Oct 3, 2018 in Sociology

Sex and gender are both considered to be social constructs since gender is considered to be an accomplishment. The construction of gender in an individual depends very much on the interactions of the individual which are gendered with other people and also other roles and identities that the person may have. Race, class and gender are considered to be oppressions although they are not identically salient in all the social relationships where there is inequality. Men and women are accountable for all the gender conceptions which differ greatly on the basis of race, age, and class. The inequalities, division of labor, and the differences which exist between the male and female gender are commonly treated as being consequences of the natural differences which occur in males and females. The natural differences ideas on the sexes is believed to be the source of really what makes the men and the women to be very different from each other  and has been rooted to the scientific discourses.

This paper gives an overview on how sex and gender are both socially constructed. It critically discusses all the biological basis which brings about the differences in sex and gender and it looks at the distinction of sex and gender and the different explanations which has been given by researchers and theorists like Butler, Laqueur, Marx, and Weber who have tried to give explanations as to the inequality and the differences which exist between the male and the female gender. The gender regimes on the different social life domain shows how kinship and religion can help in the shaping the gender constructs. Finally the paper discusses all the dimensions which the social stratification can be able to reconstruct with the gender construct.

I. introduction

The art and science of asking questions is the source of all knowledge because sex and gender are believed to be social constructs because this gender social constructionism often tends to move away from socialization where many people still do not internalise gender roles in their lifespan but they tend very much to adapt and respond to the norms of the society which are changing at a very fast rate due to globalization and industrialization which has made many cultures abandon the malicious and wicked practices which oppressed the women and especially the African woman. There are many factors which are considered to affect the development of gender like the environment in which children are brought up in and the society that they live in. gender difference is seen as early in children where the young boys are normally seen exercising their strengths which identifies them as masculine while the young girls on the other hand are seen learning how to present themselves as viewable objects showing feminity.

Thomas Berger was an American novelist brought out the satiric and perspective which was irrelevant on the human experience by evoking the type of world which a majority of people never thought of evoking before and they could also not bring it to the imagination that they could be able to dismantle effectively all the definitions of sex and gender which existed.

II. Gender and the Social class

Gender as a structure of domination

The social class refers to a set of concepts based on social science and political theory in which people are grouped in set of hierarchical social categories. Class is an essential object of analysis for sociologist, political scientists, anthropologist and social historians in that we have to major deeply in the points mentioned above to understand the concept of social class. it may have different meaning but all it will depend on your way of understanding for example some people may think of social economic class, or educational status like the working class and sometimes an emerging professional class in the past decades the word class etymologically derived from classis which was used by census takers to differentiate citizens by wealth in order military service obligation. When it comes to theoretical models the definition of social classes reflect a number of sociological perspectives anthropology, economics, psychology and sociology. Another distinction can be drawn between analytical concepts of social class such as the Marxist and webarian traditions and the more empirical traditions such as socio-economic status approach, which notes the correlation of income, education and wealth with outcomes without necessarily implying a particular theory of social structure.

Relationships of production, ownership and consumption

Marx’s work is very important in helping an individual to understand a variety of the many political philosophies which are available today and his political thought is transparent like the Manifesto of the Communist party which provides the reader with a historical emergence of the of the proletarian and the bourgeoisie class and the causes of the contradictions which were between the social classes and the hostilities in the modes of production. It brings out the goals of the communism and explains how the general exploitation of one class by another can be a source of motivation force since with time a new class evolves and becomes the ruler. The communist manifesto discusses about the history and relationship between the proletarians and the bourgeoisie and the relationships between other parties and the communists.

The Origins of the Family, Private Property and the State” by Marx talked about three main epochs: barbarism, savagery and civilization. It shows that with labour, a man can be able to own and possess private property. Men are not products and they cannot be changed into what they are. This work is set out to be able to give a social explanation as to why the women’s oppression came about with the development of the patriarchal family and the emergence of private property at that particular historic time. Marx and Engels argued that views which were determined by women’s oppression were unchangeable and timeless.

Marx was able to employ the immanent critique method in order to be able to reveal all the contradictions brought up by the political economy. He pointed out that there was a contradiction which existed between the presuppositions and the state where Private property was abolished by the State and the political suppression of this private property did not only mean to abolish the private property but to presuppose its mere existence. Marx was able to examine the bourgeois economy system in terms of its capital, wage-labor, landed property, and the foreign trade. The presence of commodities shows that the political economy is beginning when the products are exchanged between communities.

