The main aim of this paper was to analyze the distinction between gender and sex. The author started by introducing the two concepts. Also, the impacts of the two on social structures were highlighted. It is important to evaluate the level of gender and sex structures in society. Such structures were of theoretical and practical relevance to this study. Their understanding sheds light on the potential causes of social differences across societies. To this end, the author analyzed the concept of gender systems in society. The systems result in biases on which gender and sex inequalities are founded. There are various factors that lead to social and other forms of inequalities. The differences between gender and sex are such elements. In this paper, gender binarism, sexism, institutionalized gender, and sex patterns in society are assessed. The concepts are important in reviewing the differences between gender and sex and their impacts on social structures and inequalities.
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Sex, Gender, and Inequalities
According to Warnke (2011), gender is an amalgamation of multiple elements. The elements range from physical, biological, and mental to behavioral attributes. They bring about the distinctions evidenced between feminism and masculinity. About this, Warnke (2011) asserts that a context variation exists where gender is defined using biological terms.
Sex is different from gender. It is regarded as the specialization of species into male and female varieties (Devine & Devine, 2003). On its part, sex is viewed as the biological make-up of an organism’s reproductive anatomy. The distinction between the two elements also encompasses secondary sex characteristics. Gender may be defined by the lifestyle of the individual. The lifestyle is derived from cultural activities and recognition of their own identity. Such scholars, as Warnke (2011) assert that sex and gender are not universal terms. They are used interchangeably simply because they change over time. At times, they even change from one place to the other.
In this paper, the writer explores the variations between sex and gender. Gender inequalities will also be analyzed. Also, the author will review how these inequalities lead to mainstream discrepancies in society. The two concepts (sex and gender) are believed to be the major causes of structural inequalities in a social set up. Gender is socially constructed, while sex is a biological property (Warnke, 2011). Socialism has exploited the term sexism, bringing about gender inequalities in the process. It is against the backdrop of these imbalances that the author of this paper analyzes the dynamics brought about by various social relations existing between biologically defined male and female roles and socially constructed gender aspects.
Distinctions between Gender and Sex
Gender and sex are powerful revolutionary phenomena. Individuals create new social relations regularly, including natural defined ones. In sociology, other organisms like dogs are not defined using terms like gender. However, within a socially constructed setting, humans are gendered. As such, the distinction between gender and sex is a fundamental element of social inequality (Kendall & Murray, 2014).
Gender associations are deciphered through natural processes. Cultural and social processes do not play a role in these experiences. Throughout history, biological properties have defined the roles of generic classes. What this means is that biological properties do not define the specific roles each generic class will take. To this end, male and female, which are the two classes referred to here, are not associate with biology. However, this does not mean that gender has nothing to do with biological properties. Gender associations result from the reaction between social processes and biological properties. Sex, which is biologically oriented, possesses elements of production that are determined by social processes. During social interactions, sex is transformed into relationships. The transformed outcome is what Westbrook and Schilt (2014) refer to as “gender.”
Westbrook and Schilt (2014) contend that gender is a multidimensional construct. It brings on board multiple roles, responsibilities, and experiences that are based on sex. Gender is biologically created to give meaning to sex differences. The differences are used to categorize people into women, men, and transsexuals. Such classifications are achieved through social constructions. As such, gender is regarded as an amorphous term because it changes with time.
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Social Inequalities, Sex, and Gender
Social inequality is common in many societies. It encompasses unequal treatment of different positions and statuses in society. The social status, class, and circle of groups are affected by this phenomenon. Areas that are characterized by social inequalities include, among others, healthcare, property rights, and education. Such discriminations are derived from various sources. They may arise from the understanding of unrecognized gender roles. An example of such variations is gender inequality (Blau & Gielen, 2012).
According to Blau and Gielen (2012), this is a phenomenon that involves unbalanced treatment of individuals based on gender attributes. Social construction and biological properties (sex) are some of the factors responsible for individual differences. Davis (2013) refers to gender inequality as a deviation from parity during the involvement of women and men in social engagements. There is no consensus about the definition of this concept. However, the issue is regarded as an amorphous phenomenon with multiple spheres of influence. It touches on political, healthcare, legal, and economic elements. Also, gender inequality involves family systems within a home (Davis, 2013).
The systems address the issue of gender roles and identity in a social setting. A gender role may be personal. It is what an individual professes to others with regards to their self-identity. The systems comprise of sexual and erotic arousal and responses. Gender identity is also a personal encounter. It involves interactions male or female defined roles. Through experiences, a person can identify themselves as male, female, or androgynous (McCall, 2001).
The identity is associated with reflexive self relations. It is the same as other social identities. The reason is that gender is based on physical embodiments. The character of a person is derived from relative social locations. The individuals are perceived by others about how they view themselves. Personal feelings define the nature of the identity portrayed in society. Characters are formed within gendered settings. Under such circumstances, there is a strong need to uphold the correct and corresponding gender roles. There are eminent consequences for those who defy such arrangements. For instance, undefined order identity may result in discrimination and violence against the person (Cealey & Hood, 2002).
The roles are regarded as social norms. They define interests, responsibilities, limitations, and manners. Gender-specific tasks are known for their ability to structure the life of an individual, ranging from their choice of attire to preferred occupations. Some individuals resist gender roles and definitions. However, Davis (2013) opines that these specifications retain their influence in a social set up. As a result, individuals may adopt conventional and stereotypic roles. In such cases, they disregard their gender status.
