Gender Roles as a Social Force

Gender Roles as a Social Force - Gender Roles as a Social...

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Gender Roles as a Social Force One can better understand the historical oppression of women by considering three social factors throughout the world’s history: religion, tradition, and labor-based economic supply and demand. In almost all of the world’s major religions (Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, and many others) very clear distinctions have been made about Gender Roles, or socialized expectations of what is normal, desirable, acceptable, and conforming for males and females in specific jobs or positions in groups and organizations over the life course. These gender roles have very specific meanings for the daily lives and activities of males and females who live under the religious cultures in nations throughout history and even in our day. The Book of Leviticus in the Judeao-Christian Old Testament has many biological rituals based specifically on Womens’ hygiene. A close friend of mine performed her Master’s thesis in Ancient Near East Studies on the reproductive hygiene rituals described in the book of Leviticus (see Is God a Respecter of Persons? : another look at the purity laws in Leviticus / Anne M. Adams , 2000 in BYU Library Holdings). In brief, she found no modern-day scientific support for these religious rituals on female’s health nor on their reproduction. Her conclusion was that these were religious codes of conduct, not biologically-based scientifically beneficial codes. Many ancient writings in religions refer to the flaws of females, their reproductive disadvantages, their temperament, and the rules that should govern them in the religious community. Please don’t get me wrong, if it sounds like I’m bashing religious beliefs, I’m not. In fact many current religious doctrines have transformed as society’s values of gender equality have emerged. I am also a fan of religious worship and participation in whatsoever religion a person chooses to follow. My point is that throughout history, religions were a dominant social force in many nations and the religious doctrines, like the cultural values, often placed women in a subjugated role to men at a number of different levels. The second social force is tradition. Traditions can be and have been very harsh toward women. Look at Table 3 below which shows a scale of the outcomes of oppression toward women that have and currently do exist somewhere in the world. I have always found it remarkable that even though the average woman outlives the average man by 3 years worldwide and 7 years in developed countries, there are still a few countries where cultural and social oppression literally
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This note was uploaded on 12/04/2011 for the course ANTHRO 2000 taught by Professor Monicaoyola during the Fall '10 term at Broward College.

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Gender Roles as a Social Force - Gender Roles as a Social...

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