Read The Lenses of Gender: Transforming the Debate on Sexual Inequality by Sandra Lipsitz Bem Free Online
Book Title: The Lenses of Gender: Transforming the Debate on Sexual Inequality|
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The author of the book: Sandra Lipsitz Bem
Edition: Yale University Press
Date of issue: August 31st 1994
ISBN 13: 9780300061635
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 549 KB
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In this book a leading theorist on sex and gender discusses how hidden assumptions embedded in our cultural discourses, social institutions, and individual psyches perpetuate male power and oppress women and sexual minorities. Sandra Lipsitz Bem argues that these assumptions, which she calls the lenses of gender, shape not only perceptions of social reality but also the more material things—like unequal pay and inadequate daycare—that constitute social reality itself. Her penetrating and articulate examination of these hidden cultural lenses enables us to look at them rather than through them and to better understand recent debates on gender and sexuality.
According to Bem, the first lens, androcentrism (male-centeredness), defines males and male experience as a standard or norm and females and female experience as a deviation from that norm. The second lens, gender polarization, superimposes male-female differences on virtually every aspect of human experience, from modes of dress and social roles to ways of expressing emotion and sexual desire. The third lens, biological essentialism, rationalizes and legitimizes the other two lenses by treating them as the inevitable consequences of the intrinsic biological natures of women and men.
After illustrating the pervasiveness of these three lenses in both historical and contemporary discourses of Western culture, Bem presents her own theory of how the individual either acquires cultural gender lenses and constructs a conventional gender identity or resists cultural lenses and constructs a gender-subversive identity. She contends that we must reframe the debate on sexual inequality so that it focuses not on the differences between men and women but on how male-centered discourses and institutions transform male-female difference into female disadvantage.
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Read information about the authorSandra Ruth Lipsitz Bem was an American psychologist known for her works in androgyny and gender studies. Her pioneering work on gender roles, gender polarization and gender stereotypes led directly to more equal employment opportunities for women in the United States.
Bem and her husband Daryl Bem took the public by storm with their revolutionary concept of egalitarian marriage. The husband-wife team became highly demanded as speakers on the negative impacts of sex role stereotypes on individuals and society. At the time, there was a lack of empirical evidence to support their assertions because this was uncharted territory, and so Sandra Bem became very interested and determined to gather data that would support the detrimental and limiting effects of traditional sex roles.
Sandra Bem received many awards for her research. Her first was the American Psychological Association Distinguished Scientific Award for an Early Career contribution to Psychology in 1976. In 1977 she was awarded the Distinguished Publication Award of the Association of Women in Psychology and in 1980 she received the Young Scholar Award of the American Association of University Women (Makosky, 1990). In 1995, she was selected as an “Eminent Woman in Psychology” by the Divisions of General Psychology and History of Psychology of the American Psychological Association. Critics of Bem's work generally argued against the political nature of her theories and her objectivity in the material which she studied.
In 2010 Bem was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease and, four years after diagnosis and after pursuing experimental treatments, she followed through with her plan to die by suicide at her home in Ithaca on May 20, 2014. Her husband, Daryl, was present with her when she died.