The Lenses of Gender: Transforming the Debate on Sexual Inequality

The Lenses of Gender: Transforming the Debate on Sexual Inequality

by Sandra Lipsitz Bem
     
 

ISBN-10: 0300056761

ISBN-13: 9780300056761

Pub. Date: 02/24/1993

Publisher: Yale University Press

In this book a leading theorist on sex and gender discusses how hidden assumptions embedded in our cultural discourses, social institutions, and individual psyches perpetuate male power and oppress women and sexual minorities. Sandra Lipsitz Bem argues that these assumptions, which she calls the lenses of gender, shape not only perceptions of social reality but also…  See more details below

Overview

In this book a leading theorist on sex and gender discusses how hidden assumptions embedded in our cultural discourses, social institutions, and individual psyches perpetuate male power and oppress women and sexual minorities. Sandra Lipsitz Bem argues that these assumptions, which she calls the lenses of gender, shape not only perceptions of social reality but also the more material things - like unequal pay and inadequate daycare - that constitute social reality itself. Her penetrating and articulate examination of these hidden cultural lenses enables us to look at them rather than through them and to better understand recent debates on gender and sexuality. According to Bem, the first lens, androcentrism (male-centeredness), defines males and male experience as a standard or norm and females and female experience as a deviation from that norm. The second lens, gender polarization, superimposes male-female differences on virtually every aspect of human experience, from modes of dress and social roles to ways of expressing emotion and sexual desire. The third lens, biological essentialism, rationalizes and legitimizes the other two lenses by treating them as the inevitable consequences of the intrinsic biological natures of women and men. After illustrating the pervasiveness of these three lenses in both historical and contemporary discourses of Western culture, Bem presents her own theory of how the individual either acquires cultural gender lenses and constructs a conventional gender identity or resists cultural lenses and constructs a gender-subversive identity. She contends that we must reframe the debate on sexual inequality so that it focuses not on the differences between men and women but on how male-centered discourses and institutions transform male-female difference into female disadvantage.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780300056761
Publisher:
Yale University Press
Publication date:
02/24/1993
Pages:
256
Product dimensions:
6.29(w) x 9.49(h) x 0.97(d)

Table of Contents

Preface
Acknowledgments
1Introduction1
2Biological Essentialism6
3Androcentrism39
4Gender Polarization80
5The Construction of Gender Identity133
6Transforming the Debate on Sexual Inequality176
Notes197
References211
Index239

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