Social Construction of Gender

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Unformatted text preview: r 2007/12/03 GWLA Reg u Ia Univ. of Kansas Libraries Interlibram Loan (KKU) InProcess Date: 2007/12/03 Ca” #; HQ1426 _F472 2004 - Date Wed 12’°3’2°°7 “25 PM Location: WATSON LIBRARY STACKS rspeCia' InstrUCtions: ' Journal Title: Feminist frontiersl Volume: Issue: ILL Number: 37701370 Month/Year: 2003 Pages: 33-50 ILL IIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIHIIIIIIIIIIII Anus/tumor; patron: Chou, Rosalind Article Title: Judith Lorber; 'Night to His Day' The Social Construction of Gender LAriel: Patron: Chou, Rosalind P: Gigi! £33? _ Call # ¢ Title Odyssey TN‘ 557677 __ BookNolume/Issue/Series NOS (circle) _ Year 96 Volume (checked both) Shipping Address for TXA TEXAS A & M UNIVERSITY INTERLIBRARY SERVICES TEXAS A&M UNIV LIBS 5000 TAMUS COLLEGE STATION TX 77843—5000 _ Article not found as cited (check index) 1W ., M .., Manam- t mWMW Electronic transmission from: University of Kansas _ Watson Library, Main ILL Office Phone: 785-864-3964 Email: illlend@ku.edu NOTICE: This material may be protected by Copyright Law (Title 17, US. Code). No further transmissions or electronic distribution of this material is permitted. For resend requests: I _ 1) Call (785-864-3964) or email (illlend@ku.edu) Within 24 hours 2) To expedite requests, please include the document ID#. This transmission is being sent in response to this request. all social groups 'e a meaningful this ignores the :ps that share a :egregation. The red group loca- simultaneously. i be done? Can is of some prac- social environ- lass, and gender ody or student about the com- experiences you 1ink people with tity have a com- rays of thinking :icles, with which :tions in the rest ons raised here .0 which women 1 or experience, iorms of inequal- :y, and how gen— . of meaning and s. READING 6 “Night to His Day”: The Social Construction of Gender 55> judith Lorber Talking about gender for most people is the equiva- lent of fish talking about water. Gender is so much the routine ground of everyday activities that questioning its taken—for-granted assumptions and presupposi- tions is like thinking about whether the sun will come up.1 Gender is so pervasive that in our society we assume it is bred into our genes. Most people find it hard to believe that gender is constantly created and recreated out of human interaction, out of social life, and is the texture and order of that social life. Yet gen- der, like culture, is a human production that depends on everyone constantly “doing gender” (West and Zimmerman 1987). And everyone “does gender” without thinking about it. Today, on the subway, I saw a well—dressed man with a year-old child in a stroller. Yesterday, on a bus, I saw a man with a tiny baby in a carrier on his chest. Seeing men taking care of small children in public is increasingly common—at least in New York City. But both men were quite obviously stared at— and smiled at, approvingly. Everyone was doing gen— der—the men who were changing the role of fathers and the other passengers, who were applauding them silently. But there was more gendering going on that probably fewer people noticed. The baby was wear— ing a white crocheted cap and white clothes. You couldn’t tell if it was a boy or a girl. The child in the stroller was wearing a dark blue T—shirt and dark print pants. As they started to leave the train, the father put a Yankee baseball cap on the child's head. Ah, a boy, I thought. Then I noticed the gleam of tiny earrings in the child's ears, and as they got off, I saw the little flowered sneakers and lace-trimmed socks. Not a boy after all. Gender done. Gender is such a familiar part of daily life that it usually takes a deliberate disruption of our expecta- tions of how women and men are supposed to act to pay attention to how it is produced. Gender signs and signals are so ubiquitous that we usually fail to note them—unless they are missing or ambiguous. Then we are uncomfortable until we have successfully placed the other person in a gender status; otherwise, we feel socially dislocated. In our society, in addition to man and woman, the status can be transvestite (a person who dresses in opposite-gender clothes) and transsexual (a person who has had sex-change surgery). Transvestites and transsexuals carefully construct their gender status by dressing, speaking, walking, gesturing in the ways prescribed for women or men—whichever they want to be taken for—and so does any "normal" person. For the individual, gender construction starts with assignment to a sex category on the basis of what the genitalia look like at birth.2 Then babies are dressed or adorned in a way that displays the category because parents don’t want to be constantly asked whether their baby is a girl or a boy. A sex category becomes a gender status through naming, dress, and the use of other gender markers. Once a child’s gender is evident, others treat those in one gender differently from those in the other, and the children respond to the different treatment by feeling different and behaving differently. As soon as they can talk, they start to refer to them- selves as members of their gender. Sex doesn’t come into play again until puberty, but by that time, sexual feelings and desires and practices have been shaped by gendered norms and expectations. Adolescent boys and girls approach and avoid each other in an elabo- rately scripted and gendered mating dance. Parenting is gendered, with different expectations for mothers and for fathers, and people of different genders work at different kinds of jobs. The work adults do, as moth— ers and fathers and as low-level workers and high—level bosses, shapes women’s and men’s life experiences, and these experiences produce different feelings, con— sciousness, relationships, skills—ways of being that we call feminine or masculine.3 All of these processes con- stitute the social construction of gender. 34 SECTION II THEORETICAL PERSPECTIVES Gendered roles change—today fathers are taking care of little children, girls and boys are wearing uni- sex clothing and getting the same education, women and men are working at the same jobs. Although many traditional social groups are quite strict about maintaining gender differences, in other social groups they seem to be blurring. Then why the one—year-old’s earrings? Why is it still so important to mark a child as a girl or a boy, to make sure she is not taken for a boy or he for a girl? What would happen if they were? They would, quite literally, have changed places in their social world. To explain why gendering is done from birth, con- stantly and by everyone, we have to look not only at the way individuals experience gender but at gender as a social institution. As a social institution, gender is one of the major ways that human beings organize their lives. Human society depends on a predictable division of labor, a designated allocation of scarce goods, assigned responsibility for children and others who cannot care for themselves, common values and their systematic transmission to new members, legiti— mate leadership, music, art, stories, games, and other symbolic productions. One way of choosing people for the different tasks of society is on the basis of their talents, motivations, and competence—their demon- strated achievements. The other way is on the basis of gender, race, ethnicity—ascribed membership in a category of people. Although societies vary in the extent to which they use one or the other of these ways of allocating people to work and to carry out other responsibilities, every society uses gender and age grades. Every society classifies people as “girl and boy children,” “girls and boys ready to be married,” and “fully adult women and men,” constructs similar— ities among them and differences between them, and assigns them to different roles and responsibilities. Personality characteristics, feelings, motivations, and ambitions flow from these different life experiences so that the members of these different groups become different kinds of people. The process of gendering and its outcome are legitimated by religion, law, sci- ence, and the society’s entire set of values. In order to understand gender as a social institu- tion, it is important to distinguish human action from animal behavior. Animals feed themselves and their young until their young can feed themselves. Humans have to produce not only food but shelter and clothing. They also, if the group is going to con— tinue as a social group, have to teach the children how their particular group does these tasks. In the process, humans reproduce gender, family, kinship, and a division of labor—social institutions that do not exist among animals. Primate social groups have been referred to as families, and their mating patterns as monogamy, adultery, and harems. Primate behavior has been used to prove the universality of sex differ- ences—as built into our evolutionary inheritance (Haraway 1978). But animals’ sex differences are not at all the same as humans’ gender differences; ani- mals’ bonding is not kinship; animals’ mating is not ordered by marriage; and animals’ dominance hierar— chies are not the equivalent of human stratification systems. Animals group on sex and age, relational categories that are physiologically, not socially, differ- ent. Humans create gender and age-group categories that are socially, and not necessarily physiologically, different.4 For animals, physiological maturity means being able to impregnate or conceive; its markers are com- ing into heat (estrus) and sexual attraction. For humans, puberty means being available for marriage; it is marked by rites that demonstrate this marital eli— gibility. Although the onset of physiological puberty is signaled by secondary sex characteristics (menstru- ation, breast development, sperm ejaculation, pubic and underarm hair), the onset of social adulthood is ritualized by the coming—out party or desert walka- bout or bar mitzvah or graduation from college or first successful hunt or dreaming or inheritance of property. Humans have rituals that mark the passage from childhood into puberty and puberty into full adult status, as well as for marriage, childbirth, and death; animals do not (van Gennep 1960). To the extent that infants and the dead are differentiated by whether they are male or female, there are different birth rituals for girls and boys and different funeral rituals for men and women (Biersack 1984, 132—33). Rituals of puberty, marriage, and becoming a parent are gendered, creating a “woman,” a “man,” a “bride,” a “groom,” a “mother,” a “father.” Animals have no equivalents for these statuses. Among animals, siblings mate and so do parents and children; humans have incest taboos and rules that encourage or forbid mating between members of different kin groups (Levi-Strauss 1956, [1949] 1969). Any animal of the same species may feed another’s young (or may not, depending on the species). Humans designate responsibility for