The Social Construction of Gender

1988 Words8 Pages
In the United States, our concept of gender, and the differences between men and women, have deep traditional roots. Men are supposed to be strong individuals, who support and defend their families. Women are seen as nurturing, and motherly, more gentle and tame. We believe so strongly that the two genders are entirely separate, with such completely different traits, that it almost seems that men and women are just born with different qualities. But is this really the case? Are girls really born with the genes to prefer pink and Barbie dolls, while boys are genetically predisposed to act like warriors and defend their families? Are masculine and feminine simply genetic facts? Evidence seems to support a deeper reason than that. As a culture, we have developed and defined these gender roles over centuries. We have determined what is appropriate for men and women, and anything, or anyone, that doesn't fit those molds is ostracized. The traits that we decide are so important to men and women are so engrained in our society, that they seem natural. But maybe they're not. Not all societies operate like ours. There are societies with a distinguished third gender, such as the Hijra in India, and the Kathoey in Thailand. If these “third genders” are acceptable, and normal, in other cultures, it seems unlikely that gender is biologically determined. Instead, learning gender is a social practice that begins before a child is even born. When parents paint their child's nursery pink or blue, they're already reinforcing the same social customs and gender rules that they were taught as children. There are some biological differences between the male and female brain. But these differences don't account for our strict concepts of gender... ... middle of paper ..., Evolution, and Gender. Vol. 6, No. 1 (April 2004) pp. 45-53. Lucal, Betsy. “What it Means to Be Gendered Me: Life on the Boundaries of a Dichotomous ` Gender System.” Gender and Society. Vol 13., No. 6 (Dec., 1999) pp. 781-797. McCabe, Allyssa. “Developmental Psychology.” Access Science. McGraw-Hill Companies, 2008. Reddy, Gayatri. “Men” Who Would Be Kings: Celibacy, Emasculation, and the Re-Production of Hijras in Contemporary Indian Politics.” Social Research. Vol. 70, No. 1. (2003). pp. 163- 200. Turner, Stephanie. “Intersex Identities: Locating New Intersections of Sex and Gender.” Gender and Society. Vol 13, No. 4 (Aug. 1999) pp. 457-479. Winter, Sam. “Thai Transgenders in Focus: Demographics, Transitions and Identities.” International Journal of Transgenderism, Vol. 9, No. 1 (2006). pp. 15-27.

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