In his book, Great American City, sociologist Robert Sampson argues that, while the effects of macro factors like poverty and political neglect on individual lives are well-documented, other local mechanisms matter too.  It’s important, then, to think about the constitution of neighborhoods.

Along these lines, he argues, even if a community is economically- and socially-marginalized, an existing neighborhood organizations can make a big difference.  He takes natural disasters as a case study.  A neighborhood organization can spread the news of an impending disaster, establish leadership, and organize assistance before, during, and after a crisis.  In this way, Sampson brings together micro, meso, and macro forces shaping the impact of disaster.

Lisa Wade, PhD is an Associate Professor at Tulane University. She is the author of American Hookup, a book about college sexual culture; a textbook about gender; and a forthcoming introductory text: Terrible Magnificent Sociology. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

Paula F. sent in a link to’s list of the top 100 ‘mom blogs’ of 2011.  Mom blogs have become wildly popular in recent years as a way to document and comment on the experience of motherhood, and this particular list illustrates some interesting things about social privilege.  Paula was struck by the lack of racial diversity among the selected blogs and noted how women of color are vastly underrepresented.   For example, only 7 of the blogs are written by African-American moms, and 4 of those refer to the mother’s race in the title (although the same is not true for any of the blogs written by white women).

A quick review of the blogs reveals some other interesting issues related to social privilege and motherhood.  In addition to the lack of racial diversity, the blogs included in the list show very little variation in terms of class, sexuality, age, and marital status.   (The blogs were chosen by a panel of “experts” that took into consideration nominations from Babble readers, so it’s unclear how representative they are of mom blogs in general.)

While there is the more obvious privilege of the “digital divide,” or the disparate access that people have to technology and the internet, there is also privilege in having the spare time to devote to intensive writing/blogging and the connections necessarily to draw sponsorship and advertising.  Moreover, while some of the selected blogs do offer narratives that deviate from traditional ideas about mothering and motherhood (for example, several blogs discuss mental health issues, the struggles of parenting, and forming blended families), they nonetheless reproduce a narrow image of who mothers are, what they look like, and what they do.


Christie Barcelos is a doctoral student, a mom, and a blogger, but not really a mom blogger.

In this minute-and-a-half, sociologist Nikki Jones talks about the way that the idea of the ghetto has been commodified — especially in rap and hip hop — in ways that informs Americans who don’t live in inner-city urban areas, but potentially mystifies the reality of that life as well:

Lisa Wade, PhD is an Associate Professor at Tulane University. She is the author of American Hookup, a book about college sexual culture; a textbook about gender; and a forthcoming introductory text: Terrible Magnificent Sociology. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

Fraulion sent in this screenshot from the homepage.  In case you needed help buying gifts, dads like history and politics, moms like to smell nice and look shiny, girlfriends and wives like chick flicks and cute stuff, boyfriends and husbands like classic rock and knowing what time it is, grandpas like to watch documentaries (probably about “the war”), and grandmas just want to look at pictures of their grandchildren.

Last but not least, Rob W. sent in another gift guide that suggests that women want a masculine-looking watch and men want a wine aerator (I don’t know what that is, but wine is woman-y right?).  So… counter-stereotypical push back against the gender machine?  Or a typo?  I’m going with typo.  Funny typo.

More after the jump:


Cross-posted at Ms.

Maybelline’s brand of lip gloss, “baby lips,” is a straightforward example of the infantilization of adult women:

We should be worried about the infantilization of women for two reasons:

First, it’s directly related to the sexualization of young girls.  The two phenomena, when considered together, clearly point to the convergence of female children and adult sexuality.  As I wrote in a previous post:

…on the one hand, women are portrayed as little girls, as coyly innocent, as lacking in power and maturity. On the other hand, child-likeness is sexy, and girls are portrayed as Lolitas whose innocence is questionable.

Second, the need for women to look like babies to be beautiful (and the requirement for women to be beautiful), turns aging into a trauma for women.  Susan Sontag, in her (truly beautiful) essay The Double Standard of Aging, put it this way:

The great advantage men have is that our culture allows two standards of male beauty: the boy and the man… A man does not grieve when he loses the smooth, unlined, hairless skin of a boy. For he has only exchanged one form of attractiveness for another…

There is no equivalent of this second standard for women. The single standard of beauty for women dictates that they must go on having clear skin. Every wrinkle, every line, every gray hair, is a defeat.

A very lucrative defeat for Maybelline, if we buy into it.

More of the quote at a previous post.  And, for more on the infantilization of women, see our posts on baby teethlady spankingGleethis collection of examples, a vintage example, and the Halloween edition. Link via BagNewsNotes.

