For many years we have been li…
For many years we have been living in a society where depending on our gender and sexuality, we are judged and expected to behave and act certain way to fulfill the society’s gender stereotypes. How is so? Since the day we are born we are categorized as a boy or girl bases on our sex. Gender and sexuality refers to two different things. It is of course, composed of male/female or man/woman with different roles and functions of being masculine and feminine. There are people who fall into the categories of male and female, however, some are born with sex organs that do not clearly fit either category, and they are known as intersex. We live in a world which is organized around the idea that women and men have different bodies, different capabilities, and different needs and desired. Nowadays, gender and sexuality has become a major issue to different countries all over the world. How to identify what makes a woman and what makes a man, and the revelation of their identity to be accepted in humanity. Knowing the effects of gender and sexuality in cross-cultural context and global context. This paper will discuss an understanding of gender differences and roles in today’s society.
Gender is a social classification based on one’s identity, presentation of self, behavior, and interaction with others. Sociologists view gender as learned behavior and a culturally produced identity. Sex, on the other hand, is a biological classification based on body parts. It is understood by sociologists to be a biological categorization based on reproductive organs. Sociologists and most other social scientists view sex and gender as conceptually distinct. Gender, by contrast, concerns the psychological, social and cultural differences between men and women. Gender is linked to socially constructed notions of masculinity and femininity and is not necessarily or inevitably a direct product of biological sex (Sociology 8th edition, A. Giddens, P.W Sutton, pg. 617). Linda Nicholson argues that “it is not enough to claim that the body always comes to us through social interpretation, that is, that sex is subsumable under gender,” therefore “we cannot look to the body to ground cross-cultural claims about the male/female distinction” (1994:83). A person’s sex, as determined by his or her biology, does not always correspond with his or her gender. Therefore, the terms sex and gender are not interchangeable.
In most societies, there is a basic division between gender attributes assigned to males and females that is expectations of masculinity and femininity. Masculinity is the experience of being a man or the formation of male identities. The Australian sociologist Raewyn Connell’s theory said that masculinity is the most influential theory in the field of men and masculinities. Along with its enormous impact on the field of gender studies, it has also been taken up across a wide range of other disciplines. She notes that “masculinity is not just an idea in the head, or a personal identity. It is also extended in the world, merged in organized social relations” (1995, pg.29). Kimmel also explains that “masculine sexuality is not about mutual pleasuring but the confirmation of masculinity which is based on physical capacities. And these, in turn, require emotional detachment, a phallocentric world view of sexual pleasure, and self-objectification” (Kimmel 1990:105).
On the other hand, femininity is a set of attributes, behaviors, and roles generally associated with girls and women. According to Connell, there are no femininities that are hegemonic (Connell, 1987). “All forms of femininity in this society are constructed in the context of the overall subordination of women to men. For this reason, there is no femininity that holds among women the position held by hegemonic masculinity among men” (pg.187). Feminist approach largely focuses on the theory which explain gender inequality. During 1970s, social feminism was increasingly used to describe a mixed theoretical and practical approach to achieving women’s equality. Socialist had fought for decades to create more equal society. One famous socialist feminism by Marxism had recognized the oppressive structure of a capitalist society. Like radical feminism, socialist feminism recognized the fundamental oppression of women particularly in a patriarchal society. However, socialist feminists did not recognize gender and only gender as the exclusive basis of all oppression. Rather, they held and continue to hold that class and gender are symbolic. Social feminists wanted to integrate the recognition of sex discrimination within their work to achieve justice and equality for women, for working classes, for the poor and all humanity (Socialist Feminism in Women’s History, L. Napikoski, 2018).
In relation to this, gender socialization occurs when we are children and refers to the learning that we receive from the people who raise us, that is called Gender norms. This process begins before they are even born, by selecting gender names, by decorating the incoming baby’s room and selecting its toys and clothes in color-coded and gendered ways that reflect cultural expectations and stereotypes. Then, from infancy, we are socialized by our environment such as, family, educators, religious leaders, peer groups, and the wider community, and mass media who teach us what is expected from us in terms of appearance and behavior. From childhood to adolescent development, resocialization occurs later in life, where we adapt to changes. Many researchers argue that socialization is not a smooth process; different agencies, such as the family, schools and peer groups, may be at odds with one another and do not produce a homogenous socializing experience. Just as, socializations theories underplay the ability of individuals to reject or modify social expectations in their actual practices (Stanley and Wise 1993, 2002). Connell’s view of socialization says that, children do resist such pressures: boys mix masculine and feminine aspects, whiles some girls determinedly pursue competitive sports, and both boys and girls may behave differently in private to the gendered face they present in public (Connell 1987).
Gender identity is defined as a personal conception of oneself as male or female (or rarely, both or neither). This concept is intimately related to the concept of gender role, which is defined as outward manifestations of personality that reflect the gender identity. Gender roles in society means how we’re expected to act, speak, dress, groom, and conduct ourselves based upon our assigned sex. For example, girls and women are generally expected to dress in typically feminine ways and be polite, accommodating, and nurturing while, men are generally expected to be strong, aggressive, and bold. In this present generation, revealing one’s identity has become extensive and expressive. Several people have mixed of masculine and feminine traits exposed their sexuality through media to explore and introduce their true sexual orientation. Sexual orientation is a person’s emotional and sexual attraction to a particular sex. It has been defined to different categories such as; heterosexuality (male and female), the attraction to individuals of the opposite sex; homosexuality (gay, lesbian or transgender), the attraction to individuals of one’s own sex; bisexuality, the attraction to individuals of either sex; and asexuality, no attraction to either sex. Some would say that, these sexual categories can normally be adapt by hormones or peer influence, but there is no scientific consensus regarding the exact reasons why an individual holds a heterosexual, homosexual, or bisexual orientation.
