Must at least three and a half pages long (could be more). Dedicate at least one page to each assigned chapter (chapter 8 and 10), and at least one page for your reaction/reflections.

include a summary of each assigned chapter and your personal reaction/reflections. You may address the following:

  • How have the assigned readings challenged your assumptions? Why? How?
  • Can you relate to the information presented?
  • Provide an example of a place in the world where individuals share similar experiences or challenges. Describe commonalities and differences between groups.

G e n de r I DE A S , I N T E R A C T I O N S , I N S T I T U T I O N S

S e c o n d e d i t i o n

Soc i o l og y T i T l e S from

W. W. N o rT o N

The Contexts Reader, THIRD EDITIon, edited by Syed Ali and Philip N. Cohen

Code of the Street by Elijah Anderson The Cosmopolitan Canopy by Elijah Anderson Social Problems, THIRD EDITIon, by Joel Best The Art and Science of Social Research by

Deborah Carr, Elizabeth Heger Boyle, Benjamin Cornwell, Shelley Correll, Robert Crosnoe, Jeremy Freese, and Mary C. Waters

The Family: Diversity, Inequality, and Social Change, sEconD EDITIon, by Philip N. Cohen

You May Ask Yourself: An Introduction to Thinking like a Sociologist, fIfTH EDITIon, by Dalton Conley

Race in America by Matthew Desmond and Mustafa Emirbayer

The Real World: An Introduction to Sociology, sIxTH EDITIon, by Kerry Ferris and Jill Stein

Essentials of Sociology, sEvEnTH EDITIon, by Anthony Giddens, Mitchell Duneier, Richard P. Appelbaum, and Deborah Carr

Introduction to Sociology, ElEvEnTH EDITIon, by Anthony Giddens, Mitchell Duneier, Richard P. Appelbaum, and Deborah Carr

Mix It Up: Popular Culture, Mass Media, and Society, sEconD EDITIon, by David Grazian

Give Methods a Chance by Kyle Green and Sarah Esther Lageson

Readings for Sociology, EIgHTH EDITIon, edited by Garth Massey

Families as They Really Are, sEconD EDITIon, edited by Barbara J. Risman and Virginia E. Rutter

Uneasy Peace: The Great Crime Decline, the Renewal of City Life, and the Next War on Violence by Patrick Sharkey

Sex Matters: The Sexuality and Society Reader, fIfTH EDITIon, edited by Mindy Stombler, Dawn M. Baunach, Wendy O. Simonds, Elroi J. Windsor, and Elisabeth O. Burgess

American Hookup: The New Culture of Sex on Campus by Lisa Wade

Cultural Sociology: An Introductory Reader edited by Matt Wray

American Society: How It Really Works, sEconD EDITIon, by Erik Olin Wright and Joel Rogers

To learn more about Norton Sociology, please visit wwnorton.com/soc

Ge n de r

L i S a Wa de occidental college

M y r a M a r x F e r r e e University of Wisconsin–Madison

n W. W. NORTON & COM PA N Y, I NC .

New York • London

S e c o n d e d i t i o n

W. W. Norton & Company has been independent since its founding in 1923, when William Warder Norton and Mary D. Herter Norton first published lectures delivered at the People’s Institute, the adult education division of New York City’s Cooper Union. The firm soon expanded its program beyond the Institute, publishing books by celebrated academics from America and abroad. By midcentury, the two major pillars of Norton’s publishing program—trade books and college texts—were firmly established. In the 1950s, the Norton family transferred control of the company to its employees, and today—with a staff of four hundred and a comparable number of trade, college, and professional titles published each year—W. W. Norton & Company stands as the largest and oldest publishing house owned wholly by its employees.

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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Names: Wade, Lisa (Professor), author. | Ferree, Myra Marx, author. Title: Gender / Lisa Wade, Occidental College, Myra Marx Ferree, University of Wisconsin, Madison. Description: Second Edition. | New York : W. W. Norton & Company, [2018] | Revised edition

of the authors’ Gender : ideas, interactions, institutions, [2015] | Includes bibliographical references and index.

Identifiers: LCCN 2018039801 | ISBN 9780393667967 (pbk.) Subjects: LCSH: Sex role. | Sex differences. | Feminist theory. Classification: LCC HQ1075 .W33 2018 | DDC 305.3–dc23 LC record available at https://lccn .loc.gov/2018039801

ISBN: 978-0-393-66796-7 (pbk.)

