Gender Essay

2200 words - 9 pages

GENDERThe word 'gender' is frequently used wrongly, i.e. assuming sex and gender are the same concept.The first person to make this distinction was America psychoanalyst Dr Robert Stoller (1968). He stated that 'sex' is the biological makeup which defines the differences between men and women, i.e. external genitalia and internal genitalia. He goes on to point out that 'gender' is what make people either feminine or masculine, also that sex and gender can be independent of each other.Gender refers to the social, cultural, anatomical, physiological, and psychological factors we have in mind when we say a person is a man or a woman, or describe that person as masculine or feminine. Gender is not only an important aspect of the way other people see us, but is also central to the way we see and understand ourselves.The purpose of this essay is to identify the formation of gender roles from childhood and how these roles or expectations determine life chances in society.Firstly, the definition of gender through socialisation will be looked at from Feminist and Functionalist perspectives followed by studies into the nature of gender, i.e. parental expectations, exploitation of females through children's books and the media etc. A conclusion will then be made based on the research looked at.The feminist perspective can be divided into many sub-groups, two of which are radical feminism and Marxist feminism.The feminist perspective on gender is that of exploitation of women through the media, children's toys and books etc. They believe that society's aim is to socialise or condition children from birth, into their expected roles in society, i.e. subordination of women and male dominance.Radical feminists would take this argument further by stating that society is 'patriarchal', in other words, it is dominated and ruled by men. Radical feminists believe that women have always been under 'the thumb' of men and if men feel threatened, they may resort to violence in order to maintain and exert their power.1This form of feminism and also a few other perspectives believe that patriarchy is the reason for war, conflict, damaging the environment etc. Feminists believe that patriarchy is taught and learned in every generation, "the terms valued, control, privilege, domination, power, ideology and culture, all terms that are familiar in sociology.... If this is such a regular feature of society, patriarchy becomes a structure which exists and is created and re-created with each generation. It is learned by males and females through socialization and culture -- boys and men learn to be dominant and girls and women to be subordinate (and accept this legitimate form of domination). It is continued in the everyday forms of male-female interaction in society, and also perpetuated in the institutions and structures of patriarchy."2Some radical feminists, female supremacist would argue that society would be better off if a 'matriarchy'3 system was enforced.In the...

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