Social Structure Of Gender  

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Social Structure Of Gender



We are often told that boys and girls are different. They play different roles in the society and they have to learn different things at home and in the society.


  • Some people say that a girl is the one who has long hair
  • But, here’s someone with long hair
  • And he’s a boy




Some people say that boys are the ones who wear shorts and climb trees but then again, there is someone who wears shorts and can climb trees very quickly

  • And she’s a girl…



Some people think that it is the duty of girls to help mother in the housework – cooking and cleaning

  • But I know a man who helps his mother clean and buy vegetables
  • And he’s a boy…..



Some say mothers work all day and don’t even rest on Sundays

But we know of fathers who make hot cups of tea while mothers rest and children study


Now do you agree that both boys and girls can do equal things in life?

the fact is:


girls are not less than boys


In singing songs or flying kites,


climbing or lifting weights














Gender Roles




Gender roles are sets of behaviors, roles, and responsibilities of women and men that a culture defines as appropriate for men and women. Thus gender roles include behaviors and choices that are associated with being male or female.

Our cultural beliefs reinforce acceptable behavior for men or women. This includes what we do, what we like and how we behave. Various socialization agents include parents, teachers, peers, religious leaders, and the media.


Gender roles are reinforced at different levels of society through the assimilation of norms and values through the socialization process, household structure, access to resources, specific influences of the global economy, and other locally relevant factors.


Although deeply rooted, gender roles can change over time, as social values and norms are not static.

Socialization and Gender Roles:


  1. Gender socialization is a process of gender learning. The earliest aspects of gender learning by infants are almost certainly unconscious. They precede the stage at which a child can refer to herself as a ‘boy’ or a ‘girl’. A variety of pre-verbal cues are involved in the early development of gender awareness. Male and female adults usually handle babies differently. The cosmetics that women use have different scents that children can learn to associate with men. Systematic differences in dress, hairstyle, etc. provide clues




  1. For the infant in the learning process. By the age of two, children have a partial understanding of what gender is. They know whether they are ‘boys’ or ‘girls’, and can usually classify others accurately. However, until five or six, a child does not know that a person’s gender does not change, that everyone has a gender, or that differences between girls and boys are physiologically based.
  2. The toys, picture books, and television programs with which young children come into contact all emphasize differences between male and female characteristics. Toy stores and mail order catalogs usually categorize their products by gender.


  1. Even some boys who appear to be ‘gender neutral’ are not so in practice. For example, toy kittens or rabbits are recommended for girls, while lions and tigers are considered more appropriate for boys.
  2. Wanda Lucia Zammuner studied children’s toy preferences in two different national contexts—Italy and Holland (Zammuner: 1987). Children’s ideas and attitudes towards different types of toys were analysed; Stereotypically ‘masculine’ and ‘feminine’ toys as well as toys that were not sex-typed were included. The children were mostly between the ages of seven and ten. Both the children and their parents were asked to assess which toys were ‘boys’ toys’ and which were appropriate for girls. There was close agreement between adults and children. On average, Italian children chose sex-differential toys to play with other children than Dutch children—a finding that was in line with expectations, as Italian culture takes a more ‘traditional’ view of gender division than Dutch society. Is. As in other studies, girls in both societies chose to play with ‘gender neutral’ or ‘boys’ toys far more than they did with ‘girls’ toys’.
  3. Gender roles are based on expectations of behavior that determine the status of men and women in society. Biology is not destiny when it comes to sex roles; Women are not relegated to home and hearth in all societies because of their fertility. The belief that men and women are “naturally” suited for certain roles was dealt a serious blow by Margaret Mead (1935) in her book Sex and Temperament, an account of her observations of three trines in New Guinea. Was. Mead begins his study by assuming that there are some ba
  4. Thus differences between the sexes. She accepted the idea that men and women are inherently different and that each gender is best suited for certain roles. His findings startled him. In the three trines he studied, the roles of men and women were very different and often the opposite of what is often seen as “natural” for one gender or the other. Females do not specialize in hunting (generally considered the preserve of males) but continue this activity during pregnancy and resume soon after giving birth.


  1. Among the Yoruba in Nigeria, women are highly involved in the economy such as trade and control about two-thirds of the economy. In the African Amazon, in the ancient kingdom of Dahomey, almost half of the fighting forces were women. In other cultures, women played important military roles—for example, in the Yugoslav Liberation Movement of the 1940s. In Israel both men and women are expected to serve in combat duty (Oakley: 1972). In short, sex is used by society as a basis for differentiating social roles, but the content of those roles is not biologically determined by such factors as the larger size of males and the ability of young females to hear. differences almost

appear to be positive, and suggest that our lived sex roles are the result of cultural and social forces rather than the “natural” order of things.

