For this week’s blog post I will be focusing on the first section of this module, “Gender as a Social Construct.” I will focus on Risman’s “Gender as a Social Structure,” Lucal’s “What it Means to be Gendered Me,” and androgyneity’s blog post “Sex and Gender are Actually the Same Thing.” I chose to focus on this area since our weekly assignment places such an important focus on gender and society.
In our society, we put a lot of emphasis on gender and gender conformity. Most people believe you must stick with the gender you are assigned at birth–male or female–and conform to the stereotypes that come with said gender. But as our society evolves and becomes more open-minded it is important for us to learn more about what gender really is.
In “Gender as a Social Structure,” Risman looks at how gender is viewed in our society. She talks about how gender should be called a social structure, for it plays a very important part in how our society operates. She says, “Not only are women and men coerced into differential social roles; they often choose their gendered paths. A social structural analysis must help us understand how and why actors choose one alternative over another” (Risman 431). Our society has created specific roles and stereotypes for men and women, and in many cases people end up following this predetermined path. We even confirm to the structure as soon as a person is born by putting baby boys in blue and baby girls in pink. Conforming to gender has become such a large part of our society that I feel that it is correct for Risman to call gender a societal structure.
In her article “What it Means to Be Gendered Me,” Lucal looks at how gender roles have an impact on us every single day. One of the parts that stood out most to me was her comment on how society reacts to someone who does not identify as a man or a woman. She states, “There is, for example, no way of addressing such a person that does not rely on making an assumption about the person’s gender” (Lucal 782). We put so much emphasis on being polite in society that it is required for us to call someone Sir or Ma’am. But what if someone doesn’t want to be called that? According to Nonbinary Wiki, there are new gender neutral titles to address people by, such as Mx or Ser, that allow people who do not identify as male or female to be treated with the respect they deserve. I find this very uplifting that we have created these titles to allow gender neutral individuals a way to feel comfortable.
When I read the title of androtyneity’s blog post “Sex and Gender are Actually the Same Thing” I thought this would be another ignorant post by someone who hasn’t done any research. Luckily, I was mistaken. The author of this article aimed to inform people on how “the reality is that the concept of ‘biological sex’…is entirely socially constructed” (androtyneity). What the author means is that because of how society has labeled men and women as having a penis and vagina –therefore creating the one thing we base male and female off of–creates a construct that people cannot escape. Because you were born with a penis, society automatically determines you to be male.
After reading more about gender and how our society views it, I feel like it is important for us to educate ourselves about what sex and gender really are. Many people don’t know what it feels like or understand how someone can be transgender or gender neutral, but it is up to them to educate themselves so that everyone can feel comfortable with who they are.
androgyneity (2015). Sex and Gender are Actually the Same Thing (But Bear With Me…). WordPress. https://androgyneity.wordpress.com/2015/12/19/sex-and-gender-are-actually-the-same-thing-but-bear-with-me/
Lucal, B. (1999). What it Means to Be Gendered Me: Life on the Boundaries of a Dichotomous Gender System. Gender and Society, 13, 781-797.
Riseman, B. J. (2004). Gender as a Social Structure: Theory Wrestiling with Activism. Gender and Society, 18, 429-450.
Wolchover, N. (2012). Why is Pink for Girls and Blue for Boys? LiveScience. http://www.livescience.com/22037-pink-girls-blue-boys.html