Is Gender a Social Construction?

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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. Just by looking around or taking our own growing up experience into consideration, it becomes pretty obvious that parental treatment is very much sex biased. From the moment we are born, the process of learning gender begins. Infant males are dressed in blue and infant females in pink. From that point onwards, they can start becoming boys and girls. Each major sociological framework has its own views and theories regarding gender. Let’s look at some. Functionalist theorists believe that men fill instrumental roles in society while women fill expressive roles, which works to the benefit of society. Murdock, a functionalist, argued that sexual division of labour derived from the hunger-gathering period of history. He says that men are larger built than women biologically; therefore they are more suited to do heavier tasks and the sexual division of labour was just an efficient way of dividing the socially necessary tasks among the members of the society. In Murdock’s study of 250 societies, he found out that men do the hunting, lumbering and mining, whereas the women do the gathering of wild vegetables, carrying water, cooking and altering clothing. The women were mostly at home. According to him, the division of labour by sex arises from differences in strength and the demands of pregnancy and motherhood, suggesting that gender is a biological construction. There are others who take a similar position, believing a woman’s biological constitution predetermines her for household and child-rearing

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