2000s · Bryn Mawr College · Doctoral studies · Feminism (white + black and everything in between) · Gender & Society · invisible labor · Social demography · Socie Dinner Party · Texas · The more you know

Gender & Society, UTSA Honors Course from Juanita M. Firestone. Or, Baby feminist grows up. Or, be Tori Amos.

Thursday, March 16, 2017
Ann Arbor, Michigan

  • Days since Pine Rest: 14
  • Marital status: Questioning
  • Spiritual status: Judaism
  • Individual status: Questioning
  • Dietary status: Anything I can find, at the moment
  • Drug status: Lithium, coffee and cigarettes
  • Mood: Stable
  • Personality:  Groucho Marx
  • Sexuality: No thanks.
  • American status: From womb to tomb
  • Feminist status: Blacker than yours
  • Hipster status: Oh, god. It’s happening to me, isn’t it? Well, it isn’t all bad. There’s PBR, David Lynch movies, and American Spirits. Leather-bound notebooks and coffee shops. Hey! I’ve been hipster since 1998. God, that was so “hipster.” (read: Self-loathing)

Winter 2004
Tues. & Thurs., 2 PM – 3:25 PM
Professor Juanita M. Firestone
Business Building
Department of Sociology
University of Texas at San Antonio

In Winter 2004, I took my first Sociology of Gender & Sexuality course. This was the semester that I ended a long, lingering and painful love affair. It almost killed me. No, really. I menstruated for 3 months. When I called a nurse at UTSA for medical advice, she wondered aloud if I were having a miscarriage. Ugh. What a bitch. It was around the same time that David Letterman announced that his long-time girlfriend was pregnant. No children for me. I was too hysterical.

This was one year and change before I was accepted to the Master of Social Work (MSW) programs at the University of Michigan (where I enrolled), Bryn Mawr, Columbia University, New York University, and Washington University in St. Louis. Smith rejected me and I know why. I didn’t have any interest in being a clinical social worker; I wanted to take a macro approach and solve child maltreatment. The guy who interviewed me had an eye patch and he told me I would have a wonderful career, no matter what results the admissions process yielded. I should email him.

Anyway, here’s what I learned in Gender & Society, Winter 2004, taken from the pages of my composition notebook and remembered to Tor Amos’s Little Earthquakes and To Venus and Back.

Tuesday, January 25, 2004
2 PM – 3:25 PM

Reading notes (prior to first class): Essentialist (biological [AKA anti-constructionist]) vs. constructionist (social) approaches

Lecture: Last time we focused on sociological reasons for dichotomy of gender. Today, we focus on the psychological. Boys are more likely to do “female” typed behaviors than girls are to mimic “male” behavior because females are primary caregivers. Freud said: Sexual urges are part of our biological makeup.

Key terms:

  • Gender schema = template for the way we envision or thing or things we ought to be (ex. how women should act)

Thursday, January 27, 2004
2 PM – 3:25 PM

Ethnocentric and bias culture:  Gender role behavior


  • Hunter and gathering societies were called “foraging societies.” Ideas = when women are pregnant they aren’t able to take care of themselves. Early works = because men had to coordinate and work together they developed primary language and used tools.
  • Foraging societies, reinterpretations: small tribes that had to be extremely mobile, so not only men could have had an ability to communicate. Goal of any group is going to be survival.
  • Depending on culture and historical time. There is not a set pattern of sex divisions of labor from culture to culture. Gender division of labor doesn’t necessarily create gender inequality.

Key terms:

  • Androcentric = male-centered
  • Sex = fluid set of cultural beliefs that may change from one period to the next
  • Patrilineal vs. matrilineal

Tuesday, February 1, 2004
2 PM -3:25 PM

Science and Gender and the Social Construction of Knowledge

Sociology of knowledge (Karl Mannheim)

  1. Ideas emerge from a particular social & historical setting. Recent example: use of hormone replacement therapy for menopausal women
  2. This context shapes human consciousness and interpretations of reality. Asking research questions:  What is the impact of maternal deprivation on preschool children?

We must understand how and why we know things to understand reality. We must uncover how ideas are embedded in the social experience of those who produced them.

  • Sex of the researcher
  • Research context: what gets funded? vs. what doesn’t get funded?
  • Participants: Minority mothers on welfare? When doing research ask: who am I pulling in for analysis? And why?
  • Measurements and analysis tools: Must be appropriate
  • Avoid alpha bias: the tendency to fund research that finds a difference
  • Prevailing ideology can distort our view of reality; can take an “objective reality” which becomes a form of social control.

Individuals internalize the “objective reality.” When we don’t follow proscriptions we are considered abnormal, we get “lost.”

Potential bias in the research process:

  • Gender-related research = treat women as exceptions, measured against the “normal” male. We create different educational outcomes for boys and girls.
    • Example #1: Educating boys and girls in elementary school. Boys and girls still segregated (seating, lines, teams). Teachers are more likely to provide remediation and challenge to boys. Boys are often praised for the intellectual quality of their work, girls tend to get praised for the neatness of their work.
    • Potential research question: Are boys naturally better at math?


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