Women,Gender, and Sexuality
Thispaper expounds on how culture and social issues have shaped genderand sexuality of women. In addressing this, the paper has drafted thedefinition of the key terms ‘gender’ and ‘sexuality’ from thework of Adichie and Kang. Other materials that were used incompleting the paper include articles by Atwood, Gender Spectrum, andVance. All the five materials explain on how gender and sexualityhave changed in the world because of cultural practices and socialissues. The paper provides detailed information on the research topicto enhance the understanding of the changes that affect women’sgender and sexuality.
Women,Gender, and Sexuality
Byexamining different social issues, one can build up a critical andsocial perception on how gender and sexuality are shaped by theworld. Gender is often referred to as a type of classification buildon sex. Sexuality, on the other hand,refers to a person’s genderidentity. It involves how a person expresses oneself based onpersonal feelings. This study expounds on how culture and differentsocial issues have shaped gender and sexuality of women. In definingthe complex terms ‘gender’ and ‘sexuality,` the study will drawon ideas of feminism developed in Adichie and Kang’s works.
Accordingto Adichie, people including her close friend referred to her as afeminist because she argued and wrote many articles mainly aboutfemale oppression in the society. Equally, she claims that inreferring to herself as a feminist people concluded that she hatedmen. From Adichie’s notions about feminism, one can conclude thatfeminism involves observance of equality in all genders, male andfemale. It involves supporting females’ interests and rightsincluding discouraging their oppression by males. Thus, gender is aterm used to refer to a sex of an individual. According to Adichie’ssociety, women were expected to be subordinate to men in all areas.Adichie’s writings were mainly inclined in one particular gender,female. Despite many criticisms of the society about her feminism,Adichie believed that any hatred for men did not influence her works.According to her, women were entitled to treatment and rights equalto that of men in the society. In other words, she believes thatwomen are in a position to occupy the same positions with men. Fromthis claim, a person can conclude that sexuality refers to how anindividual feels, believes and responds to others. Kang (2012) arguesthat concepts such as gender, race, and sexuality are products ofboth human definition and interpretation that are shaped by culturalas well as historical contexts.
Genderis a social product that influences how people operate in social lifeand to the people they should be attracted (Kang, 2012). Gender of anindividual is identified by the position occupied in the society(Adichie, 2014). Many societies believe that top positions areexclusively for men. According to Adichie, the position of a classmonitor while she was at school was for male students. Her classteacher also believed that only male students could get highestscores in class tests (Adichie, 2014). The culture of Adichie’sschool shaped the gender of females significantly. According to theculture of her school, a female student referred not only to astudent who scores lower marks than a male student, but also astudent who is there to be led by a male student. Kang (2012) alsoargues that historically women are renowned for caring for children,leading to themajority of them working as nannies, babysitters, anddaycare workers. In other words, the position assigned to women inthe society presents a woman as an inferior being to aman. Similarly,Adichie argues that the majority of the prestigious positionsincluding those of power are occupied by men despite their lowernumber in the world compared to that of women. According to her, thenumber of women drops as the professional positions increases.Adichie believes that the role of women in organizations reduces withthe position of jobs (Adichie, 2014). Similarly, Atwood (1987) notesthat the roles of wives of commanders involved looking after theirgardens in addition to other light home chores like knitting.According to her, women were assigned these roles to keep them busyas they gave them the sense of purpose. It is as a result of thisculture that men are considered the head of the majority of thecorporations in the globe. Such practices in the world haveconstructed women as occupiers of lower-level jobs.
“Thewage culture” of the world takes part in the construction of afemale gender. All over the world, the salary of women and men varyrecognizably. Despite doing the same job and having the samequalifications, men are often paid more than women (Adichie, 2014).The practice of paying men more salary than women for many years hasbecome a routine that cannot be destroyed easily. As a result ofthis, women considered their low salary as a normal thing that shouldnot be subjected to any questioning. In fact, the culture has mademany women select lower-paying occupations voluntarily the majorityof the people who work as secretaries are women. Thus, the wageculture has made women be defined as occupiers of low paying jobs.
Thegender of individuals is also identified by their occupations in thesociety. Before the Industrial Revolution, male occupied positionsthat required the use of energy whereas women completed home chores.Almost the same thing happens in the current society because of theculture that became a routine. According to Adichie (2014), thepeople who work as “bouncers” in almost all countries are men.Men are believed to be energetic to provide the required protectionin different areas. The continuous practice of this culture in thesociety presents females as a weak gender that must depend on men fortheir protection. With this notion, themajority of the people believethat the survival of women depends on the existence of the men.According to Atwood (1987), the survival of Offred dependedsignificantly on her master Nick. Similarly, she claims that Nickvalued Offred mainly for sex and reproduction. Considering this, aperson can conclude that the role of female gender in most societiesincludes copulation and reproduction. Thus, the culture of manysocieties including the roles women have made the female gender to bethought as a sexual tool for men.
