Although sex can also be seen as a socially constructed set of ideas shaped by culture (Van Krieken, Habibis, Smith, Hutchins, Marton, and Maton, 2010). Biological determinism is the idea that biology and fate has shaped the way you are today. E.g. men are physically stronger, women are more emotional, men are single minded whereas women are flexible etc. Alternatively, gender is constructed on the personality traits and behavioural tendencies of males and females (The Blackwell Dictionary of Sociology, 2000).
Is gender a social construction? Gender describes the characteristics that a society or culture delineates as masculine or feminine. So, is gender due to the biological makeup or is it due to the social surroundings and the way we are brought up? From a sociological perspective, nature does not fully determine gender identity. It is a mixture biology and socialization.
Firstly, we must understand the term socially constructed, and how it relates to gender. Gender deals with masculinity and femininity. In sociological terms, it is the hierarchical division between men and women which is embedded in social institutions and social practices. Sex, on the other hand, is assigned at birth; based on external genitalia. “Gender is usually described as socially constructed, and sex as biological.
There are two opposing views on how and why families exist. One view is that families are natural, that we are genetically predisposed to create families. Desmond Morris (1968) argues that humans create their cultures based on biological instincts (Kidd et al. 2003, p113). The second view focuses on the social construction of families arguing that families are actually a product of culture rather than biology.
Sex, Gender and Gender roles redefined In her book The Second Sex, Simone De Beauvoir states, “One is not born, but, rather becomes a woman”. This statement highlights the difference between sex and gender. While sex is a biological term, gender is a social and cultural construct. An individual is born into the categories of male or female but it is the very task of ‘accomplishing gender’ that determines the social identity of the person. Women are under a constant pressure to adhere to roles that are specific to their gender and so are men.
In Western culture, gender is a binary classification based on two strictly defined gender categories of male and female. From the time of birth, we become acquainted with gender expectations and standards through many social influences. These influences have a powerful effect as they shape our understanding of gender and how we identify ourselves as being a man or woman. In the film Codes of Gender, Sut Jhally analyzes gender display in advertisements and how masculine and feminine powers are portrayed differently through body and hand configurations. Women are shown as smaller or weaker than men, and suggest a ritualization of subordination through their canting, bashful knee positions.
They think of themselves as members of their own sex, and feel emotionally committed to this point of view” (Romer, 1981, p.24). This is universal to all societies, but the way in which people behave based on their identification with their own sex and the norms they are to follow, according to their sex, are different across the world. Therefore, I have chosen three ethnographies, each regarding a different region, so that I could show through examples of the ethnographies how gender roles vary based on culture. Throughout my research on gender across different cultures, I have determined that the more complex a society is the more distinct gender roles are within that society. The three regions that I chose to research were Canada, Australia, and Island Southeast Asia.
The “Nature vs. Nurture” Debate Jasmine Cardwell Abstract Customarily, human nature has been thought of as not only inherited but divinely ordained. Some ethnic groups were thought to be, by nature, superior or inferior. Yet since the late Middle Ages, intellectuals increasingly attributed differences among races, classes and genders to socialization, rather than to nature. Does one know his gender when born, or does he make this distinction based on the actions and words of those around him? Do humans enter the world with basic human function, or do they develop these functions as a result of those around them?
What people perceive as the “norm” for men and women means that there is still a high level of gender inequality, because manly men are influenced to dominate due to their masculinity, and women are expected to submit as they are seen as the weaker gender, and more “feminine” which seems to have negative connotations in society. Especially in working environments, there is still a huge issue of society assuming jobs are gender-specific. For example, mechanics and transport-related fields of work are male-dominated and it is expected that women shouldn’t do these types of jobs because they are “dirty” and include intense “manual labour”. This assumption that women shouldn’t participate in manual labour is so outdated and untrue, there is no reason a woman has any kind of disadvantage to a man when it comes to changing the brake pads of a car or jump starting a battery, so why is it still frowned upon for women to be in such a