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The field of gender is among the widely researched while in some constructs, many have misconstrued it as the plight of women. The extensive research and literature demonstrate that it is about both men and women. Several theories have come up regarding the topic, which includes gender socialisation theory, gendered organisational theory, and human capital theory. West and Zimmerman (1987) elaborate the differences among sex, sex categorisation, and gender. They argue that gender is a process, hence, the title “doing gender”. Therefore, despite sex categorisation being a constant aspect, gender is different as it is a process of interactions where individuals yearn to achieve their goals in life.
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Perspectives on Sex and Gender
Individuals may choose to take on masculinity or femininity through gender expressions that they display. Contrarily, sex is a biological means of identifying and distinguishing the physical attributes of a person. Biologists open a way for various cultures to categorise the designated individuals by associating them with their reproductive organs: it gets the name sex categorisation such that somebody is either male, female, or androgynous. The view of “doing gender” then comes evident in the cases of bisexuals. Such people are born knowing that they could pass as either male or female.
However, they decide who they wish to be as they grow up. While children grow, the parents and the society impose on them the acts and behaviours characteristic of females of males. It turns out that during childhood, all that matters to children is being great; they identify themselves with successful people, and sex categorisation does not feature. Afterwards, they strive to do what pertains a sex categorisation because it is a constant factor and cannot change (Field, 2017). Similarly, bisexuals elect to do a gender that is categorical of a specific categorisation even when they have the chance to change. They do not force it out. Instead, it comes naturally compared to some who force themselves to belong to a given sex categorisation. Another group, which appreciates “doing gender” is the Khawaja Sira community of Pakistan and the Sworn Virgins of Albania.
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The public looks for attributes in the people it interacts with to find a way of categorising them. Since it seeks instances to mark someone as male or female, the act does not amount to a process. Through that perception of the public, people begin receiving treatment concerning sex categorisation. For example, it leads to sexual harassment at places of work, recreation, and sometimes at school. The group that is vulnerable to the vice is the female, and especially those that are young. In Europe, most of the reported cases of harassment on young women occurred in the first year of employment. It showed that they were new on the job or they were on the contracts. For that reason, they did not belong to any union that could press a case on their behalf (TUC, 2016).
Resources for Doing Gender
Doing gender entails forming the differences that identify men from women and boys from girls while ignoring the biological differences (West & Zimmerman, 1987). As a result, it fundamentally emphasises the sex categorisations. Furthermore, despite the fact that both sexes generate biological wastes (such as urination and defecation) the same way, the society recognises the need to allocate a differentiation in the places to do so in public areas. Though families have the same settings in their houses, the designs of women’s washrooms are different from those meant for men.
Likewise, sporting activities look for abilities that resemble masculinity to reward athletes who display them. Even with all these, it does not present the doing because it is possible for someone to alter or hide some of their physical attributes depending on the prevailing circumstances. For example, a salesperson who finds out that a particular male customer tends to harass her because of the way she dresses. She decides to wear loose clothes that conceal her sexual identity, and it works, as the customer does not find the immediate attributes that can convince him to conclude her categorisation. Consequently, she does her job undisturbed again. That does not make her a man just because she passes as one in the eyes of the customer (TUC, 2016).
Additionally, instances exist when individuals engage in activities allied to persons of a specific sex category. As it happens so, it stands challenged. Consider professionals such as doctors, nurses, engineers, and teachers, among others whereby social ideas have assigned them to specific sex categories. When a woman goes the engineering direction, she attracts criticism, but eventually, everyone relates to her as holding that title. In fact, she receives the respect that comes with it. Moreover, in her doing, she retains and maintains to be a woman. As a woman, she remains accountable too (Wright, 2016; West & Zimmerman, 1987).
Gender Power and Social Change
It is not possible to avoid doing gender the same way it is not worth escaping from the omnirelevant sex category. Doing gender reinforces the social order. In other words, it elicits the differences between women and men thereby conforming to the perspectives of natural variations (West & Zimmerman, 1987). That implies that a well-done gender does not attract reprimands for accountability. Therefore, movements and forums that seek to correct a wrongly done gender do not arise. For instance, it is apparent that supervisors or senior employees who harass their juniors whether male or female are not doing gender. That way, mostly, female employees encounter hurdles at their workplace that force others into even quitting apart from delayed progression.
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Conclusively, it is essential to acknowledge that doing gender is part of the institutional arrangements that West and Zimmerman (1987) assert: that when individuals live their best without faking, they are often “doing gender” while at the same time underpin sex categorisation. Various examples support the argument. For example, the cases of bisexuals who have been in both categories give the impression that someone can become who and what he or she wants when he or she chooses while maintaining accountability (Schilt, 2006). Therefore, there will be no more sexual harassment as long as people do gender. The observance of the above eliminates the conflict that has existed due to the inability to distinguish between sex categories and gender roles.
- Candace West, C. & Zimmerman D. H., 1987. Doing gender. Gender and Society, 1(2), pp.125-151.
- Schilt, K., 2006. Just one of the guys? How transmen make gender visible at work. Gender and Society, 20(4), pp.465-490.
- Trades Union Congress (TUC), 2016. Still just a bit bunter?, London: Trade Union Congress.
- Wright, T., 2016. Gender and sexuality in male dominated occupations, London: Palgrave Macmillan.