The construction of gender in an individual depends very much on the interactions of the individual which are gendered with other people and also other roles and identities that a person may have. Race, class and gender are considered to be oppressions although they are not identically salient in all the social relationships where there is inequality. Culture is believed to condition gender roles and the meaning of feminine and masculine which determines what really determines what it really means to be a woman or a man because gender is made up of a complex mixture of behaviors, characteristics, and beliefs which explains how a person acts, behaves, or talks like a man or a woman.
Many researchers have put in many efforts to make the general public on gender equality where culture has been a great obstacle to attain gender equity (Lorber, 2010). The art and science of asking questions is the source of all knowledge because sex and gender are believed to be social constructs because this gender social constructionism often tends to move away from socialization where many people still do not internalise gender roles in their lifespan but they tend very much to adapt and respond to the norms of the society which are changing at a very fast rate due to globalization and industrialization which have made many cultures abandon the malicious and wicked practices which oppressed women and especially the African woman. There are many factors which are considered to affect the development of gender like the environment and the culture in which children are brought up in and the society that they live in.
Gender is considered to be a social construct where the construction of gender is believed to be a social construction of the biological sex which is the feminist and the masculinity where it is defined as being the male or female state of being or the sex of an individual. Gender equality which is commonly termed as the gender equity is the equal distribution of gender roles. Gender roles are the social and behaviour norms which are considered to be appropriate for all the individuals of a certain sex and are believed to differ greatly between different cultures (Lorber, 2010).
This brings in different opinions on the differences which have been observed on personality and behaviour between genders which are as a result of cultural and social factors. Gender is believed to be the distinction between the male and the female, however, in the modern western societies, men and women share the same occupations, jobs, roles and responsibilities which show that sex is not the determinant of a person’s abilities. This is because it is believed that what men can do women can also do better. The differences which were there between the two sexes is of the physical strength where you get that there are certain tasks and jobs which can only be handled by the men because of the physical strength which also leads to the neglect of the women gender.
According to sociological researches, the feminine gender roles which were used in the traditional setting are no longer used in the modern western society because of the emergence of globalization and industrialization. This is very evident when modern women take on the roles which in the traditional setting were reserved only for the men including the fashion and behaviour which has put the men under pressure thus leading them to be confined to a smaller gender role. This is very evident when men are seen to grow hair to a length which in the traditional setting was considered to be a woman’s fashion, while the women, on the other hand, were also noted to cut off their hair to a length that was considered to be the hairdo of the men. The issue of globalization has enhanced interaction and helped people to understand each other in a better way. It has been necessary in enhancing quick access to other parts of the globe regardless of the distance separating these countries. Some barriers separated people and maintained people’s natural heritage as well as identities. It has become an important issue, but the impacts are not limited to only the economic field of countries, it also reflects all aspects of life like the psychological, cultural, social and political issues.
Laqueur (1994) in his exploration of the biological sex illustrated all the ways that culture had affected science where he claimed that the society was what defined what was biologically natural. He believed that science was an oppressor tool which was used in rationalizing and legitimizing all the sex, religion and class distinctions. He brought up the one-sex model and the two-sex model which continued to be discriminatory to the women and also those who had anatomical oddities like a person who possessed both the male and the sexual organs. Laqueur pointed out that women’s inferiority was only assumed until the scientific knowledge came to be accepted and widely used. Laqueur was able to conclude that the female’s body can be defined by its comparison to the body of the male in terms of what it lacked thus making the body of the female to be inferior. Freud in this case put the women in an opposition to men by assigning the women social roles.
Science has been believed to have developed very many ways of defining the female species where it portrayed the female as the weaker sex as compared to the male which was considered to be the stronger sex. Fausto-Sterling (1992) analysed the female species in the terms of the actual size, the brains that they possessed, and the physical strength. Sperms and ovum are believed to be done in terms of power and passivity language. It is in this case that all the boys who are abnormal are surgically turned and made into females. It was scientifically found out that the female chromosomes (xx) are biologically stronger as infants than the male chromosomes since they suffer fewer illnesses showing a reduced and lower infant mortality rate and they also are less prone to abnormalities which affect infants like the Asperger’s syndrome and autism. Despite the much strength that the female chromosome has over the male chromosome, it is still ranked the second sex (Fausto-Sterling, 1992).
