Gender-A Social Construction – Latest News from Jammu and Kashmir | Tourism
As Rousseau said so well: “Man is born free, but everywhere he is chained. This statement is truly applicable to human beings. When an individual is born, he is only a biological being. This difference is only on a biological basis, but by the time one becomes a member of the society one encounters and becomes a victim of many other differences on the basis of age, race, religion, etc. . One of the major differences, very important, is the difference based on gender which is not natural but socially created and constructed. This social construct proves Rousseau’s statement quoted above because socially generated distinctions enslave individuals within the boundaries of men and women as framed by society and they are expected to behave according to the orientations and social restrictions.
Where do the concepts of ‘masculine’ and ‘feminine’ come from? Of course, from society. The studies of Ruth Benedict and Margaret Mead fully support the idea and view that individuals tend to develop masculine and feminine personality traits based on how they are socialized and that socialization is gender-based. . The various institutions of society play a predominant role in shaping the child’s personality as male and female and in developing his perspective on these two genders. Although society has developed and progressed to a considerable extent and has reached a stage where the concept of gender equality is often heard and talked about, but unfortunately it is something that only exists in theory because its practical applicability is very minimal.
The family, being the first social institution, with which a child comes into contact after coming into this world, exerts a formative influence on the shaping and formation of the child’s personality. This personality formation includes the development of a child as a boy and a girl. The pathetic fact is that female members are a powerful source of fueling and spreading gender inequality. Elderly women always bless the expectant mother to be blessed with a male child. The pregnant woman never has the chance to have a daughter. Isn’t that a way of constructing sexist prejudices? It definitely is. The members are convinced that if the first child is a boy, it eases their tension regarding the second issue. It does not stop there, but there are many examples that support the fact that within the same family, the boy and the girl are brought up and treated differently. It is sad to write this but even the parents who have the closest relationship with their child do not hesitate to treat their male child and their female child differently. I am not saying that this difference exists in all families. There are examples where both genders are treated equally. I very proudly cite the example of my own family. We are two sisters but my parents never made it clear to us that they did not have a male child. In fact, being the second daughter, I was accepted with the same love and affection as my older sister. I owe a lot to my family for that. Honestly, reaching this position would not have been possible without the support of my parents. But unfortunately, there are families, not only uneducated ones, but even the most educated ones, who have a gender perspective. In these families, since childhood, men and women are socialized according to different patterns that greatly contribute to the development of their conception. about themselves and their gender roles.
Another institution that plays a key role in promoting this construction of gender is education. Although in the current scenario, the right to education is ensured regardless of gender, there is still a long way to go to change people’s mindsets. Differences in literacy rates, choice of subjects, dropout rates (being higher for girls) and content of textbooks describing the different perceptions and gender roles of boys and girls testify that despite changing attitudes, the educational institution has substantial potential in perpetuating gender role stereotypes. American author David Sadker rightly quoted: “Sitting in the same classroom, reading the same textbook, listening to the same teacher, boys and girls receive very different educations.” Truer words could not have been spoken. Education is the centerpiece of the socio-cultural, political and economic empowerment of individuals. But unfortunately, directly or indirectly, our education system acts as a major contributor in encouraging individuals to internalize the prejudices and gender stereotypes that exist within our society. In our personal experiences, how many times have we seen images of a man associated with the representation of household chores or a policewoman on duty or a nurse in a hospital in our textbooks? It’s probably safe to say never.
The media does not have such an important and central role in integrating rigid gender stereotypes into society. They play a vital role in shaping people’s perceptions because people have to believe what they see and over time they accept it as their path. of life. In the media, each sex is represented in a specific way, supporting the stereotypical expectations of each sex regarding their behavior and roles. The media portray women as the weakest unlike the male gender which is portrayed as strong and fearless. Also in the employment sector, most employees in the media such as radio and television are men, with women occupying a smaller percentage. Content is another area that supports this fact. Most series or films, for example, have men as the dominant characters and women only as secondary actors with minor roles. To take another example, in an advertisement for a household item, there is likely to be a woman because she is expected to be a housewife or know how to take care of the house. . On the other hand, when one announces a distinguished career or an occupation of a high function, it is probable that there is a man. Such a bias in the presentation of media information and the presentation of the female gender as less capable than males strongly contributes to maintaining the institution of gender in society. I agree that currently the role that the media play is changing with the times and women focused shows, movies and soap operas are being aired but yet the bridge is too long to cross. I will cite the example of a series “Anupama” which is broadcast on Zee TV nowadays. This series plays its part in raising awareness about many issues related to gender and gender bias in a beautiful and realistic way. The dialogues are so carefully written and carry a sensitive meaning. I was watching an episode of this series the other day which talked about how a girl’s parents are always concerned about managing the expenses of her wedding, but the man’s family is free from such worries , how a daughter becomes a daughter-in-law from the very day of the wedding but a son-in-law never or rarely becomes a son, the parents of a daughter always feel inferior to the son-in-law and his family. These are just a few examples and aren’t they so true and real. Many more realistic examples have been beautifully depicted in this series highlighting the huge gender gap.
Not only these, but there are other social institutions such as marriage, religion, economics, politics, etc. who play a major role in fostering gender bias.
In fact, the need of the hour is for social institutions to alter their respective roles and try to narrow rather than widen gender differences. We are in the 21st century and it is high time to change and broaden our gender perspective. We should tell stories of Sita and Rani Jhansi Bhai to our daughters and encourage them to imbibe the qualities of these two characters. In fact, the story of Sita should also be told to the boys so that they also develop the qualities of perseverance, dedication, etc. Stop expecting these qualities only from women. We have to accept that, like girls, boys too are emotional beings and may cry to release their emotions. Crying is not the copyright of women. Rather sometimes they can turn out to be emotionally stronger than boys. We have to recognize that boys can be good cooks and girls can be good pilots. In short, this gap and difference in personality traits, socialization, education, employment, marriage, and all other areas must be curbed and reduced. The individual should be judged on their accomplishments rather than on the basis of gender attribution.
To conclude, it is not enough to say that men and women are like the two wheels of a vehicle. Both genders need to put this into practice and work in alignment with each other rather than in a dominant and subjugated role. Only then will their life go smoothly on the right track. In fact, the man is part of the Woman-‘man’. Thus, one is incomplete without the other.
(The author is Assistant Professor of Sociology GDC Sidhra)