102176 Study on Gender Roles: Theory of Gender Performativity Assessment 3 Answer
THEORIES OF DIFFERENCE AND DIVERSITY
ASSESSMENT 3: Analytical essay
The prevalence of an overly generalised conception and belief concerning the categorisation of people based on gender perceptions is commonly termed as stereotyping, as per social psychology. Evaluating and delegating gender roles have been done by society for longer than one can consider. This paper primarily focuses on critically evaluating the personal reflection and the study on gender roles previously undertaken. The theory of Gender performativity discusses the belief of how one should act conforming to one's gender, is taken into account for this study. The social construction of gender is discussed in view of the scholarly evidence provided by authors. A personal view and analysis have been provided in this paper with respect to gender discrimination, gender performativity as well as stereotyping, along with a review of the existing literature and opinions on the subject. Additionally, certain, issues, debates and complexities with regard to gender performativity have been assessed as well.
In the words of Butler (2004), the notion or idea of gender can be attributed to history and is supported by evidence. It is to be noted that it had been a common and quite prevalent notion that women are to be associated with household roles such as cooking, cleaning, performing household chores, and raising children (Lindsey, 2015). Men, on the other hand, were deemed to be the earning members of the family and were expected to work outside (Oakley, 2016). The evolution of gender roles and their perceptions in society have managed to raise the standards of society. Regardless, an evolution of mindsets has occurred due to the changes in the economic conditions as well as the ambitious nature of women has led to the role reversal as well as the eminence in the growing gender performativity of women (Eisend, 2019). More than 50% of the participants in the online worldwide survey conducted in a recent survey (Bsa, 2019), stated that both genders must contribute to the net household income. Regardless, there are a number of individuals around the other 50%, stating that women are designated to household chores, while men are supposed to earn (Bsa, 2019).
According to Lindsey (2015), the stereotyped and previously conceived notion of gender roles is changing. However, there are backward countries as well as communities where the absence of education has shaped the mindset of the individuals in a different way (Cundiff & Vescio, 2016). As per the study by De Beauvoir (2010), it has been stated that the term ‘gender’ had originated in order to differentiate between the socialised concepts or notions of masculinity and femininity, and the biological sex determined at birth. Regardless, it may be stated that the achievements of the ‘gender' are usually complete by early childhood. In addition, Davies (2003), states that gender roles are decisive of the gender performativity and are chiefly based on the ideologies surrounding the socially acceptable concepts of masculinity and femininity. This may be associated with the development of the concepts and the stereotyping tendency in the subconscious state of minds of individuals (Schmitt et al. 2017). The Australian survey by News (2019) demonstrated shameful evidence of male dominance to be quite prevalent to this day. According to the survey, only 15.4% of women constitute the Head of Businesses in Australia (News, 2019). Furthermore, it has been evident that 27.4% and 29.3% of women make up the workforce, constituting the Key management personnel and other management executives, respectively (News, 2019).
According to Mitchell (2017), the social hierarchy complies with the preexisting notions of the dominance of men over women with respect to privilege and power. Nevertheless, it is to be taken into account that the confirmation to the gender roles or the deviance from it is often noticed in children by the age of 10-12 (Morales, Yubero&Larrañaga, 2016). As per the study by Meyers-Levy &Loken (2015), an example may be cited in this regard of actors wearing feminine clothes in public, wearing make-up, maintaining lengthy hair, which are socially acceptable factors of feminine nature.
Figure 1: Gender inequality survey in Australia in March 2016
(Source: Relationships, 2017)
Figure 1 depicts a survey conducted online with the Australian population among couples to identify the gender roles commonly prevalent in households of the country (Relationships, 2017). Around 40% women in the households are concerned with raising children, while this role is taken up by approximately 10% of the men of the household (Relationships, 2017). Additionally, it may also be emphasised from the survey that 20% of the men stated that their spouses spent a longer period of time at their respective place of work (Relationships, 2017). However, this was found to be inconsistent with women stating that 10% of the men spend less time than the other half at paid work (Relationships, 2017). Furthermore, as per the World Economic Forum (2017), Figure 2 depicts the prevalence of patriarchal dominance in founding and managing organisations all over the world.
Figure 2: Division of gender roles in organisational context demonstrated by men and women founders
(Source: World Economic Forum, 2017)
According to Weedon (1997), post-constructivism opposes the general viewpoints relating to the commonly accepted social notions and ideologies. For instance, gender roles and their definition are thoroughly highlighted as per the pre-conceived notion. Women are supposedly weak, opposed to violence, meek, pretty, beautiful, quiet and more, while men are perceived to be masochistic, strong, tough, bold, even violent in some cases (Butler, 2004). It may be pointed out in this regard that video games have often been established to be games those men or individuals of the male gender are associated with (Furnham & Lay, 2019). Therefore, video games are designed to the preconceived social conformities, gruesome and violent (Furnham & Lay, 2019). However, post-constructivism depicts the female gamers are rising in number. The average number of male video gamers has been established as 18%, while the number of women is still considerably less, at 11% (Procon, 2019).
One of the major existing issues and debates can be attributed to the subjects of equal pay for equal work. Despite the existence of Australia’s ‘Equal work, equal pay’ policies for workplaces, there is evidence of females being paid less as compared to men for the same job (Wgea, 2019). Women aged 20 or below are subjected to only 1.9% pay gap, while older women aged 21 and above are subjected to pay gaps of approximately 14%-18% as compared to men (Wgea, 2019). Furthermore, there are other subjects of discrimination for women such as maternity leave, including paid and unpaid leave, breastfeeding breaks at work and more (Ioannou, 2016). Gender discrimination becomes evident in this regard.
