Good Gender Development Essay Example
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Biology and Culture 3 Sociobiology 4
Sigmund Freud and Psychosexual Development 4
Social and Cultural Factors 5
Biology and Culture
Gender inequality, or inequality, as it has always been, is an issue that has been discussed for so many years. In the context of history, men have always been the powerful sex while women are expected to submit to men. The quote by Yassin, which states that ‘men and women are only equal in their common membership to the same species, which is humankind’ (as qtd. in Lindsey, 2011) implies that the disparity in the issue of equality between the two genders is based on biological reasons. The biological differences that define a man and a woman are rooted in hormones. These are what’s responsible for the organization function for the body, and the assignment starts during the fetal development (Lindsey, 2011:23). However, in today’s society, more than biological reasons, culture proves to have more influence in achieving gender equality. Women and men played different roles according to their gender which is dictated by culture and tradition. In most Asian countries, if not all, for instance, women’s jobs were confined to child-rearing and taking care of the home, while the husband works to provide for the family. This assignment of roles is also the same in some other countries and although there seems to be significant change in what women can do in the society today, traditional culture still ascribe to the old practice.
However, not all cultures have differences in men and women’s roles. According to Mead, in Arapesh culture in New Guinea, presonlity is not defined by gender (2011:23). Men and women share work, wherein hunting and child-rearing are both done by their men and women. Children are taught the same practice, while parents show subordination to the younger members of the family. This is also the same in most culture, as adults tend to give children’s needs higher priority than their own. In another of Mead’s study which involves the Tchumbuli, it shows a complete opposite of the Aparesh practice as well as what most people of today’s time know of. In the Tchumbuli tribe, women were the ones responsible for the economic needs of the community, while the men are those who are vain and more concerned on being decorated (Mead, 2011:24). The differences observed in the two tribes gives credence to the conclusion that men and women’s roles are more influenced by culture more than biological factors.
The concept of biology in determining gender roles, however, is deeply rooted to studies of various sciences. Sociobiology, for one, suggests that nature influences the roles men and women take. The argument that supports this claim lies on the idea that humans practice aggression in order to hold power over animals. Aggression, as implied by hormones, are higher among men than women (Lindsey, 2011:27). With men being more aggressive comes the desire to ensure that their genes will be passed on to the next generation, which explains their promiscuous behavior. Women, on the other hand, release hormones in the period of their pregnancy which is responsible for the maternal instinct that is characteristic to human females (Lindsey, 2011:28). It is natural for women to care for their children because of hormones, which explains why they are selective of their male partners. More than the desire to propagate, females give more importance to nurturing the young.
Sigmund Freud’s Psychosexual Development
In today’s time, men’s aggressive behavior and the need to be superior is further encouraged, and mass media plays a vital role. Chisholm states that stereotyping of females begins at the time the doctor tells a mother “It’s a girl” (89). This declaration is viewed as confining the females in a role that has been established for them since time in memorial. Freud, in his study of psychosexual development, states that in the process of growth among males and females, girls suffer more psychosexual conflict than boys, and this is explained by Freud’s ideas of Electra and Oedipus complex (Lindesy, 2011:29). Boys develop desire for their mothers, Electra complex, as a result of their libido, but are later on resolved as boys realize that females have no penis and leads to the development of fear of getting castrated. Girls, on the other hand, develop Oedipus complex, or desire directed to their fathers, as a result of ‘penis envy’ (Freud, as qtd. in Lindsey, 2011: 29), but will later on disappear as they start to wish for a child instead.
Social and Cultural Factors
With the extensive studies regarding gender roles, both the effects of science and culture have been well explained. As stated previously, culture has more influence in the inequality of men and women, and this is even more true in today’s modern world. Mass media is identified as the most influential perpetrator of gender inequality, as despite the ever-changing role that women play in the society, mass media still subscribes to the traditional belief of men being more powerful than women.
