Intro to Women's Studies 2010

etsu: 2011-2014

The Social Construction of Gender / Judith Lorber

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     This article is one of those that left me thinking about it long after reading it; everywhere there are examples of people “doing” gender. Lorber presents that everyone “does gender” without even thinking about it. “Gender construction”, Lorber wrote, begins at birth according to what the baby’s genitalia look like. Immediately, gender is ‘done’ by naming, dressing, and the treatment of the different sexes. Even parenting is gendered with different expectations and roles for mothers and fathers. As a social institution, gender is one of the major ways we organize our lives as humans. We do so to create “distinguishable social statuses for the assignment of rights and responsibilities. 
        What struck me the most was how she said, “Gendered norms and expectations are enforced through informal sanctions of gender-inappropriate behavior by peers and by formal punishment or threat of punishment by those in authority, should behavior deviate too far from socially imposed standards..”. How can we, as a society, force someone to be something that they are not. If a young girl wants to play outside and get covered in mud like the boys, why can’t she???! Equally, if a young boy wants to play with dolls like his sister because he finds it fun, what’s the big deal?! These informal ways of forcing gender upon people from birth is somewhat disturbing to me. I believe that everyone should have the opportunity to be who they want to be without social restraints.


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