How Are We To Assess Gender In Relation To The Formation Of Identity?

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorCollege, Undergraduate August 2001

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Identity and gender form so much of the human condition that when looking at Sociology it must be imperative to have a clear understanding of the complex links between the two. In this essay, I intend to, firstly define what gender is, then to look at how this definition of gender affects out identity. In order to see how gender affects identity I will also have to include a definition of what identity constitutes. I intend to look at different extremes of gender definition in order to reflect on both societies current role in gender definition and to look at how gender will affects identity in the future.

Gender is simply defined as the broad set of qualities or attributes that we associate with our typical view of a man or a woman. This is not to be confused with the biologically determined sex of a human, since a human who is biologically male can exhibit feminine character traits and vice versa.

Our western view of a typical man may include characteristics such as competitiveness, aggression, and being non domesticated, whereas when we think of a woman we may think of things such as emotional strength, caring and nurturing. This set of characteristics can change depending on the society studied, but whatever the definition roles termed masculine and feminine still exist. It is by combining or conforming to these social roles that define our gender, i.e. how masculine or feminine we are.

Since society creates our concept of masculine and feminine stereotypes society will also judge humans who use their gender as a part of their identity. For example a woman who is very feminine will be seen to be healthy and well adjusted by the society that defines the stereotype. She will by the same token though, be treated...