This essay will look at the question of whether we learn our gender. It will begin by looking at the sociological meaning and interpretations of gender and how this is important. Following the discussion of how socialization plays a vital role in the argument of if we do learn our gender or not. Further to this it shall look at how gender roles have changed, comparing in particular pre-1960 to the modern day and also what key factors played crucial roles in this change. Throughout this essay the work and views of different sociologists will be relied upon in order to provide a detailed discussion in the analysis of the question.
Firstly to understand the question the meaning of gender has to be depicted. The word gender may be perceived by some as a way of classing an individuals sex as male or female, however it actually refers to the sex based characteristics. The following passage is taken from the definition of gender from the American Heritage dictionary of the English language (2000). In discussion of the meaning of gender it states that “Traditionally, gender has been used primarily to refer to the grammatical categories of "masculine," "feminine," and "neuter," but in recent years the word has become well established in its use to refer to sex-based categories… using gender to refer to social or cultural categories.” This is the basic description of how the term gender is approached in terms of this question rather than one referring to the actual sex of a person. This is also stated by Macionis and Plummer (2008, p.367) explaining that: “sex refers to the biological distinction between males and females” it is also states that a “gender role refers to learning and performing the socially accepted characteristics for a given sex.” This clearly defines for us that when discussing whether gender can be learnt we are distinctively talking about the pre conceived social characteristics in which each sex should possess.
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