Franz Boas (1996) was the first anthropologist who was able to problematize the culture notion. He was able to introduce cultural relativism idea when he was trying to challenge the modern culture hegemony very much. Based on his extensive work in British Columbia and the northwestern United States, he was able to discuss culture separately from the physical environment, biology, and discarded evolutionary models which had been known to represent civilization as being a progressive entity due to its chronological development. According to Boas, cultural boundaries were not supposed to be termed as being obstacles to multi-culturism because he strongly believed that boundaries were supposed to be seen as being porous and also being permeable. He criticized the modern culture and race concept as to whether they had any implications on racial politics in the Unites States in the 1920s where he tried to separate the social sciences from the natural sciences very much and he also tried to set up some genuine space for race relations and political solutions.
The Effects of Culture on Gender Equality
Culture has been considered as a great hindrance to gender equity which could be expressed as the women’s inferiority where some cultures and practices are considered to be oppressive to the women where the female gender is termed as the weaker sex since the female sex is assumed to be problematic, abnormal and, ultimately, weaker of the species; while the male is constructed as straightforward, able to ‘just be’, the norm and powerful. And when things go wrong with men, we always blame the mother.
Meillassoux (1992) saw that the African women in the African society were oppressed while they were very young and unmarried since they formed a part of the political life since their marriage or exchange as it was commonly termed in the African tradition was considered to be very essential and fundamental towards the shaping and the continuation of the society and yet the women had very little power over these marriages or exchanges. This is because they were forced to marry men who were wealthy to be able to pay their dowry or the bride price. This did not guarantee that a young girl was married off to a young man but it even went to the extremes that many young girls who were very innocent were married off or exchanged to old men who could even be their fathers and they had no say to it. They were just supposed to accept what their kinsmen could offer when it came to the accepting of the price for the woman and if the women were asked why they had to be exchanged, they only said that it was the tradition which was the way that they did it and had always been doing it for generation. This leaves the woman to be traded in the name of marriage without having a say but just following the malicious and wicked traditions which has led to the oppression of the women since they should also be allowed to have a choice when it comes to the person that they wish to get married to or even have the freedom like the men to make their own choices when it came to relationships.
This made the women be at the mercy of the men since after they were exchanged, they were supposed to give continuity to the society by giving birth to a lot of children while the work of the African man was to go on marrying as many wives as possible. This made the woman be the caretaker of the household since the women had to do the donkey work while the men were relaxing taking the African traditional brews and blowing their whistles on how many wives and children they have without even bothering about the woman who is getting killed by tasks back in the homestead. In the African society, the young men were also disadvantaged in the system of descent and alliance like the warfare but they had more means at their disposal since they could improve their social and economic statuses by working for societies which see the articulation of different production modes. This gave them a very big advantage over the young girls who were forced to marry at a very young age without being allowed to even a basic education or even the chance to work.
Some cultures in many countries have put the female gender in a subordinate position which has posed a very great challenge to many community leaders who have been on the fight against gender inequality.
Some cultures like the Muslim culture puts in dressing modes for the women where they are forced to put on clothes like the wearing of the burqas by the Kashmir women where they are forced to put on head to toe clothes which cover all their clothes where if they fail to wear the garments, they risk being attacked by the men who may throw acid to the uncovered women which is very malicious and brutal since it causes physical harm to the women..
In some cultures, like in the United Arab Emirates, gender inequality has been highly prevailing in countries like Saudi Arabia where women are not allowed to drive cars or even ride bikes where the women were supposed to only be driven by the men who are related to them directly.
Women had no right over divorce in some cultures which showed that only the men could decide as to whether they wanted the divorce or not. The women who were mistreated by the men or even battered by their husbands did not have any say and they could not opt for a divorce in the countries which allowed divorce as a culture. This showed that the woman could suffer much in the hands of the men in the name of culture.
Some cultures have made the female gender lack the access of basic education of women in the society. This is because these cultures strongly believe that if the women are allowed to access education, they would be able to get the various opportunities which are only available to the men which could make them be able to realize their worth in the society which the culture does not allow the women to be a challenge to the women. This makes the men have all the education and other opportunities which have been denied to the women. This is because the male gender is considered to be more superior to the women in so many ways which is evident in a majority of the countries like Pakistan, United Arab Emirates, Turkey, and India among other countries which have high cases of gender inequality.
Victims of violence
In a majority of the cultures, they believe that the women should obey all their husbands since their husbands were considered to be the breadwinners of the family and they had all the rights over their wives where their wives had to attend to all their needs without questioning. This in most cases has led to domestic violence which has made the women be the victims where the men like in the African culture where the culture allows the African man to have all rights over the wife including forcing the woman to obey him in all ways like beating and disciplining of the wife. Domestic violence has been a problem which has been believed to have spread widely in many countries all over the world.