  1. In the study of gender, the importance of femininity and masculinity lies in their relation to gender roles (sometimes referred to as sex roles). These are sets of expectations and ideas about how women and men should think, feel, appear, and behave in relation to other people. In Western societies, for example, men who look and behave in culturally masculine ways are seen as conforming to their gender roles.
  2. There is some disagreement about both the existence of gender roles and their importance for understanding gender inequality. For example, “feminine” women are expected to leave husbands, not for brothers or sons, even though their status in each case—wife, sister, or mother—is that of women naturally. This suggests that there are no specific male roles or female roles (just as there are no specific race roles or class roles) but only loosely linked sets of ideas about men and women that are sought to be socially controlled and maintained. Can be applied for various purposes including. Patriarchy as a male dominated system.



  1. National Policy for Women Empowerment
  2. As a follow-up to the commitments made by India during the Fourth World Conference on Women held in Beijing during September 1995, the Department formulated a National Policy for the Empowerment of Women after nationwide consultations to raise the status of women in the country. Drafted the policy. Realizing the constitutional guarantee of equality of men in all spheres of life and without discrimination on the basis of gender.



  1. The draft policy was considered by a Core Group of Experts in its meeting held on 8.11.1995. The draft policy was circulated to select women’s organizations for consultation at the field level with state governments, state women’s commissions, state social welfare advisory boards, women’s organizations, academicians, experts and activists. These women’s organizations completed the consultation process at the regional level in December, 1995.
  2. A meeting of the Secretaries of the States concerned with the Women’s Development/Social Welfare Departments was held on 27.12.1995 to consider the draft National Policy for the Empowerment of Women. The draft National Policy was also discussed in the meeting of the Committee of Secretaries in its meeting held on 7.3.1996. The restructured National Policy was discussed in the Parliamentary Consultative Committee attached to the Ministry of Human Resource Development on 17.12.96 and 13.02.97.


  1. The comments/views of the concerned Central Ministries/Departments were obtained and the revised policy document prepared on the basis of the comments received from other Ministries/Departments was sent to the Cabinet Secretariat on 30th June, 1999 for obtaining Cabinet approval for the policy. was sent to The Cabinet Secretariat has suggested that the process of inter-departmental consultations in this matter may be completed after the formation of the new government. The process of consultation has already been started.






Construction of Gender Roles:

Socialization has three main bases in the formation of gender roles. These are as follows:


  • Family
  • Schools and Peer Groups
  • Media and Communication.




Family and Socialization:


She is expected to be at home for household chores. However, such questions are less frequent in the case of boys, who are mostly late coming home etc. Part of the stereotyping process is the belief that boys have more freedom and a right to self-expression than girls. , In the case of girls, the expectations and obligations are more stringent, and they have fewer rights accordingly.




  1. There have been many studies on how gender differences develop in the family.
  2. The family plays an important role in the process of socialization. Studies of mother-infant interactions show differences in the treatment of boys and girls, even when parents believe their reactions to the two are similar.


  1. Adults are asked to assess a child’s personality, giving different answers as to whether they consider the child to be a girl or a boy. In one experiment, five young mothers were observed interacting with six-month-old Beth. They often smiled at him and offered their dolls to play with. She was seen as a ‘sweet’, ‘soft cry’. u


The reaction of the second group of mothers to a child aged 4. C, who was named Adam, was quite different. The child may have been offered a train or other ‘male toy’ to play with. Beth and Adam were actually identical children dressed in different clothes (Will, Self & Dathan: 1976).

  1. It is not only parents and grandparents whose perceptions of babies differ in this way. One study analyzed the words used by birth medical personnel about newborns. Newborn male babies were often described as ‘strong’, ‘handsome’, or ‘tough’; Girl babies were often talked about as ‘beautiful’, ‘sweet’ or ‘attractive’. There was no difference in overall size or weight between the infants in question (Hansen: 1980).



  influence of school and peer group

  1. Peer-group socialization plays a major role in reinforcing and further shaping gender identity in a child’s school life. In and out of school, children’s peer groups are usually either all-boys or all-girls groups.


