Why Do Women Occupy the Subordinate Position in the Sex/Gender System

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Question One: Why do Women Occupy the Subordinate Position in the Sex/Gender System?

Gender inequalities between males and females have been existent since time began. In the Bible, these gender inequalities are evident with Eve (woman) causing the fall of man and the distancing from our “Father” and our banishment from Paradise, the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:7). Not only that, the very creation of Eve, being of Adam and Adam being of God, highlights that women are seen as an afterthought in creation. This brief essay will examine gender inequalities within our sex/gender system, but specifically on why women occupy subordinate roles.

As Aristotle and Garlen were mistaken to hold the idea that female organs are a lesser form of the male’s and therefore, women are lesser than men (Laquer 1990, 149). Freud also develops this notion of a phallic society and suggests that women are deficient because she lacks a penis and her whole psychological makeup is based on the struggle to make up for this deficiency (Wearing 1995, 4), thus, the beginning of gender differences.

Parsons and Bales (1955) place a more sociological explanation and justification for such gender difference. For example, gender roles within the family. Women (the mother) are the primary caregiver and socialiser in the early months, due to her close association with breastfeeding and care of the infant. Thus, the newborn learns from the mother interpersonal relationships, manners and expressive reactions. For girls, these aspects predominate for the rest of their lives as they fulfil the roles of nurturing, caring, expressive roles of society. Then, in later life, when women join the work force, their jobs are merely an extension from their role in the home and society (Wearing, 1995, 6).

Men on the other hand (the father), are more involved later on in the growth of the child. The child learns from their father, skills necessary to obtain leadership roles within society. In order to...
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