Gender and Women

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BASIC CONCEPTS : SEX AND GENDER, MASCULINITY AND FEMININITY, PATRIARCHY Unit Structure : 1.0 1.1 1.2 Objectives Introduction Sex and Gender 1.2.1 Sex 1.2.2 Gender 1.2.3 Deconstructing Sex and Gender

1.3
1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 1.8

Masculinity and Femininity Patriarchy Summary
Check your progress References Questions

1.0

OBJECTIVES :

To study the concepts of sex and gender as used in feminist works. To understand the concepts of masculinity and femininity as analytical categories. To study the concept of patriarchy and male dominance in society.

1.1

INTRODUCTION :

Concepts are terms used by social scientist as analytical categories to study society and social behaviour. Through the use of concepts social scientists develop categories that act as aids in the scientific investigation of behaviour in the society. In gender studies there are several such concepts that provide the framework in the study of behaviour. For example, the concept of gender was first developed by Iill Matthews in 1984 in her study of the construction of femininity. According to Mathews, the concept of gender gives recognition to the fact that every known society

2 distinguishes between women and men. Therefore the term / concept of gender is a systematic way of understanding men and women socially and the patterning of relationships between them. The concept of patriarchy help in the study of the male dominance in the society. The concept of gender helps to study the differences in behaviour between men and women and to analyse the basis of these differences as basically biological or as social constructions by the society. The concepts masculinity and femininity define certain trout‟s as typically male as so masculine in nature or as typically female and so feminine in nature. In this unit some basic concepts will be studied. These concepts are sex and gender, patriarchy and masculinity and femininity. In feminist writings and in discourses on Gender Studies, these concepts are basic to our understanding of social differences between men and women in the society. A study of these concepts are useful as analytical categories.

1.2

SEX AND GENDER :

The term „sex‟ and „gender‟ are concepts used by academicians, researchers and feminist writers to make a distinction between the biologically different „male‟ and „female‟ and between the socially different „man‟ and „woman‟. Feminist sociologists suggest that there is a need to understand and distinguish between the two terms „sex‟ and „gender‟ in academic discourses and writings. 1.2.1 Sex : In a very broad way, „sex‟ refers to the biological and physiological differences between male and female sex. The term sex is a physical differentiation between the biological male and the biological female. Thus, when an infant is born, the infant comes to be labeled “boy” or “girl” depending on their sex. The genital differences between male and female is the basis of such characterization. There is a biological difference between the sexes and most people are born (expect for a few ambiguous cases) as one sex or another. However, it has been argued that having been born into one sex or another, individuals are then socialized according to specific gender expectations and roles. Biological males learn to take on masculine roles. They are socialized to think and act in masculine ways. Biological females learn to take on feminine roles. They are socialized to think and behave in feminine ways. As the feminist writer Simone de Behaviour puts it „one is not born a man but becomes one‟, „one is not born a woman but becomes one‟.

3 At birth, besides the basic biological differences in the genitals and reproductive organs, there is not much difference between the male child and the female child. Society makes the differences between boy and girl through gender constructions. The biological differences between the sexes does to some extent explain certain psychological and socially...
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