SOC204 – The Spectrum: An Introduction to Sex and Gender


Gender and sex– They appear to be the same thing, but in reality they aren’t! This week we dive into the differences between gender and sex through the lense of sociology using work from Judith Butler, Simone de Beauvoir and other recent research. How have our notions of gender and sex changed over the years? Where are these two concepts headed? And how do our own identities influence the way we behave, feel, and think? Tune in to find out! (And come back next week for our follow-up discussion on feminism and intersectionality.)


Gender, Sex, Social Construction


  1. Judith Butler’s (1990) Gender Trouble is one of THE foundational texts if you want to get into gender and sex.
  2. Simone de Beauvoir’s (1949) The Second Sex is another key text to explore, as Butler builds her theories off of de Beauvoir’s work. It is in The Second Sex where de Beauvoir writes the famous line, “one is not born a woman, but, rather, becomes one.”
  3. New York Times article by Claire Cain Miller (Sept 14, 2018), “Many Ways to Be a Girl, But One Way to Be a Boy: The New Gender Rules”
  4. A pamphlet from the National Partnership for Women and Families that reports the following on the national gender wage gap:
    • “Nationally, the median annual pay for a woman who holds a full-time, year-round job is $41,977 while the median annual pay for a man who holds a full-time, year-round job is $52,146. This means that, overall, women in the United States are paid 80 cents for every dollar paid to men, amounting to an annual gender wage gap of $10,169.”
  5. Duncombe and Marsden (1998) chapter “Stepford Wives and Hallow Husbands” in Emotions in Social Life
  6. Some interesting articles about femininity and the female gaze:
  7. Articles on the consequences of toxic masculinity:


2 thoughts on “SOC204 – The Spectrum: An Introduction to Sex and Gender”

  1. Could the term ‘social justice warrior’ be the equivalent term of ‘toxic masculinity’?

    On the other hand this term probably encapsulates the flack towards women espousing feminists view so perhaps not quite right…

    1. Hi Danielle,
      We wouldn’t say those terms are equivalent. Social justice warrior is a politicized term used to satirize individuals (who tend to be of higher SES and class) who advocate— sometimes annoyingly— about social justice issues. Toxic masculinity is a term used to point out how patriarchy has lead to a society that, until very recently, allowed men to behave in ways that are damaging and problematic. While also currently politicized, it was not created as a satire or to make fun of someone’s political leanings. It is an apolitical term used to describe a social phenomenon.

Leave a Reply