19 Introduction: Gender as a Mechanism for Objectification

“Nolite te bastardes carborundorum (don’t let the bastards grind you down),” is the infamous rallying cry uttered in Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale (46). Within the context of the novel, it is a sign of resistance against a patriarchal society that imposes restrictive gender roles. Gender is singlehandedly one of the main mechanisms behind the organization of society. It is an institutionalized and inescapable entity that affects individual behaviors. For this reason, it is important to understand how gender roles form and manifest in society.

In order to grasp the underlying mechanisms, it is important to look at the concepts that shape gender relations. To build this framework, the paper will rely on sociological works that pertain to either the formation of gendered characteristics or gendered inequalities. In particular, Orenstein’s “Fear of Falling: Sluts” (1997), Martin’s “Becoming a Gendered Body: Practices of Preschools” (1998), Boswell and Spade’s “Fraternities and Collegiate Rape Culture: Why Are Some Fraternities More Dangerous Places for Women?” (1966), Mulvey’s “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema” (1975), Park’s study of gendered parenting (2018), and Messner’s “Masculinities and Athletic Careers” (1989), all lay down important foundational concepts. Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, the American Psychological Associations’ report “On the Sexualization of Girls”, Orenstein’s “The Miseducation of the American Boy,” and Jean Kilbourne’s “Killing Us Softly 4” will be joined in conjunction for a thorough analysis.

Combining the sociological framework with conducted studies and literature will enable this report to delve into the different coalition of factors that shape the objectification of men and women in society. Specifically, this paper aims to show how gendered roles associated with either masculinity or femininity manifest themselves in forms of objectification that exacerbate female subservience and male dominance.



Power: Origins, Instances, and Protest Copyright © by Candy Lucero-Sanchez; Leah Rivera; Leslie Paz; and Liam Madigan. All Rights Reserved.

Share This Book