Gender roles in society: A look at masculinity and femininity

Topics: Gender, Masculinity, Gender role Pages: 4 (1101 words) Published: October 3, 2007
"The Dangers of Femininity" by Lucy Gilbert and Paula Webster discusses gender roles in society, and Messages Men Hear: Constructing Masculinities by Ian Harris discusses specifically the gender roles of men. According to Gilbert and Webster, "the two-gender system mandates masculine and feminine beings who are unequal, giving one set social power and the other none." (41) These masculine and feminine qualities are not just determined by sex. They are defined by the certain characteristics that a person exhibits. These characteristics are shaped by the culture of a society. Males and females are encouraged to behave by these codes. Harris has a similar argument. Harris proposes, "gender role messages set standards for appropriate male behavior."( 12) These messages are a set of codes that are given by family members at a young age. These messages possesses, " ways of thinking, feeling, and reacting that form the basis for his world view" (Harris, 17).Gilbert and Webster argue that society pressures both genders to behave a certain way and that this established system is in favor of males, but Harris argues that this system can also have a negative impact on males.

Although both "The Dangers of Femininity" and Messages Men Hear: Constructing Masculinities discuss the cultural influence of gender roles, they have some conflicting arguments on how society specifically forms male behaviors. Gilbert and Webster generalize male gender role as "The Real Man". The real man "exhibits all the traits of a strong and self assured person by being rational, competitive, proud, self-protecting, physically powerful, and sexually attractive" (42). Harris, however, is more specific about male gender role. He classifies gender role in 24 messages and mentions that there are many other messages men receive as well. Some of these messages are considered classic because they have been established by society for many generations, but there are emerging messages that have appeared in...

Cited: ilbert, Lucy, and Paula Webster. "The Dangers of Femininity." The Gender Reader. Ed.
Evelyn Ashton-Jones and Gary A. Olson. Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 1991. 39-55.
Harris, Ian M. Messages Men Hear: Constructing Masculinities. London: Taylor & Francis,1995. 12-19.
Tannen, Deborah. "There Is No Unmarked Woman." Signs of Life in the U.S.A. 3rd ed.
Ed. Sonia Maasik and Jack Solomon. Boston: Bedford, 2000. 490-5.
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