The Codes of Gender: Ritualization of Subordination

May 22, 2011

OK so you know how I sometimes do a “Saturday Night Double Feature” and throw up a few vids that may or may not be of interest. Well tonight it’s Saturday Night Main Event singular because this video is THE SHITE!!! This is a MUST SEE for anyone interested in Gender. To my trans readers: This video will HELP YOU PASS as the opposite sex! So WATCH it! To all women and girls: WATCH this video! It WILL be on the mid-term. Please don’t comment if you haven’t watched. Thanks.

Sit back, relax, and fire up the Colortinis. Enjoy.

47 Responses to “The Codes of Gender: Ritualization of Subordination”

  1. GallusMag Says:

    Extra colortinis for (((((Noan))))). Thanks for your help earlier.😉

  2. thebewilderness Says:

    That was excellent, thank you.
    I suspect you have seen this before, but I am providing the link in case someone else has not.
    http://www.uvm.edu/~tstreete/powerpose/

  3. jilla Says:

    Excellent. I paused to thank you and get more cheese and crackers. Well. I don’t know what Colortinis are. Had to make do. Hands waving. Giggle.

    Thanks TBW. I was thinking of that one too but couldn’t remember where it came from.

    Oh and great source site on Free TV. Thanks.


  4. It was excellent!
    Just one thing though, he said early on in the vid that there are many genders and many SEXES, when that’s not true. There are two sexes. So I don’T know if that’s a mistake on his part… Because if people start getting the idea into their head that there are as many sexes as their are genders (scientifically incorrect) then we radfems are back to square one!

    • GallusMag Says:

      Sorry Cherry but I didn’t hear that. What I heard is that he said there was a potential for multiple genders (as there are in other cultures) but that in western culture gender identity is binary- based on and tied to sex.


      • 4:37

        ..while potentially and in real life there could be many different categories of genders, western culture mostly operates with a two sex, two gender distinction. It is starting to break down a little as transgender people have challenged this binary distinction and insisted upon having a legitimate place in the culture….And their example shows us that the two sex, two gender distinction is a socially created one.

        And what Gothman is interested in is how the two sex two gender categories are created and more importantly held in place.”

        Sorry Yes… I misunderstood his point when he said the two sex, two gender distinction is created. I thought he was saying sex was also created.

        But I have another problem with it, because actually it was originally feminists, not trans people who sought to break down the binary (trans are trying to UPHOLD the binary), and the book on which the research is based was written by a man in 1978. Well… many feminists had already covered this by then in their work.

      • GallusMag Says:

        Yes- he refers to trans in a reality based way – that those of the male sex can perform female gender for example- rather than referring to their fantasy (and more importantly, their political) narratives. He doesn’t refer to the fundamentalist biological gender essentialism of the trans “brain birth defect” claim. Then again, trans is kind of a footnote in this program, and to wade into the complexity of transgender delusions and transplaining might have prevented (due to time constraints of refuting all their bullshit) and diverted from critical analysis of gender. (FANCY THAT!)

        As to the rip-off of feminist ideas, totally true and the one reservation I had in championing this program. Same with the Berger program. Fucking male sociologists ripping off feminists and pretending they’ve whipped great insights of the female condition out of their asses. Thank you for bringing that up – I should have.


      • “and pretending they’ve whipped great insights of the female condition out of their asses.”

        Haha! They all do it.. they just want to shag funfems (as one particular radfem has been known to say…:) ON the plus side, men have the power and resources to get these ideas OUT THERE in to the mainstream, and people listen to them because they’re men,
        But it is extremely annoying that they steal women’s work all the time.


  5. intersex people are a rare anomaly, yes, but there are basically just two sexes.

