Gender can be defined as the society labelling of the male and female individuals. Gender refers to the way the society separates the male from the female in terms of dressing, behaviour, roles and responsibilities (Acker, pg 448). In this respect the sex of an individual cannot be used to define his/ her gender. The society in most cases has entrenched gender into its system such that people conceive it as genetic. Although similarities are prevalent most communities perceive gender differently. Gendering people has played a very important role in promoting community organization. Today globalisation and growth of technology has resulted to mixing up of these roles. Even if this has not been significant, women and men have proven that they can perform each other’s role perfectly well without any strain. Is gender today necessary for the society’s organisation?
Does it limit our capabilities? In the recent decades women have been able to play the breadwinner role in the society. This was not allowed in the past because the society made sure that women received enough support or were married off to other men who would take care of her family needs. Gendering has been part of the human culture. To understand it clearly we have to view gendering as one of the methods the society organises its self. Therefore like culture the gender roles are very dynamic and keep changing with time. Gendering occurs soon after birth such that females and males are designated to a particular gender package. After birth females and males are accorded different treatment with clear differences in the type of clothes, games and expected behaviour.
Some of the activities carried out by men and women may indeed be genetic. For example the level of aggressiveness displayed by men is significantly higher than that of women (Blum, pg4). Biologically, testosteroe (a hormone produced in the testes of a male) is responsible for this behaviour. Testosterone is also produced in women but at a significantly lower level than that produced in men. Aggressive behaviour can be observed in all ages in almost every species but differs with the sex. For example in humans the crime rates are usually higher in men than women. Boys exhibit a lower level of aggressiveness as compared to girls. Is gender influenced by genetics? Studies in different animals have shown that a switch in levels of testosterone between the two sexes show reversed levels of aggressive behaviour.
Although biological differences exist between the two sexes, there are some clear reinforcements from the society. For example parents will provide male children with toys that encourage aggressive behaviour such as military or armoured ones while they provide female children with less aggressive ones such as dolls (Blum, pg5). However, some of the tasks that seem to be predominantly assigned to females such as doing dishes can be done by the two sexes without any clear gender resistance. It has been observed that despite raising males and females together, the two sexes at their early adolescent and late child hood seem to socialise within their respective sexes. Is this genetic? Studies reveal that even in situations where people attend non-sexist schools gender differences still manage to manifest themselves.
Despite putting substantial effort in promoting gender equality the society has been largely unsuccessful (Acker, pg 443). Why is it that even with the advent of tough measures such as affirmative action there are clear disparities on the gender roles of the community? This shows that there are other factors which determine the individuals gender roles other than community predispositions. Most people argue that this is because gender has beeen entrenched into the culture of most societies. If this is the case then why are gender roles constantly changing along the same old male and female lines? Still people who try to cross the gender lines are always viewed as deviants and constitute a small proportion of the society.
Although the society has been successful in ensuring that the community is organised along gender lines, gender cannot be equated to sex. Individuals embrace gender because gender promotes sameness. By acting along these lines the individual does not conflict with the society (Loeber, p 207). The society will furiously protect what it believes defines it. Individuals want to be identified with the society. Loeber explains that these societies may go beyond setting clothing and behaviour to making different gender based changes on the bodies of both men and women (205). The benefit of gendering people is that it creates distinguishable roles, rights and responsibilities to the different sexes making it easy for society organisation. However, gender creates social stratification which places men above women. There have been rigorous attempts to narrow this gap to make men equal to women. This has been partly successful in rectifying issues on wage gaps, employment and education disparities.
The reason why people have spent a lot of time in research and studies related to gender is not simply to understand the reason for its existence but to comprehend why it has propagated glaring differences between different sexes to the disadvantage of women. These social disparities are not been determined by sex, anatomy or physiology of individuals. Women and men can be different but equal. Today the society has not changed much and is still glooming men to be more powerful than women despite the numerous empirical results which have shown that women can be equal performers.
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