Sunday, May 29, 2011
What is Gender?
What is Gender?
(In part inspired by: http://news.yahoo.com/s/yblog_thelookout/20110524/ts_yblog_thelookout/parents-keep-childs-gender-under-wraps)
So, this isn’t exactly an original topic. I know so little about this; I’ve only researched it a bit, and haven’t studied it at all. However, I think it’s a very interesting topic. Someone recently told me of the theory that sex (the noun, not the verb) is biological and gender is socially constructed. This had never occurred to me, but it immediately made sense.
Now, many girls are encouraged to wear blue and boys are given Barbies. Sure, the “traditional” gender roles still stick, but many parents of today don’t want their children to feel limited and inhibited by arbitrary societal constraints. Although many (most) fight for equality and equal opportunity of the sexes, there are myriad credible studies that find extreme trends with the sex of participants, and other psychological studies showing strong preferences and feelings associated with one of the sexes. I know that it’s not just stereotype.
Still, if one really goes back into thinking about girls and boys, when they are born, the only real difference between them is their body parts. That is sex of a person, the biological aspects of one’s body that typically identifies he/she as male or female.
The reason that men are often seen as more powerful than women is, in my opinion, often due to the antiquated views of the serious way back when, times that the woman was the nurturer and gatherer, and the husband was the hunter. He was given this job because it’s likely that he was more physically inclined to do so, as well as that the woman, as the one who birthed the children, was expected to care for them. In most developed countries, though, physical strength plays a minimal role in daily life. Yet, why is it that most boys feel drawn to pretending to hunt with Nerf guns whereas the girls pretend to mother Bitty Babies? How much of it is intrinsic? Could it be a social construct from thousands of years ago? Essentially, could nurture have become nature over time?
This might be so silly, and so invalid, but, as a child, most grouping has to do with gender/sex. When walking down the hallway, the kids are in two lines, male and female. But if sex is the only real concept present here, then why don’t they just get in two lines by hair color? Could our society progress that much? It seems so unsettling from the way things are now, but it could be remarkable. Imagine just being a person. Imagine just liking people, and we wouldn’t need to have the labels of sexual orientation we do now because people would just like people. It seems so pleasant, and it seems so right. We don’t need gender anymore for its practical reasons; our society is technologically developed beyond that. Sex in terms of biology will always be present, but doesn’t have to be prominent.