You are on page 1of 5

Morales1

IngridMorales
ProfessorBeagle
English115
September25,2016
TheDevaluationofFemininityinSociety
Throughouthistory,menhavebeenperceivedtobesuperiorfortheirdesirablemasculine
charactertraits.Persistenceandademandingnatureareexpectedofamanintheworkplace,but
thesetraitsareseenasnegativewhenawomandisplaysthem.Thispreferencehascreatedan
imbalancebetweenthegenderroles.Theunderlyingnotionsofantifemininityinoursociety
shapetheinequalitiesthathidebehindthesociallyconstructedgenderrolesthatoppressmenand
womentoday.TheauthorsAaronDevor,EmilyKaneandRuthHubbarddelineatethiscentral
ideaintheirpowerfulessays.Theinfluenceofgendercanbeseeninallaspectsoflifeitisso
deeplyrootedinoursociety,thatweallpracticeitwithoutevennoticing.
Intodayssociety,masculinityisassociatedwithsuccessanddominance,while
femininityisseenassynonymouswithweaknessanddependency.Thebelievednormtodayis
thatwomenwillwanttohavechildrenandwillthereforefindthemselvesrelativelyhelplessand
dependentonmalesforsupportandprotection(Devor43).Thisassumptionportrayswomenas
weak,andunderminesthechallengesandstrugglesthatwomenarefacedwithastheyraise
children.Yet,asKanestatesinherarticle,thisnegativeideaoffemininityistaughttousassmall
childrenandreinforcedaswegrowbyparentstryingtoaccomplishgenderwithandfortheir
sonsinamannerthatdistancesthosesonsfromanyassociationwithfemininity(95).Parents
attempteverythingintheirpowertosteertheirsonsawayfromfemininitysotheiractionsarenot


Morales2

misinterpretedbysociety.Parentsareconcernedwithhowtheirsonswillbeseenwhenitcomes
tomen,femininityisoftenassociatedwithhomosexuality.Thisdiscouragesparentsfrom
teachingtheirsonsanyfemininecharacteristicssuchascompassionorempathy.Whenboys,or
youngmen,cry,itisseenasweakandvulnerable,whichlinksbacktofemininityinmanyminds.
Hubbardtiesintothisconceptbydepictingthesexdifferencesinsexistsocietiesthatvalue
onegroupmorehighlythantheother(51).Despitethewidelybelievedstereotypesaboutgender
andsex,menandwomensharemanyphysicalcharacteristicsthatwhatareoftenoverlooked.
Manywomenshareagreatdealofthecharacteristicsthatareseenassuperiorinmen,butthose
characteristicsarefrequentlydisregarded,orevenfrownedupon,inwomen.Demandingwomen
intheworkplaceareoftenpassedoffasbossyandrude,whilemenareapplaudedfortheir
persistenceanddrive.Thedevaluationoffemininitystemsfrommanydifferentaspectsof
modernlife,andisreflectedinendlessways.
Thepreconceivednotionsofmasculinityandfemininityarethebasisofthegenderroles
thatshapeoursocietytoday.Animbalancehasbeencreatedbetweenmenandwomenbythe
ideologicalcontentionsunderlyingthedominantgenderschemainNorthAmericansociety
(Devor43).Devorishighlightingtheerroneousassumptionthatgenderandsexaresynonymous.
Genderislearnedoveralifetime,weareconstantlygrowingandchangingouridentityas
differentperformancesareexpectedofus.Kanefocusesonhowparentsteachtheirchildren
genderbasedonthetendencytoassociategenderperformanceandsexualorientationforsons
morethandaughters,andhowthisreflectsamoregeneraldevaluationoffemininity(97).As
boysgrowintomen,theycannotexpressanyemotionsthatconveyvulnerabilityotherthan
anger.Menarehesitanttoexpressthesefemininequalitiesforthefearofbeinglabeledas


