As we learned in the previous module, socialization is the process by which every individual learns the important aspects of their culture. One of the important aspects of our culture that we learn during the period and process of socialization is how gender, or our culturally constructed sexual identity, should be properly portrayed in everyday activities. Some of the most important tools used by our western industrial culture for socializing children are toys. Discussions are worth 5 points in total. Initial posts are worth 4 points and your reply to another discussant is worth 1 point.
For this discussion I would like you to do the following:
Identify at least two toys that are currently being marketed to children between the ages of newborn to eighteen year olds – you may use examples from popular culture or search for toys using a cell phone or laptop (1 pt)
Discuss what message these toys are sending to children regarding the construction of gender in our culture. That is, what do these toys tell children about gender as it relates to dress, language, potential occupation, and acceptable behavior? (2 pts total, 1 pt for each toy)
In what ways are how we become men and women in our culture similar and different to the Sambia? (1 pt)
Last, reply to another discussant. How does another discussant’s interpretation compare to your own? (1pt)
Sex, Gender, and Sexuality – what’s the difference?
The chapter from Perspectives provides a fairly comprehensive review of sex, gender, and sexuality for this level of class, so I won’t spend too much space in this content page repeating what you can find there. I do want to reinforce some key terms and issues in the study of systems of sex, gender, and sexuality.
Like other cultural constructions, we internalize culturally-specific ideas about biological sex, gender, and sexuality when during the process of socialization. Sex, gender, and sexuality also inform our next topic, a larger ethnographic study of how one group of people construct a specific system of sex, gender, and sexuality, the Sambia of Papua New Guinea. Before we get to the Sambia, it’s important to understand some key concepts and terminology in the study of sex, gender, and sexuality.
These are complicated subjects and it’s challenging to discuss them in person, let alone a content page. What I usually do in lecture is begin by discussing normative conventional Western ideas of sex, gender, and sexuality. I then discuss how the things we think we know about sex, gender, and sexuality are not truth or fact, but simply another cultural construction specific to larger Western culture. I demonstrate that through anthropological research we can observe a great range of systems and relationships between sex, gender, and sexuality in the present time and in the past. What Americans think is “normal” or “natural” may be completely abnormal and unnatural to another culture and vice versa.
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