Sunday, 6 March 2016

Are You A Man Or A Mouse?


What is it to be a man?

To be a man from the biological perspective is to have the chromosomes and genitals of a male. However, as time has proceeded to go on the perception of being a man has become distorted. Sex is in no way a stable identity anymore. The gender label that a person receives is from the way a person behaves (Butler, 1999). Gender labels are given through societies teachings and in today’s day many men do not conform to the model of masculinity (Butler, 1999).

 Although gender has changed over time many men can be criticised for not meeting the requirements of being masculine. Men are becoming less ‘dominant’ and ‘macho’ which are attributes of being a ‘man’ in today’s society (O'Donnell, 1997).In modern terms the word masculine is often associated with traits such as aggressiveness, protectiveness, strength and provision. If a man does not have these traits can he be classed in society as a male? This is a question that society throughout the ages has embedded. Society defines there must be measurable traits for a man to be a classed as masculine (Butler, 1999).

The Functionalist view on masculinity lays within the fact that traditional gender roles help to integrate society. Men who traditionally work for paid labour play their part in the gender roles that can be pre-determined. They are viewed as the ‘stronger sex’, the provider, the hunter/ gatherer. Larger societies also gender role conform. The societies instil that members of the male sex fear they will not be attractive to women if they are perceived to be overly feminine and this has a counteractive effect; that women are not attractive and feminine within paid labour roles as they are deemed masculine. Functionalists teach the essential features of femininity and masculinity and integrates society allowing it to function (Brym and Lie, 2005).

Marxism is a theory which analyses the ruling class as well as proletariat, feminism is a theory which analyses men as well as women (May, Strikwerda and Hopkins, 1996). It is not that Marxism focuses purely on class and feminism with gender it is the common ground of power for men which provides a contribution for the oppression of women (May, Strikwerda and Hopkins, 1996). Inequality in work placements within Marxism empowers men and the men of society become dominant. The social structure of Marxism is that the bourgeoisie must remain at the top of the social chain by putting the men to work and earning money from production (May, Strikwerda and Hopkins, 1996). By these living norms women become oppressed and this is begins to touch on the feminist view of being a man (May, Strikwerda and Hopkins, 1996). The feminist view looks at how a man over empowers a woman and a feminist will begin to prove how a woman is equal (May, Strikwerda and Hopkins, 1996).

Feminist 3 Theories

Feminists Theories

Famous Feminist Oakley

Feminist theorists show how feminine gender roles and dominant ideologies of femininity have been restricted for women and how society shows inequality for gender roles (Fulcher and Scott, 2007). This article shows feminists views on certain areas and how different aspects of life begin to show gender inequality:

Sue Sharp (1994) well known feminist looked at primary socialisation: the way children are raised within the home environment (Fulcher and Scott, 2007). Sharp found that young girls were encouraged to be mothers or wives achieving nothing but domestic labour where men were encouraged to be the ‘bread winner’ (Fulcher and Scott, 2007) Ann Oakley also stated “Women’s sense of identity is bound upon from childhood but not so for men or little boys” continued with “It isn’t in love that women are lost, it’s in families” (Oakley, 1984) Even when women are working outside the home a women’s job often seems to be an extension of caring roles and looking after others; receptionists, secretaries, nurses and teachers (Brown, 2005). This is secondary socialisation.
Feminists understand ‘woman’ differently: not as a sex term, but as a gender term that depends on social and cultural factors (Mikkola, 2012). Simone de Beauvoir feminist speaker claimed that one is not born, but becomes a woman (Browne and Browne, 2008) implying one is taught to behave like a woman or a man. Traits like aggression and strength are thought to be masculine traits however an individual is socialised into learning how to act feminine or masculine through predetermined gender roles of society (Browne and Browne, 2008). This is primary socialisation. 

Feminists look at certain biological factors such as: women giving birth and rearing children (Haralambos and Holborn, 2008). Some feminists see women's subordination is fundamentally caused by their role in reproduction (Satz, 2013). They understand that a woman is the carrier of the child however the argument feminists put across is that a woman should not be treated unequally in the aftermath of birth (Satz, 2013). For example a woman is given up to a year maternity leave to nurture the child whereas the male figure is only given a short duration of time to take off work which implies that the female as the carrier should be the one to play the domestic role. Historically, men have exercised enormous power over women's bodies through controlling their sexuality and reproduction (Satz, 2013).