Common legal status, including ceremonial, occupational and reproductive rights

Weber believed in the religious lifestyle where Religion is believed to be a clash between the norms and the values of the traditional society with those of the modern society. Weber’s work was based on rationalization where he strongly believed that the Ascetic Protestantism was very important in the society and despite the change in the type of society and the societal needs, it was never going to change it would remain unchanged.

Weber put forward a very strong empirical evidence that about the fact that the Calvinist ethic and other ideas which helped in the capitalism development where he was able to note Europe’s economic post-reformation shift which was very different from the Catholic based countries like Italy, Spain, and France. In his ideas, he noted that all the protestant countries like Germany, England, the Netherlands, and Scotland had a capitalist economy which was very highly developed. He claimed that a majority of all the business leaders who were very successful throughout the world were from the protestant ethic. He further argued that the Roman Catholicism in the West had impeded the capitalist economy development in the countries which they are highly practiced including other types of religious ethics like the Buddhism and the Confucianism which are also practices in some countries throughout the world.

Max Weber’s argument concluded that ascetic Protestantism (AP) was the one which was responsible for the rise of the spirit of capitalism (SC). This SC by Weber was based on the idea that wealth acquisition and hard work which were used to bring out the fact that labour was a part of life and an individual who was not willing to work was not supposed to eat at all.  Weber concluded that the capitalism rationality was very much connected to the value commitment irrationality which was against materialism. With this, he stated that there were the existence of elective affinities which were between the different types of Calvinism and the SA. Weber did not totally agree with Marx where Marx had pointed out that there was a contradiction which existed between the presuppositions and the state where Private property was abolished by the State and the political suppression of this private property did not only mean to abolish the private property but to presuppose its mere existence. Marx was able to examine the bourgeois economy system in terms of its capital, wage-labour, landed property, and the foreign trade. The presence of commodities shows that the political economy is beginning when the products are exchanged between communities.

The relationship between the ideas and the ideologies on the exercise of power and domination as brought up by Weber which contributed to his political contribution where he stated that it was only the state which had a delegable power and that politics was the only way out that the state’s power could be shared among different groups where the leaders of the groups wielded the power. Weber believed that a political setting was not a realm of a saint which was based on his religious views which he strongly believed that a politician is not a man who is a true Christian. Weber, unlike Durkheim and Marx recognized the presence of class power and exploitation. This is the exploitation which was brought about by the materialistic acquisition which led to one class having the power and authority over another class where the superior class ends up oppressing the lower class.

Bourdieu’s Distinction

Bourdieu’s class distinction theory was based on the aesthetic taste which showed social stratification. He claim that a person could chose to present himself in the social space in the world which was considered as an aesthetic disposition which could depict the status of a person and the distance one is from other classes who were lower than his class. He suggested that these dispositions were normally internalized at a very young age and it helped very much in guiding all the young people to the social positions which were appropriate for them and also towards behaviours which were suitable for them and also the aversion that they can have towards other new behaviours.

Bourdieu’s distinction theory theorised that the fractions of the classes taught aesthetic preferences to all the young class fractions which are determined by the combination of all the social degrees which are considered to be varying,  the economic and the social capital. The ideal weapon in the distinction strategies is the incorporation of the symbolic goods by the society   where they can be attributed as attributes to excellence. The deposition of these aesthetic depositions was considered to be determined by the social origin other than all the capital which has been accumulated and the overall experience over time. The cultural capital acquisition very much depends on the imperceptible learning which was often performed in the family all through from a very long time. He further argued that the main people who were able to inherit their cultural attitudes were the ones who were able to accept all the definitions that the elders of their culture offered to them without questioning.

According to Bourdieu, the indicators of class are the tastes in food, the culture and the overall presentation since their trends in the consumption rates seemed to correlate with how the individual fit in the society. This is because it was believed that each member of the dominant classes often developed an aesthetic criteria which was made up of all the consumer interests which were purely based on the social positions which were differing greatly which necessitated that each of the class fraction had its own critics, newspapers, as well as philosophers and artists. Bourdieu believed in distinction of class since most of the preferences are usually marked as just being a choice of everyday life and existence like cooking, clothing, or even other items like furniture which were believed to reveal a deep rooted deposition.

