Gender Behavior

Human contemporary socio-economic scene portrays sophisticated gender perceptions in the world societies. Based on different gender theories, various scholars have found that discriminatory socio-economic and political structures and systems exist in most societies, especially in the 19th and 20th century. Great anthropologists have persistently loathed these organizational structures, since they consider them deliberate mechanisms adopted by those perceived to be of stronger sex with intentions of oppressing the weaker sex in the society. Notably, the male-dominance varies from one culture to another. Some great feminist thinkers have found that the male-dominant social structures are noticeable in most African societies. While some scholars and anthropologist have suggested that gender behavior is a biologically engrained human characteristic, Margaret Meade, a renowned anthropologist hypothesized that the aspect is culturally determined. Through her great anthropological works, Meade has persistently opined that individual’s gender behavior is largely determined by the culture in which the very individual is raised. Her arguments were supportive of the idea of environmental determinism.

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Culture is a valuable capability that human beings bring into development in the society. Society’s culture has a far-reaching effect on human development through its vast forms of attitudes, perceptions, expression, reward and exchange, social support and relationships, principles of traditional public discussions, individual behavior in the working environment, and impacts on human values and morals. As hypothesized by Margaret Meade, it is beyond reasonable doubt that gender behavior is a socio-cultural construct which wholly asserts that specific expectations and roles of men and women are not biologically engrained as argued by other anthropologists. From modest literature, clearly the gender roles and responsibilities of men and women are not only socially but also significant defined. According toHaviland et al, these gender roles structurally and culturally defined in a manner that create and perpetuate social relationships of male superiority and female subordination in some world’s societies. The aspect of male-dominance as a gender behavior occurs following various cultural influences.  The origins of anthropology were mud by heated debates over gender behavior as a product of either cultural or biological construct. Despite being an intrinsic aspect of human experience, some contemporary anthropologists have generated respectable suggestions.

 Betsch et al adopted matriarchal societies to reveal the cultural nature of gender roles and differences, particularly in matters of male dominance and leadership as perpetuated by the cultural influences. Factually, it is widely known that such particular societies rarely exist since real dominance by men is the order of the day in most socio-cultural settings. In the ancient days, men were treated as energetic and more superior hence they were expected to participate in wars or to protect the society. Iroquois is a perfect example of matriarchal societies cited by Betsch and his colleagues. In these societies, young and energetic men were requested to engage themselves in wars in an attempt to protect the other members of the society. Throughout their protection mission, most of them died hence the societies had to be run by old men believe to be wise. Despite being a necessity of great deal, women were not authorized to run the societies due to a cultural belief that they were incapable. The notable business of these societies remains firmly within the hands of men. This cultural happening can be seen even today in several parts of the world. In various parts of Eastern Europe, particularly in Scottish fishing areas, men spend most of their time away from the societies or homes on their mission of following the shoals along the coast. Women were left at home but were not delegated responsibilities to run their families in totality.

In order to realize the inequality as a common feature of gender behavior in the society, one has to consider a broad range of domains of life in relation to the roles and responsibilities accorded to men and women. Njogu and Mazrui pointed out that male dominance manifests itself in various spheres within the social settings, politico-judicial organizational structures, labor market, mass media and other cultural-ideological settings. Arguably, beliefs, norms, practices and values adopted in the domains of social settings have contributed enormously to the male-dominance aspect. In addition, these social enshrined principles and practices have reinforced male-dominance, which has rendered women inactive in most societies. The gender behavior is dominant in societies with the cultural practice of giving boys preference, and this has contributed significantly to denial of girls or women in various aspects of life. For example, girls have been denied access to basic education thus curtailing numerous opportunities in their lives. The gender behavior is attributed to the process of socialization in the family settings, religious and educational institutions among other formal and informal social spheres. Conspicuously, the process of socialization in the social settings has conditioned young boys and girls to behave in a particular manner and play different roles and responsibilities. Through it, young men and women are encouraged to follow specific cultural norms and values. In some societies, individuals are rewarded or punished for depicting a specific behavior. In societies where the socio-cultural norms and values are strictly observed, women’s occupation is largely facilitated through various claims of instinctive inclinations. Such stereotyping and conditioning has a far-reaching effect on the perceptions and attitudes of capabilities of women to undertake certain tasks in the society. This situation has been repeated over time thus had solidified. Consequently, this has made it incredible for coming generations to uproot from cultural belief’s frames of the people.

