Social Construction of Gender

Topics: Gender, Female, Male Pages: 7 (1198 words) Published: November 21, 2013

1. “Night to His Day” – Judith Lorber

2. Wikipedia

3. Judith Butler

4. Yahoo



In order to understand the answer of the above question, it is very

important to understand what exactly is “Gender” and what a “Social

Construct” means.


In a layman’s language, Gender is simply the distinction between

male and female. However, if we look deeper in well, we will notice

the gender construction starts with the association of sex category

at the time of birth. Sex is the biological distinction between a man

and a woman and gender is based on sex. A sex category becomes

a gender status through naming, dress and the use of other gender

marks. The “normal” thing to do in this case would be for baby girls

to be dressed in pink and baby boys to be dressed in blue. The reason

for this is because society has made colors become a symbol to

distinguish boys from girls. Once a child’s gender is evident, people

treat those in one gender different from those in the other, and

therefore, the children respond to it accordingly. Sex doesn’t come

into play until puberty, but by that time sexual feelings have been

modified according to the gender expectations in children. I will

elaborate on the same in the latter part of this paper. Individuals are

born sexed but not gendered.


Now, let us understand what a “Social Construct” means. Social

Construction is something you might not be aware of. Any norm

constructed by the society based on human judgment is a social

construct. The classic example of a social construct is money. Various

cultures utilize paper, gold, silver, or other items as a medium

for trade. To do this, we invest the object with value that we all

acknowledge (we act as if it has value), and this informs our practices

when it comes to money. But money is not a thing that occurs

independently of human activity in the natural world. Thus it is a

social construction. It's very real - calling it a social construct does

not amount to calling it imaginary or non-existent. But its existence is

dependent on our culture and our practices.

We are somewhat living in segregation depending on what gender,

race and class you are. Race, class and gender don’t really mean

anything. They only have a meaning because society gives them a

meaning. Social construction is how society groups people and how it

privileges certain groups over others. For example, you are a woman

or a man because society tells you that you are, not because you

choose to be.

Behaviors like occupation can be culturally gendered, too. For

example, men shy away from nursing today because society

recognizes that profession as a "feminine" profession. But, just 60

years ago, the majority of nurses were males and nursing was not

considered to be appropriate for "ladies". Medicine has traditionally

been considered to be a "masculine" profession and women were not

allowed to go to medical school. In the old Soviet Union, though, after

so many men were killed during WWII, women began to dominate

medicine and that profession is now considered "feminine" there.

To be born a man or a woman in any society is more than a simple

biological fact. It is a biological fact with social implications.

Women constitute a distinct social group, and the character of

that group, long neglected by historians, has nothing to do with

feminine "nature." The biological sexes are redefined, represented,

valued, and channeled into different roles in various culturally

dependent ways. An American anthropologist has put it well:

a "Sex/gender system [is] a set of arrangements by which a society

transforms biological sexuality in to products...
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