UPSC SOCIOLOGY MAINS SYLLABUS
Chapter 9 – Systems of Kinship
- Family, household, marriage.
- Types and forms of family.
- Lineage and descent.
- Patriarchy and sexual division of labour.
- Contemporary trends.
Chapter 10 – Social Change in Modern Society
- Sociological theories of social change.
- Development and dependency.
- Agents of social change.
- Education and social change.
- Science, technology and social change.
Gender roles are based on the different expecta- tions that individuals, groups, and societies have of individuals based on their sex and based on each society’s values and beliefs about gender. Gender
roles are the product of the interactions between individuals and their environments, and they give individuals cues about what sort of behavior is believed to be appropriate for what sex. Appropriate gender roles are defined according to a society’s beliefs about differences between the sexes.
GENDER AND SEX
Sex and gender are different concepts. Sex is a biological concept, determined on the basis of individuals’ primary sex characteristics. Gender, on the other hand, refers to the meanings, values, and characteristics that people ascribe to different sexes. Ann Oakley was one the first social scientists to distinguish the concept of gender from the concept of sex. According to Oakley, gender parallels the biological division of sex into male and female, but it involves the division and social valuation of masculinity and femininity. In other words, gender is a concept that humans create socially, through their interactions with one another and their environments, yet it relies heavily upon biological differences between males and females. Because humans create the concept of gender socially, gender is referred to as a social construction.
GENDER AND SOCIALISATION
The phrase “boys will be boys” is often used to justify behavior such as pushing, shoving, or other forms of aggression from young boys. The phrase implies that such behavior is unchangeable and something that is part of a boy’s nature. Aggressive behavior, when it does not inflict significant harm, is often accepted from boys and men because it is congruent with the cultural script for masculinity.
Gender socialization occurs through four major agents of socialization: family, schools, peer groups, and mass media. Family is the first agent of socialization. There is considerable evidence that parents socialize sons and daughters differently. Daughters are limited by their expectation to be passive and nurturing, generally obedient, and to assume domestic responsibilities. Parental socialization and normative expectations also vary along lines of social class, race, and ethnicity.
The reinforcement of gender roles and stereotypes continues once a child reaches school age. Until very recently, schools were rather explicit in their efforts to stratify boys and girls. The first step toward stratification was segregation. Girls were encouraged to take home economics or humanities courses and boys to take math and science.
Mass media serves as another significant agent of gender socialization. In television and movies, women tend to have less significant roles and are often portrayed as wives or mothers. Of particular concern is the depiction of women in ways that are dehumanizing, especially in music videos. Even in mainstream advertising, however, themes intermingling violence and sexuality are quite common.
“Gender roles” have been described as society’s shared beliefs that apply to individuals on the basis of their socially identified sex and are thus closely related to gender stereotypes. Stereotypes can be conceptualized as the descriptive aspects of gender roles, as they depict the attributes that an individual ascribes to a group of people. Stereotyping is often seen as necessary, as it is a way of simplifying the overwhelming amount of stimuli one constantly receives from the world, constraining potentially infinite numbers of interpretations.
Men are generally thought to be agentic—that is, competent, assertive, independent, masterful, and achievement oriented, while women are perceived as inferior to men in agentic qualities. Conversely, women are generally thought to be communal—that is, friendly, warm, unselfish, sociable, interdependent, emotionally expressive and relationship oriented—while men are perceived as inferior in communal qualities.
Masculine and feminine stereotypes can be seen as complementary in the sense that each gender is seen as possessing a set of strengths that balances out its own weaknesses and supplements the assumed strengths of the other group.
The international human rights law framework is concerned with stereotypes and stereotyping that affect recognised human rights and fundamental freedoms, rather than all stereotypes and all forms of
stereotyping. The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) has explained that States Parties are required to modify or transform “harmful gender stereotypes” and “eliminate wrongful gender stereotyping.
STEREOTYPES AND DISCRIMINATION AGAINST WOMEN
Discrimination against women includes those differences of treatment that exist because of stereotypical expectations, attitudes and behaviours towards women. The Special Rapporteur on the rights to food pointed out that stereotype about women’s role within the family leads to a division of labour within households that often result in time poverty for women and lower levels of education. The CEDAW Committee has highlighted how traditional attitudes by which women are regarded as subordinate to men perpetuate widespread practice involving violence and coercion. The Special Rapporteur on violence against women and the Special Rapporteur on independence of judges and lawyers have stressed that the investigation of cases of violence and the sanctioning of perpetrators are underpinned by patriarchal notions and stereotypes that negatively affect their objectivity and impartiality.
Extreme gender stereotypes are harmful because they don’t allow people to fully express themselves and their emotions. For example, it’s harmful to masculine folks to feel that they’re not allowed to cry or express sensitive emotions. And its harmful to feminine folks to feel that they’re not allowed to be independent, smart or assertive. Breaking down gender stereotypes allows everyone to be their best selves.