W. W. Norton & Company, Inc., 500 Fifth Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10110 www.wwnorton.com W. W. Norton & Company Ltd., 15 Carlisle Street, London W1D 3BS 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0

a boU t t h e aU t hor S

L is a Wa de is an associate professor of sociology at Occi- dental College in Los Angeles, where she does research at the intersection of gender, sexuality, culture, and the body. She earned an MA in human sexuality from New York Uni- versity and an MS and PhD in sociology from the University of Wisconsin−Madison. She is the author of over three dozen research papers, book chapters, and educational essays. Her newest book, American Hookup: The New Culture of Sex on Campus, is the definitive account of contemporary collegiate sexual culture. Aiming to reach audiences outside of aca- demia, Dr. Wade appears frequently in print, radio, and tele- vision news and opinion outlets.  You can learn more about her at lisa-wade.com or follow her on Twitter (@lisawade) or Facebook ( /lisawadephd).

M y r a M a r x F e r r e e is the Alice H. Cook Professor of Sociology at the University of Wisconsin−Madison. She is the author of Varieties of Feminism: German Gender Politics in Global Perspective (2012), co-author of Shaping Abortion Discourse (2002) and Controversy and Coalition (2000), and co-editor of Gender, Violence and Human Security (2013), Global Feminism (2006), and Revisioning Gender (1998) as well as numerous articles and book chapters. Dr. Ferree is the recipient of various prizes for contributions to gender studies, including the Jessie Bernard Award and Victo- ria Schuck Award. She continues to do research on global gender politics.

p r e Fa c e i x

1 I N T RODUCT ION  3

2 I DE A S  9 The Binary and Our Bodies . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12 Gender Ideologies . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23 The Binary and Everything Else . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29

3 BODI ES  3 9 Research on Sex Differences and Similarities . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41 Defining Difference . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 43 Similarities Between the Sexes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 54

4 PER FOR M A NCES  67 How to Do Gender . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 69 Learning the Rules . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 75 Why We Follow the Rules . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 78 How to Break the Rules . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 85 The No. 1 Gender Rule . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 88

5 I N T ER SECT IONS  93 Intersectionality . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 94 Economic Class and Residence . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 96 Race . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 99 Sexual Orientation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 108 Immigration . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 111 Ability, Age, and Attractiveness . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 115

6 I N EQUA LI T Y: M EN A N D M A SCU LI N I T I ES  1 2 5 The Gender of Cheerleading . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 126 Gendered Power . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 129 Gender for Men . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 135 Can Masculinity Be Good? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 152

con t e n tS

viii

7 I N EQUA LI T Y: WOM EN A N D F EM I N I N I T I ES  1 5 9 Cheerleading Today . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 159 Gender for Women . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 161 The Big Picture . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 184

8 I NST I T U T IONS  191 The Organization of Daily Life . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 192 Gendered Institutions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 196 The Institutionalization of Gender Difference . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 197 The Institutionalization of Gender Inequality . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 201 Institutional Inertia and Change . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 212

9 CH A NGE  219 The Evolution of Sex . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 220 The Evolution of Marriage . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 229 The Funny ’50s . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 233 Going to Work . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 241 Work and Family Today . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 244 Conclusion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 248

10 SEx UA LI T I ES  2 51 Sex: The Near History of Now. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 252 Sex and “Liberation” Today . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 255 Gendered Sexualities . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 258 College Hookup Culture . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 275

11 FA M I LI ES  2 87 Gendered Housework and Parenting . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 288 Barriers to Equal Sharing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 304 Going It Alone . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 308 New, Emerging, and Erstwhile Family Forms . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 312

1 2 WOR K  321 The Changing Workplace . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 322 Job Segregation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 326 Discrimination and Preferential Treatment . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 339 Parenthood: The Facts and the Fiction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 348 The Changing Workplace, Revisited . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 351

1 3 POLI T ICS  3 57 The State . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 362 Social Movements . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 376

14 CONCLUSION  3 8 9

GLOssary 397 NOTes 405 crediTs 485 iNdex 487

c o n t e n t s

Pr e Face

Writing a textbook is a challenge even for folks with lots of teaching experience in the subject matter. We would never have dared take on this project without Karl Bakeman’s initial encouragement. His confidence in our vision was inspir- ing and kept us going until the project could be placed into the very capable hands of Sasha Levitt, who ushered the first edition to completion with her meticulous reading, thoughtful suggestions, and words of encouragement. Sasha has since become an invaluable part of the revision process, with a perfect mix of stewardship, cheerleading, and collaborative fact-checking. She has kept us on target conceptually as well as chronologically, challenged us to think hard about the points that first-edition readers had raised, and yet kept the revision process smoothly moving forward to meet our deadlines. Without her firm hand on the tiller, our occasional excursions into the weeds might have swamped the revision with unnecessary changes, but her attention to updating sources kept us cheerful with the new evidence we landed. The revision might have bal- looned with the new material we identified, but her editorial eye has kept us in our word limits without sacrificing anything important. Sasha has become a true partner in the difficult process of adding the new without losing the old, and we could not have pulled it off without her.