Bourdieu criticised Marx’s theory on the primacy of the economic factors where he argued that the social actor’s capacity imposed and engaged all the cultural production in the system and the symbolic systems played a very important role when it comes to the social culture reproduction of domination. Bourdieu strongly believed that the social modern world was subdivided into fields where he was able to differentiate the social activities which were the direct causes of the social spaces where it led to the competition centres which were in a capital species. The fields were treated as a hierarchical basis where the dynamic fields were believed to arise from the social actors struggle into occupying all the dominant positions which were available in the field.

Many literary critics have not yet attempted to come up with any ideas which were related to Karl Marx and it is therefore very important to be able to make a clear and precise distinction between the specific political agenda and the socio-economic agenda of Karl Marx to the literary theories which emerged in the later years. Most of these Marxist literary critics like Bourdieu have proceeded from the assumption of the fundamental philosophy that “consciousness can never be anything else than conscious existence...Life is not determined by consciousness, but consciousness by life”. These critics have used the challenges of the notion of an individual human who was prefigured so as to reexamine the creativity of nature or the literary authority. The main idea which were found in Marxism were that there was exploitation of a class of the society by another superior class in the society, there were key elements of capitalism and the presence of free markets, workers were paid less than the real value of their labor, and there was the enabling of the capitalist class to make huge profits.

Marx condemned the class society when he argued that the entire fate of an individual was determined by the position of his class and all the functions which were assigned to him in the production system. he further claimed that the destiny of an individual was purely determined by the society which was the Middlemarch case where the constraints which were placed on the women made it very difficult for the women to progress and develop in the society which was an exploitation by the Marxist theory of one class by another and the women were also oppressed by the male dominated world where in most cases, the women of that time had dreams and visions but they could not succeed in achieving their goals since they were shut down.

B. structures of which, gender, sex and sexuality form a powerful set of concepts that seem impossible to escape

Meillassoux saw that the African woman in the African society was oppressed while they were very young and unmarried since they formed a part of the political since their marriage or exchange as it was commonly termed in the African tradition was considered to be very essential and fundamental towards the shaping and the continuation of the society and yet the women had very little power over these marriages or exchanges. This is because they were forced to marry men who were wealthy to be able to pay their dowry or the bride price. This did not guarantee that a young girl was married off to a young man but it even went to the extremes that very young girls who were very innocent were married off or exchanged to old men who could even be their fathers and they had no say to it. They were just supposed to accept what their kinsmen could offer when it came to the accepting of the price for the woman and if the woman were asked why they had to be exchanged, they only said that it was the tradition which was the way that they did it and have always been doing it for generation. This leaves the woman to be traded in the name of marriage without having a say but just following the malicious and wicked traditions which has led to the oppression of the women since they should also be allowed to have a choice when it comes to the person that they wish to get married to or even have the freedom like the men to make their own choices when it came to relationships.

This made the women to be at the mercy of the men since after they were exchanged, they were supposed to give continuity to the society by giving birth to very many children while the work of the African man was to go on marrying as many wives as possible. This made the woman to be the caretaker of the household since the woman had to do the donkey work while the men were relaxing taking the African traditional brews and blowing their whistles on how many wives and children they have without even bothering about the woman who is getting killed by tasks back in the homestead. In the African society, the young men were also disadvantaged in the system of descent and alliance like the warfare but they had more means at their disposal since they could improve their social and economic statuses by working for societies which see the articulation of different production modes. This gave them a very big advantage over the young girls who were forced to marry at a very young age without being allowed to even a basic education or even the chance to work.

C. gender, sex and sexuality in modern western societies

Gender roles are the social and behaviour norms which are considered to appropriate for all the individuals of a certain sex and is believed to differ greatly between different cultures. This brings in different opinions on the differences which have been observed on personality and behaviour between genders which are as a result of cultural and social factors. Gender is believed to be the distinction between the male and the female however, in the modern western societies, the men and women share the same occupations, jobs, roles and responsibilities which show that sex is not the determinant of a person’s abilities. This is because it is believed that what men can do women can also do better. The differences which were there between the two sexes is of the physical strength where you get that there are certain tasks and jobs which can only be handled by the men because of the physical strength which also leads to the neglect of the women gender.

