Introduction to Sociology

Reclaiming Through Tattoos

One common reason cited for getting a tattoo is to reclaim the (physical) body.  It might be a general reclaiming, or focus on a particular part of the body.  These tattoos can represent individual agency or control over the tattooed person’s “body narrative,” but also connect them to larger communities.  Examples include the use of tattoos relating to marks of self harm, previous addictions, sexual assault, surgery and cancer, trafficking and surviving war.  Specifically, these forms of tattoo are popular amongst women and LGBTQ people.

tattooimage from The Daily Mail

 

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The Word ‘Queer’

The Allusionist, a podcast about language made by Helen Zaltzman, has a new episode about the word ‘queer,’ the complexity of its history and current use.  A79+logo+Queerimage from The Allusionist

Gender Identity

We commonly differentiate ‘sex’ as biological identity, from ‘gender,’ which is the cultural, social, and psychological differences between males and females.  Gender then refers to the patterns we associate with men and women in a cultural context.  The relationship between sex and gender often seen as direct or compulsory, but is socially constructed.  As I’ve previously posted, the Gender Unicorn illustrates the difference between gender identity, gender expression, sex assigned at birth, physical attraction, and emotional attraction. 

Some other cultures have historically included gender identities outside of the male / female binary.  This recognition of identity does not necessarily mean that they do not face discrimination

Recently, Germany has recognized a third gender for intersex people.  As I’ve previously posted, intersex people “do not fit the typical definition of male or female… biological characteristics.”  Theorist Judith Butler argues gender is performative in that it “produces a series of effects” that “consolidate an impression of being a man or being a woman.”  We are not born as men and women, but that it is in social interaction that gender identities are reproduced.

Other terms that have entered the general vernacular around gender include ‘cisgender’ and ‘transgender’ people.  Cisgender people are those whose sex assigned at birth does correspond with their gender identity.  Transgender people are those whose sex assigned at birth does not correspond with their gender identity.  Because transgender people encounter intolerance and violence, gender performance can be complex.

It is becoming more common for young people to identify as gender ‘non binary,’ meaning they do not identify as male or female, or ‘non conforming,’ meaning their gender expression does not correspond with the cultural expectations of their respective gender.  A study recently found that 27% of teenagers in California are gender nonconforming.  In Oregon and California, residents can legally identify as non binary on drivers licenses and state documents.  In 2017, a baby in Canada became the first to have the gender status of ‘unassigned’ or ‘undetermined’ on their health records.  Some celebrities, such as musician Sam Smith and actress Amandla Stenberg, have also come out as gender non binary.    

Structure v. Agency and Aboriginal People

One of the core questions raised in sociology is are we determined by society or do we determine society?  Comedian Tom Ballard interviewed journalist Stan Grant on his podcast Like I’m A Six-Year-Old.  In the second half of this episode (122) arguments of structure and agency arise around Aboriginal people’s rights and treatment in Australia.  Within the interview the two also discuss assimilation, defining a nation’s history, and the role of media in politics.

like i'm aimage from Tom Ballard’s website

The episode can be found at the above link or here: 122 – Stan Grant (Live At Yack Festival) Pt. 1

The Gender Unicorn

“The Gender Unicorn” is a visual depiction that clarifies and distinguishes various aspects of individuals’ gender and sexual identity.  Its predecessor “The Genderbread Person” is considered by some to be inaccurate and possibly plagiarized.  

gender unicorn.jpgimage from http://www.transstudent.org