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Gender

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Topics: Transgender, Gender
How is gender performed?

Gender is performed through the way people dress their kids. The color that is chosen for the baby’s room or the toys that the baby plays with, is all part of gender being performed. From an early age a newborns gender is decided for them. You can divide gender into two parts: the adolescent and also the person’s adult hood. Now a day, some people change their gender and become the opposite sex. There are different words for the gender changes: transsexuals are those who undergo sex-change surgery; transvestites are those who dress in the opposite genders clothes. According to Lorber this would be called gender bending and she explains how she perceives how people perform gender. Risman explains her three levels of differentiation and she incorporates it with how she thinks people perform gender. Gender is something so routine and everyone does it everyday. Judith Lorber writes in her essay “Night to his day” a Social Construction of Gender that gender is like culture, and humans are always doing it. Moreover, “Gender is a routine of everyday life … gender is consistently created and re-created out of human interaction, out of social life, and is the texture and order of that social life” (Lorber, pg 96). Lorber is saying that humans doing gender is so typical and common that it is like fish talking about water, and that everyone does it without thinking about it. I can relate to this because I was not aware that I was doing gender until I was assigned this reading. Lorber explains that doing gender can be something as simple as labeling a baby as a boy or a girl. She herself did gender when she thought that the baby wearing the baseball cap was a boy, because boys typically wear the baseball caps, however she was wrong and it turned out to be a girl. The role of who takes care of the baby now in days is also doing gender, and in our modern society traditional roles are broken and those roles change all the time. Take for instance the role of who takes care of the baby, the mother traditionally did it but in the latter years we are starting to see the fathers role increase and take care of the child. Humans can “… carefully construct their gender status by dressing, speaking, walking, gesturing in the ways prescribed for women or men” (Lorber, pg 97). Basically you can perform gender by the way you present yourself and by the way you act. Lorber goes on to elaborate that gender is done since birth. A newborn is assigned to a sex at the moment of birth based on the genitalia. “A sex category becomes a gender status through naming, dress, and the use of other gender markers” (Lorber, pg 97). The way someone dresses seems to be a recurring quality that marks the way gender is performed.
According to Lorber, gender bending is another way that gender is performed. Gender bending occurs through the change in which a person acts different from their sex category, for example, a man acting as a woman or a woman acting as a man. Furthermore, if a man or a woman is to perform gender bending they cannot be limited to one specific sex category, they will have to be able to change between the genders and this is why transvestites and transsexuals do not perform gender bending. An example of gender bending is “when women dress as men for business reasons, they are indicating that in that situation, they want to be treated the way men are treated; when they dress as women, they want to be treated as women” (Lorber, pg 101). According to Lorber a person is performing genrder when they assign a person to a sex category and this sex category is defined by the way a person acts, dresses and presents himself or herself. Without these indicators Lorber says that people would not be able to tell the difference between a man and a woman, since the human race looks so alike. However, Lorber also states that a person can change their gender depending on the situation they are in and when the need arises; she classifies this as gender bending, and this is also a way to perform gender. In her essay “Gender as Structure” Barbara Risman backs up what Lorber states as performing gender. Risman states, “… once a person is labeled a member of a sex category, she or he is morally accountable for behaving as persons in that category do. That is, the person is expected to “do gender” …” (Risman, pg 300). Furthermore, Risman believes that “Gender is deeply embedded as a basis for stratification, differentiation opportunities and constraints” (Risman, pg 301). Gender stratification is what Lorber was talking about in her essay and Risman agrees with her; in addition Risman states that differentiation has consequences on three levels. The first level is on the individual level, and that calls for the development of gendered selves. The second level is on the interactional level and that is for the different expectations that men and women face even when they are trying to fill the same position. The third and final level is on the institutional level, and here men and women are rarely given the same position. This final level depends on distribution of material advantage. Risman ends her essay by making a point of re-creating a social structure and about how routine people have made this. She states that women take on their husband’s last name at marriage without even thinking about it because it is part of the social norm; they are performing gender. In conclusion, performing gender is basically engraved in every one of us because it is done since birth. Plus, we are humans and we always follow what our culture and society teaches us. Performing gender is one of those things since everyone wears clothes and Lorber says that is one of the indicators that tell someone a person is male or female. According to both authors performing gender can be done in a variety of ways, there is no one set way. One of the most used ways to perform gender is by assigning a person a sex category, and aside from this one there can also be indicators used. Some indicators are clothes, gestures used, and the way someone presents one self in general. This all leads to performing gender.

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