This subtlety and complexity become lost when analysis proceeds through a series of gender-linked contr (fig. competitive versus‘co-opcrative, agency versus communion), and when varied dimensions of gender are compressed into static dualisms. . . . |T]he eontrastivc frarriework has outlived its usefulness, as has the gender ideology that it builds on and perpetuates. The view of gender as difference and binary opposition has been used to buttress male domination and to perpetuate related ideologies like thedivision between public and private." A sense of the whole, and of the texture and dynamism ofintcraction, become lost when collapsed into dualisnis like large versus small, hierarchical versus intimate, agency versus communion, and competitive versus. co-operativc. (The portrayals often sound like a Victorian world of ‘scparate spheres', writ small and contemporary-p) Furthermore, by relying on a series of contrasts to depict the whole, the approach of girls’ cuiturc versus boys’ culture exaggel‘ates the coherence of same- gender interaction. Terms like ‘culture' and "subculture’ are too often used to reify contrastivc images; as R. W. Connell argues, these terms suggest a place which peopie inhabit rather than an ‘aspect of what they do'i” We need, instead, to develop concepts that will help us grasp the diversity, overlap, contradictions, and ambiguities in the larger cultural Fields in which gender relations, and the dynamics of power, are constructed.H If the sepai'atocultures story has iost its narrative force, how can we grasp the gendered nature ofkid'ssocial relations? To move our research wagons out oftlic dual- isticrut, weean, first ol‘all, try to start With U sense ref-the iiholhruihcr than iriihcin downp- [ion oflgcnder as Icpfifdllfln and difference. if we begin by assumng different cultures, separate spheres, or contrasiive dillercnces, we will also end with a sharp sense of dichotomy rather than attending to multiple differences and sources of commonality. One way to grasp this complexity is by L’Viilliinlng ‘qi’ntfci' in context rather than fixing binary abstractions like ‘boys elnphasiye status, and girl‘ emphasiye inti- macy". instead we should ask 'Which boys or girls, where’ when, under what circumstances? As 1 hm e shown throughout this book, the organization and mean- ings ofgcuder vary from schools to neighborhoods to families, and iron] classroom to playground to lunchroom settings. Some situations, like t'l'USsrgt‘Htlt‘l‘ chasing and invasions, evoke a sense of gender as dualism, but other situations undermine and spread out that view. Furthermore, gender takes shape in complex intcrae tion with other social di\isions and grounds of inequality, such as age, class, rate, ethnicity, and religion. As joan Scott suggests, we should ‘ti'eat the (apposition between male and female as problematic rather than known, as something conth- tuaih delined, repeatedly constructed”.H An emphasis on social context shifts analvsis from fixing abstract and binarv differences to examining the social rela- tions in which multiple diifct'enccs are constructed and given meaning. Notes I There have been se\ cral \vldeli Lii'eulatetl \ersions ofthis argument. (a) Janet l.c\ er emphas" “v differences in the play of hfth-gradeirs and argues that because il‘lt‘\ more often engage in team sports, males have a latcratlvantagc in the world ofoccu- pations and organizations. Sec Lever, ‘Scx ilillc es in the complcvitv ofchiii dren's play and games), .lllit‘l'lttui Socinln‘qirui Rt‘th‘l|'., 4-3 (1978): 471 4-8 3 and ‘S'cx 300 BARRIE THORNE differences in the games children play”, Social Problems, 23 (1976): 478—487. Carol Gilligan uses Lever’s work to support her claim that in the process of moral rea‘ soning, girls use a voice of connection and care that is different from boys’ empha- sis on abstract rules. Sec Gilligan, C. In a Difliarent Voice: Psychological Theory and libinen’: Development. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, 1982. (2) Daniel N. Maltz anti Ruth A. Barker (‘A cultural approach to male female miscommunii cation, in A. Gumperz. (C(l.) Language and Social ltlcntig'. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1983) claim that there are different patterns of talk in all-girl and in allelioy groups, leadng to miscornmunication between adult women and men, Deborah Tannen's popular book, You just Don't Understand: Women and Men in ('om‘crsariun (New York: Morrow, 1990) elaborates this basic thesis (for criticisms. sec Henley and Kramarae, lGender, power, and miscommunication' in N. Coupland, H. Giles $1 M. Wiesman (Otis) Miscommunication and Problematic Tallz. Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publications, 199] (3) Eleanor E,_ Maccohy argues that gentler-separated groups tcach dili‘crcnt forms of prosocial and antisocial behavior ('Social groupings in childhood: their relationship to prosocial and antisocial behav- ior in boys and girls' in D. Olweus, J. Black and M. Radke-Yarrow (eds) Develop- ment gfrlnziwcml and Prosocial Behaviour. San Diego: Academic Press, I985). Collaborating with Zella Luria, ] have also followed this story line, arguing that groups of girls and groups of boys teach different sexual scripts, leading to tangles in the more overtly heterosexual Experiences of adolescents, with girls emphasizing intimacy and romance, while boys are oriented more to active sexu- ality. Some of our analysis is included in this chapter, although with serious caveats. See Barrie Theme and Zella Luria, ‘Sexuality and gender in children's daily worlds" Social Problems, 33 (1986): 1767190. Tannen, You just Don't Understand. In a study of primary school children in Australia, Bronuyn Davies {Life in the Classroom and Playground. Boston: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1982) also describes group of boys as well as several groups of girls who maneuvered between 'bcst friends’ and ‘cuntingcncy i‘riclids‘. She notes that the availability of a contin- gency friend heightens nne’s bargaining power over a best friend. Davies does not locate the analysis within the rubric of gender difference. The term and the observation about anthrolmlogy come from Sherry B. Ortncr, 'The founding of the first Sherpa nunnery and the problem of “women” as an analytic category" in V. Patraka 8: L._Tilly (eds) Feminist Rcrl’ia'imh'. Ann Arbor, Mlz‘Llniversity of Michigan Women’s Studies Programme, 1984. For example, see Carole joffc (‘As the twig is bent! in Stacey, S. Bereaud S:. Daniels (eds) xlml fill Came Tumbling After. New York: Dell, 1984) on the ‘niasculine subculture! of four boys in a preschool; Vivian Gussin Paley (Boys and Girls: Superheroes in the Doll Corner. Chicago: Uni\crsity of Chicago Press, 1984) on ‘tbc superhero clique‘ in a kindergarten; and Raphaela Best (We've All Go! Scars Bloomington, [N1 lndiana University Press, 1983) on ithe Tent Club', 'a dominant male group that continued from first through second grade. Everhal‘t, R, Reading, l'l/riting, and Resistance. Boston: Routleclge and Kegan Paul, 1983, and Cusick, P. lm'iclc High School. New York: Holt, Rinehart 3c W'inston, 1973-, Fine, CA. With the Boys. Chicago: University ofChicago Press, 1987. Cusick, P. lnsiilc High School, p. 163. AnnMarie W'olpe similarly observes that British ethnographics ofschooling include little about ‘the ordinary boy who goes through school doing minimal work, but 10 ii '15 I4 15 16 17 GIRLS’ AND BOYS" DIFFERENT CULTURES 301 not necessarily domineering or sexually harassing' (Within School Walls: The Rolf til-Discipline, Sexuality and [lie Curriculum. London: Routledge, 1938, p. 92). Council, R.W. et ul., Making the Difl'ercncc. Boston: Alien 8: Unwin, I982. On the conceptual pluralizing of masculinities and i‘emininities, also see Connell, Ccmlcr and Power. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1987. Canaan, ‘A comparative analysis of American suburban middle class, middle school, and high school teenage cliques' in G. Spindlcr 8: L. Spindler (eds) lntcr— prriative Ethnograph} of Education. Hillsdale, N}: Lawrence Erlbaum, 1987. Michael Messner (‘Masculinities and athletic careers’, Gender aml Society, 3 (1989}: 71—88, 9. 