According to sociological researches, the feminine gender roles which were used in the traditional setting are no longer used in the modern western society because of the emergence of globalization and industrialization. This is very evident when the modern women take on the roles which in the traditional setting had been reserved only for the men including the fashion and behaviour which has put the men under pressure thus leading them to be confined to a smaller gender role. This is very evident when men are seen to grow hair to a length which in the traditional setting had been considered to be a woman’s fashion, while the women on the other had have also been noted to cut off their hair to a length that was considered to be the hairdo of the men. The issue of globalization has enhanced interaction and helped people to understand each other in a better way. It has been necessary in enhancing quick access to other parts of the globe regardless of the distance separating these countries. Some barriers separated people and maintained people’s natural heritage as well as identities. It has become an important issue, but the impacts are not limited to only the economic field of countries, it also reflect all aspects of life like the psychological, cultural, social and political issues

III. Gender and the Modern World

Sex is the coitus which is a means of the biological division between a man and a woman. Gender is believed to be a social construction of the biological sex which is the feminity and the masculinity where the OED defined it as being the male or female state of being. Sexuality is the capacity for sexual feelings which is expressed, and it can be termed as the desire for a certain form of homosexual or heterosexual form of a relationship and one’s sexual orientation. Homosexuality is the manifestation of sexual desires towards a member of one’s own sex or the erotic activity with the member of same sex. Homosexuality is not only found in human beings alone, but it is also found in other animals and bird species like giraffes, penguins, whales, parrots, beetles, etc. Heterosexuality on the other hand is sexual desires towards a member of the opposite sex like the relationship between a man and a woman.

Why has science taken as the norm the concept of just two biological sexes?

Herdt in his mistaken sex examined two cultural hermaphroditism and he further illustrated that the third sex had a role in the culture. His idea was not only made up of the western medical gender models but the local ideologies which were about sex. In order to answer the western sex and gender models which assumed that sexual dimorphism in humans is normal where he wrote about the anthropologists and other social histories which also had a very strong tendency in the reduction of all the variations in individuals to the male and the female sex since none of the fields highlighted the main role of culture or the personal desire  that a person may have as being the concentration of sexuality and gender which explained why many people still did not the two-sex model system where he promoted two ideas; where he called for a deficit model of the development of the human being and all the individuals who were not able to meet the two-sex model system and biologically, they were considered to be anomalous because of their genetic development; and the social constructionist model which explained the historical and societal reasons which were essential in the gender reconstruction where all the alternative identities were explored. The third gender also includes the berdache, mahu, hajira. Anthropologists also did not help quite a lot in the carrying of their cultural categories and also not being able to analyse beyond them.

Abrahamic religious traditions

The Abrahamic religious traditions showed the construction of social, cultural, and symbolic categories which had wicked and malicious roots in the religions which used the Old Testament of The Bible. Adam and Eve were used to bring out the differences which existed between sex and gender where Adam who was the Man was created in the true image of God where he was considered to be perfect and complete. Eve on the other hand was the woman who was considered to be of the weaker sex since she was created from the rib of Adam and was more prone to temptation and temptress. In this case, the women were punished to suffer while the men had a very hard task of protecting themselves from the wiles of the women.

Women’s inferiority

Laqueur in his exploration of the biological sex illustrated all the ways that culture had affected science where he claimed that the society was what defined what was biologically natural. He believed that science was an oppressor tool which was used in rationalizing and legitimizing all the sex, religion, class, and sex distinctions. He brought up the one-sex model and the two-sex model which continued to be discriminatory to the women and also those who had anatomical oddities like a person who possessed both the male and the sexual organs.

Laqueur pointed out that women’s inferiority was only assumed until the scientific knowledge came to be accepted and widely used. Laqueur stressed very much on the study about the sexes which he had been primarily focusing so as to be able to discover the differences which existed between the genders. He strongly believed that the body of the female was defined in the model of the body of the male where through his studying of Galen who was a biologist, Laqueur was able to conclude that the female’s body can be defined by its comparison to the body of the male in terms of what it lacked thus making the body of the female to be inferior. Laqueur further claimed that there were two models which were popularly used in the sexual anatomy in the biological science history.

