The Lenses of Gender: Transforming the Debate on Sexual Inequality

The Lenses of Gender Transforming the Debate on Sexual Inequality 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 wo

  • Title: The Lenses of Gender: Transforming the Debate on Sexual Inequality
  • Author: Sandra Lipsitz Bem
  • ISBN: 9780300061635
  • Page: 218
  • Format: Paperback
  • 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 moIn 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 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.

    348 Comment

    • Erin says:

      HmmmThis is the first reading for my Social Psychology of Gender class. I feel like I already knew to a large extent most of what she's positing - it's just her framework that's newish to me. I mostly agree with her, but there are some glaring omissions and some frustrating biases. As far as I can tell, she's referenced ONE feminist of color throughout the whole book. And a big, giant, glaring red flag went up for me when she referenced Janice Raymond, a well-known anti-trans radical feminist. U [...]

    • Bfonvill says:

      Being as I am, fundamentalist Christian, I approached this topic--and ultimately left the topic--with a great deal of cognitive dissonance. Not that that is a bad thing. I firmly believe that the worst intellectual evil one can perpetrate is to walk away from those things that create cognitive dissonance, clenching the eyes and refusing to entertain any opposing point of view. I remain fundamentalist Christian by choice, yet am quite aware of the overwhelming tendency of humans to deal with cogn [...]

    • Amy says:

      this book was well thought out, well planned, well researched and well executed. instead of looking at male/female relations through the lenses of androcentrism, gender polarization, and patriarchy, this author set out (and succeeded) at looking at the lenses of androcentrism, gender polarization and patriarchy themselves. while this book was a little slow, it is a very important read for anyone looking at gender relations.

    • Tammi says:

      I read this book in 1992 at the recommendation of one of her relatives, a man with whom I worked at a local clinic. This book is among those titles I consider life-changing (and I had already read a number of books and research reports related to gender studies in college). It absolutely awakened me to the ways by which gender is socially assigned, developed and reinforced. I cannot recommend this book enough.

    • Whania says:

      This is one of the few good books I have read about gender and the better understanding of it. I love it!

    • Jerry says:

      The subtitle of this book is “transforming the debate on sexual inequality”, but the author spends most of the book engaged in more of a pre-historical blog post than a serious discussion; and that’s too bad, because her basic idea of a Simone de Beauvoirian theory that gender roles, while informed by biology, are far more the result of culture; further, that gender roles themselves run along a continuum rather than a dichotomy; and further yet, that we can choose to view the world outside [...]

    • Kipi says:

      An excellent text on gender issues.

    • Emily says:

      The subtitle says it all

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