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Social Construction Of Gender And Identity

1725 words - 7 pages

In today's society, every aspect of someone's day is based on whether or not he or she fits into the norms that have been created by society. Specifically, masculine and feminine norms have a great impact in questioning the image of a true man or woman, and feelings of fitting in. Susan Faludi in The Naked Citadel article discussed it clearly that The Citadel, a public military college focuses on empowering the male students to be the dominant figures. If males are not fulfilling the masculine role, and females are not playing their role, then their gender identity is questioned. According to their personal judgment, as well as gender norms in the college community, cadets are expected to become real men. Norms in The Citadel College are made carefully to change cadets' lives. They recruit new students, and emphasize directly to recreate their gender identity by guiding them to specific gender norms and activities they can do in the college community. Faludi’s demonstration on strict gender norms in cadets’ lives bring a better understanding of gender separation in Iranian society that Azar Nafisi point it out in her memoir “Reading Lolita in Tehran.” Moreover, the social construction of gender and identity is not limited in being a true male or a true female, but also it is about fitting in a specific group of people in society and not being left out. Leila Ahmed in On Becoming an Arab selection demonstrated her experience with her Arab identity throughout her life. As a child, and later as an adult, she is just different and those around her see her differently. Therefore, children are raised so they follow certain guidelines that direct them to a specific gender identity. Parents as part of their parental obligation try to raise their children according to their gender they belong to. For instance young boys are raised to be dominant among themselves and over opposite sex; also, young girls are raised to be more passive and obedient. The rigid construction of gender rules and social norms keep and limits cadets, Iranian women and Ahmed's life in a circle with certain guidelines and beliefs about their well defined identities as males, and females.
Identity is a state of mind which is used as a guideline to identify someone’s character traits which leads to finding out who they are and what they do and not that of someone else. However there is one's identity as an individual and identity as a group. Moreover, specific strategies are used to gather and separate these social groups from each other by creating specific rigid rules and guidelines for them to follow, like those of gender roles in The Citadel cadets and female students in Tehran University. Faludi discusses the theme of identity and a strategy used in specifying, keeping, and empowering the male and female boundaries in The Citadel for male cadets. The cadets are encouraged and taught in a way that helps them intrigue themselves and relate their characters and their emotions to...

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