How Is Gender Identity Influenced by Social Structures?

Topics: Gender, Gender role, Gender identity Pages: 4 (1290 words) Published: May 10, 2005
What is meant by identity? Firstly this essay is going to explore what is meant by identity. Identity is made up of individual characteristics by which a person is known. Internal factors such as physical appearance, personality, mental ability and sex would have an affect on a person's identity. Then there are the external factors such as family, class, religion, culture, occupation and nationality which would influence one's identity. Then, even beyond all these personal and social structures, societal opinions about gender, race, culture, ethnicity and nationality must have an impact on identity.

Many attributes of identity are formed from childhood experience, adolescence, early adulthood and are ever forming. Identity can therefore be ever changing externally according to the life experiences through which a person goes through. Births, deaths, marriage, divorce, abuse, immigration, good or bad fortune for example are likely to cause change, and therefore influence change to identity. These may ultimately result in a change to the internal identity: physical, mental etc

Gender identities are formed by several different factors, i.e. individual and collective; social and biological. Biologically, it would be quite easy to look at the body of a person and be able to distinguish between a male and a female, from their genitalia. A female would be identified by the absence of a penis. The problem with defining gender identity by simply using anatomical evidence is that is this day and age, we live in a society where most of our bodies are generally covered by clothing, so judgement can also be obscured by the unisex clothes that are worn by both men and women. Most of us are always manipulating our outer appearance according to the latest trends or fashion. It is more acceptable for a woman to wear clothing that is generally thought of as more masculine, but it is seldom that a man can wear clothing that is thought of as feminine. In such case where a...
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