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The word

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The terms employed most frequently to describe the differences between men and women are 'sex' and 'gender'. Sex refers to the differing physical attributes of women and men (Lee, Shaw). The categories of sex are male and female. In every society sex differences are given social meanings. Social identity, which is confessed on the basis of assumed sexual differences, is called "gender" (Lee, Shaw). People are born female or male, but learn to be girls and boys, who grow into men and women. Males are supposed to be masculine, strong, and macho, while females are attributed to be feminine, fragile, and nurturing. To be born a man or a woman in any society is more than a simple biological fact. It is a biological fact with social implications. "Gender" is the term now widely used to refer to those ways in which a culture reformulates what begins as a fact of nature (Lee, Shaw). The biological sexes are redefined, represented, valued, and channeled into different roles in various culturally dependent ways. For most people, gender and physical characteristics are the same, unchangeable and 'natural', and there is also a general perception that gender refers to women only. But this is not the case. Gender differences refer to culturally formed traits of masculinity and femininity, that is, the characteristic forms of behavior expected respectively of men and women in any given culture (Lee, Shaw). ...read more.


Actually, by speaking of "gender" as the culturally and historically variable, which are attributed to "sex", feminists were to argue that those meanings could be changed. In the recent past, equal opportunities legislation was enacted in many countries and the voice of the Women's Movement is heard criticizing sexism in every sphere of society (Lee, Shaw). Nevertheless, the reality has shown that, despite some improvement in women's situation, there is a long way to go. Gender construction differs from culture to culture. Many countries, where religion plays the biggest role on the role of men and women have yet to progress as well as North American Countries in respect to gender construction (Lee, Shaw). In places like Iraq, a highly Muslim population, women are viewed as inferior to men and their sole purpose is to stay home and take care of the home and children. The men are the providers and hold the power. Women are not to speak unless spoken to and are considered weak and unimportant in the hierarchy. In places such as China, women and girls are treated like second-class citizens. If a woman bears a baby girl society is disappointed and more often than not, the baby girls are put up for adoption. In many cultures, gender represents a clear relation of power (Lee, Shaw). The purpose of marriage is to secure such power. ...read more.


In accordance with these roles of sexual division of labor take place within the family unit. Thus, within the family men exert power over women. Gender has to be seen within this context, since power is implicated in gendered and cultural relations. In sports, men are viewed as "real" athletes and their sports are highly more recognized and respected than women's sports. A man who plays rough contact sports is thought to be a "real" man and women who play contact sports are considered a "butch" or not "lady like". These are just some of the ways in which society constructs what it means to be male or female. While it is important to focus on the way in which gender is created anew in individuals as they respond to social processes and practices, this process of creation needs to be read in the context of broader social processes. Gender is also a vital element of the social structures such as the economy, government, mass media and schooling (Lee, Shaw). The everyday actions of individuals are shaped by their position in relation to these broader social structures. The most important point about all this is that individuals are not passively socialized into a gendered identity. It is, in general, a great deal more fluid and unpredictable than that. However, even though individuals make active choices, these choices are still constrained by gender boundaries, which may be different in different circumstances. ...read more.

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