Special Topics: Women's Studies
Professor Soyoung Park
So, What is Gender?
Gender is something that has several different definitions; however, modern society has narrowed it into two specific groups: male and female. There are many ways to persuade people in believing that gender has strict boundaries. One of these is the physical form of the person. "For the individual, gender construction starts with assignment to a sex category on the basis of what the genitalia look like at birth" (Lorber, 97). I find this notion particularly disturbing because parents (with the aid of modern medicine) can alter a child's genitalia to the preferred gender (of the parents'). Of course the newly born child cannot give consent.
Another way is through clothing. "Then babies are dressed or adorned in a way that displays the category because parents don't want to be constantly asked whether their baby is a girl or a boy" (Lorber, 97). Furthermore, in addition to all of this, gender roles are forced by use of the media. Have you ever gone down the isle of a toy store and noticed how the girl's section is entirely pink while the boy's is filled with action figures and all sorts of cool things?
These two specific gender roles also have to do with the basic human need for social organization. The division between male and female is a comfortable system that creates an almost mechanical sense of efficiency. "Human society depends on a predictable division of labor..." (Lorber, 97) So, is this where the idea of male and female stems from?
The truth of the matter is that gender is more complicated than simply a "he/she" mentality. Gender is based on the various physical make-ups of people (fems, herms, and mems) as well as orientation and so on.
If only modern society would more readily accept roles outside of the male and female ideals.