105 Gender Communication Summary

Summary

In this chapter you have been exposed to the specialization of gender and communication. You learned that gender communication is “the social construction of masculinity or femininity as it aligns with designated sex at birth in a specific culture and time period. Gender identity claims individuality that may or may not be expressed outwardly, and may or may not correspond to one’s sexual anatomy” (Pettitt). It is important to remember as we discuss gender and communication that there is a difference between sex and gender. Sex refers to the biological distinctions that make us male or female. Gender is the socially constructed enactment of what it means to be a man or a woman. We are generally born as either male or female, but taught how to be men and women.

People of all identities are gendered and experience their genders in a variety of ways. As a result of how gender is manifested, many feminist, men, and other activist groups have formed for the purpose of banding together with others who understand gender in similar ways. We discussed 12 types of feminism and five different men’s groups that focus on various approaches for understanding and enacting gender. There are a variety of theories that seeks to explain how we form gender. Remember that theories are simply our best representations of something. Thus theories of gender development such as Psychodynamic theory, Social Interactionism, Social Learning theory, Cognitive Learning theory, and Standpoint theory are all attempts to explain the various ways we come to understand and enact our genders.

Like with many other specializations in the field of Communication, gender communication applies to a variety of other specializations. Interpersonal communication, organizational communication, and mass communication are specializations that are particularly ripe for exploring the impact of gender and communication. Gender communication research continues to explore gender in these contexts, thus helping redefine how gender is understood and behaved.

We explored differences in gender communication styles by looking at language, the purpose of communication, patterns of talk, and nonverbal communication. While impossible to come to a definitive conclusion, gender and communication studies generally promotes the idea that the differences in gender communication are socially learned and are thus fluid and dynamic. Males and females learn to communicate in both masculine and feminine styles and make strategic choices about which style is more effective for a given context.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

  1. What are some ways that your gender was communicated or taught to you by your parents? Other family members? Your school? Friends? Church?

     

  2. Do you see gendered patterns of interaction in your romantic relationships?

     

  3. Did you know there were so many/if any Men’s movements, all with different goals, before reading this chapter? What does our limited knowledge of men’s movements imply?

     

  4. What ways do you break traditional gender roles?

     

  5. Do you feel drawn to any of the types of feminisms listed in the chapter? Why or why not?

KEY TERMS

  • androgyny
  • cognitive learning
  • culture
  • ecofeminism
  • feminine speech community
  • feminism
  • free men
  • gender
  • gender communicated
  • gendered
  • lesbian feminism
  • liberal feminism
  • marxist feminism
  • masculine speech community
  • million man march
  • muted group theory
  • mythopoetic
  • power feminism
  • pro-feminist men
  • promise keepers
  • psychodynamic
  • psychological theories
  • radical feminism
  • revalorist feminism
  • separatist feminism
  • sex
  • socialist feminism
  • social learning
  • speech community
  • standpoint theory
  • structural feminism
  • symbolic interactionism
  • third-wave feminism
  • womanist

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