What Have Remained The Same and What change about Gender Characteristics

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When children grow up, they learn their actions from the adults around them. In this step, they learn about their various gender roles and characteristics. Sex is a term that explains how cultures identify and treat various sex groups (Chafetz, 2006). These gender groups include women, men, intersex, transgender and other gender groups. These communities have been associated with common cultural definitions and positions in culture and, in turn, have had an effect on personal identities. Over time, culture has had social expectations, behaviors and actions that the group finds more suitable for a certain gender. Some examples of gender characteristics in the society are, in most countries women earn significantly less than men for similar work, women have to do more house chores than men, and in countries like Saudi Arabia women are not allowed to drive cars (Beins, Lapovsky & Women's studies for the future, 2005). Attitudes such as this are based on stereotypes. The characteristics that distinguish masculine and feminine vary across the different cultures, and they change over time. How gender characteristics are understood today is slightly different to the way it was judged in the past. Issues that have evolved over time include gender and power, social position

Characteristics That Have Changed Over Time

Violence

Violence is the use of physical power against another person, a group in the society, or even against oneself. Violence may result to physical or emotional injuries. Masculinity has been associated with characteristics such as strength, courage, intellect, daring, rationality, and sexual desire. These traits together with other characteristics associated with femininity have been oppressive and destructive to the female gender. With the superiority, men have been violent towards women. Men’s violence against women includes sexual harassment, wife battering, incest, and rape. This is an expression of the male and female power because of the difference in physical strength and training. In households, men find a ground to express their needs and emotions that are not valued elsewhere. Men find safety in expressing their feelings at their households, and it rains on women and children of the household. A majority of men have therefore expressed violence or the threat of use of strength against women (Haynes, 2008).

This form of gender characteristic has changed over the years. There has been a set of changes in the behavioral and legal grounds regarding the male violence against women. Clauses on sexual harassment in the constitution of countries, schools, political parties and associations have been introduced. Women have become empowered socially, politically and economically. There have been a series of women’s campaigns and public education against, sexual harassment, rape, wife battering and for women to have control over their bodies. Men have also engaged in supporting the end to the struggles of women in homes, workplace and even among their friends.

World War II brought social and economic changes. In the family structure, many women were left to be the breadwinners for their families as their men went on the battlefield. After the WWII had ended, women were not ready to forfeit their wage-earning positions, and this caused an imbalance in the society. The female now did jobs that were previous known to be of the male gender. With the female working and earning, they could now afford a property.

Kaufman talks about violence in particular male violence. He writes that male violence is triad and includes violence against women, violence against another male, and violence against oneself. He further writes that one type of violence cannot exist without the other type. In male dominated societies, the male gender is above women and even men over other men. Male violence against other male is a mechanism to establish order in the society.

Kaufman states that masculinity does not exist as a biological reality but rather as an ideology that exists within gendered relationships (Kaufman, 1998). It is unconsciously rooted into the male child from an early age of six years and is reinforced as the child develops. At adolescence, masculinity obtains a definitive shape within an individual, and it has its norm depending on the race, religion, nation, class and ethnicity.

Social Position

Social position is the status an individual holds in the society. A social position may be hold by a single individual or may belong to a group of individuals. This position influences the social status and is divided into lower, middle and upper positions. In the past, the female gender help the lowest position in the society and had no significant influence on the society. In the present society, however, the position of the feminine gender has improved.

In the article by Gillam and Shannon, they portray the changing views on masculinity and feminism by the society. The gender characteristics of the male characters in the animations Cars, The Incredibles and Toy Story by Disney Pixar is seen to shift from a dominant alpha-male value to embracing the feminine values. In traditional animation movies by Disney, the masculine character is portrayed as a prince charming, but in the new Pixar’s movie, the male is used as the central hero.

The Pixar’s movies also used a male as the character as the traditional Disney movie, but in this Pixar’s animations, the male character revealed their weaknesses such as the expression of emotions, and vulnerability. The alpha-male also is seen to develop a close bond to other males, and this allows the alpha-male to in a positive direction towards masculinity (Gillam & Wooden, 2008). Gillam and Shannon bring out a new representation of feminism and masculinity in animations. With the popularity of Disney Pixar animations, the company can use this platform as a teaching tool to the kids. The kids, regardless of the gender stereotypes, will become aware of the many sides of the human generation. Characters are now promoting feminine qualities (Morrison, 2014).

Physical Appearance

In the article by Susan Bordo, the society has an image of how women should look like physically. Susan brings out how this image and views by the society affect women. In the past, the Victorian era, women denied themselves food to get beauty. Apart from improving their physical appearance, they would deny themselves food for religious purposes such as fasting and self-accomplishment. In the 19th century, physical weight and shape were now idealized, and therefore women shifted from self-accomplishment to gaining this idealized body shapes. Susan also has a view of how media today views women. Unlike in the 1970s where certain bodies were regarded as slender and fit, today they are viewed as loose and flabby. The media and magazine, want women's bodies to be not only skinny but also with tight (Bordo, 1998).

Gender Characteristics That Have Not Changed Over Time

Patriarchy

Patriarchy which is deep rooted in the society has not changed over time. It manifests in the social, economic and political aspects. Patriarchy is a system that holds many elements in the society. The society views the male gender as central in the society while other genders are considered subordinate. The male gender is the primary authority figure in the social organization, political leadership, control of the property and moral authority over women and children. Societies with patriarchy, have left the male lineage to inherit property.

Hegemonic masculinity guarantees a dominant social position for men and a subordinate social position for women and other gender identities. Hegemonic masculinity relies on what a female is or is not. This practice is very active in a patriarchy system where men have to prove that they are not women and women have to wait for their physical maturation for the society to approve them. On the other hand, hegemonic femininity requires women not to act to earn femininity.

Conclusion

For gender characteristics to change and function perfectly, the masculine gender which is the dominant gender should provide a stable environment. Policy makers, program managers, non-governmental organizations and the government need to address the changes in gender characteristics (Chopin, 2016). They should come up with policies that empower women and discourage the view of women as gender minority. The female gender should have a similar platform in the social, political, and economic aspects similar to the male gender.

References

Beins, A., Lapovsky, K. E., & Women's studies for the future : foundations, interrogations, politics. (2005). Women's studies for the future: Foundations, interrogations, politics. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press.

Bordo, S. (January 01, 1998). Reading the slender body. The Visual Culture Reader, 214-222.

Chafetz, J. S. (2006). Handbook of the sociology of gender. New York: Springer.

Chopin, K. (2016). The Awakening. Tustin: Xist Publishing.

Gillam, K., & Wooden, S. R. (April 01, 2008). Post-Princess Models of Gender: The New Man in Disney/Pixar. Journal of Popular Film and Television, 36, 1, 2-8.

Haynes, C. A. (2008). Divine destiny: Gender and race in nineteenth-century Protestantism. Jackson, Miss: University Press of Mississippi.

Kaufman, M. (1988). Beyond patriarchy: Essays by men on pleasure, power, and chance. Toronto: Oxford University Press.

Morrison, T. (2014). Sula. London: Vintage Digital.

October 12, 2022
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Behavior

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