particu- lar children by kinship; humans frequently limit responsibility kinship grou] kinship grout Animals h; or on success hierarchies a moving to the the sex (Austz terns based 0 property, leg sexual service ries whom, ai replaces a me her social ste does not char Mating, fe mals is deter] and ordered 1974). In hu symbolically structed gen age statuses s cal sex and a (unless they changeable; adult animals and fathers, a mothers, wi 1984). Huma] Western 5 claiming tha and male pr( are not equiv does not flov ductive orga: females and social statusc stage of deve markers. The of gender, ag fully constr1 teaching, le Whatever ge contribute to well as quali Every social i and social pr. with qualitai The econom) goods and di s. In the process, kinship, and a that do not exist )ups have been ting patterns as rimate behavior ity of sex differ- iry inheritance ferences are not lifferences; ani- s’ mating is not Iminance hierar— an stratification age, relational : socially, differ- ;roup categories physiologically, ty means being arkers are com- ittraction. For le for marriage; this marital eli- logical puberty istics (menstru- culation, pubic al adulthood is ‘ desert walka- rom college or inheritance of iI‘k the passage berty into full childbirth, and 1960). To the fferentiated by ‘e are different fferent funeral 1984, 132—33). Iming a parent " a "man," a :her." Animals so do parents 005 and rules 'een members ; 1956, [1949] ies may feed riding on the ty for particu- quently limit JUDITH LORBER / “NIGHT TO HIS DAY": THE SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION OF GENDER 35 responsibility for children to the members of their kinship group or make them into members of their kinship group with adoption rituals, Animals have dominance hierarchies based on size or on successful threat gestures and signals. These hierarchies are usually sexed, and in some species, moving to the top of the hierarchy physically changes the sex (Austad 1986). Humans have stratification pat- terns based on control of surplus food, ownership of property, legitimate demands on others’ work and sexual services, enforced determinations of who mar- ries whom, and approved use of violence. If a woman replaces a man at the top of a stratification hierarchy, her social status may be that of a man, but her sex does not change. Mating, feeding, and nurturant behavior in ani- mals is determined by instinct and imitative learning and ordered by physiological sex and age (Lancaster 1974). In humans, these behaviors are taught and symbolically reinforced and ordered by socially con- structed gender and age grades. Social gender and age statuses sometimes ignore or override physiologi- cal sex and age completely. Male and female animals (unless they physiologically change) are not inter- changeable; infant animals cannot take the place of adult animals. Human females can become husbands and fathers, and human males can become wives and mothers, without sex-change surgery (Blackwood 1984). Human infants can reign as kings or queens. Western society’s values legitimate gendering by claiming that it all comes from physiology—female and male procreative differences. But gender and sex are not equivalent, and gender as a social construction does not flow automatically from genitalia and repro- ductive organs, the main physiological differences of females and males. In the construction of ascribed social statuses, physiological differences such as sex, stage of development, color of skin, and size are crude markers. They are not the source of the social statuses of gender, age grade, and race. Social statuses are care— fully constructed through prescribed processes of teaching, learning, emulation, and enforcement. Whatever genes, hormones, and biological evolution contribute to human social institutions is materially as well as qualitatively transformed by social practices. Every social institution has a material base, but culture and social practices transform that base into something with qualitatively different patterns and constraints. The economy is much more than producing food and goods and distributing them to eaters and users; family and kinship are not the equivalent of having sex and procreating; morals and religions cannot be equated with the fears and ecstasies of the brain; language goes far beyond the sounds produced by tongue and larynx. No one eats “money” or “credit”; the concepts of “god” and “angels” are the subjects of theological dis- quisitions; not only words but objects, such as their flag, “speak” to the citizens of a country. Similarly, gender cannot be equated with biologi- cal and physiological differences between human females and males. The building blocks of gender are socially constructed statuses. Western societies have only two genders, “man” and “woman.” Some soci- eties have three genders—men, women, and berdaches or hijras or xaniths. Berdaches, hijras, and xaniths are biological males who behave, dress, work, and are treated in most respects as social women; they are therefore not men, nor are they female women; they are, in our language, "male women.”5There are African and American Indian societies that have a gender status called manly hearted women—biological females who work, marry, and parent as men; their social status is “female men” (Amadiume 1987; Blackwood 1984). They do not have to behave or dress as men to have the social responsibilities and prerogatives of husbands and fathers; what makes them men is enough wealth to buy a wife. Modern Western societies' transsexuals and trans— vestites are the nearest equivalent of these crossover genders, but they are not institutionalized as third genders (Bolin 1987). Transsexuals are biological males and females who have sex-change operations to alter their genitalia. They do so in order to bring their physical anatomy into congruence with the way they want to live and with their own sense of gender iden- tity. They do not become a third gender; they change genders. Transvestites are males who live as women and females who live as men but do not intend to have sex-change surgery. Their dress, appearance, and mannerisms fall within the range of what is expected from members of the opposite gender, so that they “pass.” They also change genders, some— times temporarily, some for most of their lives. Transvestite women have fought in wars as men sol- diers as recently as the nineteenth century; some mar- ried women, and others went back to being women and married men once the war was over.6 Some were discovered when their wounds were treated; others not until they died. In order to work as a jazz musi- cian, a man’s occupation, Billy Tipton, a woman, lived —__.‘__—__——._—__ I I I I I I 36 SECTION II THEORETICAL PERSPECTIVES most of her life as a man. She died recently at seventy- four, leaving a wife and three adopted sons for whom she was husband and father, and musicians with whom she had played and traveled, for whom she was "one of the boys” (New York Times 1989).7 There have been many other such occurrences of women passing as men to do more prestigious or lucrative men’s work (Matthaci 1982, 192—93).8 Genders, therefore, are not attached to a biological substratum. Gender boundaries are breachable, and individual and socially organized shifts from one gen- der to another call attention to “cultural, social, or aes- thetic dissonances” (Garber 1992, 16). These odd or deviant or third genders show us what we ordinarily take for granted—that people have to learn to be women and men. Men who cross-dress for perfor- mances or for pleasure often learn from women’s magazines how to “do femininity” convincingly (Garber 1992, 41—51). Because transvestism is direct evidence of how gender is constructed, Marjorie Garber claims it has “extraordinary power . . . to dis- rupt, expose, and challenge, putting in question the very notion of the ‘original’ and of stable identity” (1992,16). GENDER BENDING It is difficult to see how gender is constructed because we take it for granted that it’s all biology, or hor- mones, or human nature. The differences between women and men seem to be self-evident, and we think they would occur no matter what society did. But in actuality, human females and males are physiologi- cally more similar in appearance than are the two sexes of many species of animals and are more alike than different in traits and behavior (Epstein 1988). Without the deliberate use of gendered clothing, hair— styles, jewelry, and cosmetics, women and men would look far more alike.9 Even societies that do not cover women’s breasts have gender-identifying clothing, scarification, jewelry, and hairstyles. The ease with which many transvestite women pass as men and transvestite men as women is corrob- orated by the common gender misidentification in Westernized societies of people in jeans, T-shirts, and sneakers. Men with long hair may be addressed as “miss,” and women with short hair are often taken for men unless they offset the potential ambiguity with deliberate gender markers (Devor 1987, 1989). Ian Morris, in Conundrum, an autobiographical account of events just before and just after a sex-change opera- tion, described how easy it was to shift back and forth from being a man to being a woman when testing how it would feel to change gender status. During this time, Morris still had a penis and wore more or less unisex clothing; the context alone made the man and the woman: Sometimes the arena of my ambivalence was uncomfortably small. At the Travellers’ Club, for example, I was obviously known as a man of sorts—women were only allowed on the premises at all during a few hours of the day, and even then were hidden away as far as possible in lesser rooms or alcoves. But I had another club, only a few hundred yards away, where I was known only as a woman, and often I went directly from one to the other, imperceptibly changing roles on the way—"Cheerio, sir,” the porter would say at one club, and "Hello, madam," the porter would greet me at the other. (1975, 132) Gender shifts are actually a common phenomenon in public roles as well. Queen Elizabeth II of England bore children, but when she went to Saudi Arabia on a state visit, she was considered an honorary man so that she could confer and dine with the men who were heads of a state that forbids unrelated men and women to have face-to-unveiled-face contact. In con— temporary Egypt, lower-class women who run restau— rants or shops dress in men’s clothing and engage in unfeminine aggressive behavior, and middle-class educated women of professional or managerial status can take positions of authority (Rugh 1986, 131). In these situations, there is an important status change: These women are treated by the others in the situa- tion as if they are men. From their own point of view, they are still women. From the social perspective, however, they are men.10 In many cultures, gender bending is prevalent in theater or dance—the Japanese kabuki are men actors who play both women and men; in Shakespeare’s the- ater company, there