Writing Assignment 3: Challenging the Gender-Sexuality Status Quo ***NOTE: Write this as a traditional essay with a short introduction and conclusion. Do NOT write this in the format: 1) answer, 2

Writing Assignment 3: Challenging the Gender-Sexuality Status Quo

***NOTE:  Write this as a traditional essay with a short introduction and conclusion. Do NOT write this in the format:  1) answer, 2) answer, 3) answer, etc.***

As budding sociologists, you are by now well aware of the myriad ways our consumerist culture creates and sustains traditional gender and sexuality-based stereotypes and role expectations. And you’ve also come to realize this is but a single, albeit important, dimension of a more pervasive matrix of oppression in which we are all ensnared.

Yet, humans also have a profound capacity for creativity, perseverance, and defiance. While culture can be used as a tool to oppress, it can also be used for resistance.  The purpose of this assignment is to help you recognize the myriad ways ordinary cultural artifacts (both material and symbolic) can be used to challenge patriarchy and traditional notions of sexuality and femininity and masculinity. Of course, doing so means taking seriously the fact that ads and music, like any form of communication, must be interpreted. Their meanings are not simply given, nor are they static.

For some examples of songs that challenge patriarchy, traditional notions of sexuality, femininity and/or masculinity, see, for instance: Lady Gaga’s song Born This Way, No Doubt’s – Just a Girl, or Same Love by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis.

***For some examples of ads that offer up such challenges see, for instance, the ads attached at the end of this assignment description. DO NOT ANALYZE THE SAME ADS I HAVE POSTED HERE AS EXAMPLES.

Note: Songs and ads can often challenge and reinforce norms simultaneously. It’s often not entirely one or the other. As example of this would include Meghan Trainor’s song “All about that bass.”

Specifically, you are to write at least 700 words (but no more than 800) [note: heading and paper titles do not count towards your 700 words], analyzing…

…(1) an advertisement (e.g., advertisement in newspaper or magazine; something that you can obtain a copy of or make a PDF of and can upload in with the writing assignment)…


(2) a single song…

…that CHALLENGES (and, therefore, presents an alternative to) gender and/or sexual (orientation) stereotypes (e.g., challenges hegemonic masculinity and/or traditional ideas about gender appropriate actions, attitudes, beliefs, etc and/or appropriate actions, attitudes, beliefs related to sexual orientation).

In other words, find a song or advertisement that presents an alternative script or alternative vision for gender and/or sexuality. DO NOT make the mistake of picking a song or advertisement that simply reinforces and expresses dominant/traditional notions of gender and/or sexuality (For instance, DON’T pick a song in which women are just being obviously sexually objectified or in which men are just being portrayed as protectors or breadwinners, etc.). Also, I want to point out that many times songs and advertisements will both challenge AND reinforce dominant notions of masculinity and femininity and/or traditional notions of sexuality. You definitely need to discuss this issue (see relevant questions below). BUT, at the very least, find something that represents a “challenge” to these dominant/traditional cultural notions we’ve discussed in class.

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