    • GallusMag Says:

      Intersex is not a sexual variation but a disorder of sexual development, a congenital anomaly. One in 400 people are born with a congenital anomaly. One in 733 is born with Down Syndrome. One in 14,000 are born with a congenital reproductive anomaly (intersex). There are more people born missing a limb or other body part than are born with an intersex condition. We still say that humans are bipedal in their healthy state, even though some people are born with no legs. We don’t reclassify primates as amoebic because of anomalous or outlier birth conditions because those conditions are statistically minute, and are generally accompanied with dysfunction or disability.
      Some transgenders have gone to great effort to colonize the tiny amount of resources available to intersex people in order to frame transsexuality politically as a matter of anomalous congenital “brain sex”, unlike intersex people who actually have a disorder of sexual development. What’s so tragic is that their bullying colonizing has made it more difficult for parents of intersex children to get information without wading through transgender autogynephilia, fantasy, and disinformation. But transjacktivists don’t care about intersex people, who are fighting against sterilization and castration surgeries performed to uphold gender identifications, even as transjacktivists lobby for sex changes for gender non-compliant children well before the age of consent.

      • FAB Libber aka Dave the Squirrel Says:

        Yes, transjacktivist hijacking of intersex issues is indeed shameful. This latest fad of transjacktivists trying to claim “it’s a birth defect, just like cleft palate” etc, is morally wrong.

        There are more people born missing a limb or other body part than are born with an intersex condition. We still say that humans are bipedal in their healthy state, even though some people are born with no legs.

        Exactly. Great point as it counters the tranz/queer stuff of ‘many genders’ when they conflate that with sex and try to infer ‘many sexes’.

  6. Cizzir Says:

    This is great!! It teaches me a lot! Thank you!! I will show it other people.

    Cizz from europe

  7. Cizzir Says:

    There is one thing I have to say: Transgender people challenge NOTHING. They just want to jump from one gender to another and the majority of them keep these horrible stereotypes about men and women.

  8. GallusMag Says:

    Relevant post of John Berger program referenced in the video:
    https://gendertrender.wordpress.com/2011/01/30/ways-of-seeing-episode-two-female-nude/
    KICKS ASS!

  9. jilla Says:

    I didn’t understand why he used the Brandon Teena story. What he was trying to say with that.

  10. Noanodyne Says:

    Interestingly, one of my all-time favorite classes was the Women in Mass Media class I took at UMass, where Goffman’s and Berger’s books were our texts. This video is a very good rendering of those ideas, and, I’m glad to see, an update of what has happened since Goffman wrote his book (I still have it, btw). For example, porn was always about the subjugation of women (and some men); mass media has just become fully conflated with it.

    The only thing missing while watching the video online is the dialogue and conversation of a group of women who are having all kinds of lightbulb moments. In the class, we had a female prof who worked hard to radicalize the women (and shame the handful of men who took the class to do in person what the MRA trolls do on our blogs — any time they opened their mansplaining mouths, she schooled them on their ignorance and complicity). I wonder what it’s like now in such a class, with slut-walk feminism so predominant.

    Back then our minds were blown. Seeing all of those images in one place made it impossible to miss what was happening in culture. And I naively believed that because of that analysis and discussions, sexist and misogynist advertising would soon become extinct. I thought when a lot of women saw that, they would react and demand to be treated as humans. I was young and I still didn’t get the all-powerful nature of the patriarchy — that men would remain in charge of media and depict women in the ways men need to see women: helpless, pathetic, rape-able, beneath contempt, ridiculous, and above all, not MAN (the model of what is true and right about humans). I guess it makes perfect sense. As women have gained more power (even though it remains small globally), men have had to work that much harder to depict us as beings with little power.

    And we just keep showing how this works. How many books and videos and magazine articles have been created to highlight the shitty way women are portrayed in the media? And yet, not only has nothing changed, it’s only gotten worse. For me, it is especially heartbreaking that powerful female athletes go along with the program. Being an athlete helped me fight against being treated as inconsequential, good for only one thing, and conquerable. But I’m also a dyke. Can it be that some straight women are that desperate to have men in their lives that they would willingly portray themselves as merely pieces of meat on display?

