Sample Essay on Gender

Identity is fashioned by factors such as one’s arrangement in social relationships, structures, and establishments. There are two approaches used to view one’s identity. Structural approaches place prominence on more stable and internal facets of identity. Processual approaches place importance on less stable aspects of identity shaped by society. Another term used is Gender identity. Gender identity is how a person views them self as either male or female. In early childhood this is established. This differs from “sex” because the term “sex” refers to a biological state rather than a culturally produced state of mind, which is gender. Another term, gender role, is defined as the characteristics and behaviors that are suitable for men and women. Sociological perspectives of gender are categorized into four categories. These include essentialism, socialization, social construction, and structuralism.

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The essentialist perspective is non-sociological and more stable than the other three. From this perspective gender is seen as innate and unchanging. People are born a particular sex, which is predetermined from birth, and that sex determines their gender. The differences between the two sexes also determine a difference in social behavior. The characteristics of an individual are assumed to be biological and not influenced by society. In this perspective the terms sex and gender can be used interchangeably, because they are seen as the same thing.

The social-psychological perspective states that children learn gendered behavior through many learning processes including imitation, modeling, and interaction. These children are not born gendered; they develop it from those around them. Their behavior is reinforced either positively or negatively and based upon that, their gender is shaped. A person’s gender is the outcome of cultural forces and not biological. Sex does not play a role in how one is gendered. After one’s gender is developed it is unchanging. This perspective holds the same views on gender identity as the essentialist perspective; it is innate.

The social-constructionist perspective is sociological. The idea of gender is less stable and created through human actions and understanding about those actions. Gender is shaped not only by what’s inside a person, but also, in the every day situations one encounters. This perspective observes every interaction as a major part of the formation of identity from childhood and beyond. The concept of gender identity is accomplished by an individual in behavioral interactions. One’s behaviors are based on what is expected of them, not what is in their nature. People are expected to “to” gender correctly to sustain normal life.

The social-structuralist perspective is also sociological. In this perspective gender is not based upon the individual, but how the social structure influences that person. Gender is shown as a way of systematic allocation of power, i.e. a male dominated society. The privilege of men and the expectation of subordination of women are highly emphasized in this view. This system is also less stable and open to change.

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