Feminists argue that language can contribute to making women invisible (Saul, 2012). Terms such as ‘he’ and ‘man’ which are classed as gender-neutral words hide women's importance, distracting attention from their existence (Saul, 2012). Fighting the invisibility of women is an important feminist project (Saul, 2012) and the contribution of language is just another aspect feminists intend to tackle. The terms ‘he’ and ‘man’ are thought to distract attention from women as there is psycholinguistic evidence that shows people who use the terms ‘he’ and ‘man’ think more readily of males rather than females (Saul, 2012). With this evidence feminists object to the ‘gender-neutral’ use of these terms as it constitutes a symbolic insult to women. Not all language is seen to hide women however such words as ‘actress’ and ‘manageress’ objectify women in the feminist view (Saul, 2012). The use of the ‘ess’ on the end of the word shows that it is a female. However the ‘ess’ also implies that the norm for the job role is in actual fact a male, it implies that the woman is deviant for fulfilling the role of a manager or being recognised as an ‘actor’ (Saul, 2012).

This article shows how feminists perceive the gender inequality for women, how women are treated differently in socialisation, according to home life and predetermined roles. Discussed also is gender inequality shown through masculine and feminine traits. Feminists believe that society teaches people how to behave, not that an individual should be able to express themselves without the judgement of predetermined roles. It asks we not only look at roles within the home and work yet also in language and biology; how the woman is still sanctioned in everyday language and how a woman is to bear and raise a child through the biological means yet then pushed forth into society as main carer. Feminists fight to make a woman become as equal as a man and this article only evidences few perceived gender equality issues.

Feminism Speech: Emma Watson

Monday, 30 November 2015

Nature vs Nuture

Nature Vs Nurture

This essay begins on how to explain the biological view on gender and sex, talking about chromosomes, genes and what makes an individual female or male. It then expands to look at another perspective which is sociologically based – a social construction theory which is the theory that gender is a product of nurture and compares each explanation using a variety of reliable sources that will be referenced throughout.The theory of whether gender is based on nature or nuture has long been a subject of interest and by comparing the two theories the contrast between each becomes clear.

Biologists believe there is no difference between sex and gender. The biological theory is based on the individual factors of the inside body, it is the belief that females and males act, think and feel differently because of chromosomal and hormonal contrasts which affect the way the brain will work (Wood, 1994) meaning that the difference between men and women is in the way they are genetically made.

The chromosomes are part of an individual’s DNA as they come from the fertilization of the sperm and egg, in women there are two chromosomes that are known as X chromosomes, however men are made up of a single X and Y chromosome (Farrel and Farrel, 2003) to understand the chromosomes it is easier to say that during the fertilization if you are born without a Y chromosome you will develop as a female (Farrel and Farrel, 2003)
The biological sex of an individual is determined by genes, particularly the sex determination gene (SRY) (Jones and Lopez, 2006). This is found on the Y chromosome which only males possess, this determines the growth of the male testes. Due to the fact that women do not carry the Y chromosome it causes females to have differing genitalia as they lack the SRY gene making a person male or female in biological terms (Jones and Lopez, 2006). The genes attached to chromosomes also contain a unit of heredity which are segments of DNA passed down from parents which are then passed on to their offspring through genes this then impels the characteristics (, 2015) of physical and mental behavior.

Not only do the chromosomes and genes determine whether you are a male or female in the biological perspective but the hormones also play an important part – hormones have an impact on growth, reproduction, maturation and behavior (Khurana, 2009) Men produce testosterone and small amount of estrogen where as women produce mainly estrogen and progesterone and only a small amount of testosterone (Richards, Hawley and Hawley, 2005). A Major increase in production of these hormones occur within puberty the increase of these hormones causes such things as facial hair, bone and muscle growth along with sperm production in men, within females they help to control the menstrual cycle, begin to grow body hair and breasts (Richards, Hawley and Hawley, 2005).
All three factors contribute to the biologist argument that there is no differentiation between sex and gender and that you are either male or female due to the genitals, chromosomes, hormones and genes that the individual possess. However famous sociobiologists/social constructionists such as Edward O Wilson see gender as a field of study combining biology and social studies (Rank, 2014).

Gender to the social constructionist can be defined in the following way: ‘‘gender is a socially determined construct describing the characteristics, behaviours, and roles deemed appropriate and expected of men and woman by a given society’’ (Rolleri, 2012). These characteristics, behaviors and roles are reinforced through socialization (Rolleri, 2012). The normal way to behave like a man or woman is nothing to do with the reproductive system but rather with how one is taught to act (Browne and Browne, 2008)  It is the belief that gender is just a word and that the actions an individual takes defines which gender they choose to become (Butler, 1999) the belief that gender is something learnt through social norms (Butler, 1999).

