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Gender and sex - Essay Example

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The term gender essentially refers to the meanings that social systems ascribe to female and male categories. All known societies possess such a system, though the components and workings vary widely from society to society. For almost ninety-nine per cent of existence humans have lived as hunter-gatherers…
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Gender and sex
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"Gender and sex"

Download file to see previous pages A term associated with describing gender roles is androgyny- denoting the display of

both male and female behaviour. A number of terms have emerged portraying behaviors

arising in this context. For instance, the "sensitive new age guy" is described as a

traditional male gender role with a more typically "female" empathy and correlated

emotional qualities. The "metrosexual male" adopts or claims to be born with similarly

"female" grooming habits. This have given rise to arguments in various quarters that such

new roles are mere rebellion against tradition and hence do not form a distinct role.

Sociological research points out that the conventional feminine gender roles have

become less relevant in Western societies. This trend is attributed to the starting of

industrialization. Indeed, the notion that women do not follow a career no more valid in a

majority of Western and many of the Oriental societies.

For a long time now, gender roles have occupied a central place in the nature-nurture

debate. Traditional theories argue that a person's gender identity, and thus gender role, is

a product of nature. For instance, in patriarchal societies it is often claimed that women

are naturally better placed to nurture children. Various circles in the scientific community

have come to support the concept that differences in gender roles originate in differences

in biology. Many nineteenth century anthropologists refer to the life of primitive hunter-

gatherer societies for evolutionary explanations for gender differences. For instance,

they assert that the need to take care of offspring may have limited the females' freedom

to hunt and hence assume the role of the gatherer. Current trends in...
Crises demand the kinds of strength and intelligence associated with hunting. Fleeing a natural disaster or fighting a band of attackers requires strength, speed, and strategic thinking. In wake of such situations, people naturally follow and rely on those who are physically strong and strategically intelligent. These leaders are usually males. Repeated and frequent crises have a severe impact on the social organization of communities. There are anthropological and archaeological evidence, which indicate that in times of prosperity hunting-gathering communities tended to organize around groups of related females. Egalitarian collaboration was the norm in such communities. Frequent crises resulted in organization around strong and strategically intelligent males not only during the crises, but also at other times. This hierarchical organization tended to exist side by side with, be overlaid on, and to intertwine with the egalitarian one. Thus, for instance, in villages, most casual everyday encounters were egalitarian, but people made formal decisions affecting the whole tribe only in meetings ruled over by a male leader and in which elite males exercised more power than do females. It may be inferred that gender roles are mainly conditioned by social value systems. Men and women are made to behave the way they are. Right from childhood, men are expected to grow up to be powerful, encouraged better for careers. They are expected to be tough, independent, demanding, aggressive, good problem-solvers, and so on. ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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