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"Gender Roles are culturally rather than biologically produced" - Discuss and give examples from sociological studies.

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Introduction

Neville Borg Sociology A-level "Gender Roles are culturally rather than biologically produced" Discuss and give examples from sociological studies Societies have always placed great importance on differences between males and females, both in positive, as well as in negative manners. Some societies have used them as a justification to ostracize members of the other sex, whilst other societies have tried to exalt the both sexes. These differences are both biological and psychological. This is reflected in the difference between the terms 'Gender' and 'Sex'. 'Sex' refers to the biological, anatomical differences between males and females, whilst 'Gender' refers to the psychological, social and cultural differences between them. This is why sex is a biological construct and gender is a social construct. A person's sex is an innate quality, but a person acquires his/her gender through a process called gender socialization. This is the learning of a particular social role according to one's sex. Through this process, a person learns what is masculine and feminine and learns to act accordingly. The period in a person's life when this process begins and ends is debatable. In fact, some sociologists argue that it begins at infancy, whilst others state that it takes place later in a child's life. Amongst the various theories of gender learning, Sigmund Freud's stands out as being one of the most influential. ...read more.

Middle

Nancy Chodrow based her analysis of gender learning on Freud's theory but adapted it to her ideas. She argued that gender awareness begins at a very early stage in a person's life. She also places more importance on the maternal figure in the child's life, rather than the paternal figure. Chodrow argues that the mother has such a dominant role because of her close attachment to the child in the early stages of its life. According to Chodrow, boys are initially closely attached to the mother, but eventually detach themselves by means of a breaking process. This detachment is voluntary and caused by external messages that if they remain attached to the mother they will be less masculine and considered "sissies" and "mummy's boys". This causes them to completely repress their feelings towards the mother and makes them unable to relate closely to other people. This is known as Male Inexpressiveness. Boys try to achieve fulfillness through activities, such as sports, and chase their goals in an independent manner. Girls do not have such a drastic breaking process as boys. They remain attached to the mother for a longer period of time. They tend to imitate the mother and see her as being dependent on the father. Due to this, later in their life, they will also depend on a man. ...read more.

Conclusion

In fact, fairytales, which are a heavy influence in a child's upbringing, tend to describe how the heroic male protagonist rescues the woman. Certain fairytales have been converted to reverse the roles of the two sexes, but these conversions are generally treated as satires or parodies. Another very important influence is dress code. Males and females generally wear completely different attire. Whilst even styles change throughout the ages, the differences in clothing are always present. For example, in the early 20th century, females in Malta used to wear the traditional "ghonella" whilst males used to wear typical caps, which are still quite common nowadays, especially throughout the elderly. In Malta, Religion is an extremely important cultural influence in a child's gender learning. This is mainly because Maltese society places great importance on this factor in family life. In fact, in the 1960's a Maltese Bishop actually stated that if a married woman is employed and has a job, she is harming her family. Statements such as these are very relevant in the Maltese society. Maltese society, in general, has a very heavy influence on a child's gender socialization. Many females are continuing their education into the tertiary level and are chasing their diplomas. These women are unlikely to plan to become housewives and will probably be ambitious and seeking to establish themselves in a career. A child's upbringing is the result of various different influences, and these different factors breed individuality. ...read more.

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