were no actresses—Juliet and Lady Macbeth were played by boys. Shakespeare’s comedies are full of witty comments on gender shifts. Women characters frequently masquerade as young men, and other women characters fall in love with them; the boys playing these masquerading women, meanwhile, a charactersl1 1 her protectivi ments on ma] Were it Because That I d A gallar A boar—5 Lie then We’ll ha As maui That do Shakespea ble subtext: I dressed in gi like bravery, on and taker (Howard 198 I suppose times nox ever met girl; I plz games, et< ety, how 3 develop V‘ the stres budding l and lesbia That w on that I I wasn’t toc skin of m Mom was ried me in )hical account of x—change opera- ?t back and forth ,n when testing ' status. During d wore more or 3 made the man bivalence was ellers’ Club, for In as a man of on the premises 7, and even then ssible in lesser ier club, only a was known only :tly from one to 1g roles on the ould say at one 'ter would greet )n phenomenon th II of England Saudi Arabia on onorary man so 1 the men who elated men and contact. In con- who run restau- ; and engage in d middle-class anagerial status h 1986, 131). In t status change: zrs in the situa— n point of view, a1 perspective, is prevalent in . are men actors akespeare’s the- ses—Juliet and Shakespeare’s n gender shifts. arade as young Ill in love with rading women, ——A—_——_—'— jUDITH LORBER / “NIGHT TO HIS DAY": THE SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION OF GENDER 37 meanwhile, are acting out pining for the love of men characters.11 In As You Like It, when Rosalind justifies her protective cross-dressing, Shakespeare also com- ments on manliness: Were it not better, Because that I am more than common tall, That I did suit me all points like a man: A gallant curtle—axe upon my thigh, A boar—spear in my hand, and in my heart Lie there what hidden women’s fear there will, We’ll have a smashing and martial outside, As many other mannish cowards have That do outface it with their semblances. (I, i, 11522) Shakespeare’s audience could appreciate the dou- ble subtext: Rosalind, a woman character, was a boy dressed in girl’s clothing who then dressed as a boy; like bravery, masculinity and femininity can be put on and taken off with changes of costume and role (Howard 1988, 435).12 M Butterfly is a modern play of gender ambiguities, which David Hwang (1989) based on a real person. Shi Peipu, a male Chinese opera singer who sang women’s roles, was a spy as a man and the lover as a woman of a Frenchman, Gallimard, a diplomat (Bernstein 1986). The relationship lasted twenty years, and Shi Peipu even pretended to be the mother of a child by Gallimard. "She" also pretended to be too shy to undress com- pletely. As “Butterfly,” Shi Peipu portrayed a fantasy Oriental woman who made the lover a “real man” (Kondo 1990b). In Gallimard’s words, the fantasy was “of slender women in chong sams and kimonos who die for the love of unworthy foreign devils. Who are born and raised to be perfect women. Who take what- ever punishment we give them, and bounce back, strengthened by love, unconditionally” (Hwang 1989, 91). When the fantasy woman betrayed him by turning out to be the more powerful "real man," Gallimard assumed the role of Butterfly and, dressed in a geisha’s robes, killed himself: “because ’man’ and ’woman’ are oppositionally defined terms, reversals . , . are possi— ble” (Kondo 1990b, 18).13 # PORTRAIT OF A MAN Loren Cameron I suppose I have told the same old story countless times now. I mean, every transsexual man I’ve ever met tells the same story: I’I never felt like a girl; I played with boys’ toys and liked boys’ games, etc.” Then a rehash about pubescent anxi- ety, how your body betrays you and you begin to develop very clever coping mechanisms to manage the stress. Like bad posture to hide your budding breasts and big boots and baggy shirts— and lesbianism, if you’re lucky. That was my story, anyway. I figured out early on that I had somehow gotten a square peg, and I wasn’t too happy about it. Right from the start this skin of mine just didn’t fit. Maybe it was because Mom was going through a divorce when she car— ried me in her womb. Maybe she was having some survival issues, causing her to put me awash in testosterone. Or maybe it was those GI. Joes I played with. Did you ever have one? They had the best uni- forms. Lots of outfits to choose from—and boots, don't forget the boots. Big guns and grenades and cool scars. (Scars. I see a real early influence here.) Or it could be that I noticed I always got KP duty and was never promoted above the rank of private when I played Army with the boys on my block. Girls were never allowed to go into combat. I don’t really know what felt so out of whack, and I don’t think I really care. I guess there are as many reasons Why a transsexual is transsexual as there are people in the world. All that matters is that it’s my body and I can do what I want with it. (continued) 38 SECTION II THEORETICAL PERSPECTIVES It’s too bad that my days in Lesbiana had to come to an end. After about ten years of Butch Camp. I graduated to Boy World, big time. All of a sudden, one year I woke up and realized that the boobs had to go. What’s more, I wanted a beard too. And a nice, hard, lean body to go with it. A penis? I would settle for an oversize clitoris; it was cheaper, and it works better. I guess that mean I wanted to be a man. But that felt so alien in the beginning of my change. I was still very socialized as Butch Lesbian. (That isn’t the same as Female. Do ya get it?) I felt like a boy in the first few years, and I looked like one too: lots of pimples and a breaking voice, a bad temper and a randy disposition. I remember one occasion when I was shopping for clothes with my girl- friend Isabella. She was High Femme (I was still into femmes in those days), a few inches taller, and a little older than I was. We were in the boys’ clothing department at Macy’s, which was the only place I could find shirts to fit me. (Besides, I was in my second adolescence.) The salesperson looked at Isabella and then at me and said, “Oh, is that your son?” I was mortified. I was twenty—nine years old; Isabella was thirty—six. People used to think she was some kind of pervert or something. She was a real trouper, stayed with me through teenage zits, disapproving lesbians, and hetero assumptions. Life was pretty weird in those first years of transi~ tion, but it was exciting as well. It was then that I picked up a camera for the first time. Around ’93, I guess. I was taking really bad snapshots of myself to send to friends and family. You know, the kind that are sort of out of focus and lop off the top of your head because you’re holding the camera at arm’s length. I really got it that visuals were essential to help the folks back home keep up with me as I went through this strange body transformation, this chemical and surgical reinvention of self. That’s when I realized that visuals were useful in helping everybody else understand it too. I knew I had to photograph us. Transsexuals, I mean. Us—that’s what was new and different about the idea. I was going to be a photographer who was like them. I believed that we needed that, to see images of ourselves by one of us whose eye through the lens looked for a reflection. Self- portraiture. An eye that didn’t see anything odd or freakish. An eye that looked for beauty. I began meeting more transsexual people, listen- ing to their stories of change, and I started taking their pictures. I took more photos of myself and watched eagerly as the hormones, body building, and chest surgery sculpted my female form more and more into a male one. I was proud of what I saw, in me and in them. We all had one thing in common, if nothing else: We were hell-bent on becoming the people we believed ourselves to be. We had to; we didn’t feel it was a matter of choice. By 1996 my book Body Alchemy was published. It’s a collection of photographs that will show you just about everything you ever wanted to know about female-to-male bodies and is chock-full of proud, handsome trans men. I have tried to repre- sent some measure of my community in an effort to provide bolstering and informative images with text for both trans and nontrans readers. I feel it has been a needed contribution in a new wave of transsexual activism, very much a part of a bur- geoning movement that began about the time I was figuring out what an f-stop was. Finally, nearly twelve years later, I am feeling just fine. I look in the mirror, and I see the man I've worked so hard to grow up to be. My body has that muscular and hard build like those comic- book heroes that I always wanted to look like. (Well, maybe not quite as big, especially in the crotch. Did you ever notice how big they look in those tights?) My beard, at long last, has filled in, while my head begins to bald, and my photogra— phy career goes skipping down its path. I've got a delicious pup of a girlfriend (partner) who, ironi- cally (or maybe not so ironically), is a very hand- some butch, indeed. Everybody thinks that Stephanie is my son—or my boyuand that I am some kind of old pervert queer. I tell you, being a man can be a very confusing thing sometimes. JUDI' But despite the can be traversed i in cultural prod‘ Transvestites and social constructior nine women and 1 who do not wan want to change th establishing their Devor called "gen dressed in unise shoes, and did it described their ex One said, “I wore men’s clothes” (E tity was women, I ininity,” they we 1989, 107—42). De mon area of com They repeatedly challenged or ej Similarly, they fOl gerous territory a be a difficult feat mate ironic twist would feel like ‘ dresses, and tW( called transvestil 31). They resolvei tus by identifying men in public to get men’s jobs, a] easier to display (Devor 1989, 10 men’s bathroom names, like Lesli: hassles that aro: passports or othe had names assoc and their cards ( congruent, and t jeopardy.14 Wher pass as men tha notions of what v Paradoxicall) passing between serves gender b0 genders, the gen transvestites, bec only transitorin photographer a needed that, of us whose rflection. Self- ything odd or y. people, listen— started taking If myself and ody building, 1e form more )ud of what I one thing in hell-bent on rselves to be. ter of choice. as published. v'lll show you ited to know chock-full of ried to repre- y in an effort : images with ders. I feel it new wave of art of a bur- ut the time I I am feeling a the man I’ve va body has those comic- to look like. rcially in the they look in has filled in, ny photogra~ .th. I’ve got a ‘) who, ironi~ a very hand— thinks that nd that I am you, being a netimes. JUDITH LORBER / “NIGHT TO HIS DAY”: THE SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION OF GENDER 39 But despite the ease with which gender boundaries can be traversed in work, in social relationships, and in cultural productions, gender statuses remain. Transvestites and transsexuals do not challenge the social construction of gender. Their goal is