The Social Construction of Gender and Sexuality Essay
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According to Johnny Weir, “Masculinity is what you believe it to be... [it is] all by perception, [I believe] masculinity and femininity is something that is very old-fashioned... [there is a] whole new generation of people who aren’t defined by their race or their sex or who they like to sleep with.” This statement exemplifies the definition of gender as a concept; gender is the expectations of a sex according to the culture of society. Sexuality, within this definition of gender, reflects society’s expectations, which are created in relation to the opposite sex. The variances between cultures means that gender expectations change within different cultures. These expectations put pressure on each member of society to conform and abide by…show more content…
A member of society assumes gender roles as soon as he or she is born. The socialization of individuals forces he or she to identify with a specific gender and does not allow for the reality that gender is an emotional issue that exists on a continuum, and many feel they fit somewhere between the two rigid cultural definitions of gender. Often times a child is introduced to many forms of masculinity or femininity (Gottleib, 175). Gender roles are introduced and enforced as soon as the sex of a child is determined (Gottleib, 168); boys begin a life of masculinity, with emphasis put on toughness and girls begin a life of femininity, with emphasis put on emotion and tenderness. Each sex is introduced to the gender roles expected for a certain identity to be maintained. The enforcement of gender roles in socialization is present cross culturally, as seen in “Life is Hard” by Roger Lancaster, children are taught the roles they are expected to perform before they are conscious of their own actions (Lancaster, 41). Critics believe, however, that when it comes to defining a person, gender alone does not describe the individual, for example, sexuality should be considered as well (Gottleib, 176). Since gender is learned through cultural socialization, and it’s ability to be a continuum, sexuality of individuals is created by the expectations of gender and is, in ideally, built on a sliding scale, but in reality is just as restricting as the
In the current time period the gender roles of Males and Females, both biologically predisposed and socially given, seem to be very different. Male gender roles tend to be pressed toward providing for his family as well as protection of his family whereas female gender roles tend to lean closer towards being a good caretaker, cleaning the house, and looking pretty. Are these roles an aspect of biological separatism or does the media play as well as everyday life have a role in determining what men and women do for society?
A lot of these gender roles start showing up when we’re young which could prove to be more biology oriented than media oriented. For instance little boys tend to play with things like dinosaurs and action figures while little girls tend to play with dolls and houses. Such situations are explained by Deborah Blum in her article “The Gender Blur” when she talks about her oldest son playing with dinosaurs and pretending to gnaw people’s legs off. She then goes on to explain that little girls don’t do that but instead play with their dolls and houses.
In her opinion these early experiences influence who we become later in life. (Blum 104) In return I believe that such examples showcase the effect of biology on little boys and little girls. As we know men tend to be more aggressive than women. To go along with these findings, Marc Breedlove; a behavioral endocrinologist at the University of California explains that society may be just as much to blame for the gender blur. “Yes we’re born with (genetic) predispositions, but its society that amplifies them, exaggerates them. I believe that- except for sex differences in aggression.
Those (differences) are too massive to be explained simply by society. ” (Blum 105) Blum then goes on to talk about how biological aggression in males contributes to most crimes being committed by males. She explains that in Europe and America for every robbery committed by a woman there are 10 to 15 committed by a man. In more domestic crimes it is estimated that 75% of men use guns in violent domestic disputes where as women only use guns 50% of the time (Blum 105). Aggression isn’t always bad though. Could these statistics explain business success?
I mean usually business owners need to be, in relativity, some sort of aggressive. Based on Gloria Steinem’s article “Sex, Lies, and Advertising” there is also a part of the stereotype that stems from what we see in everyday life. Steinem explains that images depicted in simple catalogs such as women stereotypically cleaning the kitchen and smiling implants an image into our brains about what women should do. She also makes the points that a magazine for women is rarely taken seriously whereas a magazine such as “muscle and fitness” and “General motors” is taken more seriously.
One journalist is even quoted saying “oh, women’s magazines everybody knows they’re just catalogs-but who cares? They have nothing to do with journalism. ” (Steinem 59) Such a statement shouldn’t be said be said because there are a lot of people that pay attention to catalog’s and they may send subliminal messages to whoever reads them. Such accusations are rightfully projected because subliminal messages are known to have an affect on people. Judy Brady with her article titled “Why I Want a Wife” which is written by a completely straight woman who satirically describes the good things about women.
Brady satirically says “I would like to go back to school so that I can become economically independent, support myself, and if need be, support those dependent on me. I want a wife who will work and send me to school. And while I am going to school I want a wife to take care of my children…” (Brady 74) Based on her experience Brady is saying that women tend to do a lot more than men such as supporting families, taking care of kids and keeping track of everything. She then says “My wife must arrange to lose time at work and not lose the job.
It may mean a small pay cut in my wife’s income from time to time, but I guess I can tolerate that. Needless to say my wife will arrange and pay for the care of my children while my wife is working. ” From her experience she is basically saying that men do nothing and women do everything which is not true. It is obvious that her prior experiences with men have been negative because from my experience, us men usually make the money and take care of the kids part time while women usually work part time and take care of the kids full time so the workload is split.
Of course there are certain people who oppose these views. The article “Guys vs Men” by Dave Barry puts a more comical angle on what a Male should be like. Barry‘s first point talks about how men, manhood and manly are, in general, serious words. He also says that “these results in certain characteristically masculine, by which I mean stupid, behavioral patterns that, can produce unfortunate effects such as violent crime, war, spitting, and ice hockey. ” (Barry 113). He then goes on to explain about how “guys like neat stuff, by neat I mean ‘mechanical and unnecessarily complex. ’”.
As a man I definitely agree with what he says because I am very into things that are complex and mechanical. I am intrigued by the way that things such as an Xbox 360 and a TV work. Not to mention a lot of men tend to be interested in cars and computers. “Perhaps the best example of guy drive is the space shuttle. Granted, the guys in charge of this program claim that it has a higher purpose, namely to see how humans function in space… no, the real reason for the existence of the space shuttle is that it is one humongous and spectacularly gizmo-intensive item of hardware. ”(Barry 115).
Barry responds by stating that guys ,as opposed to men, have never had a basic moral code and compares that to a dog pooping on the carpet. (Barry 117). All of these findings are based on the genetically predisposed mindset of how guys work because according to Barry we cannot control that we get interested in things like these. I disagree with this because I believe that as men and women we can control what kinds of things we are interested in. I know of a lot of women who have worked on big mechanical things such as the space shuttle and other various projects as well as women who are interested in sports.
I also know guys who are interested in feminine things such as clothes, children, and barbies. Are how we act as men and women really genetically predisposed at birth? Are some of the behaviors a result of how we are raised and the world around us? Well to be honest I believe that the behaviors are a result of both genetic predisposition and how we are raised after having read the sources disclosed in this essay. However, I do not believe that the argument will ever be closed because such answers are considered controversial.