Doing Gender: When we interact with other people, we are encouraged and, to some extent (eventually), feel compelled to ‘act like a man’ or ‘act like a woman.’ Behaving according to these ideals or failing to live up to them (depending on whether we are seen as male-bodied or female-bodied persons) is the “doing” of gender. To put it differently, “Gender…is the activity of managing situated conduct in light of normative conceptions of attitudes and activities appropriate for one’s sex category.” For men, for example, doing gender means “to have sex with women,” “to dominate women and other men,” “to be strong(er than women and other men),” etc. For a woman, doing gender means “to have sex with men,” “to mother children,” “to be a wife to a man,” “to do (most of the) domestic labor,” etc. (West and Zimmerman 2004:151) & (Hoynes and Croteau 2013:313)
– Expandability: This concept could also be applied to the idea of ‘doing race’ (i.e., acting black, acting white, etc.).
Gender-Hostage Acceptance: A person’s acceptance into a group depends on their conformity with a number of rules and standards. It is typical of modern cultures to reject someone who is to some degree ‘gender queer’ or gender nonconforming. This explains (at least partly) the practices of homophobia and transphobia in our culture such as the ‘fag discourse,’ whereby boys (and men) engage in a name-calling process designed to police behavior deemed unacceptable for a boy/man (i.e., feminine behavior). Parents, teachers, relatives, peers—indeed the majority of society—engages in (not-so) subtle forms of gender-coercion such as praising a male-bodied child for being ‘brave’ and ‘strong’ or praising a female-bodied child for being ‘pretty’ and ‘sweet.’ The message is clear at a very early age: “If you want us to like you, act like a boy if you’re male-bodied or a girl if you’re female-bodied—and not like both.” Another example: the boy that rides the pink bike and gets fussed at by his father for doing so is learning that they have a choice to make. Either the child does what he wants or he gets father’s acceptance, but he can’t have both—and it’s probably apparent to the child what the ‘right’ choice is. Producing “gender is undertaken by women and men whose competence as members of society is hostage to its production.” (West and Zimmerman 2004:150)
Gender Micropolitics: The doing of gender involves the exercise of powers, both in the active sense of acting upon something/someone (action) and in the passive sense of being acted upon by something/someone (passion). These powers are relegated or distributed differently for men as compared to women. In other words, whether one is considered a man or a woman has micro-political consequences, which may be considered to be different from macro-political gender differences such as those dealing with the right to vote. Micro-political gender differences refer to “the allocation of power and resources…in the broad arena of interpersonal relations.” (West and Zimmerman 2004:165) E.g., these micro-politics might pertain to questions such as “should a woman consider herself equal to men,” “should she listen to men more than she talks to them,” “what should a woman wear,” “how should a woman act in the presence of men,” etc. Remember, politics deals with the interactions of people’s power, and every one of your capacities to do something is a power. Belonging to a (gender-polarizing) culture means that the exercise, the development, and the access to these powers are all regulated by others.
Sexual Harassment: “unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature.” (Hoynes and Croteau 2013:313) This can involve both intentional, such as when a boss threatens a subordinate with punitive measures if they don’t provide them with sexual favors, and unintentional behavior, such as when a co-worker tells a ‘funny’ joke to another co-worker. (Hoynes and Croteau 2013:300-301)
Heterosexism: We’re using this term to mean not only “attitudes and behaviors that indicate an assumption that everyone is heterosexual” (Hoynes and Croteau 2013:313) but also cultural conceptions and practices that involve the abuse, belittling, degradation, threatening, and general social repression of queer people or queerness. E.g., a boy in the United States was beaten, thrown off a bridge, and murdered because of the ‘feminine’ way that he walked. What could make a walk so threatening that the person who enacts it must have their life exterminated?
Homophobia (Hoynes and Croteau 2013:313)
Patriarchy (Hoynes and Croteau 2013:313)