Gender as a Social Reality
Gender refers to an essential feature that defines the identity of a person. That is the sense of what and who someone is, composed, given, as well as derived from the society (Haslanger 31). While people’s biological make-up accounts for their sexes, the community and how it is structured provides gender (Muehlenhard et al. 57). However, the majority of people assume that gender or rather the sense of oneself as a woman or a man naturally stems from biological sex. Therefore, sexuality involves society creating an ideal of what constitutes a man or a woman. Gender beliefs are social and cultural processes that relate to an individual’s experience of herself or himself as a gendered human being (Mikkola 559). Furthermore, gender blends with and flows via many cultural and social areas such as music, sports, literature, and films and is always presumed and disregarded aspect of an individual and social life. Thus, this paper analyzes gender as a social reality rather than an innate aspect of humanity.
I came to hold the sense of my gender identity through internalizing the external knowledge (Brown 365). I acquired the belief of manhood and womanhood through an active course of creating gender by interacting with other people in various social contexts. Therefore, my perception of sexuality is an extension of other people’s views on one’s gender, and it has never been fully acquired but is rather continuously performed and recreated in social interactions. Moreover, the idea of sexuality is founded on what people believe is social (Haslanger 31). I belong to a given gender because I have been told so. Thus, my sense of manhood and womanhood is a result of my parent’s influence after I was born. In fact, since the first days of life, the ways parents treat boys and girls differ. In my community, parents expect boys to become rough and stronger compared to girls, who are viewed as prettier and delicate. Parents always hold sons closer to the body, which makes them sturdier compared to daughters.
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On top of the above, I connect gender to sex due to what I was told during my childhood since I did not know the difference between one and the other until adults enlightened me. Moreover, men are expected to become robust, and women are fragile because parents shape their children accordingly (Mikkola 563). For instance, when a baby is born, a father notices a dangling thing between the baby’s legs, and at that time, he already has a dream of whom the child would become. Moreover, the nurses who watch after the baby post-birth will do the same as any other person he or she will interact with within life (Mikkola 565). Consequently, my concept of gender as an aspect of having masculine and feminine personalities was initially shaped during my early infancy as a reaction towards prevalent parenting practices. Notably, my gendered character developed because women tend towards being the primary custodians of small children.
As Chodorow puts it, the development of the infant female and male psyche differs because mothers or other prominent women tend to care about children (202-206). In general, the relationship between boys and their mothers differs from that between girls and their female parents because the latter tend to identify more with daughters than with sons. This inclination unconsciously triggers mothers to encourage boys to mentally individuate themselves from mothers, thus prompting sons to develop well-defined firm and ego boundaries. Nevertheless, mothers unconsciously discourage their daughters from individuating themselves, inspiring girls to develop flexible and blurred ego boundaries. Accordingly, childhood gender socializations notice the above, further develop, and reinforce these instinctively developed ego borders, eventually producing masculine and feminine persons (Chodorow 205-206).
I have unconsciously learned and adopted this orientation towards a particular gender. Throughout my whole life, I have learned that the direction towards a specific gender seems flexible. Unlike sex, gender is what a person chooses to become. For instance, if a person’s sex is female but she feels as she was born in the wrong body and feels more comfortable as a man, then her sex is male. On the other hand, if an individual’s sex as male, and he feels that he is trapped in the wrong body and he is supposed to be a female, then his gender is a woman. I have observed many transgender children who believe they were born in the wrong bodies and now want to become a particular gender. However, what makes these children want to become a particular gender is the individual behaviors associated with sexuality that they see, and thus they feel much more comfortable with those manners. This feeling does not innately give them the reverse sexual characteristics of those they were born with (Brown 366).
My life influences have shaped my idea of gender differences in such a way that I now think of it as entirely irrelevant. I do visualize myself as a person rather than a man or a woman. Maturing as a young person, I have noticed that many successful men in my life are great cooks, have a desire to raise children, and tend to become less assertive. Furthermore, these men appear to dedicate their life purposes to their families, and thus it has often seemed natural for me to become attracted to such a kind of male. The issue of gender had not affected me until recently when I started feeling that people should think of me as a person rather than a man or a woman. I lived before like a gendered person, and I wanted people to think of me as of particular sexuality.
