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Is gender a social construct?
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Gender norms are embodied through society

Unlike sex, where your physiological features determine whether you are male or female, gender is associated with the category of sex you are associated with according to your feelings and behaviours. It is society that manages these categories.

The Argument

Gender is a social construct like all identities. How males and females should behave are learned through socialisation. We pick up these norms from our parents, teachers, peers, religion, media, and other social elements of our life. The two traditional gender identities are male and female, and society is constructed around these differences, based on the physiological and biological differences the sexes have. These are transitional in society, and develop with technology, law, education through generations[1] Media has a significant role to play in the construction of gender. Women are often portrayed as stereotypically feminine and are hypersexualised in films and videos where they are often petite and are shown not have any body hair. Within the media industry itself, as the case with other industries, women are less represented in management level roles, with 73% being male, and only 27% being female. [2] Gender roles help society function, but not in a way that promotes equality. The disparity between the two traditional gender types, i.e. male and female, help perpetuate a power struggle, where men are regarded as more hegemonic, and women more subservient. This reinforcement of gender roles stops women from reaching the same level as men in pay and social standing, due to simple physiological differences determining their sex. These stereotypes are now being challenged, indicative of a social change in the norms.

Counter arguments

Gender is more biological than social. The innate sense of being male or female is biological. Males and females have differences in a region of their brain called the hypothalamus, and so having a hypothalamus that is more male or female is associated with that innate feeling. Inter utero testosterone exposure helps develop these hypothalamic differences, where higher levels of exposure lead to more stereotypically masculine behaviours. It is averred that in transgender individuals, there are irregular degrees of hormone exposure inter utero, leading someone to develop as the opposite sex as they will ultimately innately feel. A case study that added weight to this assertion was that of David Heimer. Heimer suffered a botched circumcision as a child leading to the removal of his genitals and was raised as a female. Later in life he returned to his identity as a male indicating that the feeling of being male or female was innate and biological, rather than a social construct. [3]



Rejecting the premises


This page was last edited on Sunday, 25 Oct 2020 at 14:12 UTC

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