to be femi- nine women and masculine men (Kando 1973). Those who do not want to change their anatomy but do want to change their gender behavior fare less well in establishing their social identity. The women Holly Devor called “gender blenders" wore their hair short, dressed in unisex pants, shirts, and comfortable shoes, and did not wear jewelry or makeup. They described their everyday dress as women’s clothing: One said, "I wore jeans all the time, but I didn’t wear men's clothes” (Devor 1989, 100). Their gender iden— tity was women, but because they refused to “do fem- ininity,” they were constantly taken for men (1987, 1989, 107—42). Devor said of them: “The most com- mon area of complaint was with public washrooms. They repeatedly spoke of the humiliation of being challenged or ejected from women's washrooms. Similarly, they found public change rooms to be dan- gerous territory and the buying of undergarments to be a difficult feat to accomplish" (1987, 29). In an ulti~ mate ironic twist, some of these women said "they would feel like transvestites if they were to wear dresses, and two women said that they had been called transvestites when they had done so” (1987, 31). They resolved the ambiguity of their gender sta- tus by identifying as women in private and passing as men in public to avoid harassment on the street, to get men’s jobs, and, if they were lesbians, to make it easier to display affection publicly with their lovers (Devor 1989, 107—42). Sometimes they even used men’s bathrooms. When they had gender-neutral names, like Leslie, they could avoid the bureaucratic hassles that arose when they had to present their passports or other proof of identity, but because most had names associated with women, their appearance and their cards of identity were not conventionally congruent, and their gender status was in constant jeopardy.14 When they could, they found it easier to pass as men than to try to change the stereotyped notions of what women should look like. Paradoxically, then, bending gender rules and passing between genders do not erode but rather pre— serves gender boundaries. In societies with only two genders, the gender dichotomy is not disturbed by transvestites, because others feel that a transvestite is only transitorily ambiguous—is “really a man or woman underneath.” After sex—change surgery, trans- sexuals end up in a conventional gender status—a “man” or a “woman” with the appropriate genitals (Eichler 1989). When women dress as men for busi- ness reasons, they are indicating that in that situation, they want to be treated the way men are treated; when they dress as women, they want to be treated as women: By their male dress, female entrepreneurs signal their desire to suspend the expectations of accepted feminine conduct without losing respect and reputation. By wearing what is “unattractive” they signify that they are not intending to display their physical charms while engaging in public activity. Their loud, aggressive banter contrasts with the modest demeanor that attracts men. . . . Overt signalling of a suspension of the rules pre- serves normal conduct from eroding expectations. (Rugh 1986, 131) FOR INDIVIDUALS, GENDER MEANS SAMENESS Although the possible combinations of genitalia, body shapes, clothing, mannerisms, sexuality, and roles could produce infinite varieties in human beings, the social institution of gender depends on the produc- tion and maintenance of a limited number of gender statuses and of making the members of these statuses similar to each other. Individuals are born sexed but not gendered, and they have to be taught to be mas- culine or feminine.15As Simone de Beauvoir said: "One is not born, but rather becomes, a woman . . . ; it is civilization as a whole that pro- duces this creature . . . which is described as femi— nine.” (1952, 267). Children learn to walk, talk, and gesture the way their social group says girls and boys should. Ray Birdwhistell, in his analysis of body motion as human communication, calls these learned gender displays tertiary sex characteristics and argues that they are needed to distinguish genders because humans are a weakly dimorphic species—their only sex markers are genitalia (1970, 39—46). Clothing, paradoxically, often hides the sex but displays the gender. In early childhood, humans develop gendered per— sonality structures and sexual orientations through their interactions with parents of the same and opposite gender. As adolescents, they conduct j. I E : 40 SECTION II THEORETICAL PERSPECTIVES their sexual behavior according to gendered scripts. Schools, parents, peers, and the mass media guide young people into gendered work and family roles, As adults, they take on a gendered social status in their society’s stratification system. Gender is thus both ascribed and achieved (West and Zimmerman 1987). The achievement of gender was most dramatically revealed in a case of an accidental transsexual—a baby boy whose penis was destroyed in the course of a botched circumcision when he was seven months old (Money and Ehrhardt 1972, 118—23). The child’s sex category was changed to “female,” and a vagina was surgically constructed when the child was seven- teen months old. The parents were advised that they could successfully raise the child, one of identical twins, as a girl. Physicians assured them that the child was too young to have formed a gender identity. Children’s sense of which gender they belong to usu— ally develops around the age of three, at the time that they start to group objects and recognize that the peo— ple around them also fit into categories—big, little; pink—skinned, brown-skinned; boys, girls. Three has also been the age when children’s appearance is ritu- ally gendered, usually by cutting a boy’s hair or dressing him in distinctively masculine clothing. In Victorian times, English boys wore dresses up to the age of three, when they were put into short pants (Garber 1992, 1—2). The parents of the accidental transsexual bent over backward to feminize the child—and succeeded. Frilly dresses, hair ribbons, and jewelry created a pride in looks, neatness, and “daintiness.” More significant, the child’s dominance was also feminized: The girl had many tomboyish traits, such as abun— dant physical energy, a high level of activity, stub— bornness, and being often the dominant one in a girls' group. Her mother tried to modify her tomboyishness: “. . . I teach her to be more polite and quiet. I always wanted those virtues. I never did manage, but I’m going to try to manage them to—my daughterwto be more quiet and lady- like.” From the beginning the girl had been the dominant twin. By the age of three, her dominance over her brother was, as her mother described it, that of a mother hen. The boy in turn took up for his sister, if anyone threatened her. (Money and Ehrhardt 1972, 122) This child was not a tomboy because of male genes or hormones; according to her mother, she herself had also been a tomboy. What the mother had learned poorly while growing up as a “natural” female she insisted that her physically reconstructed son—daughter learn well. For both mother and child, the social construction of gender overrode any possibly inborn traits. [Editors’ note: For a variety of social, psychological, and medical reasons, this often-cited case of gender reassignment was not, in fact, a success. As a teenager, the child discovered that he had been born male and chose to return to living in the male sex category. Studies of other cases of gender reassignment show that as adults some individuals remain in their assigned gender, while others return to their orig— inal sex category. See John Colapinto, As Nature Made Him: The Boy Who Was Made a Girl (New York: Harper Collins, 2000) for a discussion of the twins case. Suzanne Kessler (Reading 7) discusses the complex fac- tors that influence the gender reassignment of infants] People go along with the imposition of gender norms because the weight of morality as well as immediate social pressure enforces them. Consider how many instructions for properly gendered behav- ior are packed into this mother’s admonition to her daughter: “This is how to hem a dress when you see the hem coming down and so to prevent yourself from looking like the slut I know you are so bent on becoming” (Kincaid 1978). Gender norms are inscribed in the way people move, gesture, and even eat. In one African society, men were supposed to eat with their “whole mouth, wholeheartedly, and not, like women, just with the lips, that is halfheartedly, with reservation and restraint” (Bourdieu [1980] 1990, 70). Men and women in this society learned to walk in ways that proclaimed their different positions in the society: The manly man . . . stands up straight into the face of the person he approaches, or wishes to wel- come. Ever on the alert, because ever threatened, he misses nothing of what happens around him. . . . Conversely, a well brought-up woman . . . is expected to walk with a slight stoop, avoiding every misplaced movement of her body, her head or her arms, looking down, keep- ing her eyes on the spot where she will next put her foot, especially if she happens to have to walk past the men's assembly. (70) Many culti demeanor in g directly into mothers bour stumps to enl fathers circu covenant wi remove the cl labia, and mal chastity and ( societies, wor cone and recc to conform t Hanna Papan force the sens who carry the they are done are physical 2 mon dominai tals of Africar psychological Sandra Be der is a pow: world, one It child not to behavior. Ir Gould’s fante typing. The anatomy fror ing the child called X, get The experim( X’s class at St the end of th! asked what V tists' answer X is, implyir will be revea and somewt the hook; ni someone bro like sexually input will nc establish se beards, and 1 manhood or when sex cl” societies puI important ri se of male genes or she herself had also had learned poorly female she insisted son—daughter learn a social construction arn traits. ucial, psychological, ted case of gender :ess. As a teenager, zen born male and iale sex category_ 3ass1gnment show uals remain in eturn to their orig- '0, As Nature Made \Iew York: Harper f the twins case. as the complex fac— nment of infants] )sition of gender rality as well as ; them. Consider gendered behav— dmonition to her ass when you see Jrevent yourself )u are so bent on 51 in the way :. In one African eat with their not, like women, with reservation 0, 70). Men and ilk in ways that the society: ‘traight into the Ir wishes to wel- because ever ' what happens Jell brought-up < with a slight lovement of her "1g down, keep- :e will next put to have to walk JUDITH LORBER / “NIGHT TO HIS DAY": THE SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION OF GENDER 4| Many cultures go beyond clothing, gestures, and demeanor in gendering children. They inscribe gender directly into bodies. In traditional Chinese society, mothers bound their daughters’ feet into three—inch stumps to enhance their sexual attractiveness. Jewish fathers