Category Archives: Social Construction of Gender

Gender and Sex

Many people think of Gender and Sex as one in the same, but in reality Gender and Sex are two completely different things. Every country has their own idea of what Gender and Sex is within their culture. Our culture in the United States has put very strong gender roles based on a person’s sex, which is why many people assume Sex and Gender are the same thing.  Sex refers to the physical and biological characteristics that define men and women. Gender refers to the socially constructed roles, behaviors, and activities that a society considers appropriate for men and women.

When we were born we were already given a gender identity the common blue or pink blanket that gets wrapped around us — boys get the blue and the pink for girls. The idea is that a certain color should be tied to a certain gender based on the sex. As we grow up from baby to toddler we start to get different things, such as toy trucks or baby dolls. Behaviors become programmed in us, as well.  Boys are taught to not cry when they get hurt and to hide any emotion or they will seem weak, while girls are taught to be weak, pampered and want help.

 

There is also a double standard in our gender roles.   When girls play with boy toys they are considered a “tomboy,’ but if a boy wants to play with a doll it is completely vulgar and unnecessary.  In the childhood years it only gets worse because by now they understand the idea of gender and have already been sanctioned enough to start to conform to the roles that society has formed for them. They will soon come to the conclusion that what parts they were born with is the gender they are, even if they are uncomfortable with being that gender.

Even in adulthood we can’t escape these gender roles no matter how much we try. The society we live in will sanction us back into our roles. Our sex also confines us in the work place, along with our gender. If a female in a business stated an opinion, she would seem bossy, but if the same opinion was stated by a male, he would seem as a leader.

While some people accept that we are all different regarding gender, the majority of the society doesn’t accept gender diversity, which is why this is such hard topic to talk about. The reason why I think many people don’t want to accept gender diversity, is because it can seem confusing. We as humans like simple and easily explainable answers and if something is hard to understand, we don’t want any part of it. Hopefully one day gender will no longer be a restrictive role played by boy or girl and people can freely express who they want to be without being sanctioned.

— Grace

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Social Construction of Gender

Walking into the room, the decorations, table arrangements, and certain food choices are all pink. Bright pink, light pink, hot pink, and a pink that nearly looks white. Pink everywhere. Looking around at this baby shower, it is very clearly indicated that it is for a baby girl soon to be born. Everything that could be colored pink had a variation of the color in it. But why pink? Why are girls associated with the color pink and not blue? These are called gender norms. Gender norms is a subtopic of the social construction of gender. The social construction of gender is the way people socially and culturally see gender and what they believe should be normal for that gender. Gender and sex have different definitions. Gender deals with the way one and society sees themselves, meanwhile sex is the biological differences. Amongst the social construction of gender are many subtopics that fall into the category such as  the colors associated with gender mentioned above.

More subtopics include:

  • Personality traits
  • Occupations
  • Weight and physical build of the person
  • Clothing the person wears

With the gender norms comes those who step outside those norms. Occupations and clothing type seem to be more deviated norms. Most women are seen as secretaries, nurses, or teachers, but looking around you see more women becoming construction workers, doctors, and firefighters. Most men are seen as construction workers, doctors, and firefighters but are stepping out of that workforce and doing more female normed occupations like becoming nurses and teachers. Clothing tends to have a distinct difference between gender, though with gender, people do wear other genders clothing. Its very typical to see a girl wearing basketball shorts instead of a skirt, especially on a college campus. It’s more comfortable. Guys on the other hand would be looked at weirdly if seen in a skirt. In today’s society, gender norms dealing with clothing are being broken, especially by females, but these are considerably turning into new gender norms.

But why are gender norms such a big deal? Why are men and women bound and tied down to certain things, producing this judgment when broken? What does it matter if a man or woman wants to dress differently?

These questions are answered purely on views of the person being asked. Some see a certain way for every person based on their sex and not their gender. Others do not have a strong opinion on people’s actions and believe that people should be allowed to do as they so chose to- which is what I believe in. People should be entitled to all of their rights, not judged if they actually use them how they so chose and within the law.

This brings up another dispute. Whether people who want to marry the same sex should be legal. Some people believe heterosexual couples are the only people who should allowed to be married. Which I believe is wrong, WHY CAN’T PEOPLE SEPARATE CHURCH AND STATE LIKE THEY ARE SUPPOSED TO!?! This subject infuriates me. Yes, people have a right to their own thoughts.   So be it. But states should not be able to not legalize gay marriages just because “the Bible says it’s wrong.”  Whether the person be homosexual, bisexual, pansexual/omnisexual or transgender, I believe they should be treated as someone who is heterosexual. Who says heterosexual is the okay thing? Oh wait, the Bible does…

In case you already do not know the differences between said sexual orientations:

  • “Homosexual: a medical definition for a person who is attracted to someone with the same gender (or, literally, biological sex) they have, this is considered an offensive/stigmatizing term by many members of the queer community.”
  • “Bisexual: a person who experiences sexual, romantic, physical, and/or spiritual attraction to people of their own gender as well as another gender.”
  • “Pansexual/Omnisexual: a person who experiences sexual, romantic, physical, and/or spiritual attraction for members of all gender identities/expressions.”
  • “Transgender: a blanket term used to describe all people who are not cisgender [what gender someone affiliates themself with even if it is not their sex].”  (Killerman).

 

“Maybe we should make “straight marriage” illegal. It doesn’t seem to have a very high success rate.”  -Adam Levine

 All in all, life is a big realm of different things. The social construction of gender holds a lot of stuff in it’s pockets. From norms and deviances, to who is perceived to do what and how our lives are suppose to be lived, many smaller and larger subjects can spur from this one subject. It can be surprising how much can come from something based off of what we are born with. Why does something so natural  become so restricting? Why are colors restricted to certain genders? My favorite color has been blue ever since I could pick a color. I was strongly criticized in elementary school by other girls and boys for liking a “boy color,” but I can tell you that it did not change my view point on that color. It is just a color, it is not going to determine my future nor should it differentiate how people view me.

— Alaina

 

Work Cited

Killermann, Sam. “Comprehensive List of LGBTQ+ Term Definitions | It’s Pronounced Metrosexual.” Its

Pronounced Metrosexual. DISQUS, n.d. Web. 30 Nov. 2014.