I conducted an interview with a Mary S., a 46 years woman, who has three children. To answer my question about gender, she recalled how she brought up her daughters and how her parents raised her and her younger brother, etc.
Gender can be called "social sex." Our sex is determined at the genetic level and depends on the biological characteristics while gender dependent on the social environment in which we grow. Our gender may coincide with our sex but can also contradict to it.
On the question of what the term “gender” means and how the gender differs from sex, participant of the interview indicated that in her understanding terms gender and sex - it's almost the same thing. Mary understands the concept of "gender" as the perception and awareness of yourself as a man or a woman; as a set of specific traits, behavioral characteristics, which are typical for men or women.
When it comes to gender, concepts such as masculinity and femininity are often used. The concept of "masculinity" means those characteristics and type of behaviors that are traditionally considered as male characteristics. At the same time, «femininity " indicates a response which is traditionally expected from women.
On how gender affects the responsibility of Mary at work and home, she said that after the wedding, her husband expected of her, that she would become a homemaker and would be engaged only in child rearing, cooking, etc. When she started work, many friends did not believe that she can to achieve any success in her profession. However, in a relatively short period, she repeatedly gets promoted and held the position of leader. Marie, therefore, believes that the problem of inequality between men and women is slightly exaggerated: if a woman believes in own success, then her gender will not become an obstacle in her life. Mary said that gender, gender roles played some negative role in her family life. Because she is a woman, she was always considered to be more responsible for raising children and caring for them.
Isabella Crespi(2003) in her article points that, according to traditional views and cultural expectations, men should be focused on activities and professional tasks, assertive, aggressive, independent, and it is expected from women that they will be softer, demonstrate higher emotionality, empathy, dependency and to be people-oriented.
Crespi noted that in the past, parents have supported independence sons and allowed the boys to realize themselves, even if it had to break the link with the family. At the same time, the girls always had to maintain ties with family.
Despite the common myth that our society recognizes the superiority of men over women, Miller expressed the opposite view. The researcher believes that modern society suppresses and dominates men.
The participant of the interview pointed out that she has always taught her daughters to "be a good girl," understanding that it meant that the girl should always be kind and humble, do not show aggression and not to conflict.
Marie during the interview also recalled that in her childhood's parents have always paid more attention to the achievements and successes of her younger brother and more encouraged him for his achievements, despite the fact that Marie also showed talent in various fields.
She said that the women of her generation tried to get married right after graduation. But on the other hand, among her peers, it was also typical to combine career and family life.
Mary pointed out that the life of girls of her generation was quite different. According to her, now young girls and men are more frivolous and less serious about the professional self-realization and creating of a family. It is strange for her that modern young people do not hurry to start a family life, to have children and to build long-term plans for the achievement in the professional field. In the time of Mary’s youth, it was considered wrong, and it was a shame for a young girl to remain unmarried after the age of 20 years.
According to Crespi (2003), a sex causes some primary difference between males and females, but these differences can strengthen or lower due to socialization and life experience. However, the Money`s famous experiment and the sad story of David Reimer proved that the formation of gender identity is very strongly related to the biological sex, which is determined before the birth of a child.
As known, D. Reimer has born a boy. But after surgical mistake, Reimer, being an infant, lost his penis. Psychologist J. Money had advised to David`s parents to bring up their son as a girl. Money believed that forming of sexual and gender identity depends on upbringing. But he was mistaken. Despite the fact that David wore a women`s dress, was forced to take hormonal preparations, was raised as a girl and it was hidden from him, that he was born a boy, David`s female identity has not been formed and he had never felt himself a woman. Attempts of his parents to raise him as a girl just brought a lot of suffering and trauma to David (Colapinto, 2000).
I believe that Mary`s views on gender, the representative of another generation, are not too much different from the understanding of the gender of modern youth. Mary pointed out that in the years of her youth was definite that the role of women is not limited to the family, and that a woman can build a career as well as a man. On the other hand, modern young women do not give so much importance to the role of wife and as a mother, as it was before.
I believe, in our time views on the gender role of women have changed significantly, there is no dispute about who is stronger and better. I think men and women are not equal since both sexes and gender have their advantages and features. Recent studies show, for example, that good leaders can be both men and women, but effective leadership styles of women and men differ.
Colapinto, J. (2000). As nature made him: The boy who was raised as a girl. HarperCollins Publishers.
Crespi, I. (2003). Gender socialization within the family: A study on adolescents and their parents in Great Britain. Department of Sociology Catholic University of Milan.