Revisiting the nail salon, the toy store, and the private home
Geographers at work: language, the body, and intersectionality

Umbrella entry: the body, sex, and gender

Here are materials that help to further our discussion from Thursday and that may also help address many of your questions and points of confusion. Feel free respond to any (or all) in comments.


  • This article at Mic provides a breakdown of terms commonly used to discuss different forms of gender identity, such as "transgender" and "genderqueer." The article is a good companion to the "Genderbread Person" we used during class.
  • This long read by Ian Steadman at The New Statesman reviews the current scientific literature on sex. The article suggests that natural and physical scientists have long accepted that sex, in a genetic and biological sense, is more complicated than the binary idea. Nonetheless, the sex and gender binary remains culturally dominant; if anything, in most contexts, scientific research is still read through the lens of that binary, which often simplifies the findings of researchers.
  • Relatedly, recent brain and psychological research suggests that there are few significant differences in brain structure and cognitive function based in sex (report here), and that many stereotypes about what men and women are like in terms of personality are not, in practice, as wide or deep as is often assumed or represented in media (report here).

Performance and representation:

  • This article at The Atlantic reports on the difficulties of breaking down the binary for gender roles at home and in the workplace in the U.S., specifically focusing on the relative lack of accommodations for men who want to take family leave.
  • This NPR story reports on the "double bind" that women face in the workplace in terms of how to act towards, and talk to, others.
  • At Bustle, Elizabeth Enochs reports on recent archeological research from Stone and Bronze age sites which suggests that female persons were more likely to travel than male persons, at least among people living in the particular locations where the research is being done. How do these findings transgress common ideas about male and female roles?
  • This entry at Sociological Images compares advertisements for men's and women's clothes on the American Apparel website. The key question here is: how do the ads reflect different expectations for male and female bodies?


  • This NPR story reports on the challenges that women of color in the U.S. and Europe face in finding cosmetics that work with their skin tones. What does this story suggest about how race and ethnicity intersect with sex and gender, particularly in defining what it means to be a "normal" woman or to be seen as properly feminine?
  • This item at Sociological Images considers the "man bun." How does the "man bun" represent an intersection of gender with ethnicity? (Bonus question: how is the term "man bun" a reflection of the sex and gender binary?)
  • This entry at Work in Progress reviews research on perceptions of intelligence between girls and boys and men and women. What does this research suggest about how sex and gender intersect with age and with feelings of personal identity? For men and women, what does this research also suggest about how sex and gender intersect with economic relations and how you are identified in work?
  • This article at the Indian Country Media Network reviews common Native practices and language around sex and gender identity. What does this story suggest about how, historically, place, race, ethnicity and language intersect in the (b)ordering of bodies in North America?


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Matt Herbert

In the American Apparel website article, the ads reflect that women should dress provocatively. The women seem to have confidence in their bodies and, except for the sweatshirt ad, show a lot of skin in the clothing they wear. From a capitalist standpoint, this is perfect for advertisement purposes because people tend to envy these models and want to be like them, and therefore buy the clothing and companies make more money. It is sad that this advertising structure has become increasingly prominent and affects how women and men see and define themselves. The men in these photos seem to be more relaxed in their clothing. It's the idea of wear whatever is comfortable, but be thin and have a decent physique.

Moana Gianotti

I agree with Matt, the American Apparel pictures are advertising the same things but are advertising women's clothing more provocatively, with the exception of the sweatshirt. Like we discussed in class some of the ways the female models are posed force them to look away or to not make eye contact making them objects to be seen. Matt also stated that they used models who are slim because many people envy them, I also agree with this, they are using these models to show what a woman should look like and because so many women are self conscious about what they look like they envy the models and want to look like them so they buy the clothing they are advertising in an attempt to be like them.

Jeanette Betancourt

It was interesting to read about what the gender identities terms actually mean because I was not aware of what they actually meant until now. Also it gave good examples of how people should refer to others and can respectfully ask them for their pronouns that they used. There's respectful forms to talk to others and not use terms that would offend someone based on how they look. Everyone should keep in mind that not everyone will react the same way, therefore we should always be careful in what we say when referring about others.

 McKenzie Brown

I read the article on man buns and the last two paragraphs are really what drove home the power and privilege part of the man bun. Many people are under the impression that the man bun is a novel idea and is a popular fashion trend NOW that it is showing up in white male culture for an effortlessly cool look. However, the man bun has been popular in Asian culture for centuries (the Sikh religion and Japanese Samurai and Sumo Wrestlers), so the cultural appropriation of this look has been twisted and meaning has been removed when it is now being worn as a fashion statement.

 McKenzie Brown

Moana and Matt made wonderful points on the article for the American Apparel website. Women are often sexualized and used as objects for advertisements. Standards for women are often higher, and even when the ads are for women, they seem to be geared toward what a man would like to see, which can subconsciously make women feel the need or desire to look that way regardless of how it makes them feel.

Yifan Lu

I read the NPR story. This article mentioned that "women of color have long been ignored by major cosmetic firms, which meant there wasn't a whole lot of choice if you weren't white." But that have changed. Nowadays, I can see that a lot of brands have cosmetics which suitable for brown and black women. I think this mean that the difference between the different race is narrowing, even equal. Everyone can have a lot of choice.