  1. By the time they start school, children have a clear awareness of gender differences. Schools are generally not considered to be differentiated on the basis of gender. In practice, of course, a range of factors affect girls and boys differently. In many countries, there are still differences in the curriculum followed by girls and boys—home economics or ‘domestic science’ being studied by the former, for example, woodworking or metalworking by the latter. Boys and girls are often encouraged to focus on different sports. Teachers’ attitudes may be subtle or more overtly different towards their female than their male students,




  1. Reinforcing the expectation that boys are expected to be ‘performers’, or tolerate more fuss




  1. Media and Communication:
  2. Studies of the most viewed cartoons show that virtually all of the prominent figures are men, and that the active activities depicted are dominated by men. Similar images are found in commercials that appear at regular intervals throughout the programs.
  3. In modern times, media is influencing the behavior of children especially television programmes. Although there are some notable exceptions, the analysis of television programs designed for children is consistent with the findings for children’s books.
  4. Books and Stories:
  5. Some twenty years ago, Lenore Weitzman and her colleagues analyzed gender roles in some of the most widely used pre-school children’s books (Weitzman et al.: 1972), finding several clear differences in gender roles Find out. Men played a much larger role in the stories and illustrations than women, outnumbering women by an 11 to 1 ratio. Including sex-identified animals, the ratio was 95 to 1. The activities of men and women also differed. Men engaged in adventurous pursuits and outdoor activities, seeking independence and strength. Where girls did appear, they were shown to be passive and mostly confined to indoor activities. The girls cooked and cleaned for the men, or waited for their return.
  6. The same was true of the adult men and women depicted in the story-books. Those who were not wives and mothers, were imaginary creatures like the witches of fairy godmothers. In all the books analysed, there was not a single woman who had an occupation outside the home. In contrast, men were portrayed in a greater range of roles as fighters, policemen, judges, kings and so forth. More recent research suggests that things have changed somewhat, but that much and much of children’s literature has remained the same (Davies: 1991).
  7. There are still picture-books and story-books written from a non-sexist perspective




  1. There was little impact on the overall market for children’s literature. Fairy tales, for example, convey very traditional attitudes towards gender and the goals and ambitions expected of girls and boys. “Someday my prince will come” – In many earlier fairy tale versions, it is usually implied that a girl from a poor family may dream of wealth and fortune. Today, the meaning is more closely related to the ideals of romantic love. is linked to.



  1. June Statham studies the experiences of a group of parents in the UK committed to raising non-sexist children. The research included thirty adults in eighteen families with children ranging in age from six months to twelve years. The parents were from middle-class background, mostly involved in academic background as teachers or professors. Statham found that most parents not only sought to modify traditional sex roles—making girls more like boys—but also wanted to promote a new combination of ‘feminine’ and ‘masculine’. They wanted boys to be more sensitive to the feelings of others and able to express warmth, while girls were encouraged to have opportunities for an active orientation toward learning and self-advancement.
  2. All parents found it difficult to combat existing patterns of gender learning as their children were exposed to these with friends and at school. The parents were reasonably successful in persuading the children to play with non-gender-type toys, but this also proved more difficult than many of them expected. Practically all the children actually had genderqueer-type toys, given to them by relatives. There are storybooks now that have strong, independent girls as main characters, but very few boys in non-traditional roles. Clearly, sexual socialization is very powerful, and challenging it can be troubling.



  1. Ann Oakley, a British sociologist and supporter of the women’s liberation movement

Lands firmly on the side of culture as a holder. She expressed, ‘nor is the division of labor by sex not universal, but there is no reason why it should be so’. Human cultures are diverse and endlessly variable and owe their creation to human invention rather than to invincible biological forces. Oakley reviews the arguments made by George Peter Murdock on the universality of the sexual division of labor




  1. And the tasks of men and women were divided according to their functional roles. She claims this aspect of Murdock being biased and westernized in his approach to typecasting women’s roles in terms of ‘expressive’ rather than a combination of expressive and instrumental functions.
  2. Oakley examines a number of societies in which biology appears to have little
  3. Or no effect on women’s roles. The Mbuti Pygmies, a hunting and gathering society living in the Kondo rain forests, had no specific rules for the division of labor by gender. Men and women hunt together. There is no distinction between the roles of father and mother, with both sexes sharing the responsibility of caring for the children. Among the Australian Aborigines of Tasmania, both men and women were responsible for seal hunting, fishing, and catching opossums (tree-dwelling mammals).
  4. Turning to present-day societies, Oakley notes that women are an important part of many armed forces, notably those of China, Russia, Cuba, and Israel. Therefore, Oakley claims that the above example shows that there are no exclusively female roles and that biological characteristics do not prevent women from having particular jobs. She considers the supposed ‘biologically based inability’ of women to perform their heavy and demanding work a myth.
  5. Oakley comments on the Parsonian approach as promoting a biased system of beliefs that centers a woman’s life around the expressive domain. They argue that the role of the expressive homemaker mother is not essential to the functioning of the family unit.


