Gender....Socially Constructed?

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In today’s society, maintain gender order is something that seems to come naturally to all, even though some people may not be aware that is does. This order is how we put people in their place and maintain order in society. We are products of our social culture which shapes our gendered order or the way we associate characteristics to our gender. Not by biological orientations but from “exigencies of the social order” can we fully process the social construction of gender. We uphold our gendered order and others help us to do so. Carmen helps to establish and uphold the gendered order in the movie Real Women Have Curves by her objection to Ana’s leaving home. Because this is such a good example of gendered order, the choice of making it the focus of my essay is essential and brings up many points to the theory of gendered order that Judith Lorber speaks of in “The Social Construction of Gender.”

Ana is an Hispanic teenager from a predominately Latino community in Los Angelos. Upon graduating from high school she wants to further her education in college but the traditional views that her parents hold try to keep her home working in her sister’s “sweatshop” sewing dresses. It seems that Ana’s mother, Carmen, is the voice of the family as an institution. Instead of competing opinions about Ana’s potential future, Carmen’s opinions shapes the decision of the family in which they then band together as an institution to uphold this gendered order. They are family and they should want to support Ana in her decision even though it is of rebellion from the gendered order. Why does the family uphold this order and what helps them to do so? As a social institution, gender is one of the major ways we organize our lives. Being as it is, human society depends on a predictable division of labor assigning tasks for different people. “Choosing people for the different tasks of society is on the basis of their gender, race, and ethnicity.” Because of her ethnicity, gender, and race Carmen feels trapped into the traditional gendered order of her family. The Culture that Ana and her family belongs to helps to uphold the gendered order. The Latino community, especially in Ana’s family, is big on family and tradition. Looking at Carmen and her eldest daughter, it is evident that the women of the family never attended college therefore it is tradition for Ana to work instead of furthering her education.

Carmen has many tactics that she uses to maintain the gendered order. She points out that Ana should be worried about getting married, having kids, and learning to sew in her sisters shop. Because Ana is a woman, according to her mother, these should be her main concerns along with learning how to cook for her husband. Carmen also tries to make Ana feel guilty of leaving home by mentioning that she would be breaking up the family and points to Ana’s grandfather as a example of someone she would be leaving behind. She also tries to make Ana stay home by pretending to be sick all the time and even pretending to be pregnant. In order to uphold the gendered order Carmen also makes Ana feel as though she is not good enough to find a husband by constantly emphasizing that Ana is fat and needs to lose weight. (which is ironic in that Carmen herself is overweight). While Carmen is a main source upholding the gendered order, she is not the only.

Her sister’s shop serves as a cultural institution that helps to uphold the gendered order being that all the women that work there are of the same race, ethnicity, and gender. It is from their exigencies of social order that they all fit into the same gendered order that, according to Judith Lorber, is so necessary for the “orderly running of society.” Lorber notes that this order is so important that even in the face of rebellion it is upheld by political power.

When Ana’s sister tries to discuss with her manager the wages that are earned by the women for making dresses, she is quickly shot down....
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