Samantha Sanchez

The title of the article in the American Apparel website alone implies that woman should wear less clothing. Woman are portrayed in a rather proactive manner in the images. Social media in general often portrays woman in this way in order to sell the clothes that the models are wearing. Social media really does influence how people see themselves as Moana pointed out and from the article we can see that there is that expectation that woman should wear less clothing than men.

Jiayue Wang

The NRR reported that: the gender biases are more profound and more central to our culture than even the racial ones.Research show that American women are trapped in a paradox that is deeply embedded in culture, and lack in top leadership positions. People always setting tag on others, like if a women want to be a high powered person, people will think it is unbelievable. We know that the "double bin' not only exist in American, It is exists all around the world. Hopefully, the time will change!

Madison Overholser

I personally chose to read the Atlantic article about how stay-at-home fathers are still heavily stigmatized. I can testify that this is true; my older sister is a mother of 5 with her youngest only being 4 months old. Her husband is an ex-marine and currently a firefighter/EMT for Polk county. Most people would classify him as a really "manly" man or one who follows that typical tough male persona. My sister was working full time up until the arrival of her 5th child, fortunately she was able to take 2 month maternity leave but had to go back to working full time. Currently she is working full time with her husband; after working full time with the first 4 children, is being the stay at home parent. They have received a lot of scrutiny for this reversal of roles but also my brother in-law has expressed he feels emasculated for doing so because of how he was raised and what society says. I believe that it is important to teach gender equality of roles but also not to gender specific rolls when educating the younger generation, maybe in the future stay at home fathers will not be as stigmatized.

Kamalei P.

I really liked the article that broke down the terms that talked about gender identity. The terms this article talked about were Cisgender, Transgender, Gender Fluid, and Genderqueer. I already had a clear understanding of what transgender was before this article, but things were still kind of vague for the word cisgender. It’s a newer term that I only recently heard of this week. But cisgender is basically just the opposite of transgender. Many people felt that it’s better to use the term cisgender, because referring to someone as a trans man or trans woman, makes them feel left out. So cisgender is a new term that was recently added so that these people won’t have to feel that way. Gender fluid was a cool term, just because it can be someone who changes their identity over time. Like male, female, both or neither. Then there was the term genderqueer which is a term used by some people who experience their gender identity and/or gender expression as falling outside the categories of man and woman. This article taught me new terms and how to approach some people. It taught me that if you don’t know how to refer to someone, then ask for their pronouns in a polite manner, for they won't see it as intrusive, but respectful.

Emily Miller

I read the article about defining and explaining the meanings of cisgender, transgender, gender fluid, and genderqueer. I really enjoyed this article. I think the author did a great job beginning the article by saying that it was okay to admit that you may not know what all of the terms meant, but that knowledge is power, so you should feel comfortable admitting that you don't know everything, and educate yourself. I personally had a decent grasp on these terms, but I really enjoyed how the terms were described and explained. The author included good historical background information, and I enjoyed the quotations taken from individuals actually living through these different lenses. I think this article would be very helpful for anyone looking for clarification and understanding of these terms. I also liked how they kept the definitions kind of loose, and not stated in a way that would make anyone feel like they have to be only one specific label of gender. Even these definitions still contain an element of fluidity, which I think is much more inclusive.

John Stone

The article about American Apparel is a prime example of how heavily women are sexualized in advertisements. It's ridiculous that an apparel company is trying to sell their clothes by showing pictures of women wearing the least amount of clothing they can. In fact, for the T-shirt advertisement, the woman in the picture hardly even has the T-shirt on. It's unfortunate that companies can get away with this, it makes it seem like only one or two body types are acceptable, and that women should only wear clothes that make them look the sexiest. Everybody should wear clothes they like and that they feel comfortable in, but these ads seem to be pushing the claim that women should only wear things that men want to see.

Yazmin Hernandez

I read the NPR podcast transcript where they talk about make up and how it is often times hard for women of color to find makeup that matches their skin. In the podcast they gave context from back in the day and how it was harder for women of color to find makeup, over time companies have seen the need to expand and cover women of color skin tones. Personally being a women of color I find it difficult to find makeup that is correct for my skin tone. It is especially hard when it comes to drug store makeup, I can’t ever seem to find anything for me. Usually if I need something for makeup I have to go to high end stores where it is more expensive. Due to this I tend to stay away from makeup. I applaud companies for doing more to be inclusive but I feel that there is more that they can do. There is more companies that are developing and cater to women of color. The next thing that they should work on is making it more accessible money wise.

halie Korff

I think that is there is anything I have learned from doing a diary is that i fall very hard under the gender rule. I thought that I didn't put much thought or effort into getting ready in the mornings, but I do when I buy all my clothes, even the brand of clothing I buy. Weather I pay much attention to it or not. there is even a difference between when I go to dinner with female friends and i don't care what I look like to when I go out with newer or male friends, even if its just putting on mascara to look a little better.

Ana Bautista

I read the article about makeup. It is hard for anybody to be perfect yet alone a women still in the make up industry that is what they aim for. When it comes to foundations not all women get considered. For a long time the make up industry claimed that they include a range of skin tones when in reality it was only the colors that were closes to white. It is time to truly build a makeup industry where every skin tone is considered.

Moe Tobiyama

I read the article at The Atlantic reports and NPR. These were very interesting and I was impressed. Recently, in Japan, the number of men who care their baby in their house are increasing, and women are also active in society more than before. I think the stereotype of working style by gender will be faded out gradually, and it will be regarded as the old idea in the future.

The comments to this entry are closed.