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Gender Norms and Contemporary Culture

The term “culture” implies different meanings, firstly, it is about intellectual and creative products made by human beings, such as drama, art, and music. Secondly, it is about the beliefs and practices of a particular society. In today’s world, one may consider gender as a sociocultural phenomenon, as it is a socially constructed concept that varies within different cultures as every culture has its standards for men and women. This essay argues that culture influences gender through traditional customs and norms as well as pop culture.

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Cultures from around the world are mostly patriarchal with few exceptions for the matriarchal ones. This imbalance exists because expectations about behaviors and attributes of men and women are affected by power structures, such as religion and societal norms (Vuola, 2021). For example, the patriarchal system forces women to prioritize family life over career opportunities. Giuliano (2020) explains that high politics and business are male-dominated fields that hardly accept women in higher positions, thus not allowing them to focus more on work. Moreover, family culture in patriarchal societies grows their children based on norms in which females are servants of males.

Indeed, gender and gender relations are critical aspects of culture that make up the life in family, society and the workplace. It is commonly accepted that gender serves as an organizing principle within communities (Giuliano, 2020). Cultural meanings of being men and women illustrate how the whole society should behave and perceive things. While gender roles and functions vary among communities, there is a pattern, showing that women have less autonomy and power in solving family or community issues (Giuliano, 2020). In the modern world, such traditional views on gender roles are changing and being challenged.

This is because cultures are altering their fundamental ideas about the roles and functions of men and women. For example, if previously women were not allowed to work in “men’s” fields, such as law, politics and the military due to their “weak” and “sensitive” nature, now women have more career options. Such modern changes justify the statement that gender is socially constructed and shaped by culture.

With regards to pop culture, people’s perception of gender is also dictated by popular products of contemporary culture. What people see on a daily basis, and what music, films, and art they consume are highly influencing their explanation of the surrounding world. For example, fashion and beauty companies construct beauty standards through their advertisement and shows. According to popular fashion companies, women should be skinny, feminine and gentle, while men are expected to be masculine, strong and passionate. Such constructed attributes for men and women can be detrimental to young people.

Teenagers may experience an identity crisis while trying to preserve the image of a right “man” or “woman” that is imposed by the mass media and society. Therefore, for an individual, it is crucial not to rely on pop culture when discovering their gender identity.

In conclusion, people’s perception of gender is primarily influenced by culture. This is because culture includes commonly accepted norms and beliefs that are imposed by power structures, such as religion, government, business entities and mass media. Traditionally, societies have patriarchal order with established roles for men and women. In terms of pop culture, also imposes ideas and visions of men and women through content that they use.

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Reference List

Giuliano, P. (2020). ‘Gender and culture’, Oxford Review of Economic Policy, 36(4), pp. 944-961.

Vuola, E. (2021). ‘Reflections on Religion and Gender, Religion and Gender, 11(1), pp. 134-136.

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