WOMEN & GENDER
Genderis a social construction that assigns various roles and expectationsto a certain gender. In so doing, variations in societies andcultures lead to variations in the definition, meaning and roles andexpectations assigned to each gender.1These roles and expectations assigned to each gender are portrayedand perpetuated by everyday activities. For in instance, the mediaplays an integral role in the modern society by reinforcing andperpetuating the various gender roles and expectations. The malegender dominates society and largely determines which gender rolesare assigned to each gender in what is called patriarchy.2This paper discusses some of the key issues in understandingPatriarchy and how it works and offers contemporary examples andoffers personal views on the same with support from relevant sources.
Toachieve this, the paper looks at the examples of patriarchy frommodern media and from personal examples. The personal views inregards to examples provided will be supported by relevant literatureprovided in the course materials.
Toaddress the topic amicably, there is need to understand whatpatriarchy is. Although there is no standard definition ofpatriarchy, many writers tend to associate patriarchy with genderwhile others say that patriarchy goes beyond gender.3Covey says that the conceptualization of a father as head of thefamily is replicated in the wider society where males play thedominant role.4Canada fits well with the definition of a patriarchal society. Themain reason is that most households are headed by men and the samesituation is played out in the entire society.5
Inmy life, I have experienced patriarchy on many occasions. Startingfrom my early days in school, I was taught that the father is thehead of a household which highlights the patriarchal nature of ourCanadian society. In the same manner, I have observed that when myDad travels, he always tells my younger brother that he is the man ofthe house and he should take care of me and my sister. I find this tobe very ironical because my younger brother is just five and I haveto literally babysit him. The same situation is observed where malesin any household assume to be the heads regardless of their age,ability to fend for the household or even protect it.6
Majormedia outlet shave propagated a rhetoric that shows men as thedominant sex in their relations with women. In line with patriarchy,women are portrayed as subordinate to men and are largely portrayedas sex symbols for use by men.7For instance, looking at the Elle magazine, I noted several examplesof patriarchy some adverts for major brands such as Calvin Klein,SuitsSupply and Dolce & Gabanna (Appendix A). I observed howwomen are portrayed as opposed to men and it is outright patriarchal.In one of the Dolce & Gabanna there are three nude men and threenude women (Appendix A). However, how the men pose portray a sense ofpower while in women it is shyness and timidity.
Inthe ad by SuitsSupply, the sexual connotation is very obvious(Appendix C). The man in the image seems to control the woman in asexual manner. In the Calvin Klein ad, there is just an image ofwoman in underwear that is airbrushed as it looks unreal (AppendixC). The image also exposes some degree of nudity. The most dominantissue in these adverts is the sexual objectification of women.Looking at the images, I felt that men obtain their self-worth frommen and not their own by virtue of their existence. The fact thatsuch ads are acceptable in Canada shows to what extent the societyaccepts the concept that men are in control and anything shouldmatter if it matters to men only.
However,women are not the only ones affected by this patriarchy. Men too areaffected as they have to abide by a set of rules.8In the case of my younger brother, he is not expected to cry as aman. This includes when he visits the doctor for an injection or evenfalls on his bike. The message that “real men don’t cry” isrepeated in such situations which reinforces his gender identity.9 I also recall that while I was growing up, my mother always insistedthat I need to develop excellent cooking skills because no man wouldwant to marry a woman who cannot cook. This created in me theimpression that the only purpose I have in life is to grow up and bea wife to someone.
Inparticular, the Canadian society portrays women as secondary orsubordinate to men. While a young man is assumed to protect the otherfemales, the image portrayed is that men are legitimately superior towomen by nature which is not the case.10To children, the notion created is that ability and talents aredetermined by being male or female which is not the case. Scienceshows that all are born equal and that what men do, women can do ittoo.11The same patriarchy notions have restricted women and women toparticular careers and jobs with those who dare to cross over to anodd profession looked down upon as weird.
Thesame concept is replicated in everyday interactions. Blonde jokes area common occurrence in the media and more so in the social media.People make fun of women with blonde hair and women in general.Majority of these jokes are made by men and aimed showing these womenas stupid, silly or even uneducated. However, the scope of thesejokes has spread further to include other women and show women ingeneral as stupid compared to men. This is because the title ‘blonde’does not constitute a well-bounded ethnic, professional or socialgroup.12Such jokes are likely to lead to increased toleration of hostilefeelings towards women. These jokes also popularize a negative femalestereotype that also increases the risk of violence behavior towardswomen.13Additionally, these jokes are based on wrong premises as no study hascategorically proven that the female brain works differently to thatof a male.14
Itherefore feel that there is need to challenge the current trends insociety where patriarchy has taken over. There is need to offer womenmore room to contribute more towards society. The feminist movementis one of the movements seeking to change the status quo. Governmentsshould play a critical role in sensitizing society and funding suchdrives that seek to empower and support women.
Covey,R.A. (2013). Inca Gender relations: from household to empire. InBrettell, C. &
Sargent,C. (eds). Genderin Cross-Cultural Perspective(6th ed.) New York: Pearson
Crow,B. & Gottell, L. (2008). Openboundaries:a Canadian women’s studies reader3rded.
Fausto-Sterling,A. (2000). Sexingthe body: gender politics and the construction of sexuality,
NewYork: Basic Books.
Fine,C. (2013). Delusions of gender: what does it all mean anyway? andbrain scams. In
Brettell,C. & Sargent, C. (eds). Genderin Cross-Cultural Perspective(6th ed.) New York: Pearson.
Ross,K. (2011). Thehandbook of gender, sex and media. JohnWiley & Sons.
Townsend,N. W. (2013). Fatherhoodand the mediating role of women.InBrettell, C. &
Sargent,C. (eds). Genderin Cross-Cultural Perspective(6th ed.) New York: Pearson.
Ward,M. & Edelstein, M. (2009). Aworld full of women(6th edition). New York: Pearson
Wood,J. (2014). Genderedlives.New York: Cengage Learning
Dolce & Gabanna.
1 Covey, R.A. (2013). Inca Gender Relations: From Household to Empire. In Brettell, C. & Sargent, C. (eds).
Gender in Cross-Cultural Perspective (6th ed.) New York: Pearson 2013.
3Ward, M. & Edelstein, M. (2009). A World Full of Women (6th edition). New York: Pearson
4 Covey (2013).
6 Covey 2013
7 Fausto-Sterling, Anne. Sexing the Body: Gender Politics and the Construction of Sexuality, New York: Basic Books, 2000.
8 Fine, C. (2013). Delusions of Gender: What Does it All Mean Anyway? and Brain Scams. In Brettell, C. &
Sargent, C. (eds). Gender in Cross-Cultural Perspective (6th ed.) New York: Pearson 2013.
9 Wood, J. (2014). Gendered lives. New York: Cengage Learning, p. 22.
10 Crow, B. & Gottell, L. (2008). Open Boundaries: A Canadian Women’s Studies Reader (3rd ed.) Toronto: Pearson
11 Fine (2013).
12 Ross, K. (2011). The handbook of gender, sex and media. John Wiley & Sons., p. 33.
13 Ward & Edelstein, (2009)
14 Fine (2013)