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Gender in Society.

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Introduction

Gender in Society Part 1) In the reading "Sexual Visions: Images of Gender in Science and Medicine between the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries" Ludmilla Jordanova identifies a number of interesting facts and highlights the various points pertaining to gender and gender roles within our society. Within this text Jordanova identifies and to an extent isolates the processes of "naturalization" as a primary focal point by which to better understand and analyse such culturally distinct gender roles. Gender is constitutive of societies basic identity. Its use, to mean social and cultural sexual identity however, is comparatively recent. By using gender, one implies that masculine and feminine attributes are defined in relation to each other. The constant defining of gender however has caused it to no longer just be associated with ones sexual identity, giving the term an applied masculinity. Jordanova notes that nature is often configured as a female whose secrets will be revealed by a masculine science. Jordanova also notes that these comparisons have been to the detriment of women, making them seen as the "problem sex" throughout history. Jodanova poses throughout the reading the idea that medicine and science contain implications about matters beyond their explicit content. Namely they have historically made assumptions about women and their relation to science/medicine. Through naturalization, whereby ideas, theories, experiences, languages, and so on, take on the quality of being natural, gender has gained false connotations that have until now been seen as fact. ...read more.

Middle

(Davidoff & Hall, 1987 p. 34) During their research a special focus is on the family enterprise, its structure was seen as a "powerful idiom" which identified men as powerful and women as dependant. Men were given a dual role in the household, one of head of the family and also of husband/father, while women remained within a family role. They highlight the shortcomings of Marxism, which totally ignored gender influence and relevance. Marxism perpetrates the myth of male domination, relegating the women to the family and home. In their book "Family Fortunes" they note that sexual identity affects every level of social form and that women have never been consulted or included in the relating and writings of history. Hence history has always been given a male bias. Grimshaw's et al. book explores the creation of a gendered history within Australia through the idea of cultural difference. This book aims to reconceptualize familiar themes in the national story and to introduce new ones (Grimshaw et al. 1994 p. 4). Australia inherited a paternalistic society from its English colonists who dominated the indigenous people and forced them to conform to the white man's ways through brutality and violence. Subsequently Australia has grown to become a multi-cultural society, leading to a clash in cultural ideas and social values. ...read more.

Conclusion

This is no clearer than in the situation of the surplus women. Created by a male preference for late marriage and more women than men in the population, these spinsters had no employment opportunities. It was frowned upon for middle class women to work, hence they were forced to be dependant on the generosity of a male relative or become destitute. The Feminist Movement beginning in the late 1800's questioned the role and legal rights of women in society and marriage. The Men and Women's Club was set up in 1885 by Karl Pearson. This club had both men and women members and discussed questions on marriage reform. Topics discussed were easier divorce, rape in marriage, birth control and sexually transmitted diseases. (Bland 1986 p.126-135). This same movement lead to women demanding a rite to vote and the questioning of sexual morality in marriage. Reform followed with a new morality leading to rape and violence in marriage no longer being tolerated. All these articles deal with gender history and the society they have created. It becomes clear that males have manipulated the way that we see both history and its written account. Women have been almost totally excluded from the storytelling creating a male bias, which is still evident today. There are still echoes of the oppression suffered by women in society and there is a need to rewrite history, taking into account the influence that women and other minority groups have contributed. ...read more.

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