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The Social Construction of Gender

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In this essay, I will be discussing whether or not I agree with the idea that gender is constructed by society for social purposes to help and give a reason for inequality. According to the oxford dictionary, gender is ‘the fact of being male or female, especially when considered concerning social and cultural differences, not differences in biology’ (Dictionaries, 2016). People typically assume a person’s gender and sex are the same and this is where the idea stems from that there are only two genders. However, there are only two sexes but several genders exist and it is up to the individual as to what they wish to identify as.

Since the beginning of time, there has always been the idea of only two genders, male or female, and the characteristics that belong to these genders have been very distinct. For example, people associated being strong and muscular with males and being masculine, whilst being soft and small associated with females and being feminine. A person chooses to identify as masculine or feminine based on society’s definitions of each gender role.

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However, in the last number of years, people have been more open to the fact that there are more than just two genders. This has been due to the growth and changes in society and many more people have opened their eyes up to slowly accepting this. Of course, this hasn’t always been the case. From the day a child is born they are automatically gendered and everything they do is associated with their gender whether we realize it or not. For example, if a boy is acting up or being loud people will often refer to the phrase ‘boys will be boys’ however if a girl were to act in this manner she would be told ‘to act like a lady.

I do believe that as a society we use gender as an excuse to treat people differently however I do not believe that this should be the case. In most situations women, aren’t treated the same as men f, or exam ple, women are the majority of low-paid workers and only 5% of women are in managerial positions. (O’Mahony, 2019). There is no reason as to why men and women should be on different levels, for example, a man and a woman that have the same television presenting job, in most cases, the man is paid a large amount more for this job than the woman. There is no need or real explanation for this and it is mostly because men have always been the ‘superior’ sex and society has never really argued with that until recently. Because gender equality is such a new topic it has made it harder for people to argue and stick up for this because in many cases trying to change the ‘norm’ doesn’t happen very easily.

In fact, women and people are still fighting for equality. The fight for equality really began in 1918 when women over the age of 30 who had property rights or education were finally allowed to vote in Ireland. This became a small step in the right direction for equality and since then there have been numerous actions taken place in both Ireland and internationally to change the divide between men and women.

Society had a perception that women should be at home taking care of issues such as childcare and household jobs while men and breadwinners. This has placed a huge strain on both men and women both in the past and now in today’s society. For men, they were expected to carry this role of taking care of things externally of the household, and if things failed the stress and responsibility of it was all down to the man and he no longer seemed ‘manly’. The woman also faced many stresses as they were no longer allowed to work outside the home, this meant they had no career and everything was focused around the household and the priorities of the children and no one ever cared about the wellbeing of the woman as she was often looked down on as a second class citizen compared to men. I personally think that men face a feeling of loss in today’s society as they feel like their place of what the typical ‘man’ has been lost and woman’s rights are becoming almost more important.

Woman are now less worried about issues such as starting a family and the household and more focused on their careers as they have been given equal opportunities in regards to education and this is only within the last number of years and therefore they feel obliged to avail of these opportunities and thus making a better career for themselves in life before going down the traditional route of the family starting and building a household.

Although I have only just touched on examples of the two main genders of today’s society many other examples include Bigender which is identifying as two genders, commonly male and female while being non-binary can mean you don’t identify as either end the male and female scale. (The PBHS Closet, n.d.)In society, there is no real way in which they should act and as they are such new terms no one has any expectations for them and how they chose to carry on. I in fact don’t view this as a bad thing and I think that because society has no expectations of these new genders that it allows people to complete by themselves. Growing up in the new generation I feel like people are more open to change and therefore sooner rather than later society will be more accepting of these new ideas. Also, the idea of treating people regardless of which gender they chose to identify with will soon be a normal thing and everyone will hopefully grow with the changes. Although many gender rights have taken not only years but decades to overcome I strongly believe that we are heading into a more fast pace society and things are changing a lot faster than they did before.

In conclusion, I believe that yes as a society we use gender as an excuse to treat people differently and we feel like this is expectable reasoning however with time and change and educating people on the different ways and outlooks of gender that will be a change in today’s world and how we use this as a poor excuse.

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