According to my previous sociology knowledge, a social construct is an idea that is accepted to be normal by people in any given society. The world is made up of many societies, each with different social constructs. This week, we have learned much through our readings about social constructs, whether related to social constructs or genders.
In Risman’s work, gender is described as a “social structure because that brings gender to the same analytic plane as politics and economics.” This made me wonder whether if gender labels or roles weren’t so enforced by society if there would be less judgment and more acceptance within society. Risman believes that society needs to “conceptualize gender as a social structure” which is something I believe that needs to be realized so as to change any of the social constructs in our world.
Judith Lorber’s work discussed differences in gender roles in certain African and American Indian societies. There was a case of “female men” who were thought as such because they were wealthy enough to buy a wife, which initially confused me. After discussing it with my roommates though, I realized that not everyone has the same understanding of certain words. Because of the many different understandings for certain words, certain meaning is loss across different societal constructs. These include the meanings behind words associated with gender. What the word “female men” can differ according to the differing social cultures.
Betsy Lucal’s work “What It Means to be Gendered Me” addresses the social construction of gender. She made a point about how “we learn how to read people’s genders by learning which traits culturally signify each gender and by learning rules that enable us to classify individuals with a wide range of gender presentations into two and only two gender categories.” Society passes judgment on those who question their gender identity or believe in differing gender roles, based on social constructs. Judgment is passed by the way a person walks, talks, dresses, identifies, etc. whether consciously or not. Everyone judges the rest of society on whether they conform to social constructs or don’t.
The readings this week made me realize how society is affected by social constructs and the ideals of gender roles that influence each and every society. Although certain judgments can be passed unconsciously, I believe society can change. My question is how? How does someone change the way a society views gender roles or social constructs? Will is be a positive thing to change society’s views of gender roles or would it end up doing some damage?
Lorber, Judith. “Night to his Day”: The Social Construction of Gender. Yale University Press, 1994.
Lucal, Betsy. “What It Means to Be Gendered Me: Life on the Boundaries of a Dichotomous Gender System.” Gender and Society 13.6 (1999): 781-97.
Risman, B. J. (2004). Gender As a Social Structure: Theory Wrestling with Activism. Gender as a Social Structure: Theory Wrestling with Activism, 18(4), 429-450. doi:10.1177/0891243204265349