Different Views Of Gender Essay

1883 words - 8 pages

When one hears the word “gender” it is typically assumed to be referring to the biological sex of that individual. However, gender is not a static concept in our world anymore. The traditional spheres of what is masculinity and femininity have become increasingly muddled as our society progresses socially and becomes more accepting. Along with this, however, social processes continue to take place to enforce what we believe a man and a woman should be, in an attempt to force people to fit into what we see as being a man and a woman.
There are many perspectives on how gender is defined and affects us. While gender arguably the direct result of our culture, viewing it from a structural ...view middle of the document...

Approaching the perfume counter, I started looking at random display bottles of perfume, not entirely sure of what I was doing. The sales lady behind the counter immediately noticed me, and I couldn’t help but feel she was judging me, regardless of the reality of what she was truly thinking. The sales associate then approached me and asked if she could help me find what I was looking for. Even her polite demeanour was off putting to me and I had difficultly looking her in the eye and responding that I was just browsing. She followed up with a question asking if I was purchasing perfume for my girlfriend. I told her no, I was looking for me. My response seemed to confuse her and she quietly said that if I needed any help I could just ask. This simple verbal exchange over perfume took me outside of my comfort zone entirely and I left the store the moment she turned away from me. After leaving the store, I contemplated about why the interaction of just browsing perfumes without the intention of buying it for a female was so intimidating to me and seemed to disorient the sales woman.
Products such as perfume and make-up are items I had been taught were for women only. Men do not wear make-up, and in place of perfume they wear cologne. Even the scents themselves are meant to differentiate gender. Most perfumes are floral, or sweet, while men’s tends to be stronger and have a more earthy scent. This small experience was revealing about the gender norms I and the saleswoman held due to our socialization into the North American culture. Why did I care so much about my self-image from just purchasing perfume for myself? It didn’t hurt anyone, yet I felt guilty even though I had no intention of buying it. I had originally believed that there was a general consensus about what we believe is masculine and feminine. After this exercise, it dawned on me that is not true. Those concepts are entirely subjective. What we see as masculine and feminine varies by country, by region, and even by individual. While one individual may believe being femininity is defined by passivity and quietness, another could believe it is kindness and beauty. This leads me to believe we can never have one static definition for these terms, because they are simply too illusory to begin with. In hindsight, cologne is just perfume for men and many men do in actuality wear make-up, be it as a fashion statement, to entertain, or look well on camera.
This leads me to believe that my definitions of what are masculine and feminine come from my culture. I was born and raised in Canada, and thus have had firmly held beliefs in what the difference between the genders are, which are a part of the nonmaterial culture aspect that society has created (Macionis, Jansson & Benoit, 2013). I consider a woman to be kind, caring, and generally contain many maternal traits I associate with my mother and grandmother. I have also grown up with the prototypical man figure of someone who is tough,...

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