82) quotes an AfricanvAmerican man from a lower-class background who recalled that in junior high lyou either got identified as an athlete, a thug, or a bookworm'. in an insightful ethnography of a largely white high school in the Detroit area, Penelope Eekcrt traces the dynamic opposition between two catcgnrics that dominated the social life of the school. The jocks, with a middle-class orien- tatiun, controlled school athletics and other adult-sponsored JCti\ ities. The more working-class Burnouts were estranged from the school anti rebelled against its authority. Girls and boys were in both categories, and, significantly, the majority of students fell in betueen. See Eckert, P. locks and Burnoius: Social Categories and ltlcnnrli' in the High School. New York: Teachers College Press, I989. On the other hand, in an observational study in a British classroom of twelve and thirteen-jeariolds, Robert Meyenn (‘Sclioul girls' peer groups' in P. Wood (ed) Pupil Strategies. London: Croom Helm, 1980) found that groups and not pairs were the dominant form of social organization. He identified four distinct groups of varying sizes and with different patterns of behavior: the ‘PE' girls (nine. members, physically mature and noisy, who 'roughsamlituniblctl' more than Lhi.‘ boys); the ‘science lab girls' (four members; popular and liked by teachers): the ‘nice girls’ (five members; unobtrusive and less physically mature); and the ‘cjulet girls' (four girls \\h() u erc socially uncertain). Groups maneuvered to be together throughout the school day, and members gave one another help and support. Meyenn writes the girls found it ‘incontmivablc to just have one best friend', although there were patterns of 'brcaking fl‘iends’ internal to each group (p. l l 5). Linda Hughes, “‘But that’s not “kill/i mean”: competing in a cooperative motlc', Sea Rules, 19 (1988): 6697687, [3. 684-. Lever, ‘Sex differences in the complexity of children's play and games‘. For a detailed analy sis ofargun-irnts about rules during the play ing oi‘antithcr turn- taking ‘girls" game, sec Marjorie Harness Goodwin, ‘The serious side of jump rope: conversational practices and social organization in the frame of “|)l.iy’", jaiimul ofdmcrimn Folklore, 98 U985}: iii-330. I Luria, Z. and Hei‘zog, E.W'. (‘Sorting gender out in a children's muscum', (lender and Serial}, 5 (199l): 22477232} also found that context makes a difference in the organization of samcigcnd-er groups. On a class Field trip to a children's museum, elementary school boys clustered in much smaller groups than one typically sees on school playgrounds. Goodwin, He Said, She Said: Talk as Social Organisation uniting Blucl: (hiltlrcn, Bloomington IN: Indiana University Press (1991). [bi<|,, and Marjorie Harness Goodwin and Cbarlvs Goodwin, ‘Chilrll'en’s arguing' in S. Phillips, Si Steele 8.: C. Tam. (eds) language, (lender and Sex in Compumrhc Perspective. New York: Cambridge University Press. V387. i l i 302 i8 1‘) 20 lsJ iv ix} iv w 33 34- BARRIE THORNE For a review of literature anti a description of insult exchanges among white \\'()l‘i{iltgit‘lfli~'5 git-is in a tunior high cafeteria, see Donna Etler, ‘Serious and playful disputes: variation in conflict talk among Female adolescents! in A. D. (irirnshaw (ed) ('nnfiirt Tait, New York: Camhridge University Press, 1990. Tannen, You just Don't Unti'c'rsitmti, p. is. J. A. [)il’ietn, 'Rotigh and tumhie play: .1 l‘unetion of gender] Derai'opiiienitii Pvi‘riinhrfin, l7 “98”: 50 58. jaeklin, 'Methodological issues in the sltld‘v Dei't'i'npmcntui Reiimi', i (l93l): 226 273. Medrich er tii., The Serious Btitincss ii," timii'i‘ny Up. Bel'keie}: Unhersity oi‘ California Press, [982. in a careful review of empirical rewarch. Nancy Karweit and Stephen Hanseli (‘Sex (lilierenees in adolescent relationships: ti'itntlship and status. in Levv Epstein t3; N. Kai'weit (eds) Fricmh in Sriimii. New York: Academit‘ l‘i'ess, l98l) conclude that the conventional view that hots have larger lrtemiship groups than Ul sex-related (litiei’eiit'es' girls is ovei‘tli‘awn. Some studies find that, tip to age seven, hots are either sitti- ated in smaller groups than girls, or that there are no gentler (lil'lerent'es. The research literature does suggest that the inertiqu sive ol' Friendship groups tits the conventional depiction from age seven to acioleseenee, hut patterns vary by setting, such as type (it eiassi‘ooni, anti h} type of. activit}, for example, partie- ipation in team sports. Findings are mixed for