Social Construction of Gender..

April 27, 2012 § 3 Comments

Gender is something i had never given much thought. I just thought boys were boys and girls were girls. i didn’t think about that invisible voice saying you need to wear a dress and play with Barbies. Who is that invisible voice? i think that voice is society. Gender has been around forever and is created different in every culture. It is funny how people just fall into their own positions and ‘do gender’ without being told verbally. This does bring up a few issues though. One being gay or lesbian people. For gay or lesbian people, gender is something a little more flexible but not completely acceptable. I feel that women are more accepting of gay people because we will not be judged as a harshly by society. If a gay guy and a straight guy are friends, it is likely that people will assume the straight guy is also gay and this would make him feel de-masculinized. I also think there is some hidden part in men that think women are weak and that gay men take on women-like desires and it makes them weaker. Lorber is right when she says that many people do not think of gender until one’s gender is questionable and then it becomes a guessing game. I feel like i was completely oblivious to this huge cycle i have fallen into. I am glad i can be aware of this concept now.

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The Stratification of Men and Women and other Minorities

January 29, 2012 § 1 Comment

While reading Judith Lorber’s essay about gender and the social construction of it, I found the stratification part to be very interesting and it really made me think about the system that our society has to separate gender. She talks about not only gender but race as well. She starts off with Nancy Jay’s quote about “A” and “Not-A”, she talks about how A is pure and Not A is the left overs but not necessarily imperfect. Lorber goes on to talk about this concept in terms of gender and then race. The man is A and the woman is Not A, but the stratification doesn’t stop there, for instance, white is A and African American’s are Not A. This is the example that Lorber gives in the essay. This got me thinking that people can be an A and a Not A at the same time. Or you could be at the complete end of the spectrum, completely A or completely Not A. I started thinking, how is this fair. Just because some has all of the qualification to be an A, why is that individual so much more entitled to power than the Not A. All of the qualifications are beyond our control. Your race and sex are not up to you as a person. Even though class can be changed by a person’s actions, it is not always an option to move up. Although we may not like this system, it has been working so far. It doesn’t always seem fair, but what is fair? In my opinion, a stratification system can never be fair.

Another point that stood out to me from the stratification portion and it was actually more prominent to me than the A/Not A idea was the part about men’s work and women’s work. Lorber talks about how men’s work is normally viewed more highly than women’s work and I have always know that this is true but then when I read the quote from Mencher, a whole new idea opened up for me. The quote said, “Whenever a task is done by a women is considered easy, and where it is done by [men] it is considered difficult”. This quote made sense but then it seemed somewhat backward? You would think that men would want to say that the work they do that is the same as women would be easy for them. I always thought that men would say that women’s work is easy because they are more manly, but this quote is saying that men have to work so much harder to do a job that women do. Doesn’t that take away from their masculinity a bit. I would think it would. In my opinion, if men want their work to be valued more then it should actually be harder than women’s work to prove that they can do more.

Dilemmas of Involved Fatherhood

January 27, 2012 § 1 Comment

 

Growing up both my mother and father worked a 9 to 5 job. My mother would come home and be expected to cook dinner for the family, clean up after dinner and do the laundry as well. Never once in my 22 years of life have I seen my father cook a dinner, do laundry or clean. It is just out of his job jurisdiction. That is the female’s job, or he would have the excuse that he had a hard day at work and was too tired to help, making my mother feel like her job wasn’t equally exhausting. I would also have to say I am who I am today because of my mother. Although my father wasn’t absent in my upbringing I feel he didn’t have a major part in it. I can remember back when in sports my mom would be the one to cart me back and forth to practices and always be at every event, but more often then not my father was busy at work. I also have two older brothers and I remember always being upset that dad would always be with my brothers and doing things with them while I had to stay home with my mom because I was a girl. Really did not seem fair to me.

My fiancé and I have been together over 5 years and I can slowly see that the man’s role in the house is changing. We are both students at Purdue we realize that we both have just as much work as the other. Although we still fight over whose job it is to cook and clean, it is not just me doing all the work. We are sharing the roles a little more equally. I have heard a few times out of his mouth that I shouldn’t have to do “this”, “this” is the women’s job. When it comes time to have children I will expect him to share the role equally in our child’s upbringing, and house work, no matter who works more hours and makes more money. To me it shouldn’t matter who has more power in the relationship, because I as a child just felt like my father just didn’t like me because I was a girl and that he liked my brothers better. I understand that times are changing and men’s roles are changing.

Men and Women are from Earth

January 26, 2012 § 3 Comments

“Women are from venus. Men are from mars.” We have all heard that expression before but the essay “Men and Women are from Earth” by Barnett and Rivers allows us to dispel that coined phrase. Many people and books have stated that men and women communicate on completely different levels and are therefore incapable of having “good” conversations without the other sex learning certain guidelines that pertain to how a man or woman communicates. I can remember being told early on in life that men’s brains are wired a completely different way and I still hear similar expressions when discussing a man’s actions or behaviors. In some ways, this idea of considerable differences between the genders, seems to be an excuse that either women give to men for their behavior or vice versa. For example, if a husband “shuts down” in an important conversation with his wife, she may just continue to be upset, blame it on the “men are from mars” concept and neverl let the conflict be resolved beacause “his brain just isn’t wired to do so.” Similarly, a man can shrug off a woman if she is deeply hurt and emotional because “women are from venus.” This rationalization just doesn’t make sense to me and I see it as more of an easy out excuse. I can see how some people who have grown up with this idea just assume that they must act or communicate in these stereotypical gender-based ways. The essay states, “Either way, rigid sex stereotypes promote self-fulfilling prophecies.”

