Gender – Critical Aspect of Social Inequality

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Gender has been defined as a means to serve to reduce assumed parallels between biological and psychological sex or at least make explicit any assumptions of such parallels (Unger 1976, p. 1086). Gender inequality is a prevalent issue in society as a whole, and America is no exception. It is a sociological construct which carves the path in which men and women will live their lives, affecting a broad range of choices and availability of resources (Macionis, 2018). Gender inequality exists due to the fact that women and men are clearly defined as distinctive types of people (Macionis, 2018).

Gender inequality primarily impacts women. For instance, women often encounter a glass ceiling which defines the maximum potential for promotions in their often male dominated professions. Alison Bechdel demonstrated gender inequality in the form of a simple cartoon which depicted a test where a movie passed if it met this criteria: there are at least two female characters with names, those characters interact with one another, and their discussions include something other than men (Macionis, 2018). Applying this test to recent films, analysts claim that around half do not pass this test (Macionis, 2018). This simple test depicts the way in which men dominate society, and while some women do rise above, many hit the glass ceiling. In fact, due to the presence of several forms of gender inequalities, the workplace has been claimed at times to be inhospitable for women (Abrams, 1991).

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Additionally, books and media influence children by presenting stereotypical roles of men and women, with women lacking representation in traditionally male roles (Purcell and Stuart 1990). More over, these influences continue later in life and spread to other means, such as video games, social media and celebrities. Even advertisements perpetuate gender bias and reinforce gender norms, with men in advertisements shown to focus on the product they’re representing, while women focus on the men (Goffman, 1979). In fact, gender is instilled into children even before they are born by parents carefully selecting gender appropriate clothing, such as pink for newborn girls and blue for newborn boys (Zosuls et al., 2001).

Why is it that gender exists at all? In earlier times, the use of gender and the roles each sex played were more abundant than in today’s time. The differences in biological make up that each sex carried were far more important (Macionis, 2018). For instance, in the time of hunters and gatherers, there was no means of controlling pregnancy and reproduction, which burdened women as being caretakers of their many children (Macionis, 2018). Because women were bound to their homes and their children, women were forced to construct their roles around the home (Macionis, 2018). Thus, women often took on such jobs as planting and gathering vegetation to provide food for themselves and their family (Macionis,

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