    All of this is gut-wrenching and painful to see and understand. And the vamping, posturing, play-acting “femininity” of M2T’s not only supports that 2-gender trope with women on the bottom, they are the lemon and salt scrubbed into our wounds and precisely why they are so detestable.

    • GallusMag Says:

      Wonderful comment Noan. The people watching this ARE getting their minds blown I assure you. A lot of people are shy about commenting, and that’s okay.

      To me it’s not even about media depictions (although they use them as social artifacts in this program to illustrate the mechanisms) but about the socialization of females in general, from birth, to view themselves and to assign value by their currency as objects for male consumption, based purely on their reproductive sex whether as seed-carriers (mothers) or sex objects. I’ll be writing more on this later.
      Thank you for your comment.

  11. Cizzir Says:

    Speaking of gender – do you know this blog?
    http://www.sarahhoffmanwriter.com/

    It’s by a mother of a boy who loves to wear pink – and she let him do this. Nobody in his family nor the boy says he is a girl. They just let him do what he likes. The only problem are the children at his school. But you can read it by yourself.

  12. jilla Says:

    Being an athlete helped me fight against being treated as inconsequential, good for only one thing, and conquerable. But I’m also a dyke. Can it be that some straight women are that desperate to have men in their lives that they would willingly portray themselves as merely pieces of meat on display?

    ##

    But were you a professional athlete NoAn, scouted and contracted, paid a lot of money, sponsored by Sony. For examples. From the time they are about eight, and beginning their training, they are schooled and forced and brainfucked to think of their bodies as currency, commodity. Male or female.

    But of course, women have an extra layer of being the sex class, no matter how accomplished. I agree with the vid, that these women are still expected to show they are sexaaay, real women. But, they are also forced to do it, whether they want to or not, by their managers and trainers, because the managers do not want a dyke. She won’t get supportive positive press, and they’ll eventually be forced by shareholders to back off her training and give her second rate coaches. And more. She knows it. She wants the gold, the cup, the entry in the X Sports Hall of Fame. It’s what she’s been after since she was a kid.

    • Noanodyne Says:

      Your vivid description applies to athletes in only certain sports and then only certain athletes under certain conditions. What you’ve described is in no way standard for elite female athletes generally. You’re conflating all kinds of things together that don’t actually happen to most of them. And even for the handful who do end up in the circus-like environment you’re describing, they are not the powerless pawns you’re making them out to be.

      To get where they do, elite athletes spend the vast majority of their time practicing and perfecting their sport and building their bodies to handle the rigors of their sport. They do that almost exclusively throughout their childhoods and young adulthoods. The vast majority don’t have “managers” or promises of lucrative sponsorships; they do what they do in relative anonymity and mostly alone. The vast majority have coaches, trainers, and assistants that they share with other elite athletes. What everyone in that picture wants is an elite athlete who will win competitions, and they all work 20-hour days to make that happen.

      There are a few sports that have been horrifically mangled by glamorization at the very upper levels and for some of the athletes, but in most sports, a girl who shows promise will be taken on by the better coaches and trainers not based on her sex appeal, but on her ability to win and physical and mental toughness to stay the course and keep winning. And she climbs the ladder of getting even better support by being even better at her job. Which is precisely what it is when someone is going for an Olympic medal or a place in a pro circuit, or a pro contract. An athlete in that scenario isn’t screwing around with being “sexy,” she’s got her hands full just being at the level of her sport that she is. She is under no more and no less pressure to perform femininity than the average female.

      The side show you’re talking about happens to only a tiny handful of athletes who are shown to be profitable in ways other than their sport. For every Venus Williams, there are 100s of elite female tennis players around the world who are not paraded in magazines, and many of them are out and proud dykes. The same is true for every sport, some more and some less than others.

