Gender Inequality - Nathan Gregory
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Gender & Sex
The Functionalist Perspective
Gender inequality can be defined as allowing people different opportunities due to perceived differences based solely on issues of gender. Gender discrimination is the prejudicial treatment of an individual or group due to gender. Gender inequality and discrimination are generally discussed as being associated to women, but any gender can be subject to experience discrimination and inequality.
The Marxist-Feminist Perspective
Sex is a biological fact that is the same in any society and is defined by being male (having an XX chromosome) or being a female (having an XY chromosome); what that sex means in terms of your gender and gender role as a man or a woman in society can be quite different across societies. A typical example of this is in a heterosexual relationship where the man acts as the breadwinner for his family, and the woman takes on the roles of the caregiver. These gender roles refer to the characteristics and behaviors that varying societies attribute to the sexes: a man in any culture requires male sex plus what our various cultures define as masculine characteristics and behaviors, likewise, a woman requires female sex and feminine characteristics.
To Kill A Mockingbird Example 1
The functionalist perspective emphasizes the interconnectedness of society by focusing on how each part influences and is influenced by other parts. According to functionalism, society is a system of interconnected parts that work together in harmony to maintain a state of balance and social equilibrium for the whole. Functionalism can be put into two categories: manifest functions and latent functions. Manifest functions are outcomes that are intended and commonly recognized. Latent functions are consequences that are unintended and often hidden.
To Kill A Mockingbird Example 1 (continued)
Marxist feminist perspective adapts the principles of Marxism to emphasise how capitalism uses the family oppresses women, and the harmful consequences of the family to women’s lives. The labour of women, which sustains the labour force and nurtures the next generation, comes at no cost to the owners of the means of production. Additionally, the responsibility of the male breadwinner to support his wife and children fetters his ability to withdraw his labour power in defense of his class interests.
In the novel To Kill A Mockingbird, Scout displays male qualities; a significant trait involves her initiation of physical altercations with other classmates, such as her "catching Walter Cunningham in the schoolyard" (22). Traditionally, gender roles would not permit young girls to exhibit violent behaviour. Instead, many girls play games with dolls, take ballet lessons, and wear dresses– roles and acts that are reserved for women; however, Scout takes part in many fights and finds "pleasure" in beating her fellow classmates.
When Scout fights with Walter Cunningham, her older brother Jem feels obligated to scold his little sister and stop the brawl. Jem's reaction is significant because females are the ones to rebuke the males for fighting, whereas Jem restrains his little sister. In this situation we see gender roles being swapped. Lee uses fist fighting as a catalyst to provide masculine characteristics to a woman, in a time in which 'tomboyish' for her main character.
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