The “one sex” model according to Laqueur had been an origin of the Ancient Greek which has also been known to also survive in the minds of only a few people in the modern world. In the 18th century, there have been known only two sexes which exist and they are considered to be stable and incommensurable where the gender roles, the cultural lives of both women and men are considered to be purely based on those facts. Laqueur argued that the two sex model was formed due to the fear that the men had that the women were going to possess power where the differences in the power which was held by the men and the women explained the reason as to why the model was formed since a woman could not be termed as an unfinished man which made the difference to be inferior. This two-sex model by Laqueur was an attempt by the men to take power away from the women which made the females to be the other sex where he stressed that the body of the male was just a paradigm of the two-sex model.

The two-sex model brought out all the physical differences between a man and a woman which also indicated that there were also differences which also tried to explain how they are able to receive pleasure. Freud Sigmund tried to explain all the functions of the clitoris to the female body by trying to bring out all the challenges which are the preconceived notions about the clitoris. Laqueur on the other hand thought that Freud’s evidence was just a mere fact in the pleasure of a woman. Freud in this case put the women in an opposition to men by assigning the women social roles.

Female as the weaker sex

Science has been believed to have developed very many ways of defining the female species where it portrayed the female as the weaker sex as compared to the male which was considered to be the stronger sex. Fausto-Sterling (1992) analysed the female species in the terms of the actual size, the brains that they possessed, and the physical strength. Sperms and ovum are believed to be done in terms of power and passivity language. It is in this case that all the boys who are abnormal are surgically turned and made into females. It was scientifically found out that the female chromosomes (xx) are biologically stronger as infants than the male chromosomes since they suffer fewer illnesses showing a reduced and lower infant mortality rate and they also are less prone to abnormalities which affect infants like the Asperger’s syndrome and autism. Despite the much strength that the female chromosome has over the male chromosome, it is still ranked the second sex.

Science of psychoanalysis

Psychoanalysis and psychodynamic theories were first founded by Sigmund Freud; they also included psychological theories of a very famous theorist Erik Erikson, who had a very broad history with modern psychology with the psychodynamic approach. This psychodynamic approach showed that the normal functioning of the human being was usually based upon all the forces which existed within the inner self of a person, especially when the person was unconscious, and the personality structures which were usually very different in different individuals

Freud’s Oedipus complex

The theory showed how an unconscious state can influence human behaviour. Freud had a very strong believe that the human mind was composed of the ego, id, and super-ego. Freud believed that these three elements made up the personality, and the unconscious mind made up of the super ego and the id, which are usually in conflict with the ego, the conscious element of the human mind. The ego is believed to be the most functioning element of human personality, which exerts the conscious control being the mediator between the super- ego and the id. The id, on the other hand, is known to seek pleasure blindly, which is commonly based on the pleasure principle, and the ego seeks pleasure using rationality rather than irrationality. The super -ego is that element that represents the moral system in humans.

The Freud’s Oedipus complex was known to having being named after the protagonist of the Sophocles who was known to murder his own father and then marrying his own mother. In this case, the female equivalent is called the Electra complex where Freud emphasized on the female penis envy. This is the case where we have the father who represents the men who want to kill the powerful male figure by keeping all the females to themselves and also to have their own women re even sleeping with their own mothers. Women on the other hand suffer a crisis since they lack a penis where they very much want to be identified with the father which makes them to be forced to end up with the mother which further makes them to want to seduce their own fathers.

Lacan’s reworking

According to the Lacanian psychoanalysis, Lacan rejected all the psychoanalysis attempts to link with the social theory where he argued that “the Unconscious was just a discourse of the other” and that the human passion was just structured by the desires that others have and the expression of deep feelings as being a social phenomenon and that psychoanalysis was just a theory which showed the creation of the human subject is possible through social interaction. Lacan fully focused on the sexuality of the infant and the human subject and how it came to be the unconscious repression where he strongly believed that the unconscious desire and the conscious ego were radically divided because he considered the unconscious fragmentation and the perpetual of the self to be a Freud’s discovery.