      By the time a Venus Williams or a Danica Patrick get where they have, they have personally amassed a significant amount of power over their universe. Everyone in it is perfectly aware that without that person, the whole thing falls apart. These are not cookie cutter fashion models where one can be swapped in for another. These are one-of-a-kind people. There has never been another Danica Patrick and you can be absolutely sure they treat her like a fine thoroughbred and give her every single thing she wants.

      Michael Jordan, Lance Armstrong, and Tiger Woods are obviously quite capable of managing their image (when they’re not screwing it up with stupid shit) to the best possible effect for themselves overall. You’re saying that these women are so beset by pressure that they can’t do similarly. I know better, I’ve been around elite athletes and competitions my whole life. And that is where my complaint derives. Instead of using their power to show their strength and be strong role models, these women have chosen to place themselves in front of the public as weak little sex objects, and thus do a huge disservice to all the little girls who hope to be them some day.

      My speculation was about why they would do such a thing when they do not have to. Patrick could project any image she wanted to at this point in her career. Yes, she has to play a game men don’t have to, but she’s a very lucrative “property” and she can use that to her advantage. She can look “beautiful” and “feminine” without the extra foray into weakness and rape-ability. To see these women as poor helpless creatures who can only do what people around them tell them to is to not understand athletes and their culture. What their behavior looks exactly like is women who are desperate to be seen by men as available. And that has nothing to do with being an athlete and everything to do with being needy for men’s attention.

      • yttik Says:

        “What their behavior looks exactly like is women who are desperate to be seen by men as available.”

        I really don’t think it’s quite that simple. Girls are trained from birth to stand a certain way, to look a certain way. It’s not about being seen as available to men so much, as it is about not being rejected, criticized, harassed, by the culture at large because you’ve committed a gender fail. Children especially, their whole world revolves around seeking approval. It’s a form of brainwashing that starts very young and becomes deeply ingrained. Women aren’t necessarily thinking about being seen as available to men, they’re thinking of how get a promotion, how to earn more money, how to be valued by others when you live in a culture that portrays your only potential as that of a sexual commodity.

        “She is under no more and no less pressure to perform femininity than the average female.”

        I think you’re underestimating just how much pressure there is on female athletes. I’m only speaking from observation, but I’ve got a softball team of girls and the more competitive they become, the more bows they feel like they have to wear in their hair. They certainly act as if they feel the need to apologize or make amends for being athletic by doing extra credit femininity.

        We just had a marathon run here, a woman did fabulous, but darned if she didn’t feel as if she had to do the whole run in a bikini, a sports bikini, but still. The difference in running attire between the genders startled me.

        I really believe women athletes are dealing with a double dose of pressure to perform femininity. Things have certainly improved, like today being labeled a tomboy or a lesbian doesn’t have the power over women that it once had, but it’s still there in the shadows. Some athletes may be so focused on their sport, they don’t feel the brunt of it, but it’s still going on. You can really see it at work in young girls just starting to engage in sports. Darned if it doesn’t take at least six weeks of femininity deprogramming just to get the 7 yr olds to stop trying to stand like a model and find their center of gravity.

      • Noanodyne Says:

        Nope, I’m not underestimating the pressure on female athletes. I’ve been steeped in the culture my whole life. My plans for a professional athletic career were derailed specifically because of the pressure to not be an out dyke and to not appear “masculine.”

        But all of that is beside the point I was making. I’m talking about what elite female athletes have to be and do to even reach the heights of Patrick and Williams. I do know about that from the inside. And it’s their chosen roles and behavior that I’m addressing, because they are the subject of the video Mag asked us to watch and comment on, not every single female athlete on the planet.

        Those two women have real power in their respective areas of expertise and I believe they are perfectly capable of understanding what their range of choices is, the effects of those choices, and the ability to do something positive with those choices, instead of doing what they did. Your arguments and Jilla’s sound very much like infantilizing women and I reject that — these women are perfectly capable of managing the pressure and doing something powerful, but chose not to. The question remains why they would do so when they are already in the positions they are.

