Gender And Social Construction

1036 Words 5 Pages
Social construction relies on symbolic communication between individuals—we interact with others to develop and internalize a set of shared morals, customs, and habits. Sociology, the systematic study of human society, helps us understand these developments. In particular, applying the sociological imagination to the social construct of gender yields insight into its fallacy and utility. In this essay, I examine the difference between sex and gender, the pervasiveness of gender, and its societal implications in the United States. I also make connections to sociologists Judith Lorber, C. J. Pascoe, Kristen Schilt, Candace West, and Don H. Zimmerman. In a larger context, the social construct of gender is a system of schematism; societies prescribe …show more content…
Today, the American Psychological Association delineates separate definitions for sex and gender; sex "refers to a person 's biological status" while gender "refers to the attitudes, feelings, and behaviors that a given culture associates with a person 's biological sex." That is, sex refers to the physiological distinctions between males and females (with regard to gametes, genitalia, or other traits associated with sexual dimorphism), while gender refers to the socially ordained roles given to people (masculinity and femininity). Many people tend to use the terms "sex" and "gender" interchangeably because they associate them with each other. In this regard, the notion of gender is a social construct because it is created by society to artificially represent a supposedly "natural" reality. Notions of gender and their attached roles are ascribed to biology, but are in reality not based on any scientific evidence. The distinction between "sex" and "gender" is important because individuals may not align their assigned sex with socially ascribed gender identities. In other words, the social construct of gender forces nonconforming individuals to act against their sense of …show more content…
For example, Schilt underlines the impact of gender on workplace inequality in "How Transmen Make Gender Visible at Work." She writes how the repetition of "well-worn gender ideologies naturalizes workplace inequality, making gendered disparities in achievements appear to be offshoots of "natural" differences between men and women." Men are perceived by society as more competent, authoritative, and respectful; societal institutions and cultural teachings continue to propagate the notion that women are subordinate to men. Schilt 's work with transmen also reveals a tendency for nonconforming individuals to disregard their true self-image for "positive change[s] in the evaluation of their abilities and competencies after transition." Pascoe 's " 'Dude, You 're a Fag '" also highlights the use of gender in shaping societal inequality. Her interviews with high school adolescents draw attention to the use of " 'fag ' as a noun that denotes… un-masculine males." The emphasis and value of masculinity amongst male adolescents is obvious, and points to the ways we "do gender." Feminine traits, especially amongst men, are viewed as deviant and unacceptable. We often feel the need to fit into socially assigned gender roles, but such conformity deprives us of many individuals ' true sense of

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