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sex and gender

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Introduction

Explain the difference between sex and gender. Many people in society have a very generalised view on the ideas of sex and gender. However in this essay I shall attempt to define the separate concepts in their own right, and explain the differences between them. Firstly it is important that we know the basic, understandings of the concepts of "sex" and "gender". It is seen that in today's society sex and gender have two separate connotations and meanings. Sex is more of a scientific term and refers to the biological aspects of being male or female. It explains physical traits and sexual preferences to distinguish the sexes. The primary difference is reproductive organs possessed by both sexes. Gender however carries a more social tone. Gender describes the characteristics that a society or culture delineates as masculine or feminine. It refers to the different clothing, activities, career opportunities, and positions people hold in society. "Gender is...a social structural phenomenon but it is also produced, negotiated, and sustained at the level of everyday interaction." Gender: A Sociological Reader. Stevie Jackson and Sue Scott Judith Butler's book "Gender Trouble" concentrates on the issues surrounding gender. ...read more.

Middle

It is generally thought that women are involved in secretarial or office work, and often caring jobs such as nursing. Alternatively men are more active in more hands on labour work, or important jobs such as lawyers and doctors. During World War II however, women filled job positions which probably would otherwise be male dominated. This can be seen throughout history where some jobs that have been typically male or female have switched genders. Clerical jobs was once considered a man's job, but when several women began filling men's job positions due to World War II, clerical jobs quickly became dominated by women. They became more feminized, and women workers became known as "typewriters" or "secretaries". This again shows a division of gender, and how men and women perform different roles in our society. In 1955, Talcott Parsons developed a model of what he called the nuclear family. The nuclear family was considered to be the perfect family structure. It compared a strictly traditional view of gender roles to a more liberal one we see today. Parsons believed that the role of a woman was an expressive and submissive one, whereas the masculine role, in his view, was more important and active. ...read more.

Conclusion

These extremes are the "stay at home mum" and the "single career woman". However, in reality, it is women who often have to face a double burden. Women who have children have to balance their job along with child care, which ultimately deprives women of spare time. Whereas the majority of men with university educations have a career as well as a family, it is estimated that only 50 percent of academic women have children. This double burden problem was introduced to scientific theory in 1956 by Myrdal and Klein in their work "Women's two roles: Home and work," published in London. It is easy for society to assume that sex and gender both have the same definition, however due to scientific, sociological, and feminist outlooks and works, we can see that we are much more aware of gender in our society than we are of a persons sex. Although sex is our biological definition as a person, it generates perceptions which we call gender which is seen as more important in our society and culture. It is usually women who are degraded by society's idea of gender, and who take actions t try and bridge the gender gap. Overall I would say that there is a great difference between a persons biological sex and their socially expected gender. ...read more.

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