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Gender is entirely socially contructed?

Discussion in 'Gender Identity and Expression' started by alilnervous, Jun 16, 2015.

  1. alilnervous

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    The more I read about gender in the LGBTQIA+ community and read more feminist articles, I've slowly been realising the entire idea of masculinity and femininity is a social construct built entirely around generations and generations of social interaction. Although it totally makes sense to adhere towards one or the other, the whole idea that a set of traits come with you when you are born because you have a certain set of genitalia is slowly starting to confuse me :eusa_doh:. The Buddha himself, although he set back equality for women for years and years by creating paternalistic rules for nuns, believed that the entire idea of male and female is an illusion. And it totally makes sense to me. Recent studies provide strong evidence that earlier societies were equal between women and men during the hunter-gatherer societies and it is likely that when accumulation of resources became possible during the agricultural revolution that women became the, "home carers" and men the, "providers".

    From chivalry, created by the belief that women were fragile compared to men invented by the upper class European countries, to the belief that men are physically more able, are all just completely invented in order for unequal treatment of the sexes :eusa_naug. So to see that through history that it is getting worse and that only after thousands of years people are starting to fight back and that it is still going to be years and years before there will be equality for women but also for anyone else (oppressed minorities, gay people) due to a belief that prejudices should be believed because of real differences existing presently, with the absolute lack of accounting the oppressive forces in society that causes the differences in the first place, is making me super angry and sad. When will people learn that sexuality, sex and ethnicity does not govern an individuals capabilities...
     
  2. Daydreamer1

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    Gender roles are a social construct, not gender itself.
     
  3. alilnervous

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    "Gender describes the characteristics that a society or culture delineates as masculine or feminine."

    I believe it is, respectfully. How else do you think ideas of masculinity and feminity came about?
     
  4. Greenhorn

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    A large part of gender roles are socially constructed, but the basis is determined by nature I think. Look for instance at lions; the males want to impress the female lions by showing of their strength. Everywhere in nature you see gender roles. Us humans have developed consciousness and with that came a better social construction, which accentuated the gender divergence even further.
     
  5. alilnervous

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    I think that consciousness allows us to see past primal ideas of sex differences and therefore the gender identities that are tagged with them. After all, just because animals do it, don't mean it's right, or that the fact that it exists, is that the way it should be, no? I think any fundamental difference between women and men are caused by oppressive forces that stop women from being boxers and CEOs and men from being nurses and house carers (basically, whoever anyone ever wants to be). To deny the existence of oppressive forces that cause these differences in the first place and to believe biological differences cause differences in behaviour and perception is fundamentally a surrender to prejudice beliefs and thereafter oppression. More to do with chicken and the egg more than anything. Nonetheless, natural selection provides a blueprint for how animals survive, but we continue to evolve. What's to say that true equality and therefore a lack of treating people different is a more beneficial method of living in comparison to the primates and other animals that live before us.

    Regardless, to destroy stereotypes of females and males is a cause that benefits everyone. Being transwomen probably would allow one to perceive the oppression of women and vice versa the suckiness but less suckiness of not being able to express sadness and empathy for others as a male in a patriarchal society.
     
    #5 alilnervous, Jun 17, 2015
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2015
  6. Invidia

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    First: Some things are constructed. HOwever, biomales are more psychically able than biofemales. They have ~40% more muscle mass, of course that'll be of use when doing work.

    The reference to the hunter-gatherer societies is correct. Things were likely more equal and less of the I DO DIS I MALE YOU DO DAT U FEMALE caveman mentality we have today.

    I like a lot of what you're saying.
    However, saying that gender is entirely socially constructed would be kind of like saying that I'm not really female or you're not really male, it's just a figment of my imagination, which is really, really offensive.

    I recommend focus on challenging harmful stereotypes rather than erasing identities.

    peace \/
     
  7. Gandee

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    Regardless of your opinion on the social construction of gender, to destroy gender roles completely is a dangerous idea (You use the term "stereotypes of females and males", I will take it as stereotypes associating with gender roles). Because many are perfectly comfortable with the roles society expecting them to play. Some women want to be housewives, some men want to lead. Forcing gender non-conformity on them is just simply unfair. Also, there are quite a lot on men in fashion or cooking industry, from what I see.

    I'm an individualist first and foremost. And I say, let people be whatever the hell they want. Instead of seeing gender roles as prisons, merely see them as guidelines which you can choose to follow or not.
     
