“Boys will be boys, and girls will be girls”: few of our cultural mythologies seem as natural as this one. But in this exploration of the gender signals that traditionally tell what a “boy” or “girl” is supposed to look and act like, Aaron Devor shows how these signals are not “natural” at all but instead are cultural constructs. While the classic cues of masculinity—aggressive posture, self-confidence, a tough appearance—and the traditional signs of femininity—gentleness, passivity, strong nurturing instincts—are often considered “normal,” Devor explains that they are by no means biological or psychological necessities. Indeed, he suggests, they can be richly mixed and varied, or to paraphrase the old Kinks song “Lola,” “Boys can be girls and girls can be boys.” Devor is dean of social sciences at the University of Victoria and author of Gender Blending: Confronting the Limits of Duality (1989), from which this selection is excerpted, and FTM: Female-to-Male Transsexuals in Society (1997).
The clusters of social definitions used to identify persons by gender are collectively known as “femininity” and “masculinity.” Masculine characteristics are used to identify persons as males, while feminine ones are used as signifiers for femaleness. People use femininity or masculinity to claim and communicate their membership in their assigned, or chosen, sex or gender. Others recognize our sex or gender more on the basis of these characteristics than on the basis of sex characteristics, which are usually largely covered by clothing in daily life.
These two clusters of attributes are most commonly seen as mirror images of one another with masculinity usually characterized by dominance and aggression, and femininity by passivity and s...
... middle of paper ...
...socially directed hormonal instructions which specify that females will want to have children and will therefore find themselves relatively helpless and dependent on males for support and protection. The schema claims that males are innately aggressive and competitive and therefore will dominate over females. The social hegemony of this ideology ensures that we are all raised to practice gender roles which will confirm this vision of the nature of the sexes. Fortunately, our training to gender roles is neither complete nor uniform. As a result, it is possible to point to multitudinous exceptions to, and variations on, these themes. Biological evidence is equivocal about the source of gender roles; psychological androgyny is a widely accepted concept. It seems most likely that gender roles are the result of systematic power imbalances based on gender discrimination.9
Need Writing Help?
Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.Check your paper »
- Centuries of traditions has enabled men and women to define gender roles in society. Although some critics declare gender roles do not exist today, others believe they do. In society, men and women are defined by gender roles throughout their activities and emotions. A doctor is typically portrayed by a male while women rear the children and cook for the men. However, although still in existence, today these roles are less obvious but tend to have similar meaning when compared to the past. In ancient Greece, women suffered great hardships.... [tags: Gender Roles in Greek Society]
1283 words (3.7 pages)
- Gender roles in the Ibo society shape the way that its men and women live and interact in their everyday lives. This essay will be comparing and contrasting the different roles of the male versus the female. All of Igbo life is gendered, from the crops that women and men grow to how many spouses a man can have. Depending on what sex you are you will be taught to act in a specific way. The Ibo society gender roles can be considered as “traditional” men provide for his wife and children, and women pamper the children and take care of the home.... [tags: Gender role, Gender, Woman, Transgender]
948 words (2.7 pages)
- Gender Roles Gender Roles; a set of societal norms dictating what types of behaviors are generally considered acceptable, appropriate or desirable for a person based on their actual or perceived sex. In many societies the role of women and men have been diverged in different areas throughout life, whether it be home, the workplace, or marriage. In some societies it 's normal for the women to be the caregiver, while in the majority of others the women is there to take care of the children, keep the house clean, and their husband happy.... [tags: Gender role, Gender, Man, Woman]
1271 words (3.6 pages)
- Are gender roles damaging to society. “We’ve begun to raise our daughters more like sons… but few have the courage to raise our sons more like our daughters.” - Gloria Steinem. From the moment a child comes into the world, we tell them what to wear, what to play with, and how to act, based solely on the sex they were assigned at birth. This is wrong. Gender roles are social expectations and norms dictated by society, namely: our families; peer groups; and the mass media. Stereotypes based on the sexes are drilled into our heads from birth.... [tags: Gender, Gender role, Transgender, Role]
1128 words (3.2 pages)
- Society, Gender Roles and Gender-Conflict Time and time again gender-conflict is brought to the attention of the public in various forms. In our time someone who wants to make a point about gender-conflict and the inequality that is present will be more likely to use television or song to reach their audience. This however is a fairly new technology. Books or some form of writing on the other hand have been around for thousands of years. Gender-conflict is nothing new. It is not as though one day it just came out of no where.... [tags: Research Papers]
1800 words (5.1 pages)
- Gender Roles in Ancient Greek Society Throughout history, the roles of women and men have always differed to some degree. In ancient Greece, the traditional roles were clear-cut and defined. Women stayed home to care for children and do housework while men left to work. This system of society was not too far off the hunter gatherer concept where women cared for the house and the men hunted. Intriguingly enough, despite the customary submissive role, women had a more multifaceted role and image in society as juxtaposed with the rather simple role men played.... [tags: Greek Gender Roles]
1385 words (4 pages)
- Gender Roles in Society Gender role is a commonly discussed subject in society. Gender role simply defined is a person's inner sense of how a male or female should feel and behave. Society and culture are also very important in relation to this subject. This means different societies and cultures may produce children and later, grown men and women, who have quite different views of a man or a woman's place in the world around them, often determined by their culture's gender stereotypes. These topics will be explained and compared to each other later on.... [tags: Gender Studies]
1180 words (3.4 pages)
- Gender Roles in Society Suggested roles of all types set the stage for how human beings perceive their life should be. Gender roles are one of the most dangerous roles that society faces today. With all of the controversy applied to male vs. female dominance in households, and in the workplace, there seems to be an argument either way. In the essay, “Men as Success Objects”, the author Warren Farrell explains this threat of society as a whole. Farrell explains the difference of men and women growing up and how they believe their role in society to be.... [tags: Sociology Gender Sex Essays]
1030 words (2.9 pages)
- The Progression of Gender Roles in American Society Throughout life every man and woman fits into a specific gender role. We are told what is expected of men and women from birth until death. Many people influence our view of how we should act and what we should say such as our parents, friends, and even the media. Males and females play very different roles and these differences are apparent in our every day lives. These differences are not the same as they used to be. Society has changed the way it treats men and women over time.... [tags: Gender Role Society Culture Feminism Essays]
668 words (1.9 pages)
- Gender Roles in Society Since the beginning of time men have played the dominant role in nearly every culture around the world. If the men were not dominant, then the women and men in the culture were equal. Never has a culture been found where women have dominated. In “Society and Sex Roles” by Ernestine Friedl, Friedl supports the previous statement and suggests that “although the degree of masculine authority may vary from one group to the next, males always have more power” (261). Friedl discusses a variety of diverse conditions that determine different degrees of male dominance focusing mainly on the distribution of resources.... [tags: Sociology Gender Sex Dominant Essays]
1583 words (4.5 pages)