Tacit norms of perception, attention, and inattention are unintentional yet still distinctly cultural. One example of such norms is sex/gender attribution
It wasn’t until late 18th century (around the time of enlightenment) that we started to think about male and female bodies as different. Power distribution came in to question at that time – right to vote for example (women were too emotional and not rational enough to vote), women could not inherit wealth. Hence, different discussions of anatomy, brain, etc.
We take this difference for granted now and only some things pass through our cognitive filter.
“dominant cultural conceptions of sex as ‘obvious’ or ‘self-evident’ reflect a sensory reality that privileges visual perception” (284)
How do blind people determine the sex of people they meet? They use non-visual sex attribution – auditory, olfactory, tactile. Asia Friedman, based on her work with the blind, describes how it is done without visual capacity. Blind seem to have a slower and more deliberate sex attribution, it requires attention.
There is “perceptual work underlying the social construction of reality in general…” (284)
Socialization shapes the mind. Berger and Luckmann’s in their book “Social Construction of Reality”, argue that reality is actually created by us in cooperation with one another. We take for granted that reality is objective, but the notion that reality is objective may be in itself a social construct.
“In the case of sex, this means questioning why breasts and facial hair seem more salient than elbows, eye color, noses, and earlobes, when all are technically equally visually available, or why the differences between males’ and females’ skin and body hair are noticed more often than the similarities.” (285)
Non-visual sex attribution can include voices – male vs female, we think of it as being gendered, height and steps (footfall), smell -we construct our smells according to gendered norms that are not natural (perfumes, colognes) as well as natural (body odor), touch – face touching is a stereotype, but arm holding does communicate information.