  8. lizardman

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    I agree with Gandalf. While I don't think anyone should have to conform to gender roles, I think that these roles fit particular patterns of thinking that people tend to follow, whether they are born male or female. While there are plenty of non-conformists out there, they're in the minority, and a lot of people, including transgender people, seem to fit either one side of the binary or the other. The people that don't fit the binary should still be able to whatever the hell they want, but I still think there should be a general spectrum to serve as a guideline.
     
  9. Kasey

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    This. Society defines what genders are expected to do. Gender though is what the individual expressed themselves as.
     
  10. CJliving

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    Gender as we have it is inaccurately constructed, I think. We (and by 'we' I mean 'western society') have a binary gender system, which is supposed based on the physical evidence of a 2-sex system. But...that's wrong. And we've known that's wrong for a very, very, very, veryvery long time. So in that sense, yes, gender is socially constructed.
     
  11. Eveline

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    Whenever an idea is taken to an extreme, the idea becomes dangerous. First of all, it has been proven without doubt that estrogen and testosterone have a fairly large effect on human physiology. If a woman takes Testosterone, she will be able to grow muscle mass much more easily, it also dulls emotions among other effects. While in men Estrogen reduces muscle mass and makes emotions more easy to access. Just these two effects would create a large amount of difference between the sexes and pretty much counters many of your claims about gender. Beyond this there are strong developmental indicators that show that girls develop language skills more easily than boys which shows that there are also inherent differences in the way the brain works as hormones don't have such an effect on cognition.

    Personally, I believe that one of the bigger problems with society is that stereotypical male behavior is seen as more positive and desirable than stereotypical female behavior. You can see this clearly with how much scrutiny someone male receives for acting in a feminine manner compared to how perfectly acceptable and understandable it is for a girl to act in a masculine way. A nice example of this is the difference between the heroine and hero in film. The heroine will often adopt male stereotypical behavior such as leadership, strength and even start acting more violently. The male hero will just exhibit the same behavior but in a more extreme manner, being more violent, showing great leadership skills and often an inhuman amount of strength and fearlessness.

    In the end, we should ask ourselves what makes stereotypical female vocations less desirable than stereotypical male vocations and here lies the real problem. Why would childcare for example be considered a lesser pursuit than many other works? To me it seems like one of the most important things that a person could possibly do. Yet, in our society, it is deemed as something fairly undesirable to do. The pay for teachers also often reflects this.
     
  12. Kasey

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    Lol pay for teachers... ugh... don't get me started.
     
  13. cakepiecookie

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    I think it's largely a social construct, but not entirely. Males and females reproduce differently, and millions of years of evolution have created different overall tendencies in male and female behaviour that reflect the need for different strategies. That said, I think the differences are small and are greatly magnified by societal expectations.

    If you hold that gender identity is purely social, you're saying that there's no such thing as being trans- or cisgender. We've seen over and over again that some people have a strong sense of not identifying with their assigned gender from as early as toddlerhood. If we were truly blank slates, there would be no transgender people, everyone would just identify with the gender they were raised as.

    Edit: To be clear, I believe very strongly that people should be able to identify and express themselves however they want, regardless of their physical sex. I'm 100% for ending sexism and challenging gender norms. I'd be very happy to see the end of the notion that being male or female means you have to behave in a certain way. I just don't agree that gender is entirely a social construct.
     
    #13 cakepiecookie, Jun 17, 2015
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2015
  14. Acm

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    I think gender roles are socially constructed, but not gender.
     
  15. Fallingdown7

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    I believe gender roles themselves are a social construct. However, I believe that there is a difference between both male and female biology and psychology, and the difference in the latter is why trans people exist (due to different brain structures rather than stereotypes).

    However, it really bugs me when people identify as trans/non-binary purely because of gender stereotypes of what masculinity and femininity "means" rather than psychology or an inner feeling. It erases non-gender conforming cis people (as well as fem FtM's and butch MtF's) and degrades men and women to what stereotypes society forces on us.

    I'm a cis woman, yet I'm hyper masculine. I reject dresses and makeup, I don't care for romantic mushy things, and I even cut my hair short and act like a guy. But I consider myself a woman because my brain still has female psychology despite my masculinity. I don't need all that frilly crap to be a woman and I hate the role society forced me into.

    So I am pretty much "gender-critical" when it comes to gender roles and stereotypes, but I accept gender is real when it comes to brain psychology, I hope this makes sense.

    Also, for this reply, plenty of studies have proven that over 90% of people do not fit strictly within the male or female gender role of what society has forced on us. There is no such thing as a 100% feminine or masculine person, regardless of whether the person is cis or trans. Most cishetero people I know do not fit their gender roles, both of my parents for example are equally 'feminine' and 'masculine' in traits and they both have stereotypical mother and fatherly qualities. However, they are still cishetero people.

