Gender

This essay Gender has a total of 1748 words and 8 pages.


Gender

Definition

When studying "gender," the first task is to clearly define what it is
not. Gender simply can not be defined by one's anatomy. In other words, gender
is not categorized as male or female. Stating this fact is of the utmost
importance, because most people would define gender in such a way. In fact, some
dictionaries actually define gender as "See sex." So now that I have
withdrawn that determinant, I must conclude that gender is something which is
determined socially. Unfortunately, the concept is far too broad to have one
clear definition. It can be studied in so many different ways, and it is because
of this that there are a multitude of theories about it. Learning about
differing theories stimulates one's own beliefs about gender and its usefulness.

Every sociology litterateur is aware of the socialization theory. Socialization
and the study of gender are often linked. In terms of gender, the socialization
theory suggests that children are taught to behave a certain way according to
their sex. Boys are taught to be masculine and girls to be feminine. For
example, parents will often buy boys trucks or army toys and for girls, they
will buy dolls and playhouse sort-of toys. Boys are played with in a rough
manner and are taught to "tough it out" when they get hurt. Girls are
taught to be more passive and expressive of their feelings. Also, children learn
by observing their parents and the roles that they play. Girls love pretending
to be the "mommy." Chores are also divided. Those chores that are more
"masculine" are for the boys such as taking out the trash and raking
leaves. Girls help in the kitchen and with cleaning. The socialization theory is
accepted by many, but it does not account for everything. This theory is
limiting in that it doesnot allow one to study gender in a macro sense. This
theory cannot explain why or how gender came about. It also doesn't provide an
answer for how gender inequality began or how it can be minimized. Many
theorists take the socialization theory and expand on it. One of the most unique
theories on gender comes from Judith Lorber, a professor of sociology. Lorber's
book, "Paradoxes of Gender," introduces her idea of gender being a
social institution. Lorber views gender inequality from this perspective. It is
difficult to explain all aspects of Lorber's theory without sounding repetitive,
because so much is interrelated. She critiques all of the popular beliefs about
gender. Gender is not the assumptions or beliefs about males and females; it is
not the roles that males and females play; it is not male and female status; it
is certainly not anatomy, and it is not strictly socialization. "Gender is
a social structure that has its origins in the development of human culture, not
in biology or procreation. ┘ As is true of other institutions, gender's
history can be traced, its structure examined, and its changing effects
researched." (Lorber, p.1) LLorber does not view gender at the individual
level, but rather as a social construction that establishes norms for
individuals which are built into the major societal organizations. The
development of gender inequality is the main focus of Lorber's discussion of
gender. According to Lorber, roles are gendered. Either sex can participate in
opposite gendered roles. The problem is that males are expected to be masculine
and women to be feminine. Those jobs that are more feminine have lower statuses,
thus lower pay. So we now begin to see where inequality comes into play. An
interesting point that Lorber makes about this is that women are to blame for
this as well as men. When a woman chooses to go into a female-dominated field,
she is perpetuating inequality by contributing to masculinism. However, when a
female works in a male-dominated field, she must become a social man. For
example, in the work force, CEOs are supposed to possess masculine traits. A
female CEO must be aggressive, dominant, and non-sympathetic. So when females
become social men, they are looked down upon. Most of these women are thought to
be too aggressive and unappealing. They have failed at being a
"woman." The same goes for men in female-dominated jobs, although for
men, there isn't much of a problem simply because there aren't very many men who
take feminine jobs due to their lower statuses. Naturally, female-dominated jobs
are seen as feminine. If a man were to take a female-dominated job, he would be
expected to act as a social woman. The fact that a person must behave according
to the gender of his/her

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Topics Related to Gender

Gender, Judith Lorber, Gender role, Sociology of gender, Femininity, Socialization, Sex and gender distinction, Social construction of gender difference

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