junior high and high school. Walkerdine, V. Si-himigiri Flt‘i‘iima'. New York: Verso, 1990; also see Davies, B. hogs and Smiii’v and Feminist Tater. Boston: Allen ti Unwin, 1989. Giiligan, in (l High-cm lines. For example, see Linda K. Kerher ct cii'., 'On in ii_ Diflhrcnr lane: An intei'dist‘ipiiiiai‘v Fortim‘ Sight, ii (i986): 9739. For a t‘ritit‘ai discussion oi. (iiiligali‘s recent research on girls entering adolescence and its negiet‘t or race, ethnicity, and social class as the) interact with gender, see Judith Stacey, ‘Un resistance, ami‘iivaient‘e, and l'eminist theor’v' .ll‘lt‘hl‘t’kln Qiitiiierh' Renew, .79 (1990): 537 546. (‘aroi (iiiiigan ei iii, (eds) .h'iit'i‘ny Camit’ctitlin: The Reidriondi Iliiriih cgf'.liiaii'.it'i'ni (.r'il'h' u! Fmiiiti ll'iihirti' Sehoui. Troy, NY: linima W'illat'd School, i989. Hughes, “But that‘s not i‘etiih‘ n'iean’”. Am} Sheldon, ‘Conliiet talL: soeioiinguistii‘ challenges to selllassertion and how young girls meet theni’ licrrili'ii’ui'nier Qutirlerh‘, ‘35 H992): 95 H7. Itilian Wood, ‘(iroping towards St‘Vth'n: hots "sex talk“' in A. Mcltohhie (N M. Nara (eds) (icntiei‘ Linn, Generation. londiin: Macmillan, i984, pp, (10 l. Judith Shapiro, 'Gender totemisni', in R. R. Rantitiiph, l). M. Schneider and MJ)‘ N. Dial (L‘CISIIZNUIULTJ'U' and Gender: Anthropological iP‘IWUdt'hCS. Boulder CO: W'estvieh Press, I988, pp. l 19. R. W. Connell, li‘hieh Ilia/v n Up: Emir» on {'i'tiav. Sex and ('iiitiirc. RUSH)“ MA: Allen 8; Unwin, 1983, p. 226. M. H. Goodwin, He Said. She Said. Goodwin resists the temptation to chalk up her Findings as “children's eulture', 'gender ctilture' and/or ‘At'i'it'an-American t‘LtlILII'L“. Instead she asks him participants assenihle and interpret at‘ti\ities through telling stories and gossip. Starting with activities rather than an assun‘ip- tiun of binary gender (lii'ierence led her to discover hotli tliiit'renees and commonalities hetween hii_vs and giris. . J. W. Scott, Gender and (he Poiiiiri (Eff—Hall”). Nett York: Colunihia Universiti‘ l‘re-is, i988, p. 49. Chapter 37 Heidi Mirza REDEFINING BLACK WOMANHOOD Based on research on young Biack British women on the point of leaving school, Heidi Mirza chalienges some of the myths surrounding Black womanhood, These young women came from w0ri<ing class backgrounds, but their sense of themseives as Black women fitted neither the ‘culture oi femininity” thesis, which has been I used to explain White female underachieyement (McRobbie, Feminisms and Youth Culture, 1991), nor with a View of Black femininity as constructed through a femaleicentred family structure. Rather, she suggests, ‘there is a specific farm of black femininity among young black women, characterised by relative autonomy between the sexes' (1992: 147) This, she argues, expiains the differences between the young Black and White women in her sampie, especiain the more ambitious career aspirations and grater desire for independence expressed hy the former. From Young Female and Black, London: Routledge (1992). Work and womanhood: the West Indian British experience LT H 0 U (i H A (i F. N [i R A L D ES I R E tor economic dependency A prevailed among the voting white \\'Ul‘l~'\iitg-CiJ§‘-l women in the sampie, there \\ as no evidence that this ctiittirai t'irientation existed among the lilac-k working- t‘lass women who were intenit‘wed Whereas :1” oil the black girls responded positively to the prospect of having a itill-tin‘ie career upon leaving st hooi1 imle 80 per LL‘Ilt of their white l't‘inale peers said they would. Young lilaek women ol‘ all abilities and sot'iai backgrounds, with a wide \arietv oi career aspirations, reit- erated time and time again their commitment to full-time work and their tiesii'e itn’ economic" il'idependencc. E\itlt‘li(‘t‘ oi. this positive ideological orientation was clear in the data: ...
View Full Document

This note was uploaded on 10/02/2011 for the course ARTS AND S 90:101:59 taught by Professor Markschuster during the Fall '10 term at Rutgers.

Page1 / 9

Gender - Routledge Student Readers Series Editor: Chris...

This preview shows document pages 1 - 9. Sign up to view the full document.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
Ask a homework question - tutors are online