Gender 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…
In "Doing Gender," West and Zimmerman define this phenomenon as "doing gender." More specifically, "doing gender means creating differences between girls and boys and women and men, differences that are not natural, essential, or biological." Individuals "do gender" by acting according to socially accepted gender roles. For example, West and Zimmerman observe how "wives, even when employed outside the home, do the vast majority of household and child-care tasks." In Western societies, women have traditionally held the role of housekeeper and child caregiver. Thus, Western societies (such as the United States) have institutionalized discrimination on the basis of sex and gender. Women who do not bear children or perform domestic services are viewed as social deviants or outcasts. Succinctly put, the act of "doing gender" reinforces social arrangements regarding gender

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