    I don't believe the gender role binary exists because nobody falls within the extreme end forms of that spectrum and It's unrealistic to think anyone does.
     
    #15 Fallingdown7, Jun 17, 2015
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  16. alilnervous

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    Ok, cool! Thanks so much for replying everyone. First of all, I'd like to say that if I have offended anyone, that is very much the last thing I want to do and if that is the mainstream thing I've done, I'm going to straight up stop, apologize and change my behaviour and attitude.

    I don't think there isn't genders, but that there background comes from socialisation, I think it definitely makes sense to say one is a male or female on the inside, but the idea of masculinity and femininity seems alittle foreign to me right now. Of course, I don't think you should force anyone to be anything and any pure theory should be taken in doses. Essentially there is some biology involved and evolution for sure. I actually have a degree in psychology and have read a lot about equality and the patriarchy and all that jazz, I just figure a world where anyone was able to express themselves as the way they felt on the inside would be accepted as opposed to the ideas of what makes a male a male and vice versa.

    Social learning just seems to make the most sense as the thing that caused what we perceive as gender. There is nothing you feel you are is imagined. I guess I see where everyone that has been offended is coming from. Let me just stop and say I'm super sorry and I'll change my attitude, wasn't cool :/.

    ---------- Post added 17th Jun 2015 at 09:25 AM ----------

    Edit: I misspoke. Of course I believe gender identities aren't socially constructed. I do, however, fear that masculinity and femininity are socially learned, if that makes sense? Not wrong to feel yourself either though.
     
  17. alilnervous

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    The idea of enforcing anything on anyone in order for equality? No, I don't believe in communism at all. There is always an ability to talk rationally with others and hope reason wins, I am open to being wrong. Individualism I see is correlational to libertarianism, in that case I am too. I don't know whether I ever said to force other people to think a certain way? Everyone should feel completely comfortable with being who they are. Whether male, female, gender fluid/ non-binary. So goes with being a stay at home husband or a female CEO. The idea of male chefs dominating the food industry is not a demonstration of equality, but the fact that men get paid to do it whereas women are more likely to be the ones doing it for free at home is a demonstration of oppression and male privilege, it is evidence of a pay gap.

    It is not the existence of people within stereotypes that is what I think should be rid of, but the expectations we have that they are true, namely caused by an unbalanced society.
     
    #17 alilnervous, Jun 17, 2015
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  18. Sam I Am

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    The problem is that there's more and more neuroscience emerging to support the idea that male and female brains are wired differently.

    And it makes sense - not just because transpeople exist, but also because women are about 15% smaller than men, so need different wiring solutions to fit the same amount of processing power into a small brain volume.

    If you're interested, I can link you to some papers, both that have found gender differences in brain anatomy and that have found that transgender people do indeed have the brain of the gender they're saying they are.
     
  19. alilnervous

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    mmhmmmm, I've read those articles :slight_smile:. Smaller brain volume, btw, does not denote differences in intelligence. Also, height don't change female and male's physical capabilities tbh. If you want, you can continue and say sexuality changes your neural activity. Even left-handedness! We are continuously finding differences in brain activity, but are they due to socialisation in the environment or are you born with it? Again, chicken or the egg. Also, neurology doesn't necessarily govern your behaviour. Does having separate ethnicities (different DNA) mean we have different capabilities? I always relate racism to sexism, because governing hormones and neurological behaviour as a means to believe that men and women should be treated unequally is a common manner misogynists use to deny equal rights for everyone.

    It is strange to me, the idea of masculinity and femininity. I just don't understand how that feels anymore and part of the reason I came here was to figure that out. I don't feel like a gender, like a sexuality, like an ethnicity. It is so strange of a feeling. I came in wondering and realise that it is also an internal question. I don't understand the feeling of wanting to dress anyway, I don't understand acting masculine or feminine. Perhaps agender? I don't know
     
    #19 alilnervous, Jun 17, 2015
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  20. darkcomesoon

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    Yes, I would argue that gender is socially constructed. In a society without gender, trans people would still exist, but only those with physical dysphoria. Those without dysphoria would be like everyone else. There can be no internal sense of being a woman or a man when those words are meaningless.

    That being said, I do not agree with people who think gender should be destroyed. Being a social construct does not mean it is inherently bad. Gender roles are what are bad. I don't care if they're rooted in biology or not. They cannot exist without being inherently limiting to those who are expected to follow them. But let's say we destroyed gender roles; we destroyed the systematic oppression of women. All that would be left of gender is a convenient set of labels that can describe you. Gender can be an important part of someone's identity. It is not inherently harmful.