Social Construction of Gender
The social construction of gender is not a new concept but has been there throughout the history of the earth. It is a model that is encompassed in the field of sociology and is based on the perception that the differences and operations in gender are a construct of society. The social construction of gender emanates from social constructivism theory which suggests that the reality that people conceive is socially situated (Kukla 1). Based on this view, gender roles are formed which are considered appropriate for members of the different sexes to practice or exhibit. This paper explains the social construction of gender, providing examples of various social expectations with regards to gender and how individuals behave accordingly.
At the heart of social construction of gender is the gender roles. These are the ideal behavioral expectation that society deems fit for men and women. In other words, they are the societal expectations on how the two genders should act, dress, speak, and present themselves, among other features. These gender roles are taught at a young age at school, making people to strongly believe and behave according to those expectations (Lindsey 64).
One of the most popular societal construction of gender role is that of the personality traits. The society expects women to be weak both physically and emotionally unlike their gender counterparts, the men (65). What this means is that it is perceived normal for women to, for instance, cry when they are sad or angry, should seek protection from men, should act gracefully and with compassion, just to mention a few traits. As a result, many women tend to behave according to the set expectations. They do so in order to fit in the society as deviating from the constructed roles is considered as being defiant. Women who tend to exhibit personalize such as being less emotional, physically aggressiveness, or even strength are sometimes considered not fitting in society.
On the other hand, society expects men to be strong, aggressive, confident, and commanding, among other characteristics. Additionally, men are assumed to be the protectors of women and society at large (Lindsey 279). As a result, boys and young men tend to showcase strength, self-assuredness, and almost all males tend to be protective of the females around them since the society has molded them into believing that women are weak beings who need protection from men. Just as women who are highly confident or aggressive are seen as deviant, men who seem weak or lack confidence are said to be acting inappropriately.
Another example which is largely a social construct of gender is domestic responsibilities. Over the years, women have been nurtured to believe that they should take care of the children, and handle domestic work such as cleaning and cooking (Lindsey 316). To fit in, many women are dedicated to looking after their children and handling domestic chores. Nevertheless, there seems to be an alteration in this gender role in modern society. Men have changed their view about this role and have become highly supportive, assisting their wives in child rearing and cooking, among other domestic chores. However, it is still widely held that domestic work is the responsibility of a woman.
Overall, the social construction of gender has formed the expectations that men and women are required by society to fulfill. These expectations are based on various gender roles. For instance, according to society, women are supposed to be emotionally weak, compassionate, and should handle domestic work. On the other hand, it is a social construct that men should be confident, aggressive, and should act as protectors of society.
Kukla, André. Social constructivism and the philosophy of science. Routledge, 2013. 1-3.
Lindsey, Linda L. Gender roles: A sociological perspective. Routledge, 2015. 1-526.