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Within our world, women and men are expected to achieve a level of masculinity and femininity. These expectations help label their certain gender. Men and women are based on interests, roles, and behaviours, that originate from birth that are taught, passed down from generation to generation. Through these generations the discovery of the Social Construction theory was developed. In today’s society, there is a structured way of life for men and women. We are taught from an early age what is right and what is wrong based on our gender.
Everything humans learn from a young age becomes categorized and assigned to each respective gender. There are acceptable societal norms for females and ones for males. This is called the social construction theory. This theory provides the knowledge to understand why humans may behave the way they do. This theory explains that with the results of history, economic factors, and the culture of societal values determines what roles both men and women are expected to complete.
These factors may have an influence on the gender roles, behaviours that are determined to be “allowed” for certain genders, and the specific differences between the two genders. In the article “Introduction to Beyond the Natural Body” by Nelly Oudshoorn, the author exhibits how “scientists are actively constructing reality, rather than discovering reality” (Oudshoorn). For thousands of years, many thought to believe that there was no difference between male and female bodies. “…Two thousand years, male and female bodies were not conceptualized in terms of differences…” (Oudshoorn).
The only underlying difference between the two genders was that a women’s body was a “lesser” version of the male. It was not until later years that the two genders were proven to be very different due to the understanding of the reproductive organs and their functions. Relating this to the social construction theory, it was proven that due to past explanations of the sexes, women have been viewed as being the passive sex in comparison to that of the male and this view has now continued, generations after.
The notion of women inferiority and the male superiority can also be noted in the article of “The Egg and the Sperm” by Emily Martin, where the topic of romance between the stereotypical male and female roles is further discussed. Through this article, it is noticeable how many scientific information’s believe that “…male and female reproductive organs as systems for the production of valuable substances, such as eggs and sperm.” (Martin). Although they may see this as being equal to both sexes, it does not come across as being the same. One has a higher level of respect compared to the other. For women, their production of ova, is being “wasteful” in comparison to the male’s production of sperm.
According to Martin, women begin their life with two million eggs in their ovaries, “by puberty only 300,000 eggs remain, and only a few are present by menopause” (Martin) in comparison to men “producing 100 million sperm per day during a reproductive life of sixty years.” (Martin). This point proves that in fact men produce and waste more sperm than women do in their lifetimes, but since women are being passive, they are the easier sex to blame. Even before a child is created the female ova are called to act ‘femininely” while the sperm is “masculine”. Seeing how conception works, the ova never moves and the sperm meets the ova, making the ova once again “passive”.
Gerald Schatten and Helen Schatten relate the eggs’ role to Sleeping beauty. “A dormant bride awaiting her mates magic kiss which instills the spirit that brings her to life” (Martin). Before conception has begun the female is overpowered by being associated with “passive” even though it is out of the woman’s control. This relate to the Social Construction Theory as society (as a social entity) is setting up gender roles within a community that is out of human control. With word’s such as “passive” and “masculine”, society is determining roles and behaviour even out of human control.
Using the social construction theory, it has become clear as to why certain gender stereotypes are the way they are today. Through time, humans have created such “rules” for girls and boys, and what is appropriate for both. Dolls are only to be played with by girls while trucks and the outdoor world is only for boys. It is my opinion that this theory has become useful for understanding gender stereotypes and why males and females are perceived in different lights. The past ancestors of time have always followed this certain way of separating the genders.
This approach has only provided more information to understand the stories that media has encouraged this way of deciding who is who, or stories portrayed because of the way it goes against the gender norms. Through my own experiences, working in a day care centre, I have witnessed first-hand the many parents who follow these social norms. They never want their sons playing with dolls or dressing up and their daughters can never play with dirt. Unfortunately, these social influences are still present today.
In conclusion, the Social Construction theory has led many to understand where gender roles have come from. The roles and occupations that women and men are commonly found doing are of what our society is teaching and leading them too. The women of our society may always be labeled as “passive” and men always being told to be “masculine” but this may change with future generations to come. Women may one day be accepted for being more “masculine” and men “feminine”, allowing future generations to feel alright in their own skin.
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