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What are 'femininity' and 'masculinity'? To what extent and in what ways are women feminine and men masculine?

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Introduction

What are 'femininity' and 'masculinity'? To what extent and in what ways are women feminine and men masculine? 'Masculinity' and 'femininity' are two gender related concepts which social scientists have trouble with defining along with finding ways to measure. During the 1990s psychologists had used gender-associated behaviour to measure what was masculinity and femininity characteristics for instance they used interests. However, to measure the children's masculine and feminine characteristics toys and games were used. The concepts 'femininity' and 'masculinity' are the individual's gender identity. These two terms are used to describe the extent of which, people identify themselves as masculine or feminine although this depends on how the society defines what man or woman is. Gender differences between men and women are significant in all societies as their gender is structured around the society. However, there is a great difference between the meaning of 'gender' and 'sex'. The concept of sex is defined as: "the biological differences between males and females", whereas, gender is defined as: "the socially-determined personal, and psychological characteristics associated with being male or female, namely 'masculinity' and 'masculinity'". (Garrete 1987:vii). Although there is a connection between these two terms many social scientists have differing opinions on what this relationship consists of. In addition, it is argued by many that the gender roles assigned to men and women in society are defined by biological differences. ...read more.

Middle

What needs to be taken into consideration is if being given a gender role leads individuals to believe they have a gender identity or alternately whether the notion of having a gender identity directs individuals to the acceptance of gender roles and finally the position of the upbringing in the progress of these. The psychoanalytical theory argues that a child develops its gender identity by identifying themselves with the parent who's the same sex as them, so therefore, a boy would discover what masculinity is from his father whereas a girl would discover what femininity is from her mother. Cognitive development explains the events of gender identity development through cognitive roots unlike psychoanalytic theory, which does so through psychosexual roots. Cognitive development in comparison to other two theories claims that gender identity is formed before the child identifies themselves with the identical sex parent although, this also has an effect after, they argue that gender identity takes place once the gender of the child is recognized. It is the learning theories in their development of gender identities, which are mainly social of the three. According to these theories the gender identity of the child is constructed through its social environment, for instance influence from educators and parents, it is they who coach the masculine and feminine behaviour of the children, they do this directly and indirectly punishing or rewarding the child for looking a certain way for example, the child ...read more.

Conclusion

Also within the family often the father is the head and shows his masculinity by being unemotional and dominant although, some argue that this has weakened in modern societies and that there is a more equal relationship between the man and the woman, however, feminist disagree with this and state that men still exercise patriarchy within the family. Another area where masculinity and femininity can be identified is certain types and paid work. Many of the high position jobs are done by men, these positions are ones of authority, dominance and power in contrast, women's work consist of jobs that involve nurturing and careering for people, for instance nursing and teaching. However, it what has come into notice is that these gender roles are changing; evidence does show that some women are going into high position jobs and men are going into professions that were classified as women's work. Gender identity (femininity and masculinity) in late modern societies has changed as societies are changing. What was once considered a masculine identity has also become a feminine identity and vice verse. For example, fashion, appearance and style has become more mixed as well as paid work. In addition, the concept of the 'new man'. However, certain aspects of femininity and masculinity are still visible, for example, society still sees women as carers and nurturers as well as judging them on their appearance. ...read more.

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