The concept of gender is a fluid construct. This is because the environment one lives in, and generally the society determines a person’s gender. The society has come up with two distinct gender types. These include the masculine gender and the feminine gender. Masculinity and femininity have characteristics, which vary. The feminine gender is considered quiet, timid, nurturing, and fragile. On the other hand, the masculine gender is considered aggressive, strong, brave, and noisy. However, these traits vary across different societies. Although these traits are attached to the different genders, no man or woman is born with them instead, one acquires them in their own society through the process of socialization. Different communities in the world are different and have varying cultures. Therefore, the aspect of gender also varies among different communities. This therefore, makes gender to be a social or cultural construct, since it is the community, which determines it.
In society, the different genders are charged with different roles, and are expected to fulfil different expectations by the society. Failure to adhere to the prescribed gender roles is regarded deviant behaviour in the society. Therefore, the psychological girls in society, who act in a masculine manner and the psychological boys acting in a feminine manner, are sanctioned for failing to act within the boundaries of their respective gender. Different communities will sanction those people crossing their gender lines in different ways. Since this is the case, the individuals who are intersexed will therefore, struggle with the issue of gender identity, since it is hard for them to determine their gender identity, considering their biological set up.
As a female, in my society, I belong to the feminine gender. I am therefore, expected to act in a “feminine” manner, and not in a “masculine” manner. I realize that this social construction of gender begins early in a person’s life. When babies are born, there is already a designated type of colour for them, depending on their gender. For instance, the girls, because they are feminine, will be dressed in pink clothes, while boys, by virtue of being masculine, are dressed in blue clothes. This is because my society has made people believe that girls should wear bright colours. When I was a little girl, I remember wearing all the bright colours, including pink, yellow, red, and orange, among others. This continues to persist, as today, most men are rarely seen wearing bright colours. Men wear dark and neutral colours, while women wear all the colours, especially the bright ones (Mooney, Knox and Schacht 18).
As a feminine gender, the society expects that I be a nurturing person. This also starts when a girl is in her early years. The kind of toys my parents bought me and my brothers reflect this aspect of nurturing and femininity. While my brothers and other boys were bought for machine toys, the other girls and I were brought dolls, which we assumed were our babies. Boys would get rowdy and aggressive playing with their gun toys, car toys, and other machine toys, while we the girls were busy role-playing our mums, taking care of babies and feeding them. Although this aspect begins at a tender age, it has a big impact on the latter life of the girls and boys. For instance, today, this kind of social construction of gender has proved to be problematic as far as careers are concerned. When girls are limited to the kind of toys they should play with when young, this might lock out many opportunities for her in future. It becomes hard for them to develop other interests, apart from nurturing. Today, fields such as computing and engineering, among other technical fields, record the lowest number of females. This is probably because these women were denied the chance to play with machine toys while young, thereby, limiting their interests in life. On the other hand, the field of nursing registers the least number of males. Nursing is all about nurturing, and most men assume that this is a career for females (Lee and Ashcraft 6).
Since men believe that only the females should perform nurturing, this attitude raises considerable problems in society. Our society today is to a larger extent, male-dominated. Therefore, the big number of males in the public sphere is responsible for major policies and decisions in society. Since these men have no chance for nurturing, it is hard for them to give preference to policies that support the family unit. This therefore, has is limited men in caregiving and nurturing. However, when females joined the workforce in considerable numbers, there has been a difference in the way family needs are prioritized even at the work place. For instance, there is the parental leave and leaves to care for sick children in the family. All this is a reflection of the effects of social construction of gender, and how this has created a disparity in the way social issues are handled in society by either gender (Goldenberg and Goldenberg 5-6).
Conclusively, being a social construction, the concept of gender does not exist naturally, and people are not born with their gender. This is a concept that the society invents, influenced by different cultural norms and beliefs. Therefore, such a construct is embedded in the culture of a society. However, culture is dynamic, therefore, when the culture of a society changes, so does the constructs in the society. Therefore, with time, the gender roles in society change. Today in my society, women are allowed to take up leadership positions, as opposed to the historic past, when leadership was strictly for men. This is evidence that the gender construct keeps evolving with time. Social construction of gender has been discriminatory to the feminine gender, but I am hoping that the future presents us with a world where these constructs will be no more, so that both men and women are exposed to same opportunities, and choices in society. This will be beneficial to the society, as more women will realize their potential and contribute more to nation building.
Goldenberg, Herbert and Goldenberg, Irene. “Family Therapy: An Overview.” London: Cengage
Learning, 2008. Print
Lee, Janice and Ashcraft, Amie. “Gender Roles.” New York: Nova Publishers, 2005. Print
Mooney, Linda, Knox, David and Schacht, Caroline. “Understanding Social Problems.” London:
Cengage Learning, 2010. Print
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