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Effect of Gender on Identity and Social Relations in Contemporary Society - Essay Example

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Effect of Gender on Identity and Social Relations in Contemporary Society
Gender as a concept is wide in scope. It has far-reaching consequences in the manner in which it is used. Given its scope, it can include or exclude certain entities wholly or partially…
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Effect of Gender on Identity and Social Relations in Contemporary Society
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Download file to see previous pages Identity suggests active identity on one’s part; and one chooses to identify with a certain group (Woodward, 2004, p. 6). Nation as a term connotes language, culture, territory or any other commonality on which a state is formed. The concept of a nation is not only gendered, but also racialised (Hogan 2008, p. 8). Hence, an individual’s identity is an overlap of various ideas. Race, religion, gender, nation, class, age, geography and many other factors merge to form the identity of a single individual. This text concerns primarily with the effect of gender on identity and social relations in contemporary settings. Effect of Gender Gender affects identity and social relations in contemporary society in several ways. We look at gender relations from three perspectives. The dynamics of gender is based on the concept of patriarchy. In Theorising Patriarchy, Sylvia Walby (1990, p. 20) defines patriarchy as “a system of social structures and practices in which men dominate, oppress and exploit women”. 1. Gender Relations at Home The relation between genders and their interaction begins at home. In terms of consumption, shopping has become a woman’s prerogative. Women are responsible for a majority of consumption decisions (Bradley, 2007). Housework includes aesthetics and emotions besides care taking. The style of the house, the presentation of food and that of living space are all part of the present day housework. This invariably puts the onus of domestic labour on women. Women are expected to work for the home without any monetary returns. This is the time that women are not gainfully employed. The support from men for such activities is at best minimal. A working woman, would hence, find herself working two shifts i.e. one after she returns home. The added burden would make her feel deficient in both the jobs. According to the Doctrine of Separate Spheres, home and work were two separate areas and men and women had separate qualities. This is comparable to a hunter-gatherer tribe where the men are hunters and women, invariably gatherers. The workplace was associated with competition, achievement etc. which were naturally attributed to men. Similarly, the home symbolized domesticity, purity etc. which were associated with women. Men were expected to work and provide for their families whereas women were expected to take care of the house and family (Wharton, 2005, p. 103). Cultural conditioning over the years also affects the expression of sexuality in males and females. While men are free to express sexuality, and are even encouraged to do so, women are expected to subdue theirs. A woman expressing her sexuality, whether heterosexual or otherwise, is regarded as a rebel or as transgressing the limits to her behaviour. Moreover, men try to control the sexuality of women, either overtly or covertly. Rape and domestic violence are means to achieve this control. Even reproduction is sometimes influenced, if not controlled by a woman’s husband or partner. Decisions like the number of children, the form of contraception to be followed etc are dictated by men. All forms of discrimination and violence have their origins in home settings. Domestic violence can take the form of incest. Herman and Hirschman opine that incest happens where the female has the least power. Male supremacy is the cause for most incest perpetrators being male and victims being female. For ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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