Gender: Socially Constructed

            When speaking of social construction we refer to the way society defines and develops ideas and characteristics on issues that vary throughout certain time periods and certain cultures. For example, the mid-1900's Western version of the typical family roles was for the father to work and bring home the income, and for the mother to take care of the home and the children. The father would come home to a cooked meal, well deserved from a hard day's work. From another perspective, Evelyn Blackwood's article, "The Case of Cross-Gender females," tells of a study done on female cross-gender roles of Native American tribes in the late nineteenth century. In those societies females were to "assume the male role permanently and marry women." They would act, dress, and talk much like the other sex and were sometimes seen as being half male, half female.".

             There are countless arguments and supportive evidence sustaining the view that gender is socially constructed. One example comes from the evidence of social construction of gender in the advertising. Jean Killbourne does a great analysis of this issue in her documentary, "Still Killing Us Softly." She says that, "advertising is the bloodstream of the media," a one hundred billion dollar industry which is paid by us consumers. In other words we are paying this industry to help define what is beautiful and what we should look like. We are setting standards on what it is to look like a male and a female that slowly changes everyday.

             People should take notice of the important distinction between social constructions of gender and the biological origins of gender. Some confuse sex with gender or assume that they are much the same. Sex is a biological identity as being male or female. Gender is learned patterns of behavior and expectations for members of each sex and varies across time and culture.

             Men are considered to be more aggressive and have greater strength which is why we define sporting rules as they are.

Related Essays: