Gender Studies on Gender as a Social Constructor

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The ideas that absolutize the meaning of sexual dimorphism have existed in science for a long time. This position was the result of understanding the sexual characteristics of a person based on a strict separation of gender roles and significant gender asymmetries that exist in all spheres of life of a traditional society. However, over time it became clear that the assessment of the relations of representatives of the sexes solely from their determinism by the natural factor does not fully correspond to reality. Thus, science faced the task of rational rethinking and objective assessment of the factors that determine the sexual condition of a person. The twentieth century has become a historical period in which gender relations unfold in line with several trends.

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Under the influence of significant social and cultural changes, men and women adopt patterns of identity and behaviour that are largely not characteristic of their gender, which allows us to talk about the spread of androgyny as a principle that determines the essence of both male and female principles. There is also a transformation of the traditional functions of men and women, which are no longer so strictly determined by gender stereotypes. Even the natural constant foundations of man are no longer obvious in connection with the successes of biotechnology, science and medicine.

As a result, male and female characteristics are contaminated, which leads to an increase in gender equality and the establishment of egalitarian relations in the family and society. At the same time, in the context of the deconstruction of the traditional gender identity of a person, a kind of gender relativism is being formed. This state of affairs allowed J. Baudrillard, a French sociologist, to note: “Today there is nothing less reliable than gender. The principle of uncertainty applies to sexual relations, as well as political and economic relations. ”

The second trend, experienced mainly by countries belonging to eastern or African civilizations, is the stabilization of patriarchal relations, which determine the hierarchical division of society and establish gender relations based on gender and generalization discrimination. M. Kambarami defines the social institution of the family as the leading factor in the formation of patriarchal practices in the process of socialization of young people. According to the researcher, family socialization orientates the younger generation to the assimilation of sexually differentiated roles. In the process of socialization, boys prepare for the role of masters and earners, and girls are taught to be obedient, obedient and trained for the role of housewives.

As for modern East European society, one can observe a synthesis of the indicated trends: on the one hand, we can talk about the existence of a kind of patriarchal renaissance, largely related to the peculiarities of the Russian socio-economic system, the strengthening of religious values ​​in society and the sustainability of traditional gender roles. However, on the other hand, in modern Russian society, biarchy begins to play an increasingly important role as the principle of gender equality.

Such diverse trends in gender relations make it necessary to deal with the features of sexual differentiation and the interaction of masculine and feminine principles in modern society.

For almost the entire course of human history, the study of the phenomenon of gender, embodied in masculine and feminine images, does not lose its relevance. In the religious and philosophical doctrines of the ancient world, the characteristics of the sexes were defined as diametrically opposite (Yin and Yang), but at the same time being in harmony. In ancient philosophy, the feminine and masculine principles were opposed, hierarchized, and had different value markings. According to S. Beauvoir, 'just as the ancients had an absolute vertical, concerning which the oblique was determined, there was an absolute type of man - a type of man' [1, p. 27]. Indeed, ancient philosophers regarded the masculine principle as rational and active, and the feminine essence was defined as sensual, bodily, passive. The most important criterion for comparing masculinity and femininity both in the era of antiquity, and in the future, is such a characteristic of a person as the mind, with which only the male principle was associated, and the female was correlated with nature. Thus, in ancient philosophy, ideas about ontological gender differences and the dominance of the masculine principle are affirmed.

Many scientists of the XIX-XX centuries. (A. Schopenhauer, F. Nietzsche, and others) gave a negative assessment of the feminine, noting the weakness and limitations of female thinking, the humility of women, their cunning and deceit. Philosophers expressed a discriminatory position, according to which the female essence is defined as a kind of deviation from the norm. Proponents of the bipolar naturalistic approach sought to explain human behaviour based solely on the natural factor — genetic characteristics, innate instinctual foundations, etc. (Z. Freud, K. Lorenz, etc.).

The situation begins to change dramatically when significant social, economic and cultural transformations of society have led to the need for a new look at the essence of man as a representative of gender. The emergence of a new approach to characterizing a person - gender studies - was not an accident. Its occurrence, and then its affirmation in science, was caused by the economic, socio-political and socio-cultural changes taking place in society.

The most important reason for the emergence of gender studies was the economic emancipation of women: in the transition from a traditional to an industrial economy, a woman was increasingly involved in the production process. There is an increase in the importance of the functions of women in the public and family spheres. An important factor in emancipation is the fact that already in the XIX century. massive large families are becoming irrelevant. During this period, there is a transition to mass small families, while 'female identity was freed from the chronic circle of pregnancies and childbirth, which contributed to the formation of personality traits.'

Another reason for the emergence of a gender trend in science is the consolidation of neoliberalism in society. The main value is the ideals of freedom, individualism, self-expression of personality. Such an ideology received theoretical support in the form of a new approach in science - social constructivism (P. Berger, T. Luckman).

Having achieved political equality with men by the middle of the 20th century, women did not stop the struggle for their rights, shifting their attention vector to numerous social problems. The successes of women in education are also significant, which allows them to furthermore successfully realize themselves in the public sphere. The postindustrial society provides a woman with wide employment opportunities in such sectors of the economy where career growth and fairly high wages are possible due to technological and structural innovations.

Liberal feminism, in the framework of which there was a struggle for women's suffrage, has grown into a variety of feminist movements (Marxist, radical, psychoanalytic, cultural, ecofeminism, etc.), which focus on various aspects of the life of women and society as a whole. For example, representatives of radical feminism (K. Millet, S. Firestone, A. Dvorkin, etc.) refer to the characteristic of the patriarchy as a male-formed system of total suppression of the female sex in all spheres of human life, starting with the political one, ending with intimate relationships and gender interactions in the family.

Thanks to the indicated trends, biological determinism in the study of human sex is giving way to a new approach - sexual symbolism, which is revealed in gender studies. Gender studies are characterized by several features, among which, firstly, one should name the rejection of essentialism as a philosophical attitude that defines the essence of the differences between male and female principles by a natural factor. Secondly, a feature of gender studies is the use of the theory of social constructivism to explain gender issues. And, finally, gender studies expand the boundaries of the study of women's issues by including male and queer studies in the research discourse.

Thus, in the framework of gender studies, gender is considered, first of all, as a certain model of social interactions between men and women and even as a kind of performance that does not have predetermined meanings, played each time anew depending on the context.

A feature of modern gender studies is the almost complete refusal to take into account the essential, natural characteristics of a person, and the attention of researchers is drawn primarily to the social conditions of the formation of a person as a representative of gender. It is argued that the female or male anatomy, given to man by nature, does not give unequivocal grounds for being considered a woman or a man. Sociocultural characteristics of a person are not genetically inherited but are formed exclusively in the process of socialization through the learning and assimilation of values, norms and behaviour, and natural factors (up to individuality) are defined as secondary and insignificant. Moreover, differences between the sexes exist only in the reproductive sphere. In all other areas of human activity, such differences are defined as insignificant and dynamic. As for the ideas of masculinity and femininity, they do not reflect any certainty and are stereotyped, that is, formed within the framework of culture and society. As for the concept of “gender”, today it acts as a clear outsider, in comparison with the concept of “gender”, in the modern scientific space of studying human problems.

In light of this gender assessment, the gender picture of the world is blurring, and the problem of gender identity is becoming uncertain. Such an understanding of gender has a significant impact on the processes of gender identity of a person. In European countries, the discussion on gender theory has become relevant recently after the legalization of same-sex marriage. If homosexuality was initially considered a pathology, then within the framework of modern discourse, this type of sexual relationship is treated as a kind of the norm. At the same time, the values ​​of traditional familism and heterosexuality are no longer a universal standard. Against the background of the political and social transformations taking place in Europe, such views raise a certain alarm in the European scientific community. Several European researchers express their concern about existing trends - the emergence of a person of the 'new' gender formation and the transformation of the socialization process in the direction of the formation of such a person.

French researcher C. Robkis opposes a policy of undermining the foundations of familism. She notes that in recent years, family problems have become a particularly controversial topic in French politics. The fierce debate revolves around bioethical legislation, same-sex unions, single-parent families, families resorting to surrogacy, adoption of children by transgender and gay families []. The German researcher G. Kubi, in her book 'The Global Sexual Revolution: The Destruction of Freedom in the Name of Freedom', notes that modern gender transformations are carried out to form a person's new look at his sexual practices and consist in deconstructing male and female sexuality. A similar trend worries the researcher, since, according to her testimony, in most European countries over the past 40 years, the birth rate has fallen far below the level of population reproduction [].

Matters related to gender equality cannot be included in queer sexual problems related to transgender people. It is not correct. They cannot be considered in conjunction with issues that describe the discriminated position of women based on gender. For too long, gender and gender problems have been invisible and indistinguishable, and today, when they became articulated, there are steady attempts to blur, smear, dissolve them in a group of other, often far-fetched problems, to level out, drowning out their severity. First of all, an encroachment on the pattern of two genders is carried out. The reasoning “because the biological sex is only two does not mean that there are also two genders” do not find sufficient justification. On the contrary, the fact that the formal-logical structure allows for options and the freedom of social construction allows us to experiment does not mean that the fictitious can be included in the real. There can not be many genders, since their presence depends on diversity, on the number of biological sexes. To build on its biological analogue over biology, it (biology as a kind of natural and objective basis) should be. Of course, arbitrarily, fictitiously, they can be constructed as many as you like, but problems arise with their legitimation and raising to the rule and norm.

The issue of discrimination based on sex, when it comes to women and men (both by gender and gender), is not only a question of fundamental injustice, but, what is more, important here, it (discrimination) violates the cosmic, universal essence of man, closes the possibility of creating a truly human culture and civilization (not masculine, not feminine, but human). It is unlikely that transgender problems can be attributed to him in this capacity. At the same time, issues related to queer sexuality are less important.

Today, direct discrimination based on sex can be extremely rare, as is direct racism. But professional segregation based on gender is a common practice. “The difference in wages is entirely the result of the gender of the one who performs it” [2, p. 287].

• Modern society has not only set a double standard in assessing the traditional gender image, work, and entertainment; based on its liberalism, it can afford to simultaneously support mutually exclusive norms and stereotypes. If a woman corresponds to the traditional characteristics of femininity (sweet, kind, uninitiated, quiet), then she does not strive for success, therefore, she is to blame for her failure. If she is principled, assertive, ambitious, then she is not quite feminine, masculine, upstart, does not have good manners. Therefore, it can be successful. • The problem of sexual harassment. Men in the so-called female professions are promoted faster and easier (positive discrimination, 'glass escalator' (Christina Williams)); women in men - on the contrary. In addition to the 'glass ceiling', sexual harassment awaits them (this is not only physical, psychological and sexual violence, but also / or 'service for service', 'hostile environment' in the form of grease, rudeness, jokes, pulling, taunting), which is expressed at all, not in sex, but in the desire to 'scare women away from the originally male protected areas in the labour market' (University of Illinois psychologist Louise Fitzgerald). Here's what Kimmel writes about this: 'Not those who simply awkwardly offered a date to a colleague and not those who are loving, are accused of harassment. Sexual harassment is the exact opposite of attraction. They are aimed at creating a feeling for a working woman that she does not belong here, that she is a stranger here, because this work is a man's business '[Ibid., P. 305-306].

It must be recalled that in this form sexual harassment has an extended practice, and the victims here are not only men who do not correspond to the traditional gender image, but also those who simply did not come to court. Moreover, sexual harassment in many countries is not considered a violation of individual rights.

  • The problem of abortion. They are forbidden, they are allowed, they are condemned ... without women participating in debates. Fierce attacks on women's right to abortion do not stop today, amid feminism, democracy, freedom and liberalism.
  • The problem of losing sex. Curious observation by M. Kimmel: “Men“ lose sex 'in a situation of failure, they stop looking at them as real men. Women, on the contrary, 'lose sex' if successful. To be competent, aggressive, and ambitious in the workplace is to affirm a certain gender that is consistent with the male gender. And successful women are gender inconsistent and thereby destroy their female identity ”[Ibid., P. 280].
  • The issue of the biased appearance of a social shift towards the feminization of society should be considered the most important. While everyone is repeating this and retelling each other, the exact opposite is happening. And this is quite logical and logical. After all, there are no female cultures or civilizations, therefore, it is women who merge into existing male cultures.
  • Clothing - casual clothing mainly for men. Kimmel writes “... students come to my lectures in flannel shirts, leather and sports sneakers, blue jeans and T-shirts. They use the appeal “guys”, even if the group consists entirely of girls. The classroom, like work, is a public place, and when women enter the public sphere, they often dress and behave “like a man” so that they are taken seriously as competent and capable people. ”
  • Behavioural cliches - the male model of social activity and behaviour is more effective and efficient, hence it is more attractive due to the efficiency and presentability of the behaviour model. Rough, arrogant, assertive - trend forms of presentation of one's uniqueness. We will give a very revealing example since crime and violence give a striking difference in the behaviour of the two sexes. According to many psychologists, violence is a form of expression of male emotionality. 'The news rarely pays attention to the fact that virtually all the violence in the world today is committed by men. Now imagine if women would do it. Wouldn't it have been trumpeted in the news, giving all kinds of explanations? Wouldn't each of these events be gender analyzed? The fact that violence is committed in men seems so natural that it does not raise any questions and does not require analysis ”[Ibid., P. 374]. Thus, strategies based on attention, empathy, cooperation and care, as purely female, are not quoted in male civilization. If women's organizations are organizations with a key focus on cooperation that teach them that they can do everything men do, then strategies based on rivalry and competition are a purely male practice of existence, and therefore in male organizations, they are educated about what women cannot do.
  • Gender polarization. S. Boehm opposes gender polarization, as it promotes and encourages the reproduction of male power at the societal level between masculine and feminine, which strengthens the position of androcentrism, this is manifested at three levels: institutional (generates a dichotomy: the masculine sphere of paid work, the feminine sphere of life, and parenting), psychological (places the female and male individuality and personality on different sides), ideological (builds a cultural discourse so that even the most egregious examples of inequality considered as gender differences). “In other words, gender polarization gives the right to religion, science, legislation, the media, etc. logically substantiate the existing situation in the sphere of sex in such a way that it automatically makes the lenses of androcentrism invisible ”[1, p. 264-265].

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