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Dilia Morales Monroy
Professor Ditch
English 114A
9 December 2014
Sex And Gender
People are born with a specific sex, but not gender. Once an infant is born he/she does
not have the ability of being able to know if their sex in our society falls in the category of male
or female. This is something that is learned from their parents, the media, and society over all as
they start to develop and they themselves start to build their gender and live their lives according
to it. There is a possibility that many confuse gender and sex as being the same, however, sex is
biological and gender is a performance that is done by many therefore being socially constructed.
“Night To His Day” by Judith Lorber and “From Women, Men, and Society” by Claire Renzetti
and Daniel Curran are two articles that present their different views in similar ways by informing
the reader how gender is being socially constructed by Parenting norms as well as showing how
parenting techniques play a role in imposing a constructed gender to an individual since birth. It
is possible that sometimes it is done unintentionally, without thought by demanding the child to
perform, dress, and even play a certain way. I can personally connect this to my life experience
by seeing how in my culture (Guatemala) people get treated different depending on their gender
and sex as well as experiencing how parenting norms can affect and build ones future for in a
positive or a negative way.
Gender construction has to begin at some point. “Individuals are born sexed but not

 
 

 

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gendered (Lorber 24).” Many people are anxious to know the sex of their baby in order to start
preparing and greet the infant into a welcoming specific environment. In her article “Night To
His Day” Judith Lorber claims “for the individual, gender construction starts with assignment to
a sex category on the basis of what genitalia look like at birth (20).” If the child is said to be a
male, parents will most likely buy what are said to be masculine things for their baby boy. They
will buy clothes with colors like blue, black, gray, and decorate the baby’s room with toys that in
society are intended to be for boys. Some examples of those toys that are intended for boys are,
soccer balls, basketballs, and toy cars. In the other hand, if the child is said to be a female,
parents will prepare with feminine things, think of female names, decorate the girl’s room with
feminine colors, including pink, purple, white and buy toys that are intended for girls to play
with.
Parents try to raise their child a certain way by the way they present their beliefs of what
it means to be a boy or girl in American society. This is done with the idea of constructing
certain gender roles that seems to fit their Childs gender. With that being the case, parents have
certain expectations for their kids and want them to perform a certain way. Claire Renzetti and
Daniel Curran in their article “From Women, Men, and Society” state “research shows that
parents do have different expectations of their babies and treat them differently, simply on the
basis of sex (76).” An individual will most likely play in a soft, gentle matter with their baby girl
and in a more physical rough way with their baby boys. Parents will buy dolls for their daughters
and toy cars for their sons. While the child is growing up, he/she will be presented with these
differences, not only from their parents but also from social media, school, and televisions.
There’s a certain image that is set to differentiate boys and girl, males and females. Most are
either rewarded and praised or punish and judge depending on how well he/she play their gender

 
 

 

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role.
There are several sources in society that contribute to the construction of gender. Some of
them are in the child’s-learning environment, the shows they watch on television and social
media. Several Kids are exposed to them on a daily basis. In school boys and girls are required to
go to specific separate bathrooms. Kids look up to teachers or kids that are older than them. They
follow “same-gender leaders and act in gender appropriate ways (Lorber 25).” If one of their
friends is very popular and acts in a certain way, the others will most likely do the same because
they believe that action to be the only right one and they don’t want to not fit in. Television and
social media also play a big role when it comes to constructing gender roles. In television, many
of the TV programs and commercials are intended to influence boy and girls to act a certain way,
to play with certain toys, and show the difference between boy and girls in general. For example,
in a commercial of cars, it will show a little boy playing and having so much fun with his male
friends. However, in a commercial of Barbies it will be a girl brushing Barbie’s hair, and having
play dates with other girls. Another of the things I’ve seen often is girls playing with toys that are
intended for females and roles that women have to follow as they grow up, like cooking,
cleaning and over all just being a housewife. “Whereas most of what men do is called work,
much of what women do has been interpreted as the natural manifestation of our biology
(Hubbard 50).” Activities with these toys are seen more of as a hobby because for females those
are just the norms that have been implied. Just like girls have expectations , boys do too.
“Real men don’t cry” is a phrase that I have grown up hearing. My dad has been one to
enforce that rule with my brothers. In his culture, crying is a sign of weakness that men are not
supposed to show. He grew up with that mentality, therefore, making my brothers grow up in
that way too, in a way where they can’t express themselves or show too much emotion because

 
 

 

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then that would be considered something feminine. Of course, sometimes it is inevitable not too,
like for a funeral or some other situation that is serious then it is okay but for things like them
falling or crying and whining because they don’t get what they want that’s when he enforces his
rule. As they have grown, I have experienced how this has come to affect them and build their
personality. I have been able to notice that, especially on my older brother. When he goes
through hard times, instead of crying and talking about it, he hides his emotions. He doesn’t have
many close friends, just acquaintances. However, my brother and I have a very close, open
relationship where we can talk about anything, therefore, sometimes he comes to me when it’s
too much for him to take all at once. This is because he is trying to keep that masculine image
that society has constructed. Men are supposed to be brave, aggressive, and self-confident
believing that they can do it all without the help of other. They are also supposed to have a
specific appearance. In “From Women, Men, and Society” “ Infant boys are described as tall,
large, athletic, serious, and having broad, wide hands. Since birth, parents already have this
whole idea of how their baby boy is supposed to look even if the appearance is not completely
formed. This is where gender stereotypes come in.
I have also seen how the way my brothers have grown up has influenced their idea of
stereotype and gender roles. My other brother who is ten years old usually spends a significant
amount of time playing with my little cousins. They are all about the same age. One day they
were playing soccer outside and one of my cousins fell. Instantly without thinking he started to
cry. My brother’s first words were “stop acting like a little girl”. He said it without putting much
thought into it because he doesn’t know better, but as far as he knows and from what he has
learned in the environment he grew up with, girls are weak and crying is an action that only girls
do. In American society “ One gender is usually touchstone, the normal, the dominant, and the

 
 

 

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other is different, deviant, and subordinate (Lorber 29).” Since birth females are also said to have
a very specific appearance that just goes along with the gender they are classified under. “Infant
girls were described as small and pretty, with fine delicate features (Renzetti and Curran 77).”
Then as they grow up the expectations are enforced in order to fit in with what society has
formed. Girls are supposed to sit in a classy way, eat a certain way, dress with feminine clothes,
and act according to their gender, sometimes this forbids them from playing specific sports like
soccer or basketball as well as having specific hobbies for example, hunting or playing certain
instruments that are not feminine enough.
The environment someone grows up in is what really shapes their gender, however, like
Hubbard, Lorber, Renzetti, and Curran stated, gender is socially constructed and composed by a
variety of factors. It starts even before the existence of a person and continues through a lifetime
and it is adapted as a way of living. It may not be done with any intentions of harming or shaping
someone’s character but the demands a parent imposes on a child by telling them to play with
certain toys, dressing them with specific clothes, and expecting certain actions from them can
lead to the their gender being shaped and constructed.

 
 

 

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Works Cited Page
Hubbard Ruth. “Rethinking Women’s Biology.” Composing Gender. Ed. Rachel Groner and
John F. O’Hara. New York: Leasa Burton, 2014. 19-30. Print
Lorber Judith. “Night To His Day: The Social Construction Of Gender.” Composing Gender.
Ed. Rachel Groner and John F. O’Hara. New York: Leasa Burton, 2014. 19-30. Print
Renzetti Claire and Curran Daniel. “From Women, Men, and Society.” Composing Gender.
Ed.Rachel Groner and John F. O’Hara. New York: Leasa Burton, 2014. 19-30. Print