Asit was noted before, gender is socially constructed by assigning menand women different roles in the society. Gender roles fluctuate indifferent cultures and have altered with time.The social role of malegender, however, has contributed significantly to the shaping of afemale gender. In many heterosexual relationships, the male is oftenconsidered the breadwinner. According to Adichie, men receive a lotof recognition from the society because of the perception many peoplehold. For instance, she argues that a man she was accompanied withwas thanked instead of her by the man she awarded for sporting a carpark for her (Adichie, 2014). The perception of the man she awardedwas that anything that woman gives comes from the man. From the man’saction, Adichie concluded that the society believes that a woman canown nothing in life. Therefore, the construction of gender roles bythe society has made female gender to be considered as a receiver.
Fora good number of people, their gender identity correlates with theirbiological sex. Through socialization, children are informed abouttheir societal expectation as boys and girls. By the age of aboutthree years, most children present behaviors that are identical totheir sex (Gender Spectrum, 2012). Some of the societal expectationsinclude considering men as the prominent members of the society.According to Adichie, men often receive recognition in social placesbecause of their gender. In support of her claim, Adichie argues thatthe recognition men receive in different placesare a representationof a society that values men (Adichie, 2014). The practice of suchinjustice is mostly attributed to the conduct of women inorganizations. According to Adichie, majority of the men believe thatwomen are aggressive and unfriendly when they occupy top positions atwork. As a result of this, men have developed a negative attitudeabout women, leading to their cold treatment when they handle women.From this assertion, one can conclude that the social issues in manyplaces including organizations have made a woman to be considered auseless being that does not deserve respect or good treatment.
Inthe introduction, it was noted that culture and social issues hadshaped the sexuality of women. According to many cultures, women arerequired to be subordinate to men. With their position as women, theyare not required to question anything raised by men. Adichieassociates this culture with the weakness of women. According to her,many women worry about how men think about them. They avoidquestioning things that take place before them even when they aresubjective to questioning because they think being likable iscrucial. Equally, she claims that many women think that being angryor disagreeing with what men say is not good (Adichie, 2014).Similarly, Atwood (1987) notes that women often believe their bodiescan enable them to get what they want in life. According to her, bygiving their bodies to the soldiers that were looking after them,they could find their way out of the prison. The culture of treatingwomen how to please men in addition to the belief of women aboutthemselves has made the female gender to be considered as sex tools.
Itwas argued somewhere in the paper that many cultures require women tobe subordinate to men. This often portrayed by the behavior of womenin the society and the respect they accord men. In tandem with thisclaim, Adichie noted that some women were forced to sell theirproperties as well as wear wedding rings to receive respect from thesociety (Adichie, 2014). Based on this, it is apparent that womenbelieve that they can receive respect from the society throughbehaving in specific ways. Also, it is evident that women believethat getting married involves avoiding intimidating a man of marriageat all costs. These culture perceptions have made women to developmore concern about men than themselves. In other words, the sexualityof women has changed with their increased concern for the happinessof men.
Althoughmany cultures consider heterosexual as the only normal sexuality, itis apparent not all persons are heterosexual. The consideration ofheterosexual as a normal sexuality is a reflection of culturalconstruction aimed at advocating a particular cultural norm (Kang,2012). In many countries, same-sex couples are highly discouraged bythe government as well as media. According to Vance (2011), same-sexrelationships are often discouraged by different cultures and thoseinvolved are mostly punished or discriminated. Despite all these, itis evident that the practice of same-sex marriage is common in menthan women because men are considered by many societies superior(Vance, 2011). Therefore, the denying of women the right to practicesame-sex marriage in society has shaped the female gender. Manystates understand that a woman can only be married to a man. Suchpractices have made women be viewed as wives to men.
Cultureand social practices have significantly shaped the gender andsexuality of women. The roles defined by different cultures haveforced women to adopt specific behaviors to fit in the society. Mostcultures present women as inferior members of the society who arerequired to respect men. Such cultures are the reasons behind thelow-level positions women occupy in different jobs and the lowsalaries they receive compared to men. Culture practices have alsorestricted the occupations of women in the society. Women arebelieved to work best in light jobs including taking care of childrenand looking after homes. The sexuality of women has also been changedsignificantly by culture and social practices. Women considerthemselves subordinate to men, influencing their questioning ofdecisions made by men. Some women also avoid owning property or hidetheir economic positions to make men proud.
Adichie,M. (2014). WeShould All Be Feminists.Retrieved on January 1, 2017 from http://jackiewhiting.net/AmStudies/Units1415/Texts/We%20Should%20All%20Be%20F eminists%20(Kin%20-%20Chimamanda%20Ngozi%20%20Adichie.pdf
Atwood,M. (1987). TheHandmaid’s Tale.Retrieved on January 1, 2017 from http://www.novelas.rodriguezalvarez.com/pdfs/Atwood,%20M.%20“The%20Handmaid`s %20Tale“-Xx-En-Sp-Xx.pdf
GenderSpectrum, (2012). UnderstandingGender.Retrieved on January 1, 2017 from
Kang,M. (2012). Introduction to Women and Sexuality. Women,Gender, Sexuality Studies Educational Material.
Vance,N. (2011). Cross-CulturalPerspectives on Sexual Orientation.Retrieved on January 1, 2017 fromhttp://www.scribd.com/doc/52800453/5/Cross-Cultural- Perspectives-on- Sexual-Orientation#page=43