Research Thursdays - Lotus Seeley, Department of Sociology, Receives American Sociological Association Award

Lotus Seeley, assistant professor in the Department of Sociology,

Thursday, Aug 27, 2020

Lotus Seeley, assistant professor in the Department of Sociology, won the 2020 Distinguished Article Award from the American Sociological Association Sex & Gender Section for a paper she co-authored with Laura T. Hamilton, Elizabeth A. Armstrong, and Elizabeth M. Armstrong. The award is presented annually to the best sociological journal article on the topic of sex and gender. The paper, titled “Hegemonic Femininities and Intersectional Domination,” was published in 2019 in Sociological Theory.

“Hegemonic Femininities and Intersectional Domination” uses an intersectional feminist perspective to theorize how inequality is reproduced when women privileged by race and class are able to reap the benefits of effectively performing hegemonic (i.e., socially-valued and normative) femininity.

While previous feminist theorists have focused on women’s collective subordination to and lack of power relative to men within society, this article uses intersectionality to theorize how women with race and class privilege actually (re)produce structural inequalities when they enact femininity based on white, middle-class, heterosexual feminine norms. 

Rather than merely being victims, privileged women easily become perpetrators in the subordination of other women and even men, something often not acknowledged. This article thus provides a way to theorize contemporary phenomenon of privileged white women’s complicity in the surveillance and disciplining of people of color for non-crimes. It also serves a valuable corrective for masculinity studies’ failure to deal effectively with intersectionality and femininity as an active structuring force in society. 

Committee members commended the paper’s outstanding analysis and agreed that it makes a major contribution to theorizing gender by further specifying the limitations of monocategorical approaches to masculinity and femininity. The committee also noted that, even with its theoretical nuance, it remains accessible for generalist audiences. 

“In this article, the authors examine how two sociological traditions – masculinities literature and intersectional perspectives – account for the role of femininities in social domination. With theoretical nimbleness, the authors argue that some femininities allow some women to draw a femininity premium while engaging in intersectional domination of other women and even some men.”

--- Remarks from Award Committee

Seeley’s research focuses on gender, work and organizations, and sociological and feminist theory. She has written on slut-shaming and class, men administrative assistants’ performances of masculinity, and how mundane interactions between professionals, staff, and support workers (re)produce organizational status systems.

(Printable Version)