Gender Roles Argumentative Essay
Society categorizes individuals by gender, either masculine or feminine, but how does one determine which surpasses the other? Society determines the way we look at gender and what role it plays in the construction of society. This is not only in America but around the world as well. In American society, Men are classified as strong, tough, and un-emotional; women on the other hand are the opposite. Females are supposed to be sensitive, kind, beautiful, have “perfect” bodies, etc. So how does society view people who don’t exactly fit that description?
When we have been exposed to a specific role of gender all our lives, it is difficult to accept different scenarios. A different scenario would be when society would not be able to accept a powerful and non-emotional woman, or a very sensitive man. An example of this is children are educated of what roles a man and female play. In Disney movies, such as Aladdin, children are shown roles of women and men. A young girl is given to a man just to own more land. It shows society what role a man has over a woman.
Anna Quindlen author of a short essay “Gay” and Gillianne N. Duncan author of “Why Do We Hate Our Bodies? ” are examples of how the norms of society shape and make people judge others only because they are different. In “Gay,” Quindlen tells a story about her friend’s friend, about how a family would rather lie about the sexual orientation of their dead son, than tell the truth and be judged by society. Duncan in “Why do We Hate Our Bodies” speaks about women and their insecurities because of how society portrays women and how they should look.
Cultural constructions shape and influence how gender is perceived, and sometimes it can promote cruelty to those who don’t fit into society’s norms. Media has a large influence on society, but especially on gender and how people view themselves and others. Media shows gender as a portrayal of beautiful bodies and hetero-sexual perfect couples. This pushes people to try to adapt and mold themselves into what the media shows this is ideal of “normal”. When Duncan writes in “Why Do We Hate Our Bodies? ” about how woman perceive themselves as ugly and see every flaw but a good one, she questions hy society does this.
“Without the media’s constant need to make people feel bad about themselves shows like Nip/Tuck, Extreme Makeover, and Dr. 90210 would not exist”(115), says Duncan as she describes how cruel media can be intentionally, yet not knowing to what extreme people can act. She writes how the media constantly is making people feel bad. Not everyone is a size 0, and when people aren’t they feel down on themselves which can lead to becoming a victim to others judging them. Media shows how females might be more influenced then men; they are usually seen on reality shows discontent with their bodies.
Women are only judged by their appearance and not their knowledge and skills. Media doesn’t just make gender seem superficial but can represent sexuality as well. In “Gay”, Quindlen writes about how a gay man whose parent would rather see him as a heroin addict then accept he was a homosexual. “We do not want our children to be too different- so different from that they face social disapprobation and ostracism, so different that they die before we do. ”(111), writes Quindlen about how society criticizes those who are different.
She writes about how people who are different might face social disapprobation, this might come from how the public gets its image about what each gender’s roles are. Media influences American society as to what roles masculine and feminine genders play. When men are represented as strong, “machista”, and unemotional, those who don’t fall under these very “simple” categorizes, can be rejected. When the public turns to the media they see a representation of what they should be like or look like when people don’t exactly fit the “expectations” they are immediately judged and seen badly upon.
Masculinity brings the perspective of a strong and very heterosexual man. On the other hand, Femininity has to be a woman who is very well dressed, mannered, and sweet. Media definitely plays a strong role on what gender is to us. Gender is the behavioral, cultural, or psychological traits typically associated with one sex according to Merriam Webster Dictionary. Societies live by what other people think and say about them, when a person is indulged in good comments about them they immediately feel better about themselves, this is the opposite when they are negative.
Men and women judge each other by appearances and other people’s personal life, which includes sexual interests. When an appearance is “approved” by another a person’s confidence rises, this the opposite when he or she isn’t “approved”. For example a large woman might not be accepted as easily by a man, as the girl with the size 0 she immediately feels rejected because of the way she looks. Duncan writes about how the women at her job feel ugly and only see the flaws, the reason being because they are trying to impress society, not themselves.
These woman were not born with this mentality, they learned it, from the media and their peers. “They give the people liposuction, tummy tucks, breast implants, collagen injections, Botox, porcelain veneers, face lifts, and whatever else they feel they need, or that the show feels that the person need”(115), Duncan writes about the reality makeover shows. She says they give them any surgery the person wants and what the show “feels” the person needs, these shows are giving society a way to judge people by what they think, instead of what an individual in charge of his or her body feels.
