Answers to Four Questions: What is gender, and how is it different from sex? In what ways is gender a "social construction"? (Essay Sample)
According to the requirements in the instructions, choose four questions to answer, and write one page for each answer.
Answers to Four Questions
What is gender, and how is it different from sex?
West and Zimmerman (125) define gender as an achieved status. One that is achieved through psychological, cultural, and social means. This is unlike sex, which is mainly attributed to anatomy, physiology, and hormones. In their paper, the authors advance their argument of gender by examining sociologists' views of gender. West and Zimmerman (127) contend that sociologists' view of gender roles disguises daily activities used to produce gender. Also, the notion of gender display downgrades gender to the confines of interaction alone. The scholars continue to stress the importance of distinguishing sex from sex category and gender. As they find, sex is determined through universal biological criteria. One's sex category, on the other hand, is determined by applying the biological criteria. Finally, gender is an activity through which persons manage their conduct to reflect their sex category.
Butler (6) acknowledges that the biological intractability of given sex defines its gender. The author also notes that gender cannot result from sex, nor can it be as fixed as sex. Therefore, gender can have multiple interpretations. For instance, in the case of binary sex, it is not always the case that men or women accrue from male bodies or female bodies exclusively. It is possible that the man or the masculine could signify the female body as male and the woman or the feminine the male body as the female. Hence, Butler (7) finds that both sex and gender could be cultural constructs because there appears to be no distinction between the two. She notes that gender cannot be a social interpretation of sex if sex is also a gendered grouping. In her view, gender should not be viewed as a label on a given sex. Instead, gender should also designate the processes through which sexes are established.
In what ways is gender a "social construction"?
Donna Haraway's essay on situated knowledges provides a perplexing view on gender as a social construct. Haraway (581) maintains that the highly male-dominated, militarized, racist, and late-industrial age of the 1980s has led to the need for feminist objectivity. Feminist objectivity, in her view, is situated knowledges. Gender becomes a social construct in Haraway's situated knowledges because science and technological research in the twentieth century had become a gendered role. Scientific and technological works were left to men and were viewed as more original and practical when they originated from this gender. The emphasis on a select gender's authority over science is what Haraway tries to argue as scientific objectivity.
Haraway (576) finds that society's decision to promote a male-dominated scientific field kept women from understanding the world effectively. But, as the scholar finds, it is through this deterrence that feminist ideas and research started. Haraway (578) notes that in an attempt to show bias in science, they unmasked objectivity principles. This helped to safeguard their historical subjectivity. Still, the scholar asserts that feminists should insist on a better historical account (...
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