As recorded in Wgea (2019), private sectors are likely to have a pay gap between men and women of 17.7%, while public sectors fared better at 10.4%. According to Allen (2018), it has been evident that stereotyping as per the socially acceptable gender roles, and gender performativity is a common domain ongoing in the concurrent times, such as associating specific job roles with a particular gender. For instance, the image of a woman is usually associated with the job role of a nurse or a model, despite the fact that there are plenty of men employed in the same profession (Jenkins & Finneman, 2018). Here, the notion of associating colours with genders could be observed. It is a common predominantly accepted gender performativity of painting nurseries for toddlers or new-born children in colours associated with the genders. Nurseries as well as the clothing of female children are commonly painted or bought in the colour pink, depicting female beauty and health, while blue is regarded to be more ‘masochistic’ colour and is thereby designated to male children.
Pre-established concepts of gender have been long developed and are dispersed among children by parents themselves (Cunningham & Macrae, 2019). As previously mentioned regarding the concept of ‘men do not cry', is strongly evident in the content of the personal biography. While several children played in the playground, a boy was hurt. Crying is a normal response to physical pain when experienced by children of young age, regardless of gender. However, the mother of the boy had come forward to hearing the commotion and confusion among the children. The mother stated that only girls were allowed to cry, while boys or men had to be strong. This raises a question of emotion and feelings prevalent in both genders (as well as the third gender). As previously mentioned that women or females are perceived and expected to be weak, emotional and put up a show exhibiting their feelings is primarily generated through the socially acceptable norms of gender performativity.
Figure 3: Transgender or the third gender
(Source: Mayo Clinic, 2019)
Figure 3 demonstrates a detailed understanding of the concepts of gender performativity, gender discrimination, sexual orientation, gender identity, as well as gender expression (Mayo Clinic, 2019). According to Butler (2004), the repetition or imitation of the predominantly noted and established conventions related to gender is commonly referred to as gender performativity. It is to be noted in this context that androgyny, intersex, gender fluid and bisexual are traits which do not conform to the existing concepts of gender performativity (Blumenfeld, 2017). The factors of gender identity, sexual orientation, gender expression and sex do not comply with the conventional gender roles and gender acceptability (Wang, 2019). According to Maclaran (2017), sex or gender is determined at birth considering the chromosomal content; however, identification with a particular gender is important for an individual to realise self-worth. Furthermore, He (2017), states that gender identity is the internal sense of being male, female or belonging somewhere in between.
Considering the case of the small boy who fell in the playground and was subject to discrimination based on his gender, it is evident that his emotions and feelings were not vital to the parents or the others present around him. However, his behaviour and attitude meant the most to his mother. The reason for the behaviour remains unclear in the case of the mother. Whether she said the gender-specific or gender roles associated with females to appease the society or community are standing around or to teach the boy is unclear. According to Butler (2004), the effort implemented by individuals to deny that which exists becomes ‘recognition'. The priority of health, feelings, emotions are all put aside in order to demonstrate to the society that one complies with the generalised ideas regarding gender and gender performativity (Dubbelt, Rispens & Demerouti, 2016).
As per Byron & Hunt (2017), it is to be mentioned that society plays a crucial role in the ‘training’ process of gender performativity. For instance, the boy who was scolded by his mother for crying must have experienced further encouragement to act like a ‘man’. Again, the preconceived gender roles and expressions are considered. The teachers, the neighbours, the playmates are all involved in facilitating the process. Young (2016), has been able to establish a link between violence based on gender roles and gender expressions. It has been evident that men who have been ‘trained’ according to the socially acceptable norms of the characteristics of men are more likely to exhibit violent tendencies, which may eventually lead to domestic violence, sexual abuse of the spouse of the opposite gender. This has been further elaborated by Kvande, Belsky & Wichstrøm (2018), wherein it has been emphasised that being pushed toward controlling one's emotions leads to the suppression of the same, while this emotion becomes dominant when there is a ‘weak' victim in near sight to execute violence and dominance. Hence, it is imperative to begin admonishing the gender performativity activities pre-designated for particular genders, as there is evidence suggesting the deterioration within the society for similar reasons (Ellemers, 2018).
Personally, it may be mentioned that the practices and teachings of the family are thoroughly responsible for shaping the characteristics of an individual. Though gender identity and sexual orientation cannot be controlled by family preaching, there have occasionally been incidents of abuse from family, considering the religious, social as well as psychological beliefs (Brown & Stone, 2016). Witnessing incidents and issues such as the aforementioned incident, makes one wonder whether the accepted social norms are the ‘rules' to be followed to be accepted into society. Children subjected to these events often cannot identity otherwise (Haines, Deaux & Lofaro, 2016). However, these realisations may often come from within the family. For instance, watching one’s father cry may enable a boy to realise that it is accepted and a normal expression of one’s emotions and feelings. Psychological counselling is often required to establish that the existing norms of the society, in terms of gender performativity may not be complied with (Balachandra et al. 2019).
On a personal account, it may be mentioned that letting children develop their own gender identity and being able to establish their gender activities leads to the better and healthy psychological development of their mental well-being. Furthermore, a paper by Dubbelt, Rispens & Demerouti (2016), the concurrent ongoing situations demonstrate a sense of following in the path that had always been followed. To be able to break out of the existing norms is essential for the further development of the mental and psychological state of children and grown-up individuals alike.
This study broadly discusses the major concepts and stereotypes associated with gender performativity as a theory for explaining the gender roles prevalent within society. Additionally, the role of the society, the teachings of the family has been identified to play a significant role in the development of one’s opinions regarding gender identity. Additionally, it has been established that comparisons with women or the feminine gender have been associated with derogatory intent for men. Lastly, discrimination based on gender, at workplaces, an incompetent framework of gender performativity and an evaluation of the stereotyping issues have been identified and addressed in this paper.