Duncan’s coworkers and the woman on these reality shows are being categorized in this female insecure category. Those who are seen as “ideal” are able to manipulate others by lowering their self-esteem, and making them just an object to look at, showing how the male gender might be superior to the woman’s. This is represented when women are molded and shaped at whatever wishes society desires, unlike men who are rarely seen on these shows. They are concerned about other people think about them and not how they value themselves. Society shapes not only appearances but also the ideas of personal lives.
Sexuality is a discreet topic in any community or society but it is a very heated topic when homosexuality comes in to play and the different opinions. “Luckily, the local paper did not need to print the cause of death. ”(110), writes Quindlen, as she describes the story her friend once told her. She writes luckily they didn’t print the cause of the death as if being printed would’ve been worse than death. Some might say it sounds like “social suicide”, because of the word luckily, she says that because they didn’t want to be in the mouth of people. Social suicide”, means something that would destroy a person’ social image, in this case telling the town their son was gay.
The family knew if it was published that everyone would’ve known their son had died from aids and would’ve eventually found out he was gay. The people in their community would’ve judged them, and this to them was more important than their son’s death. Communities shape our lives and keep us discreet about certain things we don’t want to be judged upon. In this case they would have been judged as their son being a weak species of male.
Roles in society of what a man or a woman should be don’t only come from media or how communities judge people, but from family values as well. Girls are told when they are young they are made of sugar and spice and everything nice, and boys are told they are made of snakes and snails and puppy dog tails. These children rhymes immediately categorize gender in what it should be like, girls very gentle and boys rough. When people don’t follow the norms of what society and family is putting into people’s head they can be very rough on themselves in fear of being rejected.
Duncan writes about how badly women treat themselves because they don’t think they will be accepted by society because of how they look. “If your body and you were married, you would go to jail for domestic violence” (115), says Duncan as she sees how these women act towards themselves, and why they treat their bodies this way. She says you’d go to jail if your body and you were married, because she feels that the way women treat themselves is unfair and hurtful. Just because they aren’t exactly what society and their families have shown them means they aren’t worth anything till they change.
Domestic violence is when someone else hurts you in a relationship. She uses this to explain how women are able to go through surgeries, gym, starving, and more just to change not for them, but for society. Through this change they aren’t hurting anyone but themselves emotionally and physically. In Disney movies children are exposed to how society is perceived, family movies such as these show the women in these stories as how society wants women to be. Perfect bodies, great personalities, sweet, kind, and always the victim, children are shown what role the must play in society.
In the movie Aladdin, Princess Jasmine is seen as an object to be married to the richest man that comes for her. This is setting an example for young girls, about how women should be, not independent but dependent of a man. It shows how strong and manly men should be;. this can make children have an impression of what role they play. When they don’t they are ashamed of how society and what their family might say.
Quindlen writes about how the man who has a passed away, always lived in fear about discussing his homosexuality with his parents, he felt he would be rejected. He tried talking to them about his illness; he didn’t want to discuss his homosexuality. That would have been too hard for them all. ” (111), says Quindlen as she expresses how her friend’s friend felt about opening to his own family who should have been the people to confine in the most. Quilden writes about how he felt talking about his homosexuality would have been too hard for them all. He says this because he knows the family values he was taught weren’t the ones he chose for his life.
He wasn’t a straight-on heterosexual male, he was gay and he didn’t feel as though he would be accepted by his family or the community around them. Sometimes your own family can make you be ashamed of who you are in fear that they won’t accept you, but the most important thing is to be able to accept yourself. Family might be harsh and cruel to someone who doesn’t fit to the norms or look a certain way but in the end they are family and will have to live with it. Cultural constructions such as family, communities and the media shape gender roles and how they should act.
Women are shown gentle, and “perfect”, men are shown as the heroes always saving weak woman. This is even demonstrated in Disney movies which are shown to children. When a person doesn’t comply with society’s desires of gender roles, they can be harshly discriminated. Women who don’t have perfect bodies and men who aren’t so strong and aren’t heterosexual can be place in category of being looked down upon. They are not only looked down upon by society but by themselves as well. Cultural construction does definitely define gender because gender isn’t defined by oneself but as a whole, by society unfortunately.