Gender socialization can begin from the day a person is born it can occur through socialization: family, education, peer groups, and the media (Browne and Browne, 2008) Simone de Beauvoir claimed that one is not born, but becomes a woman (Browne and Browne, 2008) this implies that a biological female becomes a woman through gaining feminine traits and female behaviour which can only be taught through the way an individual is raised (Browne and Browne, 2008). Similar traits like aggression and strength are thought to be masculine traits however an individual is socialized into learning how to act feminine or masculine through predetermined gender roles of society (Browne and Browne, 2008). Differences in power between men and women can be expressed in many ways through such things as decision making, political roles, domestic roles and sexual relations (Browne and Browne, 2008) – for example a female is the home cleaner where the male is the money provider. Sociology sees that gender is not a fixed mark of identity and that the ideas of gender are subject to change (Browne and Browne, 2008)

Looking at the differences between the sociology and biological view on gender shows very differing sides - masculinity and femininity are thought to be products of nurture whereas the biological side is a product of nature – what an individual is born with dictates the nature of what gender a person will be. Biologists see that an individual is determined by what gender a person will become from the early stages of birth, with chromosomes taking the lead on this decision with the genes and hormones simply complying together to conform one gender. Whereas sociologists believe that an individual is brought up to become a certain gender through the environment and society the individual lives in, certain studies show that genderless children are a possibility in the world proving that it is the families and societies choice to what gender a person shall become (Storm genderless baby, 2011). Sociologists believe that gender is a subject to change with feminists taking a strong stand on what is masculine and feminine whereas biologists are unchangeable as it determined by what an individual is born with and how they are created.

Monday, 9 November 2015

Glossary of Sociological Terms

SexHow humans and other living creatures are divided by their internal organs (Oxford Dictionary, 2015).    

Sex a biological term that societies use to place people into the category of either male or female, whether it be through chromosomes, genitalia or some other physical ascription (Zevallos, 2014).  

Gender: Being male or female within reference to social and cultural differences rather than biological ones (, 2015).

Gender is defined by whether someone is masculine or feminine and not to be confused with sex, it isn’t about external or internal organs, it is defined as the social expectations of each sex. It is the socially produced differences between being feminine or masculine (Holmes, 2007).

Gender Roles: A set of behaviours that indicates one’s gender, specifically the image projected by a person that identifies their femininity or masculinity (, 2015)

Gender roles refer to the socially defined attributes and expectations associated with social positions. Gender roles reflect social norms and patterns of socialization, roles that are distinguished between men and women (Abercrombie, Hill and Turner, 2006). An assumption of a women’s role is be family and home-centred, caring and nurturing for children whereas the male figure would be to earn the money and provide for the family – these are just assumptions of traditional gender roles. (Abercrombie, Hill and Turner, 2006) 

Masculinity: The possession of the qualities traditionally associated with men (, 2015).

Masculinity assumes that one’s behaviour results from the type of person one is (Connell, 2005). Masculinity is a conception that presupposes a belief in individual difference and personal agency. A simple definition would be ‘what men actually are’ (Connell, 2005).

Femininity: The quality of being female (, 2015)
Femininity is a sex-role stereotype or gender stereotype what we expect of females. It includes beliefs about behaviours, attitudes and traits (Marshall, 2008) The way a female may act and how society expects a female to act.

Sexuality: A person’s sexual orientation or preference (, 2015)

Heterosexuality: a person who is heterosexual is one who is attracted to people of the opposite gender (Anon, 2014).

Homosexual: one who is attracted to people of the same gender that he or she identifies with. A man who is attracted to other men is referred to as gay, whereas a woman who is attracted to other women is referred to as lesbian (Anon, 2014).

Bisexual: a person who is bisexual is attracted to people of both their own gender and of another gender (Anon, 2014).

Pansexual: are attracted to others regardless of sex or gender. They could be attracted to people who are male, female, transgender (Anon, 2014).

Above are some examples of the differing sexual preferences.

Gender Identity: A person’s perception of being a particular gender, which may or may not correspond with their birth sex (, 2015)
Gender identity can match a person’s sex however sometimes that persons gender identity does not match his or hers sex identity. Can refer to people a transgender men who are feminine and women who are masculine (Shoesmith, 2014). Gender identity is the way a person portrays the person they see themselves as.