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One is not born, but rather becomes a woman' (de Beauvoir 1956). Discuss the sociological arguments for and against this statement and it's relevance to men and women in modern society.

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Introduction

'One is not born, but rather becomes a woman' (de Beauvoir 1956). Discuss the sociological arguments for and against this statement and it's relevance to men and women in modern society. It is important to understand the difference between the sex of a person and the gender of a person. A person's sex is quite simply defined physiologically in terms of internal and external genitalia. However gender and gender identity is the difference in human behaviour, which involve the characteristics and the classification of being a man or a woman. It is argued by sociologists whether gender is determined through biological factors or sociological factors. It is with this in mind that de Beavouir states 'One is not born, but rather becomes a woman' in her book The Second Sex, (1972). De Beauvoir describes the way in which she believes a woman is born, and exists physically, as a woman but it is not her physical state that conducts her destiny as a woman. It is rather that she is constructed a 'woman' by society, and therefore asking the question 'what is a woman?' De Beavouir bases her theory by firstly comparing men and women. She states that women have always been man's dependants, and the two sexes have never shared the same equality. Even in today's society this runs true with differences such as men hold more high-ranking jobs, earn higher wages, and are seen as the stronger more domineering sex. ...read more.

Middle

Females tended to be shown as dependent, over-emotional and less intelligent or able than men. Davis (1990) found that this picture had not changed . In addition: 1) Female's marital status is made more obvious than men's 2) Women are four times more likely than men to be shown provocatively dressed. 3) 20% of female characters are shown engaging in domestic activities as compared to 3% of men 4) Females are more likely to be shown as victims of violent crime than as violent criminals; males are just as likely to be victims as criminals. In TV advertisements Harris and Stobart (1986) showed that females are typically shown in domestic roles, producing arguments based on opinion rather than fact and advertising products to do with beautifying self or home. Men tended to be shown in roles outside the home, producing scientific arguments for products and advertising products such as cars and financial services. Aletha Huston (1983) noted that adverts for boys' toys were loud and fast, whereas those for girls' toys were soft and fuzzy. When six-year olds were shown adverts for a 'neutral' toy but in either the 'fast' or the 'fuzzy' style, they could tell which sex the advert was aimed at. Laura Mulvey (1975) argues the film industry portray women as sex objects. Typical roles being that of a prostitute, mistress or wife. ...read more.

Conclusion

However, his genetic makeup determined his behaviour. He would use the 'girls' toys and play with them in a conventionally 'boyish' manner, using dolls as aeroplanes to crash, and cars to race round in. He was a loner at school. He didn't want to play with the girls as he felt out of place and did not enjoy the same activities as they did, and the boy's did not accept him, as he was a girl. He became increasingly depressed and felt like he wanted to die. His father, distraught at this, told him the truth about himself. From then on he begged for the transformation to make him a boy again. This sad story would seemed to have proved Money wrong, and even though socialisation has a big effect on how we act as male and females, it can not wholly determine or override what essentially is in our genes. It should be appreciated that there are indeed valid arguments within both views of what differentiates between men and women. Neither is entirely right nor wrong - the answer lies somewhere between. We are pre-determined to a degree, to act in different ways as we have different hormones, different physical attributes inclining us towards different roles. While society exaggerates gender differences, initially biological differences will have lead society to have developed in this way. However, as we have evolved, society has magnified these distinctions whereby the sexes are encouraged to display differences more obviously than genetically determined. ...read more.

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