circumcise their infant sons to show their covenant with God. Women in African societies remove the clitoris of prepubescent girls, scrape their labia, and make the lips grow together to preserve their chastity and ensure their marriageability. In Western societies, women augment their breast size with sili- cone and reconstruct their faces with cosmetic surgery to conform to cultural ideals of feminine beauty. Hanna Papanek (1979) notes that these practices rein— force the sense of superiority or inferiority in the adults who carry them out as well as in the children on whom they are done: The genitals of Jewish fathers and sons are physical and psychological evidence of their com- mon dominant religious and familial status; the geni- tals of African mothers and daughters are physical and psychological evidence of their joint subordination.16 Sandra Bern (1981, 1983)argues that because gen- der is a powerful “schema” that orders the cognitive world, one must wage a constant, active battle for a child not to fall into typical gendered attitudes and behavior. In 1972, Ms. magazine published Lois Gould’s fantasy of how to raise a child free of gender- typing. The experiment calls for hiding the child’s anatomy from all eyes except the parents’ and treat- ing the child as neither a girl nor a boy. The child, called X, gets to do all the things boys and girls do. The experiment is so successful that all the children in X’s class at school want to look and behave like X. At the end of the story, the creators of the experiment are asked what will happen when X grows up. The scien- tists’ answer is that by then it will be quite clear what X is, implying that its hormones will kick in and it will be revealed as a female or male. That ambiguous, and somewhat contradictory, ending lets Gould off the hook; neither she nor we have any idea what someone brought up totally androgynously would be like sexually or socially as an adult. The hormonal input will not create gender or sexuality but will only establish secondary sex characteristics; breasts, beards, and menstruation alone do not produce social manhood or womanhood. Indeed, it is at puberty, when sex characteristics become evident, that most societies put pubescent children through their most important rites of passage, the rituals that officially mark them as fully gendered—that is, ready to marry and become adults. Most parents create a gendered world for their new— born by naming, birth announcements, and dress. Children’s relationships with same-gendered and different-gendered caretakers structure their self- identifications and personalities. Through cognitive development, children extract and apply to their own actions the appropriate behavior for those who belong in their own gender, as well as race, religion, ethnic group, and social class, rejecting what is not appropri- ate. If their social categories are highly valued, they value themselves highly; if their social categories are low status, they lose self-esteem (Chodorow 1974). Many feminist parents who want to raise androgynous children soon lose their children to the pull of gen— dered norms (Gordon 1990, 87—90). My son attended a carefully nonsexist elementary school, which didn’t even have girls’ and boys’ bathrooms. When he was seven or eight years old, I attended a class play about “squares” and “circles” and their need for each other and noticed that all the girl squares and circles wore makeup, but none of the boy squares and circles did. I asked the teacher about it after the play, and she said, “Bobby said he was not going to wear makeup, and he is a powerful child, so none of the boys would either.” In a long discussion about conformity, my son con- fronted me with the question of who the conformists were, the boys who followed their leader or the girls who listened to the woman teacher. In actuality, they both were, because they both followed same—gender leaders and acted in gender-appropriate ways. (Actors may wear makeup, but real boys don’t.) For human beings there is no essential femaleness or maleness, femininity or masculinity, womanhood or manhood, but once gender is ascribed, the social order constructs and holds individuals to strongly gendered norms and expectations. Individuals may vary on many of the components of gender and may shift gen— ders temporarily or permanently, but they must fit into the limited number of gender statuses their society rec- ognizes. In the process, they recreate their society’s ver- sion of women and men: “If we do gender appropri- ately, we simultaneously sustain, reproduce, and render legitimate the institutional arrangements. . . . If we fail to do gender appropriately, we as individuals—- not the institutional arrangements—may be called to account (for our character, motives, and predisposi- tions)” (West and Zimmerman 1987, 146). 42 SECTION II THEORETICAL PERSPECTIVES The gendered practices of everyday life reproduce a society’s View of how women and men should act (Bourdieu [1980] 1990). Gendered social arrangements are justified by religion and cultural productions and backed by law, but the most pow- erful means of sustaining the moral hegemony of the dominant gender ideology is that the process is made invisible; any possible alternatives are virtu- ally unthinkable (Foucault 1972; Gramsci 1971).17 FOR SOCIETY, GENDER MEANS DIFFERENCE The pervasiveness of gender as a way of structuring social life demands that gender statuses be clearly dif- ferentiated. Varied talents, sexual preferences, identi- ties, personalities, interests, and ways of interacting fragment the individual’s bodily and social experi- ences. Nonetheless, these are organized in Western cultures into two and only two socially and legally recognized gender statuses, “man” and "woman."18 In the social construction of gender, it does not matter what men and women actually do; it does not even matter if they do exactly the same thing. The social institution of gender insists only that what they do is perceived as different. If men and women are doing the same tasks, they are usually spatially segregated to maintain gender separation, and often the tasks are given different job titles as well, such as executive secretary and administrative assistant (Reskin 1988). If the differ- ences between women and men begin to blur, soci- ety’s “sameness taboo” goes into action (G. Rubin 1975, 178). At a rock-and-roll dance at West Point in 1976, the year women were admitted to the presti- gious military academy for the first time, the school’s administrators “were reportedly perturbed by the sight of mirror-image couples dancing in short hair and dress gray trousers," and a rule was established that women cadets could dance at these events only if they wore skirts (Barkalow and Raab 1990, 53).19 Women recruits in the US. Marine Corps are required to wear makeup—at a minimum, lipstick and eye shadow—and they have to take classes in makeup, hair care, poise, and etiquette. This feminization is part of a deliberate policy of making them clearly dis- tinguishable from men Marines. Christine Williams quotes a twenty-five—year—old woman drill instructor as saying: “A lot of the recruits who come here don’t wear makeup; they’re tomboyish or athletic. A lot of them have the preconceived idea that going into the military means they can still be a tomboy. They don’t realize that you are a Woman Marine" (1989, 76—77).20 If gender differences were genetic, physiological, or hormonal, gender bending and gender ambiguity would occur only in hermaphrodites, who are born with chromosomes and genitalia that are not clearly female or male. Since gender differences are socially constructed, all men and all women can enact the behavior of the other, because they know the other's social script: “’Man’ and ’woman’ are at once empty and overflowing categories. Empty because they have no ultimate, transcendental meaning. Overflowing because even when they appear to be fixed, they still contain within them alternative, denied, or sup— pressed definitions” (Scott 1988, 49). Nonetheless, though individuals may be able to shift gender sta- tuses, the gender boundaries have to hold, or the whole gendered social order will come crashing down. Paradoxically, it is the social importance of gender statuses and their external markers—clothing, man- nerisms, and spatial segregation—that makes gender bending or gender crossing possible—or even neces- sary. The social viability of differentiated gender sta- tuses produces the need or desire to shift statuses. Without gender differentiation, transvestism and transsexuality would be meaningless. You couldn’t dress in the opposite gender's clothing if all clothing were unisex. There would be no need to reconstruct genitalia to match identity if interests and lifestyles were not gendered. There would be no need for women to pass as men to do certain kinds of work if jobs were not typed as "women’s work" and "men’s work.” Women would not have to dress as men in public life in order to give orders or aggressively bar- gain with customers. Gender boundaries are preserved when transsexu- als create congruous autobiographies of always hav- ing felt like what they are now. The transvestite’s story also "recuperates social and sexual norms” (Garber 1992, 69). In the transvestite’s normalized narrative, he or she "is ‘compelled’ by social and eco- nomic forces to disguise himself or herself in order to get a job, escape repression, or gain artistic or political ’freedom’” (Garber 1992, 70). The “true identity," when revealed, causes amazement over how easily and successfully the person passed as a member of the opposite gender, not a suspicion that gender itself is something of a put-on. JUENTH GENDER RANKII Most societies rank g power and construct ing from one to am down the social scal Indian cultures, the women, female me duced significant d' pottery, decorat: could be traded. W produced and any Since women’s occu] perity and prestige, i but only if they be Similarly, women i1 great deal of wealth "manly hearts.” A! (1982) Both reactions re‘ to distinguish the personal efficacy culinity. Rather t1 son performing fl prosperity, or soc person is, at some could succeed at honored as a ma have been more means, for all int was the possibili department, migl this unsettling br was hurled. In t complimented by anatomic aspect, vaunted superior: In American soci tend to earn less aftt tions; women-to increase their inco 1979). Men who nursing, have less 1: men’s fields, like pl feminist, feels that advantages over fe not socialized to throughout life. She lat going into the mboy. They don't ” (1989, 76—77).20 :ic, physiological, gender ambiguity es, who are born at are not clearly ences are socially en can enact the know the other's re at once empty recause they have ng. Overflowing re fixed, they still denied, or sup- 9). Nonetheless, shift gender sta- 3 to hold, or the come crashing )rtance of gender —clothing, man- at makes gender —or even neces- lated gender sta- :o shift statuses. ansvestism and ;s. You couldn't ng if all clothing :d to reconstruct its and lifestyles be no need for kinds of work if )rk” and “men’s dress as men in lggressively bar- when transsexu— : of always hav- .e transvestite’s sexual norms" te’s normalized 7 social and eco— itself in order to tistic or political “true identity,” )ver how easily as a member of hat gender itself % l 4 a 1 GENDER RANKING Most societies rank genders according to prestige and power and construct them to be unequal, so that mov- ing from one to another also means moving up or down the social scale. Among some North American Indian cultures, the hierarchy was male men, male women, female men, female women. Women pro- duced significant durable goods (basketry, textiles, pottery, decorated leather goods), which could be traded. Women also controlled what they produced and any profit or wealth they earned. Since women’s occupational realm could lead to pros- perity and prestige, it was fair game for young men— but only if they became women in gender status. Similarly, women in other societies who amassed a great deal of wealth were allowed to become men— ”manly hearts." According to Harriet Whitehead (1982): Both reactions reveal an unwillingness or inability to distinguish the sources of prestige—wealth, skill, personal efficacy (among other things)—from mas- culinity. Rather there is the innuendo that if a per- son performing female tasks can attain excellence, prosperity, or social power, it must be because that person is, at some level, a man. . . . A woman who could succeed at doing the things men did was honored as a man would be. . . . What seems to have been more disturbing to the culture—which means, for all intents and purposes, to the men— was the possibility that women, within their own department, might be onto a good thing. It was into this unsettling breach that the berdache institution was hurled. In their social aspect, women were complimented by the berdache’s imitation. In their anatomic aspect, they were subtly insulted by his vaunted superiority. (108) In American society, men-to—women transsexuals tend to earn less after surgery if they change occupa- tions; women—to-men transsexuals tend to increase their income (Bolin 1988, 153—60; Brody 1979). Men who go into women’s fields, like nursing, have less prestige than women who go into men’s fields, like physics. Janice Raymond, a radical feminist, feels that transsexual men-to-women have advantages over female women because they were not socialized to be subordinate or oppressed throughout life. She says: JUDITH LORBER / “NIGHT TO HIS DAY": THE SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION OF GENDER 43 We know that we are women who are born with female chromosomes and anatomy, and that whether or not we were socialized to be so-called normal women, patriarchy has treated and will treat us like women. Transsexuals have not had this same history. N 0 man can have the history of being born and located in this culture as a woman. He can have the history of wishing to be a woman and of acting like a woman, but this gender experi- ence is that of a transsexual, not of a woman. Surgery may confer the artifacts of outward and inward female organs but it cannot confer the history of being born a woman in this society. (1979, 114) Because women who become men rise in the world and men who become women fall, Elaine Showalter (1987) was very critical of the movie Tootsie, in which Dustin Hoffman plays an actor who passes as a woman in order to be able to get work. “Dorothy” becomes a feminist "woman of the year” for standing up for women’s rights not to be demeaned or sexually harassed. Showalter feels that the message of the movie is double-edged: “Dorothy’s ‘feminist’ speeches . . . are less a response to the oppression of women than an instinctive situational male reaction to being treated like a woman. The implication is that women must be taught by men how to win their rights. . . . It says that feminist ideas are much less threatening when they come from a man” (123). Like Raymond, Showalter feels that being or having been a man gives a transsexual man-to- woman or a man cross-dressed as a woman a social advantage over those whose gender status was always “woman.”21 The implication here is that there is an experiential superiority that doesn’t disappear with the gender shift. For one transsexual man-to—woman, however, the experience of living as a woman changed his/her whole personality. As James, Morris had been a sol- dier, foreign correspondent, and mountain climber; as Jan, Morris is a successful travel writer. But socially, James was far superior to Jan, and so Jan developed the “learned helplessness” that is supposed to charac- terize women in Western society: We are told that the social gap between the sexes is narrowing, but I can only report that having, in the second half of the twentieth century, experienced life in both roles, there seems to me no aspect of 44 SECTION II THEORETICAL PERSPECTIVES existence, no moment of the day, no contact, no arrangement, no response, which is not different for men and for women. The very tone of voice in which I was now addressed, the very pos- ture of the person next in the queue, the very feel in the air when I entered a room or sat at a restaurant table, constantly emphasized my change of status. And if other’s responses shifted, so did my own. The more I was treated as woman, the more woman I became. I adapted willy-nilly. If I was assumed to be incompetent at reversing cars, or opening bottles, oddly incompetent I found myself becoming. If a case was thought too heavy for me, inexplicably I found it so myself. . . . Women treated me with a frankness which, while it was one of the happiest discoveries of my meta— morphosis, did imply membership of a camp, a fac- tion, or at least a school of thought; so I found myself gravitating always towards the female, whether in sharing a railway compartment or sup- porting a political cause. Men treated me more and more as junior, . . . and so, addressed every day of my life as an inferior, involuntarily, month by month I accepted the condition. I discovered that even now men prefer women to be less informed, less able, less talkative, and certainly less self-cen— tered than they are themselves; so I generally obliged them. (1975, 165—66)22 COMPONENTS OF GENDER By now, it should be clear that gender is not a unitary essence but has many components as a social institu- tion and as an individual status.23 As a social institution, gender is composed of: Gender statuses, the socially recognized genders in a society and the norms and expectations for their enactment behaviorally, gesturally, linguis- tically, emotionally, and physically. How gender statuses are evaluated depends on historical development in any particular society. Gendered division of labor, the assignment of produc- tive and domestic work to members of different gender statuses. The work assigned to those of different gender statuses strengthens the soci— ety’s evaluation of those statuses—the higher the status, the more prestigious and valued the work and the greater its rewards. Gendered kinship, the family rights and responsibili- ties for each gender status. Kinship statuses reflect and reinforce the prestige and power dif- ferences of the different genders. Gendered sexual scripts, the normative patterns of sexual desire and sexual behavior, as prescribed for the different gender statuses. Members of the dominant gender have more sexual preroga- tives; members of a subordinate gender may be sexually exploited. Gendered personalities, the combinations of traits pat- terned by gender norms of how members of dif- ferent gender statuses are supposed to feel and behave. Social expectations of others in face—t0- face interaction constantly bolster these norms. Gendered social control, the formal and informal approval and reward of conforming behavior and the stigmatization, social isolation, punish— ment, and medical treatment of nonconforming behavior. Gender ideology, the justification of gender statuses, particularly, their differential evaluation. The dominant ideology tends to suppress criticism by making these evaluations seem natural. Gender imagery, the cultural representations of gender and embodiment of gender in symbolic language and artistic productions that reproduce and legitimate gender statuses. Culture is one of the main supports of the domi- nant gender ideology. For an individual, gender is composed of: Sex category, to which the infant is assigned at birth based on appearance of genitalia. With prenatal testing and sex-typing, categorization is prena- tal. Sex category may be changed later through surgery or reinspection of ambiguous genitalia. Gender identity, the individual's sense of gendered self as a worker and family member. Gendered marital and procreative status, fulfillment or nonfulfillment of allowed or disallowed mating, impregnation, childbearing, kinship roles. Gendered sexual orientation, socially and individu- ally patterned sexual desires, feelings, practices, and identification. Gendered personality, internalized patterns of socially normative emotions as organized by family structure and parenting. JUDIT Gendered process being taught, already learr inappropriate gender identi‘ a gender stat others, acting Gender beliefs, in der ideology. Gender display, 1: 0f gendered adornments, z markers. For an individi supposed to be cc ceived physiology and genitalia, pre monal input, an may not be congri category assignme ual orientation and personality, and v time, an individua major ascribed stat gion, and social cl statuses, such as e fession, marital st; ity, and wealth. T limit or create op] ments and also d those achievement; GENDER AS PF AND STRUCTL As a social institut distinguishable so rights and respon: system that ranks a major building b these unequal stati As a process, gs that define "woma throughout their expected, see wl expected ways, a: and maintain the ; to be a given gen< routes: to be a go and responsibili- (inship statuses e and power dif— ative patterns of IOI‘, as prescribed ,. Members of the sexual preroga— e gender may be tions of traits pat- ' members of dif— )osed to feel and others in face-to- ar these norms. a1 and informal )rming behavior solation, punish- ‘f nonconforming f gender statuses, evaluation. The ippress criticism 3m natural. presentations of nder in symbolic productions gender statuses. )orts of the domi— 3d of: I assigned at birth Iia. With prenatal rization is prena- changed later on of ambiguous Tense of gendered nber. ltas, fulfillment or isallowed mating, [ship roles. lly and individu— ‘eelings, practices, ized patterns of as organized by jUDITH LORBER / “NIGHT TO HIS DAY": THE SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION OF GENDER 45 Gendered processes, the social practices of learning, being taught, picking up cues, enacting behavior already learned to be gender appropriate (or inappropriate, if rebelling, testing), developing a gender identity, “doing