Basic Concepts: Sex and Gender & Femininity and Patriarchy

The topic can be better understood if we would look deeper into the concept of Gendered Socialization.

One is not born as boy/man or girl/woman; it is society which makes one. These ideas help us to understand the role played by society in making someone a boy/ man and a girl/ woman. It also demarcates the difference between sex and gender, and how sex of a person is different from gender as he/she grows up in the society. Sex refers to the biological and physiological differences between male and female sex and the basis of this characterization are the genital differences. Individuals are then socialized according to specific gender expectations and roles.

male & female

male & female




Writing about this topic came to my mind when I was reading a short story Girls. The short story shows how we as a society discriminate during the upbringing of boys and girls. In the story narrator (a young girl) has anger in her narration even at the tender age of 8 due to the discrimination that she and her other sister have to suffer daily from their parents and relatives because their parents do not have a son. The girls are rarely treated fair and always scolded for each and every thing. Not only girls have to suffer their mother also have to suffer due to social pressure on her to bear a boy child. Narrator also tried to expose the hypocrisy of the society that we live in. It annoys her that they call girls Lakshmi (goddess) and treating them badly for being girls.  She tried to show the contrasting treatment boys get compared to the girls by sharing the story of her cousin (mama’s son) where his cousin is loved and cared by all whereas nobody care about girls and always scold them even sometime call them witch.Girls are expected to be quiet, and always listen to the orders given to them, without asking too many questions.

girlsgirls

When I was studying Rites of Passage’ I could easily figure out the instances of gender socialization. The society where the story is set up is typical patriarchal society where men are the head of family has final call on everything and dominating whereas women acts as subjects to men  and responsible for household chores, raising children and follow dictates of men. In the story women flok are expected of least say in the family affair as widowed grandmother had nothing to say in anything whereas girls in the house is expected to take care of things like the kind of clothes the girl wears- jewelry, ornaments, chunni, dupatta, and how she is supposed to react in front of others etc. girls in such families are thought as “dusrekegharki Lakshmi”hence mother and other family member do not have too close relation with the girls. One day girls has to go to her home (i.e. her husband home) so she is made to learn household chores from very early age and not much focus  given on her education and as her Grandma points out- At your age I was married for two years already and not a wild lamb like your mother has made you.

According to Simone de Beauvoir, ‘One is not born a woman, but rather one becomes one.’  Here writer tried to explain how society shapes on identity and not always on born with it. In this case society leads to Gendered socialization. From the day one society expect different thing from boys compared to girls. Boys are raised to conform to the male gender role, and girls are raised to conform to the female gender role. Even number of worlds known feminist and sociologist have echoed the same thought i.e. society role in shaping up an individual’s personality and mental presentation of their gender.




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