Paris Is Burning Sociological Analysis

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Ana Lilia Quiroz Sociology 133: Sociology of Gender Spring 2018 Midterm Essay One From the moment an individual is born, they are assigned to one of two sex categories based on the sexual organs they display. From then on, they are expected to behave a certain way: boys are taught to act tough and emotionless, and girls are taught to be sensitive and gentle. If they do not “do gender” correctly, then you are seen as an outcast by society. However, gender is not the only type of oppression people face on a daily basis. Race and class also determine the levels of oppression an individual will encounter throughout their lives. The documentary Paris is Burning illustrates how gender is not biological but instead socially constructed, which can…show more content…
In this documentary, we watched poor gay men of color participate in these drag balls, and all of the preparation it took. These drag balls were made up of various categories that these men could chose to participate in. The wide selection of categories allowed these men to explore different race, class, and gender status. They would accomplish these status by taking the expectations society has normalized for a particular group, and creating their own interpretation on the runway. The judges at the ball held these men accountable by taking their entire look and performance into consideration. Everything from their hair and makeup, to where their clothing came from was taken into consideration for whether they were “successful” or not. For example, one of the categories that we saw was “most feminine”. Here the men had to dress up as “real” of a women as they could be. They put dresses on, did their hair and makeup in what they believed was most “feminine”. When it came time to judge, we saw the judges go as far and touch the skin of their face to see how soft it was, because women are expected to have soft skin. Another category that we saw during the documentary was “business executive”. For this category, the men participating decided to dress in business suits, some of which were stolen because they could not afford them. The film makers then asked a black man…show more content…
Kane defines the “gender trap” as the expectations created by society that restrain parents from allowing their kids to do the opposite of these expectations (2012: 3). Society has constructed these expectations of what is “acceptable” and what is “not acceptable” for each gender, and whether it is for their personal beliefs or moral, or for the safety of their children, these parents fall into the trap and have to decide if they want to reproduce or resist these expectations (2012: 3). Genderism is the belief imposed by society that there is only two genders, which is assigned to an individual at birth based off of their sexual genitalia. Anything out of this binary, is stigmatized and rejected by society. Goffman defines “Institutional reflexivity” as the extent to which society takes the biological differences between males and females into account for every aspect of daily life (1977: 302). This means that although there is only minor differences between men and women, as a society, we have normalized the idea the two are polar opposites, and need to grow up in a way that reflects that. Cultivators are parents feel as if they are responsible for reproducing gendered expectations for their children. They believe gender is created socially, and because of this they do whatever they can to enforce this expectations upon their children, which little regard of what society will think of their parenting strategy ( 2012: 11-12).
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