How Sex Inequalities have Led to Mainstream Discriminations: Institutionalized Gender
Gender is both produced and structured by different institutions. The media, religion, healthcare, and educational institutions are some of the agents that shape personalities. Political influences are also known to generate gender statuses. They form gender stratifications that are deeply entrenched in a social set up. Such variations are unquestionable. In the long run, such institutionalized gender affects the economy. It denies some groups the opportunity to participate fully in economic and social activities (Shields & Dicicco, 2011).
Institutionalized gender is deeply rooted. It is exhibited through different social systems. In these structures, gender is expressed through values, responsibilities, roles, and opportunities. For instance, job institutions are gendered. Men are paid more compared to women working on the same assignment. Also, some occupations are dominated by individuals of a particular gender (Shields & Dicicco, 2011).
Gender is context specific. It is also prone to evolutions. Men are dominant in society about money, power, and access to opportunities. The existence of these contrasts on a large scale highlights how gender has been institutionalized in society. Such institutionalization interacts with other social systems. The dynamics determine race, sex, class, and other structures (Shields & Dicicco, 2011).
Inequalities in the Work Place
In contemporary work settings, wage disparities exist even among qualified members of staff performing identical tasks. It is noted that one group of employees is paid more than the other. Conventionally, wage disparities benefit men at the expense of their female counterparts. Also, women are more likely to quit their jobs than men. They do this when they get married or when they are pregnant. As such, income disparities persist in these gendered work settings (Blau & Gielen, 2012).
How Gender Differences and Mainstream Inequalities have changed over Time
Gender inequalities have changed over time. Some aspects of this concept have improved, while others have deteriorated. For instance, in the past, women did not participate actively in the banking sector. With increased awareness, women have realized their roles in society. They are participating in various economic activities. To date, 43% of the savings held by banking institutions are attributed to women (Shields & Dicicco, 2011).
It is noted that issues to do with HIV/AIDS, poverty, and illiteracy affect women more than men. However, things are changing, and today, women are becoming more educated than in the past. In spite of these developments, there appears to be a glass ceiling that stops female members of the society from attaining certain social and economic statuses. The participation of women in economic activities, as already indicated, has increased. However, wage inequalities between genders persist (Shields & Dicicco, 2011).
The Impacts of Sexuality on Inequality Patterns
Davis (2013) argues that sexism is the prejudicial treatment of individuals based on their sex. The practice leads to social inequalities in society. Sexist opinions are likely to result from perceived gender variations. Such tasks are based on the assumption that certain individuals are superior to others. The differences are based on their sex. A job applicant has to deal with discriminatory issues with regards to their sex.
Studies have shown that in many societies, men are favored over women. For example, in the United States, the latter makes up forty-seven percent of participants in the labor market. However, they only occupy six percent of the positions in corporate executive boards. What this means is that sex is a major factor leading to inequalities in society (Devine &Devine, 2003).
Inequalities and Gender Binarism
Gender inequalities are classified into what Cealey and Hood (2002, p. 34) refer to as binaries. It involves the categorization of sex and gender into two distinct settings. The two are masculine and feminine classes. The scenario describes how gender inequalities are entrenched in society. Sex and gender are considered as separate entities. In this case, genderism is created. In the process, social boundaries are formed. Binarism brings about some form of prejudice. It affects people about intersex and transgender definitions. It is especially prominent among gender-queer individuals (McCall, 2001).
Authors like Cealey and Hood (2002) argue that gender binary leads to social order. However, it is accused of fermenting polarizations in society. For example, some religious doctrines are used to define absolute authority in different social settings. Islam, for example, perceives women as servants to their men. On its part, Catholicism discourages women from taking part in priesthood roles. The reason is that such individuals are believed to be unclean as a result of sexual intercourses.
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In this paper, the author analyzed the issues of sex and gender in general. The two are significant social forces. The separate entities should be brought together to help them operate effectively. Inequalities are brought about by the separation of the two elements. To discriminations, theories and research that support the link between gender and sex should be promoted. Such undertakings will ensure that sexism and gender biases are eradicated.
Blau, F., & Gielen, A. (2012). Gender, inequality, and wages. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Cealey, H., & Hood, J. (2002). Beyond sex and gender. London: SAGE.
Davis, G. (2013). Anne Fausto-Sterling’s sex/gender: Disrupting assumptions about gender, sex, and sexuality. Journal of Family Theory & Review, 5(2), 156-158.
Devine, P., & Devine, C. (2003). Sex and gender: A spectrum of views. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth/Thomson Learning.
Kendall, K., & Murray, L. (2014). Sociology in our times: The essentials (6th ed.). Belmont, CA: Nelson Education.
McCall, L. (2001). Complex inequality: Gender, class, and race in the new economy. New York: Routledge.
Shields, S., & Dicicco, E. (2011). The social psychology of sex and gender: From gender differences to doing gender. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 35(3), 491-499.
Warnke, G. (2011). Debating sex and gender. New York: Oxford University Press.
Westbrook, L., & Schilt, K. (2014). Doing gender, determining gender: Transgender people, gender panics, and the maintenance of the sex/gender/sexuality system. Gender & Society, 28(1), 32-57.