Gender and Sexuality

Gender and sexuality can be comprehended through social science. Social science is “the study of human society and of individual relationships in and to society” (free dictionary, 2009). The study of social science deals with different aspects of society such as politics, economics, and the social aspects of society. Gender identity is closely interlinked with social science as it is based on an identity of an individual in the society. Sexuality is “the condition of being characterized and distinguished by sex” (free dictionary, 2009).
There are different gender identities such as male, female, gay, lesbian, transgender, and bisexual that exists all around the world. There is inequality in gender identities and dominance of a male regardless of which sexuality they fall under. The males are superior over the females and gays superior over the lesbians, however it different depending on the place and circumstances. This paper will look at the gender roles and stereotypes, social policy, and homosexuality from a modern and a traditional society perspective.
The three different areas will be compared by the two different societies to understand how much changes has occurred and whether or not anything has really changed. In general a traditional society is more conservative where as a modern society is fundamentally liberal. This is to say that a traditional society lists certain roles depending on the gender and there are stereotypes that are connected with the genders. One must obey the one that is dominant and make decisions. On the other hand, a modern society is lenient, It accepts the individual’s identity and sexuality.

There is no inequality and everyone in the society is to be seen as individuals not a part of a family unit. Gender roles and stereotypes exist for all genders. These roles are set by the individuals of the society, “sex roles are expectations for behaviour and attitudes that a particular culture defines as appropriate for men and women” (Whicker and Kronenfeld, 1986; pp. 8). The traditional views of gender roles are indeed quite different from the modern views. The men in society are the bread-winners where as the women take care of the children and home.
There are basic and common work roles, however in terms of behaviour and involvement there are gender role distinctions. The sex roles generally play out in modern society as well, some sex roles and stereotypes for girls are that they are “nonaggressive, nonathletic, emotionally expressive, tender, domestic, and nurturing. Boys on the other hand are “aggressive, value achievement, attain goals through conflict, and work towards monetary success” (Whicker and Kronenfeld, 1986; pp. 8).
The males in the society are “emotionally anesthetised, aggressive, physically tough and daring, unwilling or unable to give nurturance to a child” (Lewis and Sussman, 1986; pp. 1). These traits are carried out by this particular gender mostly outside the society to demonstrate their strength. Those individuals who ignore to carry out these personality traits are seen as weak and unmanly. The women on the other hand are given the responsibility of looking after the family and are supposed to have the opposite personality traits.
For instance a woman can show emotions but not outside of the family because of the shame that would bring to the family. This also an issue because a husband cannot help the women out otherwise the society will look down upon him, and as for society itself women cannot rely on outsiders. This brings about a question as to whom should she reveal her emotions and feelings to? These gender stereotypes such as a men being physically stronger or women being physically weak are embedded in the individual’s mind and thus they carry out these stereotypes themselves thereby continuing the stereotype.
The gender role differences bring up a point about fake identity and practice. For the purpose of being accepted in society one hides his or her inner desires and emotions in order to fit in society. One does not need to be tough to show masculinity neither does one need to be weak to bring out her feelings. However, society changes when the men in the society gradually developed more female traits and get involved in the family matters. The role that impacts the family the most is the role of the men.
The media plays a huge role in shaping the role of what a father is. Once the father used to be a bread-winner, now the roles can switch and the mother can go out to work and the father can stay with the children. The media demonstrates the idea of the father who spends his time at home with the children, baby sitting, cooking, and cleaning. This new image encourages and motives the men in this society to get involved and help their family. Also, the family is no longer always ruled by a patriarchal system.
Patriarchy is “a system promotion the higher status and privilege of men against women” (Lewis and Sussman, 1986; pp. 17). The roles are either balanced or a matriarchy system is also involved where the women are the superior ones in the family. The society’s acceptance of these roles changes and also it gives opportunity to the opposite sex to prove their skills and identity in the society and within their family, however, the society’s expectations do not end here. The men are portrayed as strong body-builders and females are portrayed as slim beauties.
These images are carried by the media where in the film “Tough guise” by Jackson Katz, the movie demonstrates the transition of masculinity from past generation to current generation. The men are more build up in terms of body structure compared to the past. Although the father might be involved in the family, the sex roles of the genders do not vanish, they make gradual transitions from generation to generation. The traditional society simply believes that women stay at home and focus on their private life rather than the outside world. The major role is played by the adult males who maintain the finances.
Women’s work is not as valued as the men’s, however it is essential to understand that men would have had to do double job if the women were not looking after his children and home. Although both, the inside and the outside work required a lot of effort, the dominance of the male gender rules over the female gender in terms of the value of work. Besides the cultural values, religion also played a role in shaping these ideologies. “Religious institutions have long been conservative in their ideals and patriarchs. Recent exceptions do exist, such as the increasing enrolment of women in Protestant seminaries.
The Church however, like the corporate America, maintains the image of a traditional family and career structure, where the husband is the major bread-winner and thus the head if the household and his wife is in a supportive, expressive position” (Lewis and Sussman, 1986; pp 199). These religious institutions drew the images of gender roles inside and outside of the house, where one gender worked inside and the other worked outside and even if the women decided to work outside were treated unequally. At the end of the day they had to look after their children.
This brings about a question of whether the children only belonged to the mothers or both parents. What role do the fathers play in the lives of their children? There is no social support for the women in this society to rely on, thus they struggle to maintain their rough lifestyle. The family only becomes dependent on the men, which is problematic. In case of a single parent, where the children are dependent on a mother it becomes a financial problem. The lack of government involvement is a disadvantage for the women in this society because those who are divorced or lost their husbands are strongly hit by poverty.