There has been research conducted to study the possible genetic, hormonal, developmental, social, and cultural influences on sexual orientation, but there has been no evidence that links sexual orientation to one factor (APA 2008). According to current scientific understanding, individuals are usually aware of their sexual orientation between middle childhood and early adolescence (American Psychological Association 2008). They do not have to participate in sexual activity to be aware of these emotional, romantic, and physical attractions; people can be celibate and still recognize their sexual orientation. Homosexual women (also referred to as lesbians), homosexual men (also referred to as gays), and bisexuals of both genders may have very different experiences of discovering and accepting their sexual orientation. At the point of puberty, some may be able to claim their sexual orientations while others may be unready or unwilling to make their homosexuality or bisexuality known since it goes against North American society’s historical norms (APA 2008).
The term “gender dysphoria” refers to the distress that occurs when a person’s physical sex doesn’t match perceived gender. Like a girl may be more interested in rough-and tumble sports and a young man may find his excitement by fashion than football. Before if you were born male, you should only act like a man, and if you were born female, you should act like a woman. Now, people have freedom of expressing and embracing their identity to have self-satisfaction even by changing their physical appearance. Research, however, does present evidence showing that homosexuals and bisexuals are treated differently than heterosexuals in schools, the workplace, and the military. Some homosexuals have been subjected to verbal harassment, physical harassment and cyber-bullying. Former UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said, “In too many countries, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people are among the poorest, most marginalized member of the society. Studies show that gay and lesbian people suffer disproportionate discrimination and abuse.
Many LGBT Organizations has come up to protect equal rights of those who belong in homosexual and bisexual group all over the world. They created laws that safeguard the rights of all individuals, including LGBTI persons, and ensure that their life, physical integrity, morals and freedoms are respected. Gender and Sexualities in Cross-cultural and Global context Every society contains individuals who do not fit into the culture’s dominant sex/gender categories. The cross-cultural record of sex and gender diversity provokes to reexamine the nature and assumptions of our own sex and gender system: the cultural basis of its categories, the relationship between sex and gender and other aspects of culture, and how those who do not fit into our culture’s dominant sex and gender paradigms are defined and treated by society. The representation and discourses surrounding sex and gender system in other cultures have been influenced by European moral ethnocentrism since the earliest encounters between Europeans and other people. The imposition of European religions, cultures, law, and economies on non-Western societies, in most cases resulted in the marginalization or disappearance of indigenous alternative sex/gender roles (Jacobs,Thomas ; Lang, 1997; Lang, 1999; Martzner 2001, pg. 14-15; Roscoe, 1995) this has also occurred with the spread of Islam to places like West Africa (Matory 1994) and Indonesia (Boellstroff, 2005). Currently, however, there is a reemergence of interest in these systems, by ethnographers, by medical and psychological professionals, by sex and gender variant individuals, and in the wider society as part of constructing national identities or cultural renaissance within the context of modernity.
For instance, across the Indian subcontinent hijra are understood as sex/gender system which works outside of a sex/gender binary and exist as a community which is simultaneously culturally specific and politically bounded. According to Nanda (1994), hijra communities include transvestites, castrated men, prostitutes, followers of the mother goddess, and non-menstruating or infertile women. Nanda argues that British colonialism, demographic changes in family size, and increasing Westernization have exerted profound influences on cultural understandings of hijra and their roles in society (Agrawal 1997; Roughgarden 2004). By specifically regulating gender/sex identities, the colonial project in India legally imposed heteronormative binary which marginalized those who stepped outside of the legal bounds of gendered sexuality. (Sex-Gender Diversity: A Cross-cultural Perspective)
Apart from this, the historical and modern globalization has a great impact with gender and sexuality. It is discoverd that in all societies today, not one, but several, sex/gender systems with sources in traditional cultures, colonial cultures, and modern cultural influences may operate simultaneously. This means that social location, political history, and economic factors all contribute to changes in cultural constructions of gender and sexuality. During the 1990s, scholars of gender and sexualities were drawn to the postmodern critiques of categories and grand narrative explanations of gender and sexual diversity. Foucault’s analysis of “governmentality” and “biopower” to, among other things, situate discussion of how different nation-states and specific laws serve to regulate bodies and construct normative sexual citizens and explore how “bodies give substance to citizenship” and how “citizenship matters for bodies” (Beasley ; Bacchi 2000, pg 337; Mamo 2007).
Contemporary analyses of gender and sexuality are further enriched by attention to intersectionality, cross-national and cross-cultural differences, and globalization. For example, intersectional analyses of violence against women which incorporate attention to global economic restructuring deepen understandings of the complex processes that shape women’s lives and bring and bring to light the experiences of social actors who were rarely the subjects of academic research a few decades ago. (Staudt 2008; Villalon 2010). Sociologist of gender and sexualities continue to stress the power of interactionist, social constructionist, and structural perspectives for revealing the complex ways that gender and sexual normativity and inequalities are produced, reproduced, and resisted.