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The Social Construction of Gender and Sexuality

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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 the folkways of their own culture. The creation of gender expectations by society creates a restricting definition of gender roles and sexuality that vary from culture to culture.

Society created the role of gender and created an emphasis on the differences between the two genders. Alma Gottlieb states: “biological inevitability of the sex organs comes to stand for a perceived inevitability of social roles, expectations, and meanings” (Gottlieb, 167). Sex is the scientific acknowledgment that men and women are biologically different; gender stems from society’s formation of roles assigned to each sex and the emphasis of the differences between the two sexes. The creation of meanings centers on the expectations of the roles each sex should fill; society creates cultural norms that perpetuate these creations. Gender blurs the lines between the differences created by nature and those created by society (Gottlieb, 168); gender is the cultural expectations of sexes, with meaning assigned to the diff...

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...le or female actually identifies with their prescribed role depends on the socialization process and the way they identify with society’s expectations of them. The social construction of gender and sexuality all rely on the measure that people believe there is a difference between the two sexes, once this emphasis is taken away, is when gender roles will no longer play an integral role in the structure of society.

Works Cited

Gottlieb, Alma. "Interpreting Gender and Sexuality: Approaches from Cultural Anthropology." Exotic No More: Anthropology on the Front Lines. Ed. Jeremy MacClancy. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2002.

Kilbourne, Jean. Killing Us Softly. Media Education Foundation, 2010.

Lancaster, Roger N. Life is Hard, Machismo, Danger, and the Intimacy of Power in Nicaragua. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1992.
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