Gender

Sex, either being a male or a female has been determined from the first day we were born, whereas gender identity can never be confirmed until we have reached a certain age. Never did we realise that our gender identities are slowly being developed in our inner self as a result of socialisation throughout the process of ageing. Due to the society’s stereotypical view, we are expected to act accordingly to our sex category with women acting feminine and men being masculine. However, the gender identity of some individuals is quite ambiguous and does not align with their biological sex. For example, a physically normal man may dress, talk or even perform gestures like a woman.
Since young, our gender identities were shaped based on the norms and standards set by society. In fact, there are a few agents playing an important role in developing our gender identities. Once the sex of a newly born baby is identified, family bears the biggest responsibility in delivering the appropriate attitudes and behaviours to that child. As an example, boys will be taught to be strong and independent, whereas the girls will be taught to be gentle and caring. In daily life, parents often assign clothes that correctly display their children’s sex category with the boys outfitted in blue and the girls being dressed in pink. The reason why this scenario is quite common to appear in most of the families is because society thinks that blue is actually more associated with boys and pink is the colour for a girl.
In schoolyards, school uniforms and a list of school rules have successfully developed our gender identities. Boys are required to wear pants to school and skirts are assigned to the girls. Additionally, the boys are constantly being reminded for keeping their hair short at all times during their school years. As time goes by, we will arrive at a conception of boys with long hair and wearing a skirt or dress are being abnormal as this scenario does not fit in the gender norms.
Besides, peer groups also show big influence in the development of gender identities at an early age. Individuals who exhibit behaviours that are opposite of his/her sex roles will receive ugly comments from peers. The individual will be constantly harassed, discriminated and most likely to be rejected from getting along with. Thus, in order for the individual to be part of the group, he has to follow the social norms which is to behave ‘appropriately’ based on the sex category. The standards of being normal and appropriate have all been shaped by gendered norms and expectations.
Traditionally, men acted as the dominant both in the family and society as their status was regarded at a level higher than women. On the other hand, women born in the past were not given any opportunity to receive education and to pursue their dreams. They were only allowed to stay at home being a caretaker serving their husband and children. This traditional concept of female and male sex roles have possessed gender inequality in those days, but it was still remained supportive by the religious institutions in the 1980s (Franklin II, 1997).
Moreover, mass media such as television dramas, movies, newspapers, comics, etc. play a major role in the distinction of sex role stereotypes. The messages convey by mass media are usually in the stereotyped direction. The leading roles by the actors and actresses tends to affect the thinking and beliefs of people. Men are encouraged to be a doctor instead of a nurse as society seeks nurses as the occupation for females due to the fact that movies and dramas have constantly showing actresses leading the role of a nurse.
Society has created certain norms and expectations of how women and men are supposed to behave in daily life. However, besides being categorised as man and woman, a person’s status can be a transvestite, transsexual, gay, lesbian or bisexual. Society has always been too busy in creating a true man and a woman all this while, thus has neglected the possibilities of people achieving a status that does not fall into the two common categories. When an individual has been found out breaking the gender norm in the process of socialisation, people tend to stay away from the individual instead of showering him with more love and care. The particular individual is then being judged as abnormal and society refuses to accept for who he is in person.
During my high school times, I have encountered with a friend who was constantly unsure of his sexuality and true gender identity. As such, he had placed himself in a stressful and depressed situation as he was afraid of exposing his confusion to people around him including his parents, teachers and friends. When he finally decided to reveal his thoughts to the surrounding people, they actually tried their level best to understand him instead of giving negative feedbacks to him. His parents did not give him any pressure by changing his thought, but chose to accept for who he is. However, there is still a portion of people viewed him as an unusual human being. They would then show hatred and disgust to him by harassment and discrimination. Initially, I struggled hard to accept his thoughts as I was being too judgemental and having the same conception as other people, seek him as an abnormal individual. After getting to understand more of his inner thoughts, I realised that people like him needed more support and love from society because they too were disgusted by their own identities and were not able to accept themselves in the very first place.
In conclusion, individuals are born sexed but not gendered. Gender itself is nature and uncontrollable. Some people may not necessarily perform their sex category based on their biological sex but this does not mean that they are not normal and should be treated differently in a bad way compared to people who show clear gender identities. Being in this society, we are always taught about how should we act and what behaviours should and should not be played in order to be viewed as a normal individual by the society. Whether an individual is being normal or abnormal, behaving right or wrong has always been segregated by the society according to the gendered norms and expectations. In fact, only we are able to judge ourselves as no one besides us know what our true identities are.

Source: Essay UK - http://www.essay.uk.com/essays/sociology/gender/


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