ws105final - Social Construction of Gender Until a year...

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Social Construction of Gender Until a year ago, when I began Women’s Studies courses, the words female and woman were synonymous to me. Since then, I have learned to separate gender from genitalia. Introduction to Women’s Studies taught me that the concepts of masculinity and femininity are socially constructed and taught to individuals throughout life. Society uses different formal and informal sanctions to enforce gender roles. While in the past gender was considered a term that described the male or femaleness of an individual, feminists have worked to change that meaning to represent society’s idea of the characteristics that a person who is born male or female should possess. Sex we are born with and gender we absorb from direct and indirect influences in our upbringings. It dictates what the appropriate types of sexuality and mannerisms are based on sex. Masculinity and femininity are not inherent in our nature but must be taught to us. This is evident in the fact that the characteristics which each of these categories entail are not uniform throughout all ages and cultures. There is no universal list that can describe what it means to be female or male in every society, each society has embedded within it an idea of what how a woman should act or how a man should act. In today’s patriarchal world, women are considered passive, reproductive, weak, heterosexual, and dependent on men. Men are seen as active, productive, powerful, heterosexual, and the protectors of, or providers for, women. Because these characteristics are not inherent in one’s nature, and vary across cultures, every individual is socialized throughout life in his or
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her cultures idea of what it means to be a man or a woman. Men and women are required
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This note was uploaded on 04/17/2008 for the course WOMSTD 100 taught by Professor Na during the Spring '08 term at Kansas State University.

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ws105final - Social Construction of Gender Until a year...

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