Sex Categorization And Socially Constructed Displays

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Sex Categorization And Socially Constructed Displays

When my niece was mistaken for a boy, my sister ensured that my niece wore headbands every day. She has never been mistaken since then. How can a fashion accessory help people determine the sex of the baby? When a baby is dressed in pink, why do we instantly assume it’s a girl? According to West and Zimmerman, gender is a product of social doings through clothing, body language, self-presentation and specific behaviors.Sex Categorization And Socially Constructed Displays

While sex categorization is based on biological sex assigned at birth, it is sustained as a category through socially constructed displays of gender. West and Zimmerman define gender as the activity of managing situated conduct in light of normative conceptions of attitudes and activities appropriate for one’s sex category. Even though, gender is a social construct, West and Zimmerman believe that gender is a routine, methodological, recurring accomplishment and a social achievement. While gendered interactions can be observed in any setting, to analyze how gender is produced as a result of social interactions, I observed gendered interactions in Prudential Center, Boston. As expected, the majority of mall shoppers were women. Consequently, there were more women-oriented stores than men-oriented stores. Even in outlets catered to both genders, women’s clothing and accessories dominated while only a small section was dedicated to men. While these differences are a result of macrolevel interactions at the institutional level, there were various subtle differences at the interactional level. I called these differences ‘subtle’ because we are socially accustomed to perceive these differences as natural, thus making it challenging to observe things from a different lens.Sex Categorization And Socially Constructed Displays


I analyzed how gender is produced as a result of social interactions and how these interactions are connected to macro level social structures or inequalities. While observing several couples shopping at Prudential Center, I noticed how men always carry the shopping bags and if a woman is carrying a shopping bag, she is usually carrying either one or two bags while the majority of bags are carried by her significant other. While several people might view this interaction as a form of chivalry, when examined closely, one can realize how it reinforces the idea that men are physically stronger than women.

While it is true that biologically women have weaker upper body and stronger lower body strength than men, the socially constructed gender ideals take this sex characteristic and apply it to genders, saying that men are stronger than women.Sex Categorization And Socially Constructed Displays