Summary of the Readings
Authors’ Main Point
Chapter 2 of the text focuses on how the institutionalization of differences in gender, race, and socioeconomic status, among others, perpetuates class privilege and disparity. The main argument centers on the social construction of hierarchical dissimilarities, creating normalized unequal and advantaging systems that are oppressive to women and other groups. According to Collins (2015), societal institutions are involved in the production and preservation of practices of inequality, such as sexism, heterosexism, and racism. The central point in chapter 3 is that gender privilege has driven girls to embrace masculine behaviors to be accepted by boys.
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Outline of the Argument
A synopsis of the readings in chapter 2 is given below.
- Categories of oppression and privilege overlap
- We should shun dichotomous thinking, as it results in systems of oppression and inequality.
- Alliance formation and empathy will help foster social change
- Intersectionality universalizes feminine experiences, impeding our understanding of important struggles
- White people are blind to white privilege as men are unwilling to perceive their over-privileged status
- Unearned white or male advantage creates systems of dominance
- Cisgender privilege – gender identity or expression that corresponds to the assigned sex – discriminates against transgender people
- Gendered privilege is an outcome of the gender binary
- Classism lead to inequalities in workplaces and neighborhoods
- Internalized classism leads to discrimination and violence against minorities, migrants, and people living with disabilities
The main argument in chapter 3 readings is outlined below.
- Gender privilege drives girls to embrace masculine behaviors
- Intersex and transsexual orientations do not conform to the socialized gender binary
- The five-sex system – male, female, herms, merms, and ferms – captures all forms of human sexuality (Fausto-Sterling, 2015)
- Gender is a social construct, i.e., it is created and recreated through human interactions
- Sex assignment at birth makes one gender subordinate to the other
Personal Reflection or Understanding of the Material
The readings show how systems of inequality are created through the gender binary. In my view, the dichotomous thinking that results in male privilege and oppression of women is pervasive in society. Gendered privilege is so normalized that the perpetrators do not recognize it as being oppressive to others. Young girls would want to identify with masculinity as tomboys because of the dominance attached to it. In contrast, boys would not want to be associated with effeminate qualities, which they consider disparaging.
Reactions, Opinions, and Thoughts
The readings give interesting insights into the sources of oppression in modern society. I concur with the view that the categorization of people based on gender, income levels, ability, and race, among others, inadvertently creates a privileged group. Inequality arises when people are assigned to groups—gender assignment at birthplaces a child in either a masculine or feminine development trajectory. Patriarchy confers a privilege to males, resulting in the subordination of women.
In what ways do gender and racial stereotypes establish and preserve inequality in society?
Collins, P. H. (2015). Towards a new vision. In S. M. Shaw & J. Lee (Eds.), Women’s voices, feminist visions: Classic and contemporary readings (pp. 72-79). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Education.
Fausto-Sterling, A. (2015). The five sexes, revisited. In S. M. Shaw & J. Lee (Eds.), Women’s voices, feminist visions: Classic and contemporary readings (pp. 72-79). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Education.