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Doing Gender How Society Creates Differences Between Girls And Boys

1823 words - 7 pages

In this essay I discuss that "doing gender means creating differences between girls and boys and women and men...." (West & Zimmerman 2002:13) I am concentrating on the female perspective, how societyputs forth expectations of what is 'natural' or biological even though, in some cases, it can be quite demeaning and degrading. I am using some examples from the local media and also a few childhoodexperiences that have helped me to now strongly suspect that the quote from Simone Beauvoir (1972) "One is not born a woman, but rather becomes one" most likely has quite a bit of truth to it.There is continuing controversy about the differences between girls and boys, men and women, the biological make-up and also how men and women grow up in society and are treated in different ways. Questions can be asked about the gender and sexuality of male or female when itcomes to girls and boys, men and women, and whether they are heterosexual, bisexual or homosexual or any other recognizable orientation. The 'fixed in stone' two-gender system is touted byvarious conservative groups, especially in some socio-political or religious arenas. It differs from country to country. The Netherlands seems to be ahead of many other countries in it's 'liberalism'. In anarticle called 'Pop singer steps in for pregnant MP' written in The Press by David Charter, "The Netherlands has become well known for its progressive social legislation, including the first legal gay marriage and adoption in the world as well as the first legal euthanasia." (The Press, Christchurch, Wednesday, April 30, 2008). New Zealand has considered itself progressive, in the past, as the first country in the world to allow women to vote for parliamentary elections. NewZealand also had the world's first transsexual MP, Georgina Beyer, who was elected to parliament in 1999 and who left in 2007.My childhood experience of 'doing gender' was growing up as a girl/adolescent, and both challenging and attempting to adapt to what is expected of a girl at that time. The period of time was the early1970's and I was growing up as a missionary kid, on a remote mission station in Malawi, Africa. This was probably around the time that women were throwing their knickers at Tom Jones. When one of the newly arrived American missionary kids, 7 year old Catherine, attempted toteach me one of the Beatles' hits, "I want to hold your hand.", I screwed my nose up at her, to her surprise, and said, "Ha ha! That's so silly!" Because of a conservative Christian upbringing and beingaway from the rest of the world, my knowledge of western culture was very limited. I didn't know about famous musicians like the Beatles, Tom Jones, or Elvis Presley until I was back in New Zealand and in mylate teens. On this small mission station we had no television or adequate radio coverage, other than some tribal African musicians who sounded very much like, Jamaican born, 'Shaggy' does now and Idefinitely wouldn't call his song "Angel" 'silly'....

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