  13. pmsrhino Says:

    Thanks for the vid! I have always been a huge Goffman fan, so this was amazing.😀 Gender in advertising was always a fascinating topic for me, and I think gender performance in mass media is basically what got me started in feminism. I saw the patterns, wanted to learn more about them, and I haven’t turned back since.😛

  14. jilla Says:

    NoAn, I too have been around professional athletes quite a bit. I do see what you’re saying, but I think Yttik’s understanding is much more what I’ve observed and also understand.

    • Noanodyne Says:

      The place I’m coming from is holding women accountable for thinking of other women and not just themselves. Not every woman has to be the equivalent of the greatest heroes ever known, but the few women who reach the top steps in the human social hierarchy could and should be doing something in consideration of what other women experience in the world. If we never expect that of powerful women and hold them accountable, it will never happen.

      • GallusMag Says:

        Worked for Jackie Joyner Kersee, Martina, others. Athletes are role models they shouldn’t be pimpin’ and ho’in it up. Especially the women have a responsibility to be a good role model for female kids.

      • yttik Says:

        The problem Noanodyne, is that the patriarchy trains women not to think of themselves, not to think of each other, and not to be aware of what is happening to other women within the culture. Keeping each woman separate like a little island is a foundation of the patriarchy. Sisterhood is powerful, so the patriarchy works hard to make sure it doesn’t happen. It takes a great deal of awareness and deprogramming just to learn how to put yourself first, let alone other women.

        I share your frustration about women in the top of the social hierarchy who don’t set an example, who just go on being complicit. Our first lady for example, pisses me off no end. Here she is in this prime position to really lead women and what does she do? Model sleeveless dresses and play around with kids school lunches. She has so much power and so much potential to really do good for women, but it just sits there unfulfilled.

        But that’s what I mean about the issue not being simple. It’s not just a case of women being selfish or us not having higher expectations of them. It’s about women being so deeply damaged from birth that they can’t even see the forest for all the trees.

        You know I hate that flippin word privilege and I can’t stand oppression olympics, but having awareness is a privilege (and a curse.) Look at women who get all beat up and still go back to their abusers after you’ve given them other options. Those are damaged human beings who don’t even recognize that there are other options. You see battered women, prostituted women, those models in that video, and even elite athletes and Maria Shrivers. It’s a real struggle for them to even recognize that they themselves deserve better, let alone other women.

        You’re right,it’s not enough to blame the patriarchy. We have to create sisterhood and align ourselves with other women, but it’s not an easy task, the whole culture is working against us.

  15. SheilaG Says:

    I think female het athletes are still afraid of being labeled lesbians, so they femme it up on the advertising.
    And even famous lesbians like Ellen can be self-hating enough to do make-up ads, which if they had ANY lesbian political consciousness at all, they would never have done in the first place.
    Every time I hear about advertising wanting to “access” the “gay” market, I cringe. All of the het ads make me sick to begin with, so their manipulative power is far less for that reason.
    this vide was just great!! We need as much education as we can get on how the “Ad Men” do this, what the patterns are, and how to expose the wizard behind the spin. Good job!!!

  16. SheilaG Says:

    Women’s hands in ads will NEVER be the same again…. eek eeek eeek — shower scene music playing in background!

  17. jilla Says:

    Martina never had the pressure to do what Danica did. We can lay money down on that one.

    Women are not to blame for patriarchy. OK? Not het women and not lesbian women. Just. Not.

    • Noanodyne Says:

      How could you possibly know what any given woman experiences in terms of pressure or expectations, and why would you want to pit one woman’s experiences against another’s? Danica wins the oppression Olympics? And if you can prove that (and win the big pot of money), does that explain anything? Solve anything? Or even mean anything?

      And who said women are to blame for patriarchy? The point is, it’s not enough to just keep blaming the patriarchy and pointing out the same things over and over and over. We need deeper analysis, better tactics, and higher expectations.