  1. It exists only for the convenience of men. She further claims that Parson’s interpretation of gender roles is only a valid myth for domestic abuse of women. Oakley is therefore a positive prop of a sublime womanhood to an all-encompassing wide domain of expressive talents and innate strength.


  1. Friedel offers another explanation for the sexual division of labor and male dominance. She favors a cultural explanation taking into account the vast variation in gender roles between societies. For example, she observes that in some societies, activities such as weaving, pottery-making and sewing are ‘inherently considered to be men’s work, in others women’s. It is significant, however, that societies in which men perform such tasks are of greater prestige than those where they are performed by their female counterparts. Friedl sees this as a reflection of male dominance, which, she maintains, is present to some degree in all societies. She defines ‘male dominance’ as a condition




  1. Men who have highly preferential access, though not always exclusive rights, to those activities to which society attaches greatest value and the exercise of which allows a measure of control over others.’ She further comments that the degree of male dominance is a result of the frequency with which males have more authority than females to distribute goods outside the household group. This activity brings great prestige and power to the male class. He confirmed this by examining some hunting and gathering societies. Friedel’s ideas are therefore novel and interesting, and reveal a fascinating interplay between biology and culture.


Differentiation in the process of socialization:

  1. You might think that she would be spending that time at school. If you are an urban dweller, you will be familiar with the discussions at home, or perhaps on radio and television, about how difficult it is for parents to keep their daughters at home after school hours , Let participate in extra-curricular activities. Parents and guardians are constantly worried about their safety in public buses; And, in any case, there is always the question of relations and friends who want to know why it is important for girls to play football or study music.
  2. Educationist Krishna Kumar’s (1986) experience of the “growing man” is amply corroborated by anthropologist Leela Dubey’s (1988) and psychoanalyst Sudhir Kakkar’s study of male and female socialization in India. Thus, seeing girls walking straight home from school in “silent clusters” led Kumar to believe that “girls are not persons”. As boys, he and his companions were free to spend time on the road, experimenting with bicycles and watching the world go by. Such happiness was rarely available to a large section of middle class girls. For girls in villages who have to earn a living, or help at home and do odd jobs like fetching and carrying, the restrictions on movement are not so severe. If you live in a village, you will see that till puberty a girl is not allowed to go to public place.

May be allowed to move freely on the trains.

 Gender In Advertising


Almost from the beginning of the feminist movement, feminists have been critical of the images of women depicted in advertising (much of it targeted at women as the main household consumers). Based primarily on a content analysis of advertisements, feminists such as Betty Friedan (1963) argued in her book The Feminine Mystique that women were routinely portrayed either as homemakers and mothers, or as sex objects. I went. Women are encouraged by advertisements to view their bodies as objects. and is thus different and more important than their subjective self, and in need of constant change and improvement. The implication is, as pointed out by Naomi Wolf (1990) in The Beauty Myth, that the required level of physical perfection can be achieved through the purchase and application of appropriate products. Femists have also pointed out that advertisements often ‘symbolically dismember’ women by dividing their bodies into different parts – women’s faces, legs, breasts, eyes, hair, and so on. become the center of consumption. It is suggested that reducing women to their body parts dehumanises and degrades women so that they are viewed as less than fully human rather than thought.




Speaking, acting ‘whole’ subject.

In her work on advertising (which adopted a content analysis approach), Gillian Dyer (1982) argued that men are more likely to be portrayed as independent; women as dependents. And men are typically shown as having expertise and authority (for example, being objective and knowledgeable about particular products), while women are often shown simply as consumers. She also found that of the advertisements focusing on the home, most featured images of women but with male voice-overs. This was also the case in most advertisements for household products, food products, and beauty products. Dyer concludes from this that the treatment of women in advertisements amounts to what Tuchman (1981) has described as the ‘symbolic destruction’ of women. In other words, the ads reflect the dominant notion that ‘women are not important except in the home, and even men know best’, as evidenced by the male voice-over.