Morales3

homosexual.Althoughonesgenderdoesnotimpactsexuality,oursocietybelievestheygohand
inhand.Similarly,oursocietyputssuchastrongemphasisonphysicalcharacteristicsnot
directlyinvolvedwithprocreationthattheyareexaggeratedbygenderperformances(Hubbard
51).Menareencouragedtobemorephysicallyactive,thereforetheywillbestrongerandmore
muscularthanwomen,whoareexpectedtobereservedandladylike.Theunderlyingpurpose
behindthesewrittenworksistoexposetheincongruitybetweengenderperformancesthatisso
deeplyrootedinoursocietythatwearenearlyblindtoitseffects.
Genderisconstantlylearnedandrelearnedfromsocialinteractionsandoutside
influences,everypersonhasunknowinglyhadexperiencewithgender.Genderperformancesand
expectationsimpactallaspectsofeverydaylife.Mypersonalgenderidentityhasbeenshapedby
thesociallyconstructedimageofawoman.Allourindividualqualitiesaredeterminedbywhat
societyhasdeemedacceptableforourgender.Devorstatesthatfemininitymustbeexpressed
throughmodesofdress,movement,speech,andactionwhichcommunicateweakness,
dependency,[and]ineffectiveness(96).Therehavebeencountlesstimesthatwomenhave
displayedthesecharacteristics,thereforereinforcingthisstereotype.Suchaswhenwefinda
spiderinourbedroomandruntoabigbrotherorfathertosquishit,eventhoughwearemore
thancapableofdoingitourselves.Thisshowsweaknessanddependencyonmenforprotection.
Although,manyothersstrugglewithgreaterbattlesagainstgenderexpectations.InKanesarticle
shemakesreferencetoafatherdiscussingthefemininetraitshissonhasshown,thefatherstates
thatif[he]weretobegay,thatwouldnotmakemehappyatall.Iwouldprobablyseethatasa
failureasadad(96).Parentsallaroundthenation,includingmyown,feartheideaofoneof
theirchildren,specificallyoneoftheirsons,beinghomosexual.Inmyhome,thisfearbecame


Morales4

therealty.Myfatherhasstruggledwiththelifestylemybrotherhaschosen.Overtheyears,I
believehehasbeguntoopenhismindtoonedayattemptingtounderstand.Oursocietyseemsto
directlyassociateheterosexualitywiththeachievementofmasculinity.Althoughwomenarenot
seenasstrongandsuccessful,theyareoftentheprovidersandworkers,whoinmostsocieties,
includingourown,tendtoworkharderandforlongerthanmostmen(Hubbard50).The
traditionalgenderroleshavebeenswitchedinmyhousehold,mymotherearnsthemajorityof
theincomebyworking12hourdays,andstillreturninghometoperformtraditionaltaskssuch
ascookingandcleaning.Sheisstrong,successfulandfeminine,allatonce.Oursocietyhas
madeusbelievethatmasculinityandfemininityaredisparatefromoneanother,thuscreatingthe
imbalancebetweengenderrolesweseeeveryday.
Thesociallyconstructedideasofgenderhasledoursocietytodevalueanddegradeall
aspectsoffemininity.Everythingaroundusinfluencesouridentityandgender.Therejectionof
femininitycanbelinkedbacktothepreconceivedbeliefsofmasculinityandhomophobia.Men
areunabletoexpressemotionforfearofbeingtoofeminine.Buthowcansomethingweallfeel
belinkedto,orcause,asexualorientationinonegenderbutnotinanother?Asyoungchildren,
wearetaughttoassociatefemininitywithweaknessanddependency.Oftentimes,aswomen,we
reinforcethisideabyseekingtheprotectionandassistanceofmen.Theimbalancebetween
genderscanonlybeleveledbythenewgeneration,asideasandnormsgrowandchangewiththe
passingyears.


Morales5

WorksCited
Devor,Aaron.BecomingMembersofSociety:TheSocialMeaningsofGender.Composing
Gender,Ed.JohnE.Sullivan,Bedford/St.Martins,2014.4043.
Kane,Emily.NoWayMyBoysAreGoingtobeLikeThat:ParentsResponsestoChildrens
GenderNonconformity.C
omposingGender,Ed.JohnE.Sullivan,Bedford/St.
Martins,2014.9597.
Hubbard,Ruth.RethinkingWomensBiology.ComposingGender,Ed.JohnE.Sullivan,
Bedford/St.Martins,2014.5051.