  18. SheilaG Says:

    Gallus— great tag team effort. A first for me… never before did I ever laugh the minute I heard the shower scene music!! LOL LOL… this just about made my week, and it’s only Monday!

  19. jilla Says:

    We need deeper analysis, better tactics, and higher expectations.

    ##

    We surely do.

  20. SheilaG Says:

    Yes, we are up against a tough system. 5000 years in place. And women are trained to be servants, trained from birth to not know their wishes, to not have a strong self. Also, I personally find it harder and harder to find women only space..whether it be in the lesbian community or the straight world. And the key is woman only space 1000s of hours where women get a chance to truly think and be together. You can’t do this alone, and I agree with the poster above about Michele Obama, but geez the first lady has been groomed.
    She started out as Barak’s boss, got paid big bucks, but now housewife and mother has taken over big time. Just the act of marrying a man pretty much dooms women I think, but they’re going to do it anyway.

  21. Cizzir Says:

    “Yes, we are up against a tough system. 5000 years in place.”

    I’m optimistic. A change is possible but it takes time.

  22. KatieS Says:

    Great post and interesting discussion of top women who are athletes. Long ago I remember a discussion with few women who were athletes (gymnastics, I think) about eating disorders and how they felt the pressure from coaches was part of it. They weren’t at that high level, but it seemed shameful at the time and reeked of sexism and abuse.

    This video also clarified something I experienced today. I went to a reconstructive and cosmetic surgeon’s office this a.m. I sat down across from an individual with unbeliveable high heels, perfectly shaven legs under sheer pantyhose and perfectly polished toenails peeking out from the open toed stilletos. Also perfectly dressed in a tight skirt, groomed, coiffed, made up, etc. late 30’s early 40’s, I’d say. I reflected on how much time and money this entailed as I sat there. Money, presumeably including cosmetic surgery, which no insurance pays for. Looking at the person’s form superficially, you would have not questioned that this was a woman, but there was that unmistakeable dominance, entitlement vibe. I watched as the person left the office and could tell that walking on those stilleto heels was not really perfected, either. When I watched the video, it was quite clear what was dissonant. The body language, gestures. An “aha” moment for something that I was trying to better understand, something that had felt like a “vibe” to me because the outer appearance was at odds with something else. Thinking in terms of the video made it much clearer. Not a vibe, but a code. Body language, hand gestures, etc.

    Interesting contrast between this person and a woman who was older, with disheveled hair, in rough shape, walked with a cane, etc. This woman looked like she was there for a medical reason, not cosmetic surgery reasons (in fact, everyone else looked like it was not for cosmetic surgery). This older disheveled woman did not look stereotypically “womanly” in the way the other person did, but the older woman “coded” as a woman. She did have those submissive gestures (not “sexy” ones, though), I now see that was why.

  23. KatieS Says:

    Yes, SheilaG, a women-only space is what we need. I think that all women long for this at some level, though many not consciously. Why would we not? A space where a woman can relax into being/becoming herself.


  24. […] Gender, the social convention that assigns various characteristics (behavioral, psychological, cultural) to humans based on biological reproduction, is a very interesting topic. Heck, it’s so interesting that you’re spending your valuable time reading a blog about it right now. Gender is the cultural expression of male domination and female subordination. […]

  25. doublevez Says:

    I watched this, again, cued by the article on book burning. Good stuff. Thinking I’d watch other vids on this topic I searched the subject “gender” line-up. First up, a June 2012 article on getting ready for the trans baby boom. And how ob/gynes support public and private health insurance coverage for gender identity disorder treatment (Everyone to the trough). And how we’re going to have to get over the idea that only female-bodied people (sic) can have baybees. True! http://www.rhrealitycheck.org/article/2012/06/13/preparing-trans-baby-boom

  26. doublevez Says:

    I found it, sorry to bother you.

    http://www.filmsforaction.org/watch/the_codes_of_gender_2009/

    The Codes of Gender (2009) | Watch Documentary Free Online

    Antidote to the Mass madness.


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