People define gender in any society in several ways. In addition, several reasons underlie such definitions. My thoughts have shifted from the traditional definitions of gender towards a more typical kind of definition. Nowadays, I see gender as a way of putting people into categories depending on their actions as well as their physical appearance. Indeed, when we were discussing about gender in class, my eyes were opened, and now I am able to see gender in different perspective.
In class, we were able to understand the various ways in which people are viewed in society (Corbett, 1991). For instance, it was clear that issues like whether women were able to perform the same tasks as men, or whether they could be as smart like men cropped up earlier as we deliberated on the issues of gender. However, in my opinion, any person can perform any task that they are aimed at, as long as they fully concentrate on the activity. Indeed, there is a saying that ‘we are what we think’. This means that a person’s life or disposition can greatly be influenced by his or her thoughts. It is an obvious fact that men are not the same in their physical make-up. However, there is no evidence that proves men are smarter than women in anything. Moreover, there is no scientific proof of men’s superiority over women. Therefore, nay thinking that I had that men were stronger or superior has been put aside, and now I can appreciate that men and women are equal, and each can attain whatever they strive for irrespective of gender (Korsmeyer, 2004).
As a result, the notion of women as being the ‘weaker sex’ is quickly disappearing from my mind. I hope that it will someday be completely eliminated as time goes on and society becomes enlightened through education. Society has been able to categorize people in this way, since it is easier to define and differentiate them. In addition, gender and gender roles have been used in many societies as a way of discriminating against women (Phillips, 2010).
Gender, other than a biological or physical determination of sex, is a cultural and social classification of masculinity and femininity. While the term ‘gender’ refers to both sexes, the concept of gender issues has been primarily formulated and driven by movements of women due to the emergence of feminism. This was an effort to obtain rights, privileges and unique forms of expression that for a long time men have enjoyed in the society where class, race, and sexuality were defined by the dominant gender. Gender has a wide range of characteristics, especially those of femininity, masculinity and others described as third gender (Danto, 2006). The describing characteristics of gender, depending on the context vary from sex to social or gender roles to gender identity. Gender identity is referred to as the gender that a person self-identifies as. Likewise, one’s biological sex is directly tied to specific social roles and expectations (Danahay, 2005). This is because women are considered to have more challenges than men have, and so there is a number of roles, which they cannot perform comfortably (Butler, 2004). The efforts to categorize males and females into social roles create binaries, in which individuals feel they have to be at a given end, and they must identify themselves as either a man or a woman. In today’s society, people mostly interpret biological differences between men and women in order to raise a set of expectations that characterize the behaviors. This will comprise of the behaviors, which look appropriate for men and women and determine men’s and women’s different access to right, resources, power in society and even heath behavior (Corbett, 1991).
Personally, I think this is a backward way of thinking, which as a community should be eliminated. With the current democracy, both men and women should be given equal opportunities in every aspect of the community including governance. Gender should no longer define what a given people in a place can achieve, because this would be a wrong measure. The other major issues in gender are the social categories, which can be well explained by the gender role used to show all these things done by an individual who says or does something to disclose himself or herself as having the status of male or female respectively. Such elements in gender roles include clothing, speech patterns, movements, occupations and other factors, which are not limited to biological sex (Phillips, 2010). In the course of the lesson I am starting to appreciate different kinds of people and the existence of the hermaphrodites. This refers to people who are capable of producing both male and female gametes.
Moreover, an individual’s sex as male or female has great legal significance. This is because a person’s sex is indicated on most of the government documents, and our laws offer different provisions for men and women. Most of the pension systems available in the society today offer different retirement ages for men and women, and in most of the countries, marriage is only available to people of opposite sex except for a few countries where couples of same sex are allowed to marry. I have, therefore, understood gender as very different from sexuality, because sexuality is only concerned with the physical and biological differences that distinguish males from females, which have only been created by our culture over the years (Danto, 2006).
