Are Gender and Sexuality Socially constructed?

Exploring the nature of gender and sexuality. Are they biologically determined or socially constructed? 

Defining Sex and Gender

Sex - is a biological distinction between men and women for example sexual organs or chromosomes.

Gender - i s the social division between men and women for example through identity, personality and gender stereotypes.

There are two main schemes of thought which have been created in response to construction of sex and gender.

1. Biological Determinism - an approach which explains human behaviour in terms of biological differences. It argues that men are similar across environments.

2. Social Constructionism - suggests gender differenecs derive from social and cultural processes which create systems of ideas and practices about gender that cary across time and space. These also create gender divisions of labour, allocating men and women to different activities and responsibilities.

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Examples of Gender Inequalities

1. Gender Pay Gap - this is the difference in average hourly pay rate of men and women. The full time pay gap is 10.2. Women are more likely to earn less.

2. Gender Segregation in labour market - some jobs are traditionally carried out by men or women. for example women - childcare, household work. Men - maintenance, physically demanding work. 

3. Promotion & Advancement to positions of authority - men more likely than women to receive promotions and to occupy top positions within the work force.

4. Domestic & Sexualised Violence - Men are traditionally the perpetrators, whilst women and children are the victims. Focus is on women protecting themselves rather than preventing men from perpetrating, is this right?

5. Responsibility for childcare and unpaid care of sick and elderly - women more likely to take up unpaid care of yound, sick and elderly. Women are also more likely to need care in old age. 

6. Division of labour in the household - men are earners, women look after the house. Although this is not always the case, this is the structure of the majority of households. 

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Example of Social Constructionism

Young 1980 - "Throwing Like A Girl"

The essay discusses the impact of social interaction on gender construction.

It suggests that gender stereotypes such as "throwing like a girl" are not a result of a biological incapability of females to do such activities, but of pre-conceived perceptions by society that women are incapable. 

Boys and Girl learn to take up their roles, men more strong and powerful than women. 

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NO! sex and gender are not biologically constructe

Biological Determinism

Male characteristics are grounded in chromosomal, hormonal and natural characteristics which differ from that of women. 

Men across societies are characterised by more or less identical behaviours and that is the same for women

The differences are caused by biology and not by similarities in the upbringing of boys/girls or in the responsibilities they have as an adult.

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YES! sex and gender are biologically constructed

Social Constructionism - a criticism of the biological deterministic view

1. sociological history and anthropoligical research have shown that femininities and masculinities vary dramatically across cultures, for example, Bourgeois women in Victorian Britain VS women in rural Africa.

2. feminitities and masculinites are likely to change over time as well as across cultures, therefore men are not homogenous but subject to diversity.

3. in the same period, there can still be variations in gender, for example, Bourgeois victorian women VS Maids.

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Conclusion: YES or NO

Study of biology reveals there are biological differences between men and women in chromosomes, hormones and sexual organs

These however should not affect male and female capabilities to perform acts

These restrains on women have been created through social conditioning

Yes, to a certain extent sex and gender are socially constructed. 

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