Gender Roles

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October 22,2010 Professor Prater ENG 101.0766

Society categorizes individuals by gender, either masculine or feminine, but how does one determine which surpasses the other? Society determines the way we look at gender and what role it plays in the construction of society. This is not only in America but around the world as well. In American society, Men are classified as strong, tough, and un-emotional; women on the other hand are the opposite. Females are supposed to be sensitive, kind, beautiful, have “perfect” bodies, etc. So how does society view people who don’t exactly fit that description? When we have been exposed to a specific role of gender all our lives, it is difficult to accept different scenarios. A different scenario would be when society would not be able to accept a powerful and non-emotional woman, or a very sensitive man. An example of this is children are educated of what roles a man and female play. In Disney movies, such as Aladdin, children are shown roles of women and men. A young girl is given to a man just to own more land. It shows society what role a man has over a woman. Anna Quindlen author of a short essay “Gay” and Gillianne N. Duncan author of “Why Do We Hate Our Bodies?” are examples of how the norms of society shape and make people judge others only because they are different. In “Gay,” Quindlen tells a story about her friend’s friend, about how a family would rather lie about the sexual orientation of their dead son, than tell the truth and be judged by society. Duncan in “Why do We Hate Our Bodies” speaks about women and their insecurities because of how society portrays women and how they should look. Cultural constructions shape and influence how gender is perceived, and sometimes it can promote cruelty to those who don’t fit into society’s norms.

Media has a large influence on society, but especially on gender and how people view themselves and others. Media shows gender as a portrayal of beautiful bodies and hetero-sexual perfect couples. This pushes people to try to adapt and mold themselves into what the media shows this is ideal of “normal”. When Duncan writes in “Why Do We Hate Our Bodies?” about how woman perceive themselves as ugly and see every flaw but a good one, she questions why society does this. “Without the media’s constant need to make people feel bad about themselves shows like Nip/Tuck, Extreme Makeover, and Dr. 90210 would not exist”(115), says Duncan as she describes how cruel media can be intentionally, yet not knowing to what extreme people can act. She writes how the media constantly is making people feel bad. Not everyone is a size 0, and when people aren’t they feel down on themselves which can lead to becoming a victim to others judging them. Media shows how females might be more influenced then men; they are usually seen on reality shows discontent with their bodies. Women are only judged by their appearance and not their knowledge and skills. Media doesn’t just make gender seem superficial but can represent sexuality as well. In “Gay”, Quindlen writes about how a gay man whose parent would rather see him as a heroin addict then accept he was a homosexual. “We do not want our children to be too different- so different from that they face social disapprobation and ostracism, so different that they die before we do.”(111), writes Quindlen about how society criticizes those who are different. She writes about how people who are different might face social disapprobation, this might come from how the public gets its image about what each gender’s roles are. Media influences American society as to what roles masculine and feminine genders play. When men are represented as strong, “machista”, and...
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