The Lacanian psychoanalysis is ruthless and challenges to dismantle the sense of completeness and also in the removing of all the illusions which are as a result of the self-mastery which is seen through the mirror image. The ego which is very strong is usually seen as being the defensive deceit and the fear of disintegration and the personal lack of drive of a person can lead a person to realise another individual imagery. In the Oedipus crisis, it precipitated the child to being the symbolic stage where they are capable of becoming a speaking subject. This is because it is not just because of the father who is known to create the division in gender but also language is another factor since it is used in the representing desire of the forces which perpetuate the father’s law where the father often prohibits the desire to the mother showing that desire can be subverted into language. Lacan emphasized on language as a creator of the sexual life, the self and the psychic. In the Freud’s Oedipus complex, Lacan found out that the woman’s position was held to be non-essential which was a view which had been taken up by a majority of the feminists. The father ripped the infant from its mother who was considered to be innocent of all the happenings and further seduced the child into the symbolic order which was supported by the feminist indignation.

Judith Butler

Butler summed up Lancan’s reworking where she argued the fact that despite women lacking a phallus they somehow manage to become the phallus which is considered to be the only way which could make the sense of the thinking of trophy wives. Butler argued that it was sex which was responsible to cause gender which is the masculinity and feminist which has further caused the desire towards the other sex. Butler looked at the psychoanalysis theory as being a grand narrative which showed the woman as being a unitary category which was formed. She stressed the fact that psychoanalysis was a story which told about the origins and the ends and the narrative she believed that it gave a false legitimacy sense and a cultural universality which was culturally oppressive to the women in nature. Butler understood very clearly that gendered subjectivity was an identification history which had been brought out in other texts since they were believed to encode the personality history contingencies. Gender was the identification of a person’s sexuality like the fantasy, the set of images which were internalised, and not the organ configuration.

Butler contended for a person to be a female was not natural since it only appeared natural through the performances which were repeated by the gender performances where these performances further reproduce and define all the categories which were traditional about sex and gender. The social construction is view further looked at the categories which examined all the intersections of the multiple intersections and the boundaries of the categories which were essential and blurring.  This came in hand with the views which were held by others about the male and female sexuality as being a binary and a being total opposite to each other where the category deconstruction of gender and the value which was placed on the masculine behaviours and the disappearance of behaviour. The elimination of the categories made it very difficult to make a comparison between the two genders and it was also difficult to fight against male domination which she demonstrated in her book Antigone’s claim (2000).

Butler redefined the legacy of Antigone by recovering the revolutionary significance and the liberation for the feminism progressive and the sexual politics. Her interpretation reconceptualised the incest taboo relationship which was in a kinship and helped in the opening up of the kinship concept to the changes in the culture. Antigone who was the protagonist in Butler’s book was the renowned insurgent of the Sophocles’ cycle of Oedipus which has been long used as a defiance of the feminist icon.  Antigone proved beyond words that she was an ambivalent figure representing the acknowledged feminism since she exemplified a defiance form which was the cause of her death. Butler critically argued that Antigone was a representation of the feminist form and the sexual agency which was considered to be fraught with significance risk.

This is where Butler was able to reconsider other philosopher’s works like Jacques Lacan where she asked how different psychoanalysis would have been if taken and used Antigone who was the postoedipal subject instead of having used Oedipus as being the point of departure of the Sophocles. This is because if there was the reconceiving of the incest taboo then it could not be mandated that heterosexuality would be a solution. In this case, this lack made the women to be more prone and less capable of repressing their desires while the men on the other hand can just be masculine since once through the oedipal crisis become more of culture and can better manage their emotions. This leads to many women performing or passing, or masquerading as feminine.

IV. Conclusion

The gender construction of the male and the female in the society often share the Abrahamic tradition whether or not buying into science, that aligns the female with the problematic, the abnormal and, ultimately, the weaker of the species; while the male is constructed as straightforward, able to ‘just be’, the norm and powerful. And when things go wrong with men, we always blame the mother. This has explained the reason as to why the female gender is termed as the weaker sex.

The third gender idea of the third biological sex who is commonly called the hermaphrodites since they are neither man nor woman and they represent a gender which argues all the sex expressions, gender and sexuality which are socially constructed. This is because even science cannot be able to escape the structures that would divide the world of biological sex into two with one being stronger and the other weaker. Then being male, performing masculinity becomes equally of interest and perhaps performing femininity becomes less ‘problematic. Quite a number of societies acknowledge the third gender including the western modern society.

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