Although we have discussed about art in various forms in class, I must say that I knew little by then (Butler, 2004). However, now I am able to view art in a different perspective and can as well share my thoughts with others. In class, I did not appreciate the fact that art can have a profound effect on the personality or character of an individual. However, after dedicating myself to arts and thinking hard about the subject, I have different thoughts about art. This, I can say, is like self-discovery. Indeed, art has opened the window to my heart, which has brought me closer to my inner being (Danto, 2006).
Traditionally, there are things that I would say were ugly. Indeed, people have a vague understanding of the concept of beauty (Casler, 2004). However, I have come to appreciate the fact that diversity is very important in any sector or field. My thoughts have changed, based on the understanding that our imperfections can indeed make us interesting. This is because, if everything were, as we wanted, then the world would be very boring. Moreover, the adage that, ‘one man’s meat is another man’s poison’ seems true. If I have to paint a face, I would like to paint it with all the lines and spots and make an observation of how the light falls on every contour of human body (Buikema & Tuin, 2009). I also appreciate that every human being can be equated to the work of a great artisan. Therefore, whether a person is short or tall, we are all unique and do represent beauty in different perspectives. As a result, I have learned that art is a wide and diverse term that describes a range of human activities and even the products of those activities (Danto, 2006). Before I understood it as only the drawing of pictures, which I have come to understand that drawing is only part of the visual art, which deals with the creation of images or objects. Another field of art is architecture, which creates objects where practical considerations of use are very important. Several people have tried to explain arts as the expression, communication of emotion or other values, while others considered it as a special part of mind, which can shape one’s character (Casler, 2004).
There exists a strong relationship between culture, art and gender. Indeed, some cultures make use of art to depict gender or to help understand gender. On the other hand, other cultures challenge any knowledge that is derived in this manner (Casler, 2004). As I have explained above, gender is critical in developing one’s focus in life. This is because a person’s approach to either of these issues of gender and culture can dictate the way one will live in society. Otherwise, if one does not learn, he or she may find it very hard to appreciate several practices and actions of members in the society (Danahay, 2005). However, there is slight difference that might be observed in one’s early age since most of these are acquired as one undergoes physical development (Phillips, 2010). Accordingly, boys can have a greater aggressiveness in their tender age. On the other hand, girls tend to be “emphatic and social and less prone to problem behavior” (Butler, 2004, p. 114).
Some cultures do practice discrimination based on gender. This is evident in communities that undermine female education, while young boys in the same society are educated. In addition, ladies in some cultures are deprived of the rights, which are now becoming unjust terming them as lesser human beings in the community (Buikema & Tuin, 2009). Cultural thinking and roles that assigned based on gender is a product of a broad network of influences that operate interdependently (Danto, 2006). The broad network of influences in any society is what guides people even in their early stages of development to adopt certain attitudes and behaviors, which most likely characterize their entire lifestyles, since it is very hard to change such behaviors at old age. Therefore, children learn what it means to be male or female. In addition, they adjust their behavioral pattern to fit into the gender roles and expectations as they learn from their parents or from their culture (Butler, 2004).
It is also possible to demonstrate a clear relationship between gender, culture and art. Gender can be influential in several ways. For instance, some female artists are known to use their artwork to combat discrimination based on gender. As discussed earlier, some societies are known to discriminate women because of their gender. For instance, women in Saudi Arabia are not allowed to derive vehicles. No good reason can be given for such attitude since women are known to be good drivers. Therefore, women can make use of art to combat such types of discrimination (Casler, 2004). For instance, Bailey Doogan used to art to speak against gender discrimination that emanates from cultural beliefs. She made a “specialty of painting women's real-life bodies, the seams and folds of their middle-aged flesh lovingly rendered.” (Buikema & Tuin, 2009). It is through her art that she was able to confront and challenge, “cultural discomfort with . . . body changes, and probes limiting anti-woman stereotypes of all stripes" (Buikema & Tuin, 2009, p. 201).
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