Race is a social construct. Gender is also a social construct. That does not make them “not real things”, in the same way that money is a social construct — as an abstraction and standardization of value and a symbol of resources available to a person. Nobody is rushing to say money doesn’t actually exist or have any importance in our capitalist society. They might want to abolish money, in the same way as a person might want to abolish gender. But that’s not to say they’re going to succeed without serious changes in society, changes that evidently can’t be envisioned happening by increments by the people proposing that abolishing the construct is a worthy goal. In the case of money, you’d have to have absolute abundance of all resources — free limitless energy and a replicator machine that could make whatever you want with that energy, for instance. In the case of gender, you’d have to have a society that accepted any performative aspect of self-identity without our innate desire to pigeonhole or label them in short-form for communications purposes.

anonymous asked:

I was wondering if you'd be willing to suggest some books that you believe men should read?

Hmmmm this is such a vague question (e.g., what kinds of books? which men? why?) so I’m just gonna run with it and recommend some great reads. 

First tho, want to say that I believe everyone, regardless of gender, should read the same books bc knowledge is power folks!!! 

Also, I should warn you that since I study the social construction of deviance and crime from an intersectional feminist perspective, this reading list does reflect that. Tbh, it’s actually a small selection from my PhD comprehensive exam *blushes*. 

While this list has interesting and enlightening reads, pls take it as a starting point. 

Go forth and read, read, read!!

Happy reading!

[Social constructionism] begins with radical doubt in the taken-for-granted world - whether in the sciences of daily life - and in a specialized way acts as a form of social criticism. Constructionism asks one to suspend belief that commonly accepted categories or understandings receive their warrant through observation. Thus, it invites one to challenge the objective basis of conventional knowledge.
Giddens’ notion of ontological security and existential anxiety are fruitful for understanding the global-local nexus as psychologized discourses of domination and resistance. As emphasized by Roberta Sigel…: ’(t)here exists in humans a powerful drive to maintain the sense of one’s identity, a sense of continuity that allays fear of changing too fast or being changed against one’s will by outside forces’. Globalization has made it more difficult, but not less desirable, to think in terms of singular, integrated and harmonious identities as individuals constantly tune their actions to an increasing number of othes and issues. The fact that individuals search for one stable identity does not mean, however, that such identities exist. Rather we need to understand identity, not as a fixed, natural state of being, but as a process of becoming. As argued by Stuart Hall…: ’(i)f we feel that we have a unified identity from birth to death, it is only because we construct a comforting story or ‘narrative of the self’ about ourselves’.
—  Catarina Kinvall, Globalization and Religious Nationalism in India: The Search for Ontological Security

When people (outside tumblr) talk about gender essentialism, they usually refer to the idea that gender is innate or natural and can be derived from sex. An example of gender essentialism would be the claim that women are naturally good housekeepers. Another essentialist view of gender would be saying that certain traits are pertaining to one gender by nature, i.e. that there are inherently feminine or masculine characteristics.

Radical feminists, like many feminists in general, assume a social constructionst view: femininity and masculinity are artificial in the sense that they are culturally assigned values, and there is no such thing as innate gender identity because gender is a socially constructed hierarchy. This means that observed/assumed gender differences between men and women are products of socialisation because females and males are socialised differently to adhere to different gender roles.

How is that essentialist?

‘Born that way’ is a simple mantra, one that cuts through the concepts and challenges I have outlined. But it is also dangerous. For embracing the fiction of biological determinism risks consistently misunderstanding the most important part of our lives – our intimate relationships. We invented romantic love. And homosexuality. And just about every other kind of relationship. That doesn’t make any of these things less important or less real. But our inventions are not part of a biological nature: they are part of a conversation between a biological and social order of life.

Without this more accurate understanding, it is easy to avoid fundamental questions of human society. If biology determines our expression, then there is no reason to think about making better or different worlds.

anonymous asked:

if gender is a social construct, what is the point of identifying as a gender?

The fact that something is a social construct doesn’t mean that it isn’t real. It’s blatantly real, considering we have to live with it every day of our lives. Frankly, a lot of things are a social construct. Even stuff like colour is a social construct - what I call blue may not be quite the same shade of colour that you call blue. I learned it was ‘blue’ by my parents pointing at a colour and calling it blue - and they learned it from their parents and so on and so on. If you’re going to argue that gender isn’t real/there’s no point to it because it’s a social construct, then pretty much everything in your life isn’t real/has no point either. Even time itself is a social construct.

There is undoubtedly a fierce battle for feminism to fight in the arena of gender essentialism, but adhering strongly to social constructionism puts the movement at odds with scientific consensus, placing a vital political movement on shaky ground. It also creates an obstacle in the relationship between trans activism and feminism. Perhaps it’s time for feminism to question social constructionism and stare the research squarely in the face, with some footnotes—look carefully at the sample size, understand the bell curve, and think about how the evidence can best be used for effective feminist activism—added for good measure.

…If it were not for this resistance there would be no need to reaffirm constantly the truthfulness of these discourses. For example, if the notion that ‘a woman’s place is in the home’ were really secure in its position as prevailing truth, there would be no need to keep asserting it.


From the book “An Introduction to Social Constructionism” by Vivien Burr

Social constructivism.

Social constructivism is a sociological theory of knowledge that applies the general philosophical constructivism into social settings, wherein groups construct knowledge for one another, collaboratively creating a small culture of shared artifacts with shared meanings. When one is immersed within a culture of this sort, one is learning all the time about how to be a part of that culture on many levels. Its origins are largely attributed to Lev Vygotsky.