Social policy such as education, career, and welfare state did not exist in the life a woman in a traditional society. However, as the world gradually developed in terms of technology, the women caught up to the men. The ideology of individuals in the modern society changed where the women were once seen an item in the household, they now gained a sense of freedom. To being with the basic understanding of a woman going in to work is that “most women work because of economic need. The majority of employed females are single, widowed, divorced or separated, or working to supplement the low income of their spouse” (Kendrigan, 1991; pp 91).
This is not to say that women spend time at working leaving their children, spouse, or home alone. Their life in modern society is challenging because there is more responsibility on their shoulders. Not only do women have their work life but also their family life as well. As a plus, the government provides day care for working women in order to make their lives easier. Looking at the correlation of women and the workforce has a great impact on the economic factors of the country and state. The women contribute to the social welfare state because the more people working in the country the more stable and stronger the economy gets.
For instance, in Canada women who contribute to the country economy through paying taxes add on to the government public funds, which are used for education, welfare, and the publish health care system. There are many advantages for the women as well as the state. Although there remains to be an inequality in the salary of woman when compared to a man it is importance to focus on the progress as well. The transformation occurred because women stepped out of their homes and stepped in to the working world. They still have to work hard to gain their respect and work for equality among men.
Genders and sexuality cannot leave homosexuality behind, however this is not so true for the traditional society. Just because homosexuals, bisexuals, and transgender were not seen very often does not mean they were invisible. The reactions of individuals in the society to these particular sexes lead the homosexuals, transgender, and bisexual being seen as inferior. This brings about the ideology of superior over inferior. There is a sense of shame attached to these sexes, where they cannot freely express their identity. To reveal their identity means going through the consequences set by the ndividuals in the society and in some countries even the government. Even though much emphasis is given to sex roles in homosexuality as well there lies a difference among lesbians and gays. Looking back at the roles of the boys and adult males in a traditional society they had to stay strong and stay focused on work. This becomes an issue for the gay individuals. Unlike lesbians, gays cannot freely walk with their partners without being noticed. “women can hold hands in the street, and even go arm in arm; because families let girls sleep with their girlfriends, but for boys, it’s forbidden” (Likosky, 1992; pp. 3). It is indeed difficult for the homosexuals to express their homosexuality because of the norms set by society. Women can get away with it because of the friendly and nurturing stereotype that the society has placed upon them. “Homosexuality, though, exists in different societies and cultures, with some minor exceptions are considered abnormal and disdained. It affects social order, invades personal privacy and rights, and leads to criminal behaviour. “As a result, homosexuals are more likely to encounter and be penalized administratively and criminally” (Likosky, 1992, pp. 38).
More stereotypes are attached to these individuals because they are not considered normal. Normal in this sense means that heterosexuals are the dominating ones in the society. The idea that these individuals are embedded in society not only causes prejudice towards homosexual people but also discrimination against them, leading to violent actions are taken towards them. Once again religion and government plays a major role in shaping these views towards these particular groups of people. To look at homosexuality from a modern point of view, it is not the same as the traditional.
However this is not to say that there is great equality between the heterosexuals and homosexuals, because this is simply untrue. The modern society takes the idea equality and freedom from the liberal ideology. However it is not practiced to the full extent. The flaw in the liberal state is made in the legal forms when gender is asked for. The option to this question is already stated on the paper, thus the two options given to the homosexuals are “male” or “female”. The problem lies in these two options for these individuals, because now they cannot reveal their identity, neither can they state who they are.
However if they are to pick from the two options how are they to answer this question? Is it more based on how they feel the most? Even though the individuals in the modern society consider themselves to be liberal, they are not fully liberal. On the positive side of the modern society, there are social services. “There has been a long history of people in social work who challenge the heterosexist norms of society. Gay men, lesbians, bisexuals, transgendered and transsexual persons have enriched society as a whole” (Hick, 2010; pp. 02). Social work plays a major role in reshaping these sexes and their roles. The social workers empower the LGBTTQ (Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, transsexual, and queer) to get involved in work force. This gives the individuals chances to prove themselves and also it benefits the society and economy. The more people that get involved in the workforce the stronger the economy turns out to be. The involvement of these individuals brings changes to the society and they feel accepted outside of their own group.
If they were to hide their sexuality inside as done in the traditional society there would be psychological and emotional problems among these people, and the outcome would be higher rate of suicide. The acceptance and opportunity given to them by this society not only gives advantage to these people but also to the society and the economy of the state. In the traditional society the father’s only focus is on earning an income for the family which has a direct impact on the family members due to the lack of time spent bonding with his children and wife.
The responsibility of the children falls on both parents’ shoulders not just on the mothers. However this is also an issue in modern society, if mothers rely too much on day-cares and do not spend enough time with their children then the same thing that happens to the father happens to the mother. The traditional view of sex roles differ where women are nurturing, home oriented and calm. On the other hand, men are seen as the opposite. Nevertheless, the modern view does not distinct these differences because of the greater involvement of the father in the family.
The differences do not lie among the genders but the perspective of the individuals in society, both genders can contribute to each other’s works regardless of what sex they fall under. The society, religious institute, and media play a greater role in shaping these sex roles. The gradual changes are closely related to the media because the actors carry out the roles and thus the members of the society play out those roles in their daily life style. “Homosexuality exists in different societies and cultures and with some minor exceptions it is considered abnormal and disdained.
It affects social order, invades personal privacy and rights, and leads to criminal behaviour. As a result, homosexuals are more likely to encounter and be penalized administratively and criminally” (Likosky, 1992, pp. 38) Also, the two societies view homosexuality different. Nevertheless modern society has not completely accepted the idea of homosexuality because in areas such as legal forms, the people with nonconventional sexual orientation are not shown. This demonstrates the inferiority of homosexuality and for which the government is responsible for such actions.

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