17 September 2010
The Biological and Cultural View on Gender
Society has drilled an image into our minds as people of how the role of each gender should be played out. There are two recognized types of genders, a male and a female. Most people come to think that gender is just male or female. Yet it has become more complex then that. Today it is not just that if you have male parts, you are a man, the opposite goes for women. According to the authors Aaron Devor and Deborah Blum. Gender is much more complex then just male and female, it is more socially composed. We are taught to be male and female trough things like media, our parents, and role model figures. These gender roles are not something that we are born with; we are not genetically put together to act male or female. Using the ideas of Devor and Blum to advice. My paper will display how gender is socially engineered, by analyzing an ad for Marc Jacobs’s male fragrance Bang.
To show that gender is imposed on us by society we live in, I will first look at one of the two sides of the gender issue cultural or biology. Writers like Aaron Devor in “Gender role behaviors and attitudes” represent the Cultural side of gender. Aaron Devor believes gender is taught to us, For example in culture today if you possess male characteristics as a female you could be considered culturally masculine. And the same goes for a male who posses feminine characteristics. Devor makes this point about gender Devor writes, “ people appear feminine when they keep their arms closer to theirs bodies, their legs closer together, and their torsos and heads less vertical then do masculine-looking individuals”(569). By using words like “masculine- looking” and “appear feminine”, Devor stresses the idea that you may look more like one gender when using certain body postures. Things like putting your legs and arms closer together are feminine signs. So a man who does these things with his body will be read feminine.
Another example of how Devor believes that gender is cultural is when he discusses the idea of popular conceptions of femininity and masculinity. Masculinity is characterized by dominance and aggression, Femininity by passivity and submission. Men and women share many of the same characteristics and are designed to do many of the same things. Due to society today men are refrained from several activities and the same goes for women. Devor makes this point when he writes, “Persons who perform the activities considered appropriate for another gender will be expected to perform them poorly; they succeed adequately, or even well, at their endeavors, they may be rewarded with ridicule or scorn for blurring the gender dividing line”(568). Using words like “appropriate” and “endeavors”, Devor means that people are restricted from activities based upon sex. Several activities are scene to be feminine for example a hairdresser. Men who do attempt theses activities and succeed will be scorned upon or culturally red as feminine. I will now look at the other side of the gender issue. The biological view of gender is represented by Deborah Blum in “the gender blur”. Blum believes that it’s not the culture that determines our human behavior but it is nature. If you are born a male then you are by nature going to be more aggressive then women. Blum believes this idea is not only true for just humans but for all other species to. Blum expresses this idea when she says, “But clearly we can argue a strong influence, and, interestingly, studies have found that girls with congenital adrenal hyperplasia- who run high in testosterone-tend to be far more fascinated in trucks and toy weapons then most little girls are”(577). By Blum using words like “congenital adrenal hyperplasia” and “testosterone”, Blum means that it is our chemical build up that determine our gender roles. Testosterone is what makes a man manly, so any male...