The Gendered and Gendering Institutions

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When describing something that influences your gender, most people would assume that your “sex” or our biological identification given to us at birth would be the most definite source; however there are multiple factors and processes that contribute to one’s gender identity. The multitudes of institutions that assist in the socialization of an individual vary from person to person, but are all beneficial in creating a sense of gender. According to Michael Messner, there are two types of institutions, the gendered and the gendering. The gendered institution is described by Messner as “an institution constructed by gender relations. As such, its structures and values (rules, formal organizations, sex composition, etc.) reflect dominant conceptions of masculinity and femininity” (p. 133). The gendering institution can be described by Messner as an institution that constructs the current gender order and genders people’s bodies and minds, it creates the masculine and feminine identities. These institutions are both detrimental to the construction of gender and personal identity; for me the involvement in CYO sports at a young age and the household in which I grew up (all girls) allowed me the freedom to develop an identity of my own outside the traditional masculine/feminine identity. As an 10 year old girl joining an all girls basketball team for the very first time, my parents thought this would be a helpful and constructive pastime for me to be involved with as a distraction from their divorce. Already struggling with personal issues at home, this institution became a very prominent source of development. The rules and expectations of this particular institution were that if we could work as hard as the boys, we could eventually be as good as the boys. My team was strong and extremely competitive, and certain values were instilled in us by our coaches at a young age. Being resilient to injury, maintaining a competitive attitude against teammates and opponents,...
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