Lindsey presents the issue of dieting that continues to perpetuate the cosnciousness and lives of more younger people. Weight is a non-issue among men as they are more concerned on developing a more masculine built (Lindsey, 2011:46). Women, on the other hand, give importance to looking smaller as society deems women with small form to be sexy and more feminine. This cultural standard of what is beautiful or not is largely influenced by media, which portrays women as ‘nurturing, concerned with family and sustaining feminine beauty’ (Gender in Mass Media). With women’s belief that thin is beautiful, a thought widely propagated by media, more and more girls are afflicted with eating disorders. In Fiji where robust women were once considered beautiful, eating disorders among teenagers started only three years after Western media reached them (Lindsey, 2011:46). Today, eating disorders continue to spread and plague young people all over the world, and has become one of the biggest concerns of most societies.
Drugs and cigarette consumption, on the other hand, are also contributing factors to the established idea of beauty. Women who long to be thin and are suffering eating disorders are said to more likely resort to cigarette smoking. Men, on the other hand, are found to resort to illegal drug use as a means of coping with problems and externale their emotions (de Silveira et al., 2014:42). Women, unlike men, are more likely to suround themselves with people that will provide them with emotional support, whereas men are known to have higher degrees of separation that prevents them from sharing emotional burdens with others (Lindsey, 2011:49). As a consequence of getting more exposed to substance abuse, sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV/AIDS are also more likely among men than women. Injectable drugs propagate the spread of the disease as a result of needle-sharing, while non-injectable drugs result to risky sexual behaviors such as engaging to unprotected sex (de Silveira et al., 2014:41).
Numerous studies throughout the years have looked into the issue of gender inequality. The book by Lindsey provided a bird’s eye view to the causes and effects of having a distinction in the roles of men and women in the society. Although some of the concepts discussed may not still hold true today as a result of the ever-evolving society, they offer a new perspective that may lead to a deeper understanding of the long-standing debate on gender inequality.
Looking at my personal experience and at the same time, taking into consideration the discussions in the book, I am inclined to believe that the propagation of men and women’s roles in the society is more cultural than biological. Upon birth, everyone is assigned their own gender; girls have vagina while boys have penis. Obviously, these differences are not and can’t be manipulated by newborns. In the same way, babies are also not responsible for the pink clothes and things that are found in a baby girl’s room, nor are they responsible for the blue or other masculine-colored items that are inside a baby boy’s room. As they grow into toddlers, boys are introduced to toy cars and balls while girls are given dolls. These examples show that from birth, every individual is already being oriented as to what are to be expected from their gender, and this continues throughout their growing years. In some Asian countries, girls are taught how to cook, clean the house, and sew as part of their preparation for married life. Boys, on the other hand, are sent to the best schools to pursue majors which are highly profitable to prepare them for their role as providers when they are married. This is not the way in other culture, as was provided by Mead’s study of the Aparesh in New Guinea, wherein both men and women are found happy sharing their work.
Parents are children’s first teachers. What parents teach their children are also the same lessons that they will pass on to their children. This explains the different ways and practices of people who come from different culture. Some may develop their own views as they get more educated and deviate from what their culture has taught them, but certain practices are still continued because that is what parents and elder members of the family expect. As such, the long-standing practice of assigning men and women to specific roles in the society prevails, perhaps not anymore in a large scale but is still present nonetheless.
Chisholm, Shirley. “How Gender Shapes Meanings.” Pp. 89-111 in Gender and Advertising.
Sagepub.com. Retrieved February 19, 2015. (http://www.sagepub.com/upm-
da Silveira, Dartiu Xavier, Thiago Marques Fidalgo, Monica Di Pietro, Jair Guilherme Santos,
Jr., and Leonarda Q. Oliveira. 2014. “Is Drug Use Related to the Choice of Potentially More Harmful Methods in Suicide Attempts?” Substance Abuse: Research and Treatment (8): 41-43. Retrieved February 19, 2015. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4051791/)
Gender and Mass Media. “How is Gender Constructed within Mass Media?” wordpress.com.
Retrieved February 19, 2015. (https://communicationandgender.wordpress.com/gender-
Lindsey, Linda L. 2011. Gender Roles: A Sociological Perspective. 5th ed. Upper Saddle River,