These findings can be compared with a more recent study conducted by Cumberbatch (1990) for the Broadcasting Standards Council in the UK. The study found that there were twice as many men as women in the commercials, yet the majority (89 percent) used a male voice-over, even though the ad featured a predominantly female one. The women in the ads were younger and more physically attractive than the men. Men were twice as likely as women to be in paid employment, and work was shown as important to men’s lives while relationships were shown to be more important to women, even at work. Only 7 percent of the ads studied showed women doing housework, but women were twice as likely to be shown washing or cleaning than men.


Men were more likely than women to be shown cooking for a special occasion or where special skill was required. Women were more likely than men to be shown cooking ‘everyday’ food. Women were twice as likely to be portrayed as married and to receive sexual advances (though usually not in the same advertisements) as men.

Drawing on Gramsci’s concept of hegemony, Myra MacDonald (1995) in her book Representing Women identifies three constructions of female identity which, she argues, dominated advertising discourse during the twentieth century. These are: the competent household manager, the guilty mother and, most recently, the new woman – ‘playful, indulgent, sexually aware and adventurous’. The latter, she argues, flatters rather than compels women to buy consumer goods, especially beauty.

   In the advertising discourse of the ‘New Woman’, MacDonald identifies three forms of co-option of feminist ideas and ideology, which she argues emerged in consumer discourses in the 1980s and 1990s. These are the appropriation of quasi-feminist concepts: the reworking of care to make it compatible with self-fulfillment, and the acceptance of female fantasies.

Again, feminist studies have suggested that in recent years there has been a shift in the construction of gender in advertisements, a shift that requires a more thorough treatment than content analysis of stereotypical representations. Some feminists have pointed out that the most obvious change in the representation of women has been from the portrayal of a domestically oriented woman to a woman who seeks to please herself (particularly through the use of beauty and hair products). in advertisements). This has led some commentators such as Macdonald (1995) and Goldman (1992) to argue that in recent years advertising

A ‘new woman’ has emerged. She is usually presented as a ‘superwoman’ – a woman who strives to succeed in her career, to have a clean and shiny house, to be a good mother and wife, to make delicious home-cooked meals. manages to create and of course, to become. sexually attractive, and so on.


  In trying to explain the emergence of the superwoman in advertising, Goldman (and others) have focused not on the content of the ads themselves, but on their wider social context. Goldman, for example, argues that advertisers forced to recognize the greater participation of women in the labor force, as well as changes in gender relations, began to exploit this new market and target a specific type of consumer, the ‘professional woman’. started targeting. Therefore, in Goldman’s view, marketing strategies sought to co-opt and commodify the notion of women’s liberation. Goldman’s account emphasizes that advertisers sought to incorporate feminist ideas and thus removed their critical power in relation to advertising.

drawing on semiotics and also a Marxist theory of

consumption, Goldman describes this co-option of feminism as ‘commodity feminism’ (playing on the Marxist concept of ‘commodity fetishism’ – the idea that commodity relations transform the relations of acting subjects into relations between objects). Are). This means that, from the point of view of advertisers, feminism is not a social movement with a particular politics and ideology that may threaten to undermine the power of advertising, but rather a ‘style’ that can be achieved by consuming particular products. can be done. , Feminism has been redefined and repackaged so that certain items can be claimed to signify a feminist lifestyle. are feminists




So created, Goldman Argus as just another consumer category among many others. In advertising, feminism is believed to be represented by combining a variety of symbols that reflect freedom of participation in paid work, personal freedom, and self-control. Goldman suggests that in ‘commodity feminist’ advertisements, women are portrayed not as a man’s need for fulfillment, but as an exclusive product. The implication is that social change occurs not through protest, strike, or challenge to the legal system, but through the consumption of personal goods. Therefore, this particular aspect of consumer culture is often associated with post-feminism.


In sum, feminists have pointed out that analysis of the content of advertising has been useful to the extent that they can give us an account of the underlying sexism in many advertisements, and the extent to which women are given roles in advertising. Surprisingly stable. But content analysis can’t explain where these images come from in the first place. Content analysis, for example, cannot account for why traditional images of women in advertising have evolved into markedly more ‘liberated’ or ‘ironic’ depictions. Gill (1988) has argued, for example, that an advertisement which used a demand raised by feminists in abortion campaigns, ‘a woman’s right to choose’, as a holiday slogan for young people , would have been judged to be ‘feminist’ based on a study of its contents alone. A content analysis approach would register words such as ‘freedom’ or ‘rights’ or ‘to express oneself in a positive form of feminist thought’. Therefore, more recent analyzes from concepts derived from Marxism and also from semiology have argued that advertisements are made to mean something as a result of the ways in which the ideologies contained within them resonate with their wider social context.

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