ESSAY - Madison 1 Nina Madison Professor Parrenas SOCI 220...

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Madison 1 Nina Madison Professor Parrenas SOCI 220 1 November 2011 The Family What is a family? Many have preconceived notions of what they believe are the principle qualities of a family and the roles that a mother and father satisfy. Traditionally, the standard view of gender roles is that of the mother as caregiver and the father as financial provider. Recent studies shed new light on the reasons behind these roles, which previous sociologists had not addressed. Many sociologists analyze gender roles as a social construction because either gender can physically fulfill these caregiver/provider responsibilities. Technology is altering the traditional gender roles by new means of communication and medical advances. The social differences in terms of selling male versus female genes further emphasize gender roles despite the equal biological purpose of eggs and sperm. Transnational mothering tests the predetermined expectations that biological mothers should be the ones raising their own children. Society also restricts what “love” means and how one should practice and express it. Eventually, sex begins to involve both emotional attachment and reproductive intention, which shows the influence a changing society has on the meaning of the family. The social construction of the family emphasizes traditional notions of gender roles, which are challenged by new possibilities that redefine relationships. The way reproductive genes are commodified demonstrates how gender norms of parenthood are socially constructed. The problem of infertility spurred a medical market that produced drugs, surgical repair, in vitro fertilization, and assistance in reproduction through
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Madison 2 sperm banks and egg donations. Rene Almeling researches this market and gives his accounting of why egg donors are surprisingly “compensated an average $4,200” while sperm donors are only “paid between $50 and $100” in a society where women repeatedly earn less than men (Almeling). He associates the value given to “reproductive cells and reproductive bodies on the economic definitions of scarcity and gendered cultural norms of motherhood and fatherhood” (Almeling). Since women carry a limited amount while men have an endless supply of reproductive cells, the economic value of eggs increases. In addition, the egg agencies promote the donation process as a gift exchange in which women are benevolent by helping others. The emotional toil donors endure during the carrying cycle highlight female their feminine value of
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ESSAY - Madison 1 Nina Madison Professor Parrenas SOCI 220...

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