Gender: The Cultural Dimension
Gender refer to the culturally and socially constructed differences between females and males found in the meanings. beliefs, and practices associated with "femininity- and "masculinity." Although biological differences between women and men are very important. in reality most "sex differences" are socially constructed "gender differences."According to sociologists, social and cultural processes. not biological "givens; are the most important factors in defining what females and males are. what they should
and what sorts of relations do or should exist between them. Sociologist Judith Lobber (\994: 6) summarizes the importance of sender: Gender is a human invention, like language. kinship. religion, and technology; like them. gender organizes human social fie in culturally patterned ways. Gender organizes social relations in everyday life as well as in the major social structures. such as social class and the hierarchies of bureaucratic organizations.
Virtually everything social' in our lives is rendered: People continually distinguish between males and females and evaluate them differential. Gender is an integral part of the daily experiences of both women and men (Skimmer and Messier. 2004). A micro level analysis of gender focuses on how individuals learn gender roles and acquire a gender denizen sty.
Gender role refers to the attitudes. behavior, and activities that are socially fined as appropriate for exactness and are learned through the socialization process. or example. in U.S. society. males are raid tonally expected to demonstrate aggressiveness and toughness, whereas females are expected to be passive and nurturing. Gender identity Is a person's perception of the self as female or male.
Typically established between eighteen months and here years of age. gender. dire,sir. is a powerful aspect of our self-concept, Al tho~gilt TM~Identity is an individual perception. it ts developed through interaction with others. As a result,' most people form a gender identity that matches their biological sex:
ost biological females think of themselves~es at female. and most biological males think of themselves~ as male. Body consciousness is art of gender identity. Body consul~remissness is how a person perceives and feels about his or her body;
it also induces an awareness f social conditions in society that contribute to this self-knowledge (Thompson, 1994). Consider. (or example, these comments y tebe lik, a former Mr. Universe: I was small and weak. and my brother Anthony was.' big and graceful.
and myopic man ad bones ab bones about loving him and hating me.... The minute I walked in from school. it was. "You worthless little Soot.what are Yell going home so early?- His favorite way to torture me was to tell me he was going to put me in a home.
Ea be driving along in brooklyn somewhere. and wed pass a building with iron bars on the windows. and hes stop the car and say to me, "Get out This is he home we're putting you in." I'd be standing there sobbing on the curb-I was maybe eight or nine at the time. in Klein, 993: 73) As we grow up, we become aware, as Michalik Did, that the physical shape of our bodies subjects us to the approval or disapproval of others. Being small and weak may be considered positive attributes for women,
but they are considered negative characteristics for "true men." A macrolevel analysis of gender examines structural features, external to the individual, that perpetuate gender inequality. These structures have been referred to as rendered institutions, meant ng that gender is one of the major ways by which social lite is organized in all sectors of society.
Gender is embedded in the images, ideas. and language of a society and is used as a means to divide up work, allocate resources, and distribute power. for example. every society uses gender to assign certain tasks-ranging from child rearing warfare-to females and to males, and differential rewards those who perform these duties. These institutions are reinforced by a gender belief system, which includes all the ideas regarding masculine and feminine attributes that are held to be valid n a society,
This belief system is legitimated by religion, science, Jaw, and other societal values (Lobber, gender the culturally and socially constructed differences between females and males found In the meanings, beliefs. and practices associated with "femininity" and "masculinity: gender role the attitudes, behavior, and activities that are socially defined as appropriate for each sex and are learned through the socialization process. gender Identity a person's perception of the self as female or male. body consciousness a term that describes how a person perceives and feels about his or er body. 1994,2005). ~Ie, gendered belief systems may change over time .
gender roles change. Many fathers take care of young children today, and there is a much greater acceptance of this change in roles. However, popular stereotypes about men and omen, well as cultural norms about gender-appropriate appearance and behavior, serve to reinforce gendered institutions in society . lems and bodybuilding have more in common than we might think. Women's studies scholar Susan Bordo (~004) has noted that he anorexic body and the muscled dy are not opposites but instead are both united against the common enemy of soft, flabby flesh. In other words, the body may be objectified through both compulsive dieting and compulsive bodybuilding.