Social constructivism is closely related to social constructionism in the sense that people are working together to construct artifacts. However, there is an important difference: social constructionism focuses on the artifacts that are created through the social interactions of a group, while social constructivism focuses on an individual’s learning that takes place because of their interactions in a group

Post-modernism and Moral Relativism

The critique of all forms of moral authority that emerged from the liberation movements of the 1960s and 1970s eventually found theoretical expression in post-modernism [….]

Post-modern view: “objective truth is obscured by language”

In the view of Bruno Latour, one of post-modernism’s leaders, social constructionism, or ‘critique’, teaches students that 'facts are made up, that there is no such things as natural unmediated, unbiased access to truth, that we are always prisoners of language, [and] that we always peak from a particular standpoint.“; instead, it is embodied in materials, in language, in consciousness. Informational materials–books, films, newspapers, television ads, and so on–should be taken not as purveyors of truth but as 'texts’ that have been prepared in cultural contexts and that reflects the perspectives of author and audience. Thus, when reading texts we should be alert to the 'meaning’ of what is being said, so that we do not mistake culturally specific ideas for objective truths. This process of reading with an eye to cultural and social preconceptions of the author is one of 'deconstruction’.

Even if we are alert to lurking cultural preconceptions, though, in our deconstruction we inevitable bring our own assumption and prejudices, so that truth is subjective, elusive and contestable. 

Science/Positivist view: "objective truth exists and we can find them”

This contrasts with the positivist stance of the physical sciences–and for many years social sciences such as anthropology, psychology and economics–in which the purpose of investigation is to uncover the truth that lies within the objective world. […]

In a sense, the process of deconstruction in the social sciences is only natural, and it has been the practice of critical readers through the ages.  

Post-modern view: “there is no objective truth”

The next step of social constructionism is more controversial. Since every text is culturally specific and therefore has meanings embedded in it–meanings that often reflect the assumptions or opinions of dominant ideologies, such as male supremacy or racial stereotyping–there is no objective or absolute truth: all texts reflect someone’s cultural preconceptions and prejudices, and all readers of texts bring their own bias to them.  

Positivism v. Post-modernism: An epistemological distinction

The task [….] is to acknowledge the need to repudiate [….] racism [….] through hermeneutics (the interpretation of texts […]) and to define where the scientific method should hold sway.

Post-modernist critique today

Today [….] the method of questioning the biases and prejudices lying being facts is being turned against the progressive political positions of post-modern intellectuals by a conservative resurgence [….]

Like the post-modernists in their critique of social sciences and humanities, the sceptics have characterised climate science as a social construction of scientists motivated by career advancement and prospects of research funding. [….] Environmentalists are hiding behind science to pursue their real agenda, which is to dismantle capitalism.

The weakness of social constructionism

[…] for all its radical challenge to accepted authority, it never new what it wanted. [….] the aim really was 'to emancipate the public from prematurely naturalized objectified facts’. And then what? This only displaces the answer, for how do we know when the facts have 'matured’ sufficiently for us to trust them? What was the purpose of post-modernism? What was to replace the structure that critique tore down so ruthlessly? There was no vision–only the negative energy of the angry young man

Post-modernism and the Internet

The internet is the epitome of the post-modern attitude to truth. The internet, the text of post-modernism par excellence–where every user is a purveyor of truth; where no cannon acts as ballast or referee as gatekeeper; where the most fantastic theories become embedded in the culture; where conspiratists can evade the ridicule they deserve; where any amateur who can compose a sentence can write an encyclopaedia.

~ Clive Hamilton / The freedom paradox: Towards a post-secular ethics / p.122-126

I am so tired of the idea that women are supposed to act one way and men are supposed to act another. I hate the idea of femininity being only for women and masculinity being only for men. I hate the idea that I am supposed to want to be a submissive person. I hate the way that gender has been socially constructed. Fuck this stupid world we live in where I can’t even be smart without being torn down and expected to dull my sparkle for someone else’s ego.

The tragedy of man began with the binding of the individual script. At some point in the individual’s life they appear to lose most every sense of impressionability. They have scripted how to navigate situations involving diverging scripts to the point of confining their mind’s interpretation of situations; divergent scripts are translated to corresponding lines in the individual’s own script with unquestioned accuracy, the translation correlating with dismissive lines. The worst that can be done is to claim a comprehensive script, one that accurately depicts the objective world more so than all others. For the comprehensive script is a violent script, and subjugates all others and their respective performers to this fallacious hierarchy. All language is limiting, all scripts incomprehensive. 

anonymous asked:

how would you tag socialization? I've been using "female" and "male socialization" but recent posts I've seen have made me re-think that. How can I tag socialization without being trans and non-binary exclusive while still acknowledging that it is a gendered process?

Well there are MANY different ways in which we can be socialized and I gather that you’re trying to be specific about gender socialization. So you could really just say that if you like. 

Also, I don’t think it’s at all trans or non-binary exclusionary to call it female or male socialization because the point is that you’re saying they’re social constructs to be unlearned. I feel like that type of tag calls out and names the problem rather than reinforces it. But maybe that’s just me. 

What do my trans and non-binary followers and friends think? Again, I feel like it’s very important for me to point out that I’m cis and may not fully grasp this situation. 

Life does not constitute an obvious threshold beyond which entirely new forms of knowledge are required. It is a category of classification, relative, like all the other categories, to the criteria one adopts. And also, like them, subject to certain imprecisions as soon as the question of deciding its frontiers arises.
—  Michel Foucault, The Order of Things: An Archaeology of the Human Sciences