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WS 102 Exam 1 - ESSAYS 1 Write an essay on the social...

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ESSAYS 1) Write an essay on the social constructivist approach to gender, race and sexuality which is dominant among feminist scholars today. First, explain what is social constructivism, and how is it different from essentialism? Social Constructivism is the idea that much of our knowledge is based on our culture and our communities and much of this is not actually fact, for example the idea that men are smarter than women. This is not a true fact but throughout history this is the way that women have been portrayed and it has been a central part of many cultures of the world. Essentialism is the idea that a naturally occurring trait or set of traits (usually biological, genetic, or physiological) defines a particular group of people and that these characteristics are unchanging over time and across cultures. An example that shows the difference between the two ideas can been seen in the fact that there are not as many women in certain professions, such as scientific ones, as there are men. A socially constructivist approach to this is that women are not in these programs because they are often biased when it comes to acceptance because some people feel that women are not as capable at mastering these professions, an essentialist view on this would be that there are not as many women in these professions because they are simply less capable of being successful in them. Second, draw on lecture and readings such as Lang to explain the feminist argument that gender is socially constructed. Feminist approaches opened a path to a new understanding of the ways that sex and gender are viewed and constructed differently in different societies. The word sex refers the biological difference between men and women but the word gender is a social category imposed on the sexed body, often used for men to gain power over women. Feminism explores this idea and through looking at other cultures, when looking at many Indian cultures it can be seen that they have 4 different genders and in the United States there are only 2 genders. This proves that gender is socially constructed because it changes over time and over cultures. Third, drawing on lecture and discussion sections, how is sex and sexuality socially constructed? When looking at sexuality we can see that it, like gender, is also a socially constructed concept by looking at the article by Lang examining Indian cultures. In many of the cultures men-women and women-men had sexual interactions with people who were the same sex as they were naturally and it was considered normal, not out of the ordinary like some people in our culture consider it. Although sex is defined as the actual biological differences between men and women, one in every one hundred births in the USA exhibits some anomaly in sex differentiation. In one in 2000 births, there is enough anomaly that it is difficult to answer the question, is it a boy or is it a girl? This shows that there are biological in-betweens and there are
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