Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Notes on gender divides

As you might have figured out from the readings, I think one of the key debates when talking about (1) understanding about, (2) access to, and (3) use of digital technologies of information/communication, consumption/production, is the question of when a "difference" becomes a "divide". Can we empirically show that men and women use computers or Internets or other digital systems differently? Perhaps, sometimes. Does this represent inequality, inequity, injustice? Perhaps, sometimes. What follows then are a whole series of questions dealing with essentialism or environment: Are women and men fundamentally, biologically, psychologically, or philosophically different? Are there some aspects of being female or being male that are unchanging, universal, and reliably present in all persons? All of these would point to "essentialist" theories or worldviews. Might women and men come to different understandings of themselves and each other when reared in different circumstances, environments, cultures, or eras? Might women and men achieve some awareness of, and exert some control over, the way they understand their own "gender" or are "gendered" by others? All of these would point to more "constructivist" theories or worldviews. And finally: can we understand men, masculinity, and meanings of maleness apart from understanding women, femininity, and meanings of femaleness? Can we understand identity constructions of gender apart from identity constructions of age, race, ethnicity, and so on? If not, this points to a "relational" understanding of the world (people, concepts, and identities are dependent on each other) rather than a "reductionist" understanding of the world (people, concepts, and identities exist in individual isolation). It's a lot of stuff to consider at once; don't worry, we'll continue to work through it after the break.

See you Friday for the film if you're going to be around.

1 comment:

  1. Greg, as I said on my post I talked about it with my roommate wich is an 'expert' in the field. And I didn't reach answers to those questions. Personally, I would say men and women are the same except biologically. The only difference is that they are socialized in different ways. But this is not a little difference at all.