Of course, Karl and Sasha are but the top of the mountain of support that Norton has offered from beginning to end. The many hands behind the scenes include project editor Diane Cipollone for keeping us on schedule and collating our changes, production manager Ashley Horna for turning a manuscript into the pages you hold now, assistant editors Erika Nakagawa and Thea Goodrich for their logistical help in preparing that manuscript, designer Jillian Burr for her keen graphic eye, and our copyeditor, Katharine Ings, for crossing our t’s and dotting our i’s. The many images that enrich this book are thanks to photo editors Travis Carr and Stephanie Romeo and photo researchers Elyse Rieder and Rona Tuccillo. We are also grateful to have discovered Leland Bobbé, the artist

x

whose half-drag portraits fascinated us. Selecting just one for the first edition was a col- laborative process aided by the further creative work of Jillian Burr and Debra Morton Hoyt. Selecting a second was equally exciting and challenging. We’re grateful for the result: striking covers that we hope catch the eye and spark conversation.

We would also like to thank the reviewers who commented on drafts of the book and its revision in various stages: Rachel Allison, Shayna Asher-Shapiro, Phyllis L. Baker, Kristen Barber, Miriam Barcus, Shira Barlas, Sarah Becker, Dana Berkowitz, Emily Birn- baum, Natalie Boero, Catherine Bolzendahl, Valerie Chepp, Nancy Dess, Lisa Dilks, Mischa DiBattiste, Erica Dixon, Mary Donaghy, Julia Eriksen, Angela Frederick, Jessica Greenebaum, Nona Gronert, Lee Harrington, Sarah Hayford, Penelope Herideen, Mel- anie Hughes, Miho Iwata, Rachel Kaplan, Madeline Kiefer, Rachel Kraus, Carrie Lacy, Thomas J. Linneman, Caitlin Maher, Gul Aldikacti Marshall, Janice McCabe, Karyn McKinney, Carly Mee, Beth Mintz, Joya Misra, Beth Montemurro, Christine Mowery, Stephanie Nawyn, Madeleine Pape, Lisa Pellerin, Megan Reid, Gwen Sharp, Mimi Schip- pers, Emily Fitzgibbons Shafer, Kazuko Suzuki, Jaita Talukdar, Rachel Terman, Mieke Beth Thomeer, Kristen Williams, and Kersti Alice Yllo, as well as the students at Babson College, Occidental College, Nevada State College, and the University of Wisconsin− Madison who agreed to be test subjects. Our gratitude goes also to the users of the first edition who offered us valuable feedback on what they enjoyed and what they found miss- ing, either directly or through Norton. We’ve tried to take up their suggestions by not merely squeezing in occasional new material but by rethinking the perspectives and priorities that might have left such concerns on the cutting room floor the first time around. We hope the balance we have struck is satisfying but are always open to further criticism and suggestions.

Most of all, we are happy to discover that we could collaborate in being creative over the long term of this project, contributing different talents at different times, and jump- ing the inevitable hurdles without tripping each other up. In fact, we were each other’s toughest critic and warmest supporter. Once upon a time, Lisa was Myra’s student, but in finding ways to communicate our interest and enthusiasm to students, we became a team. In the course of the revision, we came to appreciate each other’s strengths more than ever and rejoice in the collegial relationship we had in making the revision happen. We hope you enjoy reading this book as much as we enjoyed making it.

Lisa Wade Myra Marx Ferree

p r e f a c e

G e n de r I DE A S , I N T E R A C T I O N S , I N S T I T U T I O N S

S e c o n d e d i t i o n

a m a n in heels is r idicu lous.

— c h r i s t i a n l o u b o u t i n

3

introduction

Among the most vicious and effective killers who have ever lived were the men of the Persian army. In the late 1500s, under the reign of Abbas I, these soldiers defeated the Uzbeks and the Ottomans and reconquered provinces lost to India and Portugal, earning the admiration of all of Europe. Their most lethal advantage was the high heel.1 Being on horseback, heels kept their feet in the stirrups when they rose up to shoot their mus- kets. It gave them deadly aim. The first high-heeled shoe, it turns out, was a weapon of war.

