Gender Roles

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Emily Kaup
Professor Kuhlman
LCS 490 – AE
12 November 2012
Gender Roles Analysis
Have you ever wondered why you are the way you are? It may seem like a silly question, and an easy one to answer at that, but have you ever really thought about it? Or better yet, have you ever thought how you would be “different” if things didn’t go as they did? Take me for example. I identify myself as a female because, in Althusser’s terms, I was a subject of ideology. I first became a subject when the doctor told my mom she was going to have a girl. Since then, my parents conditioned me to be such by dressing me in pink as an infant, giving me dolls as a child, and teaching me how to “act as a lady” as an adolescent. Later, my parents would have another baby girl who they conditioned to follow the same gender roles as well. But the question I raise is that if my sister and I had an older brother, would we be as “feminine” as we are today? Or better yet, would one of hold the chance of being a lesbian since we would be exposed to the “masculine” conditions as opposed to siblings of the same sex and conditions?

In Judith Butler’s article, Performative Acts and Gender Constitution, she examines these effects of sexual gender in society. In her eyes, gender is entirely imitative, as “social agents constitute social reality through language, gesture, and all manner of symbolic social sign” (900). In other words, people act as they do because of the everyday tasks they perform and are surrounded with, otherwise known as social norms. But what happens when one gender imitates the “wrong one?” For example, Freud raises the argument that lesbians imitate a masculine ideal ultimately desiring to be men. If this were entirely true, then what is to be said about feminine lesbians? Do these women want to be men and imitate the masculinity, but perform as women do to fit in, or are they simply women attracted to women?

Butler begins her analysis of gender and identity by stating the...
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