Wasserstrom's Arguments Relating to the Unimportance of Gender and Its Importance on Promoting Sex Roles

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In this paper, I will discuss Wasserstrom’s arguments relating to the unimportance of gender and how differentiating people based on their gender promotes the harmful ideology of sex roles. I will then present Schlafly’s arguments which regard the differences between men and women as justifiable due to the fact that these differences are not only natural, but also practical and obligatory, and show that they are inferior to Wasserstrom’s arguments. I will argue this by elaborating on Wassertrom’s argument of how there is no such thing as “natural” while providing reasons for why this is so.
Firstly, Wasserstrom argues that assigning social roles to individuals based on their sex in inherently unjust. According to him, assigning sex roles interferes in basic ways with autonomy. In my opinion, autonomy is an extremely important factor when determining the overall well-being a person. Most people don’t like it when people are constantly telling them what to do on a day-to-day basis. Based on a study that I read about in my sociology class, the most important factor in determining an individual’s happiness within their career or job was their level of autonomy. This similar on how social roles based on sex are. Sex roles generate unwanted social pressure to an individual and they severely deprive them from their independence which negatively affects the individual’s potential well-being.
Additionally, Wasserstrom even goes on to say that sex roles are analogous to human slavery. Wasserstrom expresses how sex roles are oppressive and how they serve no use and no legitimate place in a just society. He states this because, according to him, sex roles forces people to lives which restrict excessively the opportunities of these individuals...

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...n necessary would be for the survival of its species, such as, the hunting and gathering societies where the female, having the ability to reproduce and lack of physical strength, was the gatherer and the male, having the advantage of physical strength, was the hunter.
Ultimately, the gender roles so many people consider natural today are in fact socially constructed. As Wasserstrom suggests, the nature of women today is simply the result of forced repression and socialization. The fact that sex roles are not natural, but socially constructed can be proven as they vary across different time periods and geographical locations. For example, if you study history, you will find that some societies were ruled by women. In the end, it can safely be assumed that the nature of women is an artificial thing and using this principle to implement gender roles is unjustifiable.

In this essay, the author

  • Analyzes how wasserstrom introduces rebuttals to those who might say that a society would not be oppressive if taught possible sex roles without one being dominant.
  • Analyzes schlafly's point of view regarding the institution of the family and marriage and how sex is a relevant factor in determining the role in family.
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