Enthralled by the military men’s prowess, European male aris- tocrats began wearing high heels in their daily lives of leisure, using the shoe to borrow some of the Persian army’s masculine mystique. In a way, they were like today’s basketball fans wearing Air Jordans. The aristocrats weren’t any better on the battlefield than your average Bulls fan is on the court, but the shoes sym- bolically linked them to the soldiers’ extraordinary achievements. The shoes invoked a distinctly manly power related to victory in battle, just as the basketball shoes link the contemporary wearer to Michael Jordan’s amazing athleticism.

As with most fashions, there was trickle down. Soon men of all classes were donning high heels, stumbling around the cobble stone streets of Europe feeling pretty suave. And then women decided

1

Chapter 1  I n t r o d u c t I o n4

they wanted a piece of the action, too. In the 1630s, masculine fashions were “in” for ladies. They cut their hair, added military decorations to the shoulders of their dresses, and smoked pipes. For women, high heels were nothing short of mascu- line mimicry.

These early fashionistas irked the aristocrats who first borrowed the style. The whole point of nobility, after all, was to be above everyone else. In response, the elites started wearing higher and higher heels. France’s King Louis XIV even decreed that no one was allowed to wear heels higher than his.2 In the New World, the Massachusetts colony passed a law saying that any woman caught wear- ing heels would incur the same penalty as a witch.3

But the masses persisted. And so the aristo- crats shifted strategies: They dropped high heels altogether. It was the Enlightenment now, and there was an accompanying shift toward logic and reason. Adopting the philosophy that it was

intelligence—not heel height—that bestowed superiority, aristocrats donned flats and began mocking people who wore high heels, suggesting that wear- ing such impractical shoes was the height of stupidity.

Ever since, the shoe has remained mostly out of fashion for men—cow- boys excluded, of course, and disco notwithstanding—but it’s continued to tweak the toes of women in every possible situation, from weddings to the workplace. No longer at risk of being burned at the stake, women are allowed to wear high heels, now fully associated with femaleness in the American imagination. Some women even feel pressure to do so, particularly if they are trying to look pretty or professional. And there remains the sense that the right pair brings a touch of class.

The attempts by aristocrats to keep high heels to themselves are part of a phenomenon that sociologists call distinction, a word used to describe efforts to distinguish one’s own group from others. In this historical exam- ple, we see elite men working hard to make a simultaneously class- and gender-based distinction. If the aristocrats had had their way, only rich men would have ever worn high heels. Today high heels continue to serve as a marker of gender distinction. With few exceptions, only women (and peo – ple impersonating women) wear high heels.

Distinction is a main theme of  this book. The word gender only exists because we distinguish between people in this particular way. If we didn’t

shah a bbas i, who ruled Persia between 1588 and 1629, shows off not only his scimitar, but also his high heels.

I n t r o d u c t I o n 5

care about distinguishing men from women, the whole concept would be utterly unnecessary. We don’t, after all, tend to have words for phys- ical differences that don’t have meaning to us. For exam ple, we don’t make a big deal out of the fact that some people have the gene that allows them to curl their tongue and some people don’t. There’s no concept of tongue aptitude that refers to the separation of people into the curly tongued and the flat tongued. Why would we need such a thing? The vast majority of us just don’t care. Likewise, the ability to focus one’s eyes on a close or distant object isn’t used to signify status and being right-handed is no longer considered bet- ter than being left-handed.

Gender, then, is about distinction. Like tongue aptitude, vision, and handedness, it is a biological reality. We are a species that reproduces sex ually. We come, roughly, in two body types: a female one built to gestate new life and a male one made to mix up the genes of the species. The word sex is used to refer to these physical differences in pri mary sexual charac teristics (the presence of organs directly involved in reproduction) and sec- ondary sexual characteristics (such as patterns of hair growth, the amount of breast tissue, and distribution of  body fat). We usually use the words male and female to refer to sex, but we can also use male-bodied and female-bodied to specify that sex refers to the body and may not extend to how a person feels or acts. And, as we’ll see, not every body fits neatly into one category or the other.

Unlike tongue aptitude, vision, and handedness, we make the biology of sex socially significant. When we differentiate between men and women, for example, we also invoke blue and pink baby blankets, suits and dresses, Maxim and Cosmopolitan magazines, and action movies and chick flicks. These are all examples of the world divided up into the masculine and the feminine, into things we associate with men and women. The word gender refers to the symbolism of masculinity and femininity that we connect to being male-bodied or female-bodied.

Symbols matter because they indicate what bodily differences mean in prac tice. They force us to try to fit our bodies into constraints that “pinch” both physically and symbolically, as high heels do. They prompt us to invent

louis X i V, king of France from 1643 to 1715, gives himself a boost with big hair and high heels.