As I mature, I observe boys being always privileged at home because they often do what pleases them. Boys also need to learn how to become men, while the role of girls in my community is to stay at home. Boys have been treated as if they could do no wrong, and when they do, it is ignored. However, I have observed girls and women being watched closely, and it is often implied that they should do things that females are supposed to do (Mikkola 568). Throughout my early school age, I saw how boys freely choose where to study where they could be pleased. Overall, boys also make decisions in life according to what they feel is correct for them as men. During my life, I have rarely felt that I have been treated in a particular manner due to my gender. However, when the time reached for me to join college, my parents wanted me to pursue the profession that they believed is gender-attached, and it offended me. Henceforth, I started feeling the impact that the idea of gender can bring into a person’s life. I had an impression that my choices were hindered by other people, instead of choosing what I deserved because I could do it.
As a result, femininity and masculinity are just products of how people are reared. At the same time, gendered personalities are manifested in communal gender-stereotypical behaviors (Haslanger 33). I believe that gender is a social reality, and masculine and feminine characters play an imperative role in the oppression of women. Moreover, the situation can be corrected by eradicating the common gender hackneyed behaviors. My life experience has shaped my view of sexuality as a useless and mind-dependent matter that can be disposed of by men and women by just changing some social conditions or practices governing it. Therefore, the unique blend of a person’s gender is acquired over time (Haslanger 33). For example, most of the best individuals I know display traits from both feminine and masculine descriptions that are deeply rooted in social consciousness.
Lastly, society plays a huge role in modeling the different behaviors and attitudes of those who are part of it. The community has made me understand that gender is a communally created term to make clear divisions between the two biologically defined sexes and identify their traits via gender roles. It is a culture that shapes most of what people consider feminine or masculine (Haslanger 42). In addition, I understand gender identity as a set of suppositions about oneself based on one biological sex (Muehlenhard et al. 57). Thus, society relies primarily on such assumptions to function correctly and casts men as providers and women as caretakers in its default setting. Furthermore, the expectations about gender are not a recent phenomenon since primordial ancestors had males hunt for meat and females take care of children. The reasons mentioned above have shaped my opinion of gender as a societal utility (Holmes 101). Changes in society influence how the expressions of sexuality as just the same way gender identity expressions have changed radically over the last 100 years and will continue to alter.
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Femininity and masculinity are causally constructed, and social forces have a causative function in bringing gendered persons into existence through social learning (Holmes 102). Thus, socializing influences like those from films and books send implicit messages about how males and females should and are anticipated to act, shaping people into masculine and feminine characters. For example, films portray females and males in blatantly stereotypical manners, such as men being as leaders and adventurers, while women serve as followers and helpers. Besides, gender has a cultural meaning ascribed to an individual’s sex, which the society labels as feminine or masculine (Haslanger 41). These two terms are always used to recognize a set of values, meanings, and characteristics related to gender, in which those associated with manhood are perceived superior to those connected with femininity. The images in the media have helped to model these cultural customs around what it denotes to be a woman or a man (Haslanger 42).
My current understanding is that media creates the big picture by providing meanings regarding gender (Muehlenhardet al. 58). The media also play an indispensable role in the manner in which people comprehend gender as a part of people’s identity, social bodies, past, and daily lives. People hear the word sexuality in everyday conversations, where it is commonly used to describe a person’s identity as a female or a male. Nonetheless, the word gender is more complicated and must be distinguished from an individual’s sex. Therefore, it is possible to visualize gender as a societal construct, ideology, idea, or a mode of seeing. In addition, gender is not set in nature the same way as biology (Holmes 102). Since gender is socially constructed, it denotes different things in various parts of the globe and at different times in history.
In summary, gender is a social reality that involves the society-created ideal of what constitutes a man or a woman. The human cultures have reacted to the millions of years old facts about biological sex by attaching to it significant social attitudes, customs, and distinctions. Gender refers to the total sum of cultures, peers, and parents’ notions regarding the appropriate thing of each sex in terms of character, value, and expression, among others. People use the terms femininity and masculinity to identity values, characteristics, and meanings attached to sex, and these words play a crucial role in the way people understand others and themselves. Besides, the features allied with manhood are socially valued above those linked with womanhood since people tend to value strength over weakness. Because manhood and womanhood are embedded with societal meanings and values, it is imperative to consider the way those meanings mingle in daily lives and the media. Furthermore, it is necessary to think about how values, thoughts, and media images are gendered. Thus, people should consider how gender shapes who they are, how they are perceived, and the way people see the globe as well as interact with it.