The essay “Men and Women are from Earth” cite several studies that have shown that “women and men are much more alike than different in how they listen to people, the ways they react to others who are in trouble, and their ability to be open and honest in communication.” The  essay goes on to say that power is often the key in determining who will control the conversation, not gender.  I think that if a lot of people were to understand the idea that men and women are much more alike than they think and that communication differences between the genders is not innate, then communication would significantly improve. By not assuming that you are automatically supposed to be a certain way, it allows you to define your own style of communication, dealing with issues, etc. based on your own experiences.

Involved fathers

January 25, 2012 § 2 Comments

This article demonstrates ways to overcome dilemmas associated with being an involved father. It is a balancing act of providing financial and emotional support to your family. One man states that it is better to not assign roles in a relationship but to be willing to participate in any task needed for your family. Gerson described a good father to be ‘flexible’, being an involved breadwinner.

After reading this article I can better understand family structures and dilemmas that are associated with that. I think most households have set roles in which the man works and the women care-gives.  For me, it was no different.  This article brings up an interesting statistics that often times, breadwinning fathers have more kids than involved fathers. This makes perfect sense. Having more kids makes your economic requirements higher which involves more work. This also means there are more kids to give baths, read stories or play ball with. I think there is an ideal number of kids that is right for the income and status of each couple. One man in this article made a great point when stating that it is getting harder to balance the act of care-giving and breadwinning in today’s society. Sacrifices such as nice houses, vacations, and paying for college take a trade off with spending more time at home. This can cause stressful decisions for the father.

At my house there were four of us kids. This means lots of money needed to provide for our family. Our father was home only after dark to catch up on what he missed all day. Any emotional support needed, naturally came from our mother. It is funny though.. recently my parents have split. My dad has become this ‘flexible’ figure in my life. He still provides but he also is involved. He lives in a smaller house with less financial obligation and has become very in touch with his emotions and expresses them to me readily. He is also more involved in my life and problems that concern me. I am not sure if it is him taking over for my mom leaving my life or him reconnecting to his feelings but I feel so much closer to him now than ever. I think, when society slowly realizes that a family does not have to be structured by gender, that more similar relationships will be formed with mother and father. These relationships are very important in a young person’s life.

 

Response to #36 Dilemmas of Involved Fatherhood by Kathleen Gerson

January 25, 2012 § Leave a comment

In “Dilemmas of Involved Fatherhood,” Kathleen Gerson makes several important points about how truly difficult it is for men to be involved in parenting.  In general, parents cannot afford to stay at home and spend more time with their kids. For both men and women child-rearing remains undervalued and largely invisible in our achievement driven culture. Fathers in particular have a difficult time getting equal parenting rights and feel left out when teachers and pediatricians ignore them and only talk to mothers.  Fathers are undervalued and full-time househusbands are even more so, and receive great criticism for not working fulltime.   Also, as women have left the household, there has not been any support for men to step in.   However, the movement towards more involved fatherhood has been progressing with great results.  Those involved dads feel great emotional gratification, have more equal marriages and are changing stereotypes about men and fathers.

Not only does this essay accurately describe the sentiment of many fathers I know who wish to be more involved, but it also highlights another pathway to work towards gender equality. Any movement in the direction of involved fatherhood also moves our cultural thinking towards valuing characteristics such as nurturing and caretaking over stereotypical masculine ones of power and domination.  Here is a chance to merge the interests of women who want careers and men who want to be more involved fathers, and in the process change sterotypes about parenting and improve the dynamics of the household.  Finally, since our experiences growing up are so influential in our cultural identity, such a change in household dynamics, parental expectations and perceived gender roles could drastically change the overall culture itself. 

The Social “Way” to be a Woman/Man.

January 23, 2012 § Leave a comment

Your sex is based on your biological body parts. Your gender is something that is based on society’s expectations, the way you dress, look, and behave. When I read Essay 11 and 25, they both brought up many thoughts and points of reality for me. The process of gender I would have to agree with. I love the fact that I grew up as a girl and knowing I was “a little princess” who loved to wear pink and purple. I like how I was raised to be myself, given the opportunity to play any sport, and be able to switch it up to enjoy tea parties.

The structure of gender and how we divide work is what I have a problem with. I feel that there shouldn’t be a devalued gender and that are roles in society should be equal—unfortunately, that would be in a fantasy world.  Women have progressed over the past 12 years and are now doing construction work, owning our own businesses, running for president, and even CEO of predominantly male corporations. It is great to see such change occurring, but why is it that we still have a “second shift”? We work hard to make it in this economy and to sustain our status, but have to come home to a “second shift” of maintaining our home and family with excess duties of cooking, nurturing, and cleaning. The house role is something that should be shared equally among spouses. Women should not have to cook and clean all the time while men watch TV and just take out the trash. Its’ one thing to not know how to do something, but to not use an ability because its “not manly” or “feminine,” that is absurd—especially when it can lessen the load on your spouse.

Following Gray’s prescription of the normal heterosexual couple is not one that I agree with. A man shouldn’t be quick to tell a woman what to do, but not eager to express his feelings to her. A woman shouldn’t have to do all the work and not be able to complain or ask for help. It is a “way” of doing things, but not always the “way” society expects and portrays things. It should be a “way” where genders are treated equally and not bombarded with such expectations and socially “correct ways.”

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