Chapter 1  I n t r o d u c t I o n6

ways around bodily limitations, as eyeglasses do. They are part of our collec- tive imaginations and, accordingly, the stuff out of which we create human reality. Gender symbolism shapes not just our identities and the ideas in our heads, but workplaces, families, and schools, and our options for navigating through them.

This is where distinction comes in. Much of what we believe about men and women—even much of what we imagine is strictly biological—is not naturally occurring difference that emerges from our male and female bod- ies. Instead, it’s an outcome of active efforts to produce and maintain differ- ence: a sea of peo ple working together every day to make men masculine and women feminine, and signify the relative importance of masculinity and femininity in every domain.

Commonly held ideas, and the behaviors that both uphold and challenge them, are part of culture: a group’s shared beliefs and the practices and material things that reflect them. Human lives are wrapped in this cultural meaning, like the powerful masculinity once ascribed to high heels. So gen der isn’t merely biological; it’s cultural. It’s the result of a great deal of human effort guided by shared cultural ideas.

one of these people is not like the others. We perform gendered distinctions like the one shown here ever y day, often simply out of habit.

I n t r o d u c t I o n 7

Why would people put so much effort into maintaining this illusion of distinction?

Imagine those aristocratic tantrums: pampered, wig-wearing, face- powdered men stomping their high-heeled feet in frustration with the lowly copycats. How dare the masses blur the line between us, they may have cried. Today it might sound silly, ridiculous even, to care about who does and doesn’t wear high heels. But at the time it was a very serious matter. Success- ful efforts at distinction ensured that these elite men really seemed different and, more importantly, bet ter than women and other types of men. This was at the very core of the aristocracy: the idea that some people truly are supe- rior and, by virtue of their superi ority, entitled to hoard wealth and monop- olize power. They had no superpowers with which to claim superiority, no actual proof that God wanted things that way, no biological trait that gave them an obvious advantage. What did they have to dis tinguish themselves? They had high heels.

Without high heels, or other symbols of superiority, aristocrats couldn’t make a claim to the right to rule. Without difference, in other words, there could be no hierarchy. This is still true today. If one wants to argue that Group A is superior to Group B, there must be distinguishable groups. We can’t think more highly of one type of person than another unless we have at least two types. Distinction, then, must be maintained if we are going to value certain types of people more than others, allowing them to demand more power, attract more prestige, and claim the right to extreme wealth.

Wealth and power continue to be hoarded and monopolized. These ine qual ities continue to be justified—made to seem normal and natural—by prod ucing differences that make group membership seem meaningful and inequality inevi table or right. We all engage in actions designed to align ourselves with some people and differentiate ourselves from others. Thus we see the persistence of social classes, racial and ethnic categories, the urban-rural divide, gay and straight iden tities, liberal and conservative par- ties, and various Christian and Muslim sects, among other distinctions. These categories aren’t all bad; they give us a sense of belonging and bring joy and pleasure into our lives. But they also serve as clas sifications by which societies unevenly distribute power and privilege.

Gender is no different in this regard. There is a story to tell about both dif- ference and hierarchy and it involves both pleasure and pain. We’ll wait a bit before we seriously tackle the problem of gender inequality, spending sev- eral chapters learning just how enjoyable studying gender can be. There’ll be funny parts and fascinating parts. You’ll meet figure skaters and football players, fish and flight attendants and, yes, feminists, too. Eventually we’ll get to the part that makes you want to throw the book across the room. We won’t take it personally. For now, let’s pick up right where we started, with distinction.

The on es w iTh ey el ashes a r e gir ls;

boys don ’T h av e ey el ashes.

— F o u r -y e a r – o l d e r i n d e s c r i b e s h e r d r aw i n g 1

9

ideas

Most of us use the phrase “opposite sexes” when describing the categories of male and female. It’s a telling phrase. There are other ways to express this relationship. It was once common, for example, to use the phrase “the fairer sex” or “the second sex” to describe women. We could simply say “the other sex,” a more neutral phrase. Or, even, “an other sex,” which leaves open the possibility of more than two. Today, though, peo- ple usually describe men and women as opposites.

Seventeenth-century Europeans—the same ones fighting over high heels—didn’t believe in “opposite” sexes; they didn’t even believe in two sexes.2 They believed men and women were better and worse versions of the same sex, with identical reproductive organs that were just arranged differently: Men’s genitals were pushed out of the body, while women’s remained inside. As Fig- ure 2.1 shows, they saw the vagina as simply a penis that hadn’t emerge



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