Gender Structure Theory

1163 Words5 Pages
Embedded deep within the psyche of modern society, gender is a persistent feature of everyday life. It creates normalized behaviors and characteristics for each person, holding them accountable for even the most trivial actions. Individuals are not supposed to step outside the binary male-female framework, otherwise they risk backlash as an attempt to force them back into culturally designated roles. This binary is disturbed by the very existence of intersex individuals – as they cannot be placed into 100% male or 100% female on a binary scale. One of the areas where intersex has caused complications is in organized sports, specifically the Olympics. Since the International Olympic Committee (IOC) requires athletes to be divided into men and women in the various events, the interjection of intersex individuals causes complications with the preexisting system. The result of this being not to adjust the binary system itself, but for the IOC to engage in gender examinations of athletes to fit them into either the male or female categories. In order to understand the implications of the IOC's recommendations as well as why such views are ingrained in society as a whole, it is necessary to make an analysis using gender structure theory via its three levels: individual, interactional, and institutional. Gender structure theory can help to understand the underlying implications within the IOC's recommendations by allowing gender to be conceptualized as a social structure. The mechanisms and causal relationships by which gender is embedded within society can then be analyzed at the individual, interactional, and institutional levels, thereby encompassing the whole sphere of human interactions. The individual level involves focusing on... ... middle of paper ... ...all people. Gender structure theory allows for the analysis of multitudes of actions, such as the recommendations given by the IOC about ambiguously sexed athletes. These actions need not exist within the same place, time, or contexts but are all interconnected through overarching individual, interactional, and institutional frameworks. The IOC's recommendations for pre-participation health examinations which involve gender determination, illustrates how the social construction of gender is assumed to be akin to biological necessity and any deviation from that is presented as a lack of wellness – despite the actual health of individuals. It is important to see how the construction of a male-female binary gender structure constrains everyone, so that it can be disentangled and that acceptance for differences can be gained through socializing individuals differently.
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