gender” as a member of a gender status in relationships with gendered others, acting deferent or dominant. Gender beliefs, incorporation of or resistance to gen- der ideology. Gender display, presentation of self as a certain kind of gendered person through dress, cosmetics, adornments, and permanent and reversible body markers. For an individual, all the social components are supposed to be consistent and congruent with per- ceived physiology. The actual combination of genes and genitalia, prenatal, adolescent, and adult hor- monal input, and procreative capacity may or may not be congruous with each other and with sex— category assignment, gender identity, gendered sex- ual orientation and procreative status, gender display, personality, and work and family roles. At any one time, an individual’s identity is a combination of the major ascribed statuses of gender, race, ethnicity, reli- gion, and social class, and the individual’s achieved statuses, such as education level, occupation or pro- fession, marital status, parenthood, prestige, author- ity, and wealth. The ascribed statuses substantially limit or create opportunities for individual achieve- ments and also diminish or enhance the luster of those achievements. GENDER AS PROCESS, STRATIFICATION, AND STRUCTURE As a social institution, gender is a process of creating distinguishable social statuses for the assignment of rights and responsibilities. As part of a stratification system that ranks these statuses unequally, gender is a major building block in the social structures built on these unequal statuses. As a process, gender creates the social differences that define "woman" and “man.” In social interaction throughout their lives, individuals learn what is expected, see what is expected, act and react in expected ways, and thus simultaneously construct and maintain the gender order: “The very injunction to be a given gender takes place through discursive routes: to be a good mother, to be a heterosexually desirable object, to be a fit worker, in sum, to signify a multiplicity of guarantees in response to a variety of different demands all at once” (Butler 1990, 145). Members of a social group neither make up gender as they go along nor exactly replicate in rote fashion what was done before. In almost every encounter, human beings produce gender, behaving in the ways they learned were appropriate for their gender status, or resisting or rebelling against these norms. Resistance and rebellion have altered gender norms, but so far they have rarely eroded the statuses. Gendered patterns of interaction acquire addi— tional layers of gendered sexuality, parenting, and work behaviors in childhood, adolescence, and adult- hood. Gendered norms and expectations are enforced through informal sanctions of gender-inappropriate behavior by peers and by formal punishment or threat of punishment by those in authority should behavior deviate too far from socially imposed stan— dards for women and men. Everyday gendered interactions build gender into the family, the work process, and other organizations and institutions, which in turn reinforce gender expectations for individuals.24 Because gender is a process, there is room not only for modification and variation by individuals and small groups but also for institutionalized change (Scott 1988, 7). As part of a stratification system, gender ranks men above women of the same race and class. Women and men could be different but equal. In practice, the process of creating difference depends to a great extent on differential evaluation. As Nancy Jay (1981) says: “That which is defined, separated out, isolated from all else is A and pure. Not—A is necessarily impure, a random catchall, to which nothing is exter- nal except A and the principle of order that separates it from Not-A" (45). From the individual’s point of view, whichever gender is A, the other is Not—A; gen- der boundaries tell the individual who is like him or her, and all the rest are unlike. From society’s point of View, however, one gender is usually the touchstone, the normal, the dominant, and the other is different, deviant, and subordinate. In Western society, "man" is A, “wo—man” is Not—A. (Consider what a society would be like where woman was A and man Not—A.) The further dichotomization by race and class con- structs the gradations of a heterogeneous society’s stratification scheme. Thus, in the United States, white is A, African American is Not-A; middle class is A, working class is Not-A, and "African-American 46 SECTION II THEORETICAL PERSPECTIVES women occupy a position whereby the inferior half of a series of these dichotomies converge” (Collins 1990, 70). The dominant categories are the hegemonic ideals, taken so for granted as the way things should be that white is not ordinarily thought of as a race, middle class as a class, or men as a gender. The characteristics of these categories define the Other as that which lacks the valuable qualities the dominants exhibit. In a gender-stratified society, what men do is usu- ally valued more highly than what women do because men do it, even when their activities are very similar or the same. In different regions of southern India, for example, harvesting rice is men’s work, shared work, or women's work: “Wherever a task is done by women it is considered easy, and where it is done by [men] it is considered difficult” (Mencher 1988, 104). A gathering and hunting society’s survival usually depends on the nuts, grubs, and small ani- mals brought in by the women’s foraging trips, but when the men’s hunt is successful, it is the occasion for a celebration. Conversely, because they are the superior group, white men do not have to do the “dirty work,” such as housework; the most inferior group does it, usually poor women of color (Palmer 1989). Freudian psychoanalytic theory claims that boys must reject their mothers and deny the feminine in themselves in order to become men: “For boys the major goal is the achievement of personal masculine identification with their father and sense of secure masculine self, achieved through superego formation and disparagement of women" (Chodorow 1978, 165). Masculinity may be the outcome of boys’ intrapsychic struggles to separate their identity from that of their mothers, but the proofs of masculinity are culturally shaped and usually ritualistic and symbolic (Gilmore 1990). The Marxist feminist explanation for gender inequality is that by demeaning women’s abilities and keeping them from learning valuable technological skills, bosses preserve them as a cheap and exploitable reserve army of labor. Unionized men who could be easily replaced by women collude in this process because it allows them to monopolize the better paid, more interesting, and more autonomous jobs: “Two factors emerge as helping men maintain their separation from women and their control of technological occupations. One is the active gender— ing of jobs and people. The second is the continual creation of sub-divisions in the work processes, and levels in work hierarchies, into which men can move in order to keep their distance from women” (Cockburn 1985, 13). Societies vary in the extent of the inequality in social status of their women and men members, but where there is inequality, the status “woman” (and its attendant behavior and role allocations) is usually held in lesser esteem than the status “man.” Since gender is also intertwined with a society’s other con— structed statuses of differential evaluation—race, reli- gion, occupation, class, country of origin, and so on— men and women members of the favored groups command more power, more prestige, and more property than the members of the disfavored groups. Within many social groups, however, men are advan- taged over women. The more economic resources, such as education and job opportunities, are available to a group, the more they tend to be monopolized by men. In poorer groups that have few resources (such as working-class African Americans in the United States), women and men are more nearly equal, and the women may even outstrip the men in education and occupational status (Almquist 1987). As a structure, gender divides work in the home and in economic production, legitimates those in authority, and organizes sexuality and emotional life (Connell 1987, 91—142). As primary parents, women significantly influence children’s psychological devel- opment and emotional attachments, in the process reproducing gender. Emergent sexuality is shaped by heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, and sado- masochistic patterns that are gendered—different for girls and boys, and for women and men—so that sex- ual statuses reflect gender statuses, When gender is a major component of structured inequality, the devalued genders have less power, prestige, and economic rewards than the valued gen- ders. In countries that discourage gender discrimina— tion, many major roles are still gendered; women still do most of the domestic labor and child-rearing, even while doing full-time paid work; women and men are segregated on the job and each does work considered “appropriate”; women’s work is usually paid less than men’s work. Men dominate the positions of authority and leadership in government, the military, and the law; cultural productions, religions, and sports reflect men’s interests. In societies that create the greatest gender differ— ence, such as Saudi Arabia, women are kept out of sight behind often create .' own (Bernar‘ rigid gendei much of thei because of tI This spatial s gendered dif ing and beha Gender “women” a1 has social ft the result of s mones, or ge maintained I into the gene ties deliberat‘ we know it i racial, ethnic therefore, the modern soci; group to be t] of everyone ] his day—that white. Shut repressed tl (Cixous and ( THE PARA To say that s constructed These categc most prof01 social expe Dorothy Sn world” (199C 1. Gender Felicity’s Com judge an indi strangeness. B it is to be san 17—40; Goffma 2. In cases cine, surgery more clearly I) < processes, and 1 men can move from women” 1e inequality in n members, but Noman" (and its ions) is usually IS “man.” Since iety’s other con- ition—race, reli- gin, and so on— ?avored groups tige, and more ifavored groups. men are advan- omic resources, ies, are available monopolized by resources (such s in the United early equal, and ten in education 57). )rk in the home [mates those in .d emotional life parents, women :hological devel- , in the process Iity is shaped by ual, and sado- 3d——-different for ten—so that sex- :nt of structured ave less power, the valued gen- nder discrimina— red; women still ild-rearing, even men and men are work considered sually paid less he positions of ent, the military, , religions, and st gender differ- are kept out of JUDITH LORBER / “NIGHT TO HIS DAY”: THE SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION OF GENDER 47 sight behind walls or veils, have no civil rights, and often create a cultural and emotional world of their own (Bernard 1981). But even