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Doing Gender

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"Doing Gender" was an article and concept coined by sociologists Candace West and Don Zimmerman in 1987 published in Gender and Society. Doing gender refers to process of creating gender through interactions in particular social settings. In other words, gender may be challenged and revised, both in individual interactions and in institutional settings.

In "Doing Gender," West and Zimmerman describe the concept as a routine accomplishment in everyday life. We "do gender" all the time and cannot avoid doing it. It is not what a person is but rather what a person does, in interaction with others. It is considered a social construction. For example, when a male opens a door for a female , it considered being a polite "gentleman." In terms of "doing gender," the male was reinforcing an idea of gender through his actions in a particular social setting. It marks a gender difference because the gesture was either a sign of respect or assumption that women are the weaker sex and need help from men. After a while, these gender differences become ordinary and a part of what we do.

Doing gender is also taught through the context of social structures and institutions. Within families, schools, and workplaces, people use their power to enforce gender roles. Conformity is encouraged and reinforced by criticizing and punishing those men and women who challenge traditional gender roles. As a result, it can result in social stratification; men are being dominant and women are being submissive, resulting in power differences.

External links

http://www.gla.ac.uk/0t4/crcees/files/summerschool/readings/WestZimmerman_1987_DoingGender.pdf

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