Lisa Wade, PhD is an Associate Professor at Tulane University. She is the author of American Hookup, a book about college sexual culture; a textbook about gender; and a forthcoming introductory text: Terrible Magnificent Sociology. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

Sonita M. sent in a report from the Movement Advancement Project about the state of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) families.

LGBT families are more likely to be poor than non-LGBT families.  Nine percent of married cis-gender different-sex couples live in poverty, compared to 21% of gay male couples and 20% of lesbian couples:

LGBT couples may be more likely to be in poverty in part because of wage differentials between gays, lesbians, and their heterosexual counterparts.  Research shows that gay and bisexual men earn significantly less money than heterosexual men, whereas lesbians make somewhat more money than straight women.  Gay men would be more likely than heterosexual men to be in poverty, then.  But what about women? Women in same-sex couples face the same wage disadvantage that all women face, but also are not married to the heterosexual men that are making so much money (making it so that heterosexual women can make less money than gay women, but still be less likely to live in poverty). Make sense?  I hope so.

The second reason that LGBT couples with children are more likely than cis-gendered different-sex couples with children to live in poverty is that Black and Latino LGBT people are more likely than White LGBT people to be parents, and Blacks and Latinos are disproportionately poor to begin with:

Among same-sex couples, being a parent is also correlated with immigration status, which also correlates with class.  Non-citizens are more likely to be parents than citizens:

The two million children in America being raised by LGBT parents, then, are more likely to suffer from class disadvantage.  The authors of the report go on to discuss the ways in which formal policy and informal discrimination contribute to this state of affairs.

Via Andrew Sullivan.

Lisa Wade, PhD is an Associate Professor at Tulane University. She is the author of American Hookup, a book about college sexual culture; a textbook about gender; and a forthcoming introductory text: Terrible Magnificent Sociology. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

Cross-posted on Reports from the Economic Front.

The Occupy Movement has clearly transformed conversations about the economy.  It is now inequality — in particular, the gap between the top 1% and everyone else — rather than the national debt that dominates the news.

To review, this gap is real, as the following charts from the Economic Policy Institute make clear.  This chart shows the percentage increase in household income over the period 1979 to 2007 by income group.  While the top 1% enjoyed income gains of 224% over the period, the gains enjoyed by the bottom 90% were far more modest: 5%.  Equally striking is the fact that the household income of top 0.01% shot up an astounding 390%.


Unfortunately, there is another income gap that has not received nearly as much attention.  It is the white-nonwhite gap.  The Portland, Oregon based Coalition of Communities of Color recently published a report on the socioeconomic situation of people of color in Multnomah Country (which includes Portland).

As the chart below reveals, the mean income of families of color in the top decile (10%) actually declined by $6,002 over the years 1979 to 2007.  By contrast, the mean income of white families in the top 10%  rose by $122,591.  White families and families of color in the bottom half of the distribution all suffered losses.


The following two charts show the mean earnings of each group by decile and their change between 1979 and 2007.

Portrait in 1979:


Portrait in 2007:


This last chart shows poverty rates by color.  Clearly, as we work to create a more equitable society, our efforts must also be guided by awareness of the existence of serious racial and ethnic inequities.


Two additional cases of a boy being subject to schools rules that don’t apply to girls prompts a re-post. I’ve added the new instances to the end.

Tara C. sent us a link to a story about a 4-year-old boy who has been given in-school suspension (and was threatened with expulsion) for having hair that breaks the dress code for the Dallas, TX, school system:

Dmitriy T.M. sent in another story, this one featuring a 6-year-old named Gareth who was being placed into in-school suspension (i.e., spending all day each day in the principal’s office) because of his long hair and earring.

So, this still you see of him below… that’s what counts as long hair. And, can you spot the earring in his left ear? It’s there.

In another case, 16-year-old Kasey Landrum was suspended for wearing eye-liner on school grounds (after classes were out):

Of course, these aren’t just about enforcing a dress code. It’s a gendered code; girls aren’t required to have short hair cuts, because on girls, longer hair isn’t “distracting,” it’s “normal.”  As is make-up and earrings.  Implicit in the idea of what counts as an appropriate appearance, then, is the gender of the person wearing it.  These cases reveal, further, that girls are allowed more choices than boys because we are more accepting of girls acting boyish than boys acting girlish (in what sociologists call “androcentrism“).

The final case also reveals the importance of intersectionality, or the way that different identities come together in complicated ways. Landrum claims that an ostensibly heterosexual boy was allowed to wear punk-style make-up to school on the same day.  So breaking gender rules is apparently okay if you affirm that you’re heterosexual, and maybe being gay is okay if you don’t break any gender rules, but doing both is going too far.