Social Construction of Gender
Is gender identity a social construction? If so, then isn't our sexual orientation?
I wonder what we truly learn and internalize from the media and society. What is naturally innate to us? I’ve talked to people discussing representation in the media. We talk about how certain features on a person are more desirable than others. Is this really the fault of the media and society? I admit that the world has a fascination with western culture; we all gravitate to it. Western culture is the predominant culture with films, books, news, etc. We love western foods, languages, and their physical look.
I’ve read articles and seen videos trying to explain how Black and Asian people are lightening their skin, straightening their hair, and even dying their hair in lighter tones. The usual culprit to these stories was western culture. The argument is that western dominance in media and society’s acceptance of that has influenced colored minorities. So how much of an influence does the media have on us? Are we actually persuaded so much throughout our lives that we’re willing to change our skin color and dress a certain way? Changing skin color is a pretty drastic change. Do we naturally find beauty in the lighter skin tone or are we influenced by society?
Similarly we have people that don’t identify with their given gender. Is this a social construct or has this been innate in them their whole life? I remember one of my nephews used to love playing with dolls and princesses, but it was because when he went to nursery school where he was surrounded with girls. He just wanted to fit in. That’s got nothing to do with gender, but it does have something to do with gender norms. Society’s gender norms dictate to boys to like certain toys and girls others. Today these norms are being blurred a little, but we still have strong gender norms. I’m all for the blurring of gender norms, but if they are so easily blurred they have to be socially constructed. If gender norms are blurred, how can you identify with a gender? Is gender as an ideology a social construct? I have to separate this from physical gender because physically we have no control over what we are. We are what we are. It’s a different story when it comes to our minds. There’s nothing wrong with preferring to be one gender over another, but I wonder if any of it has to do with how we’ve grown up. Did society play a role in what gender we identify with?
Then let’s go to another level. I know this is a slippery slope, but it’s all just thinking for fun. Let’s assume that our decision to identify with a gender (some don’t even identify with any gender) is influenced by society. Let’s also assume that beauty norms are influenced by the media and society. We now have a pretty big question. What about sexual orientation? If I am attracted to women, is it the ideal of what a woman looks like or is it that she is physically a woman? Modern technology has blurred the line for genders. A woman can look like a man physically and a man can look like a woman physically. Does it make a heterosexual man gay if he wants to be with a woman that has become a man or is he gay if he wants to be a man that now looks like a woman?
The ideal man and woman are often portrayed in the media to be over sexualized. We exaggerate certain features of each of these genders. Men and women strive to achieve these looks but we are not all born with the same bodies. Everyone grows up in different circumstances as well. Is it natural to identify with any of these exaggerated portrayals? Clothes are a construct of society. Who wears what is definitely a socially constructed norm. It’s an interesting time because more and more people want to remove these social norms, but if the genders become blurred how can we say that we are truly innate in our decisions with gender and sexuality?