in societies with less rigid gender boundaries, women and men spend much of their time with people of their own gender because of the way work and family are organized. This spatial separation of women and men reinforces gendered differentness, identity, and ways of think- ing and behaving (Coser 1986). Gender inequality—the devaluation of “women” and the social domination of “men”— has social functions and a social history. It is not the result of sex, procreation, physiology, anatomy, hor- mones, or genetic predispositions. It is produced and maintained by identifiable social processes and built into the general social structure and individual identi— ties deliberately and purposefully. The social order as we know it in Western societies is organized around racial, ethnic, class, and gender inequality. I contend, therefore, that the continuing purpose of gender as a modern social institution is to construct women as a group to be the subordinates of men as a group. The life of everyone placed in the status “woman” is “night to his day—that has forever been the fantasy. Black to his white. Shut out of his system’s space, she is the repressed that ensures the system’s functioning” (Cixous and Clement [1975] 1986, 67). THE PARADOX OF HUMAN NATURE To say that sex, sexuality, and gender are all socially constructed is not to minimize their social power. These categorical imperatives govern our lives in the most profound and pervasive ways, through the social experiences and social practices of what Dorothy Smith calls the “everyday/everynight world” (1990, 31—57). The paradox of human nature is that it is always a manifestation of cultural meanings, social relationships, and power politics; “not biology, but culture, becomes destiny" (Butler 1990, 8). Gendered people emerge not from physiology or sex- ual orientation but from the exigencies of the social order, mostly from the need for a reliable division of the work of food production and the social (not physi- cal) reproduction of new members. The moral imper— atives of religion and cultural representations guard the boundary lines among genders and ensure that what is demanded, what is permitted, and what is tabooed for the people in each gender are well known and followed by most (Davies 1982). Political power, control of scarce resources, and, if necessary, violence uphold the gendered social order in the face of resis- tance and rebellion. Most people, however, voluntar- ily go along with their society’s prescriptions for those of their gender status, because the norms and expectations get built into their sense of worth and identity as a certain kind of human being, and because they believe their society’s way is the natural way. These beliefs emerge from the imagery that per- vades the way we think, the way we see and hear and speak, the way we fantasize, and the way we‘feel. There is no core or bedrock human nature below these endlessly looping processes of the social pro— duction of sex and gender, self and other, identity and psyche, each of which is a “complex cultural construc- tion” (Butler 1990, 36). For humans, the social is the nat— ural. Therefore, “in its feminist senses, gender cannot mean simply the cultural appropriation of biological sexual difference. Sexual difference is itself a funda- mental—and scientifically contested—construction. Both ’sex' and ’gender’ are woven of multiple, asym- metrical strands of difference, charged with multifac- eted dramatic narratives of domination and struggle" (Haraway 1990, 140). NOTES 1. Gender is, in Erving Goffman’s words, an aspect of Felicity’s Condition: “any arrangement which leads us to judge an individual’s . . . acts not to be a manifestation of strangeness. Behind Felicity’s Condition is our sense of what it is to be sane” (1983, 27). Also see Bem 1993; Frye 1983, 17—40; Goffman 1977. 2. In cases of ambiguity in countries with modern medi- cine, surgery is usually performed to make the genitalia more clearly male or female. 3. See]. Butler 1990 for an analysis of how doing gender is gender identity. 4. Douglas 1973; MacCormack 1980; Ortner 1974; Ortner and Whitehead 1981; Yanagisako and Collier 1987. On the social construction of childhood, see Aries 1962; Zelizer 1985. 5. On the hijras of India, see Nanda 1990; on the xaniths of Oman, Wikan 1982, 168—86; on the American Indian berdaches, W. L. Williams 1986. Other societies that have {a 48 SECTION II THEORETICAL PERSPECT|VES similar institutionalized third—gender men are the Koniag of Alaska, the Tanala of Madagascar, the Mesakin of Nuba, and the Chukchee of Siberia (Wikan 1982, 170). 6. Durova 1989; Freeman and Bond 1992; Wheelwright 1989. 7. Gender segregation of work in popular music still has not changed very much, according to Groce and Cooper 1990, despite considerable androgyny in some very popular figures. See Garber 1992 on the androgyny. She discusses Tipton on pp. 67—70. 8. In the nineteenth century, not only did these women get men’s wages, but they also “had male privileges and could do all manner of things other women could not: open a bank account, write checks, own property, go anywhere unaccompanied, vote in elections” (Faderman 1981, 44). 9. When unisex clothing and men wearing long hair came into vogue in the United States in the mid—1960s, beards and mustaches for men also came into style again as gender identifications. 10. For other accounts of women being treated as men in Islamic countries, as well as accounts of women and men cross-dressing in these countries, see Garber 1992, 304—52. 11. Dollimore 1986; Garber 1992, 32—40; Greenblatt 1987, 66—93; Howard 1988. For Renaissance accounts of sexual relations with women and men of ambiguous sex, see Laqueur 1990, 134—39. For modern accounts of women pass— ing as men that other women find sexually attractive, see Devor 1989, 136—37; Wheelwright 1989, 53—59. 12. Females who passed as men soldiers had to "do mas— culinity,” not just dress in a uniform (Wheelwright 1989, 50—78). On the triple entendres and gender resonances of Rosalindvtype characters, see Garber 1992, 71—77. 13. Also see Garber 1992, 234—66. 14. Bolin describes how many documents have to be changed by transsexuals to provide a legitimizing "paper trail” (1988, 145—47). Note that only members of the same social group know which names are women’s and which men’s in their culture, but many documents list “sex.” 15. For an account of how a potential man—to-woman transsexual learned to be feminine, see Garfinkel 1967, 116—85, 285-88. For a gloss on this account that points out how, throughout his encounters with Agnes, Garfinkel failed to see how he himself was constructing his own masculinity, see Rogers 1992. 16. Paige and Paige (1981, 147—49) argue that circumci— sion ceremonies indicate a father's loyalty to his lineage elders—“visible public evidence that the head of a family unit of their lineage is willing to trust others with his and his family’s most valuable political asset, his son’s penis” (147). On female circumcision, see El Dareer 1982; Lightfoot-Klein 1989; van der Kwaak 1992; Walker 1992. There is a form of female circumcision that removes only the prepuce of the clitoris and is similar to male circumcision, but most forms of female circumcision are far more exten- sive, mutilating, and spiritually and psychologically shock- ing than the usual form of male circumcision. However, among the Australian aborigines, boys' penises are slit and kept open, so that they urinate and bleed the way women do (Bettelheim 1962, 165—206). 17. The concepts of moral hegemony, the effects of everyday activities (praxis) on thought and personality, and the necessity of consciousness of these processes before political change can occur are all based on Marx's analysis of class relations. 18. Other societies recognize more than two categories, but usually no more than three or four (Jacobs and Roberts 1989). 19. Carol Barkalow’s book has a photograph of eleven first-year West Pointers in a math class, who are dressed in regulation pants, shirts, and sweaters, with short haircuts. The caption challenges the reader to locate the only woman in the room. 20. The taboo on males and females looking alike reflects the US. military/s homophobia (Berube and D’Emilio 1984). If you can’t tell those with a penis from those with a vagina, how are you going to determine whether their sexual inter— est is heterosexual or homosexual unless you watch them having sexual relations? 21. Garber feels that Tootsie is not about feminism but about transvestism and its possibilities for disturbing the gender order (1992, 5—9). 22. See Bolin 1988, 149—50, for transsexual men-to— women's discovery of the dangers of rape and sexual harass— ment. Devor’s “gender blenders” went in the opposite direc- tion. Because they found that it was an advantage to be taken for men, they did not deliberately cross—dress, but they did not feminize themselves either (1989, 126—40). 23. See West and Zimmerman 1987 for a similar set of gender components. 24. On the “logic of practice,” or how the experience of gender is embedded in the norms of everyday interaction and the structure of formal organizations, see Acker 1990; Bourdieu [1980] 1990; Connell 1987; Smith 1987. JUE Acker, Joan. 1990. gendered orga Almquist, Elizal inequality in It Amadiume, Ifi. 15 and sex in an AJ' Ariés, Philippe. 1 offamily life, 1 Vintage. Austad, Steven International JA Barkalow, Carol, New York: Po: Bern, Sandra Li cognitive accc 354—64. . 1983. Ger child develop in a gender—sc . 1993. Th! sexual inequali Bernard, Jessie. 1‘ Bernstein, Richai onage. New Y4 Berube, Allan, an bians during 1 Bettelheim, Brur the envious ma Biersack, Aletta. foundations ( 118—38. Birdwhistell, Re body motion c Pennsylvania Blackwood, EV certain Nativ females. Sign. Bolin, Anne. 19! tional analysi . 1988. In: Hadley, Mas: Bourdieu, Pierre Calif: Stanfo Brody, Jane E. 1‘. as leading h 2 October. Butler, Judith. 1 sion of identit; Chodorow, Nan sonality. In F . 1978. The of California 1C6 that the head of a a trust others with his tical asset, his son’s , see El Dareer 1982; < 1992; Walker 1992. that removes only the :0 male circumcision, i are far more exten- sychologically shock— umcision. However, ' penises are slit and d the way women do iony, the effects of and personality, and se processes before )n Marx’s analysis of than two categories, (Jacobs and Roberts lotograph of eleven who are dressed in with short haircuts. ate the only woman aoking alike reflects and D’Emilio 1984). hose with a vagina, r their sexual inter- ;s you watch them bout feminism but for disturbing the nssexual men-to— and sexual harass- the opposite direc- 1 advantage to be oss-dress, but they 26—40). or a similar set of the experience of eryday interaction ;, see Acker 1990; . 1987. I JUDITH LORBER / “NIGHT TO HIS DAY": THE SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION OF GENDER 49 REFERENCES Acker, Joan. 1990. Hierarchies, jobs, and bodies: A theory of gendered organizations. 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