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Noteworthy, it is not just through cultural socialization that gender behavior has been planted in the world societies. The political culture has also perpetuated the male dominance behavior in the society.  Culturally, there exist glaring gaps in societal policies, national legal frameworks and investment opportunities, which make difficult for girls and women to explore full potentials in both socio-economical and political spheres. For instance, the political culture prevailing in the society or the country at large has resulted in the adoption of policies and practices, which prohibit women from engaging some economic activities such as a subsistence farming and the informal sector. Most of the export-oriented economic activities are expected to be performed by men only. In most social settings, women have not been supported to explore their full potential for sustainability. A closer look at some sub-Saharan African countries indicates that men are depended heavily to perform various economic activities. Some of the cultural laws deny women from accessing land ownership thus are barred from investing freely. According to Caplan, socio-cultural laws have been a handicap to women’s capabilities, which has perpetuated a culture of dependence in most societies. The economic dependence of women has been a major contributor of male dominance as evident by various stages of bridging inequalities. Women with economic resources are placed in a better position to assert and advocate for their rights in the event of violation.

The oppression of women as evident in the ancient socio-economic inegalitarianism has undergone a drastic revolution and is expected change with time. Note mentioning, the cultural facets observed in the 19th and 20th century are different from the cultures of the present societies. The male-dominated social structures have changed significantly. Therefore, this has led to the eradication of gender inequalities. With industrialization, feminist ideologues have developed a culture of looking at the society from various dimensions. Some have been unhappy with the beliefs and attitudes of male dominance as they occur in some societies. Their critical attitude and discontent of what is happening in the societies have encouraged them to employ feminism as an ideology which can possibly eliminate the cultural construct of male-dominance. The core values, ideas, attitudes and values of the past societies have changed and are expected to change tremendously as the culture shifted to other versions. Modification of culture has the implication of purging out some ancient ideas, beliefs and attitudes and this has allowed the proliferation of cultural values that respect the natural rights and interests of all people. The revolutionary spirit has great impacts on the male dominance as a product of culture. It is the basis for abolishment of certain beliefs and attitudes that foster male-dominance in the social settings. The revolutionary spirit that is being noticed in the modern societies has resulted in a complete overhaul of numerous social fabrics across the global world. The new cultures are expected to subject the ancient way of living into intellectual scrutiny. As a result, some of the cultural beliefs and attitudes would be refuted thus paving the way for respect of the rights and interests of all sexes.

Both men and women have similar needs and wants of the society. Historically, the cultural aspect has contributed remarkable differences in opportunities, which has led to prejudice against women. However, this practice varies from one culture to another. In the Western countries, the rights and the plights of women are observed and respected. Education of women has played a key role in eradicating the male-dominance culture in the western societies. In the 19th century, women who commit most of their time in education were excluded and perceived to be desirable wives in the family setting. As time goes, this cultural impunity has been eradicated completely. The modern culture has allowed women to access education equally as their male counterparts. In some countries such as Australia, the number of women graduating from universities exceeds the number of men. Acquisition of relevant education has enabled women to be appointed to senior positions in the national governments. New cultures educate men to respect the rights of women. They have been taught the negative effects of male-dominance culture. Consequently, the change in culture has given the women opportunity to exercise their rights freely.

The emerging cultures have led to a re-evaluation of the roles and responsibilities of men and women in the societies. In addition, they have created avenues for redefining masculinity for men in order to broaden choices for women. With the emergence of contemporary political culture in many countries of the world, the political class has advocated for a number of actions and initiatives purposely to bridge the gaps between men and women. In the present-day societies, members in conjunction with the government have mainstream gender issues through various development efforts.  

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The perception that males are better off in the society is an outcome of cultural beliefs and norms contrary to some anthropologists’ arguments that it is biologically engrained. Male and females have similar needs that ought to be satisfied in order for them to survive. The male-dominance is a cultural impunity that has changed occasionally with time and culture. However, recent researches have paid great attention to positive aspects of culture that can be redeemed. As time goes, it has been noted that the new culture is indeed an enemy of male-dominance. Therefore, Meade’s hypothesis that male dominance is a cultural construct and that alternative gender arrangements can change it is not only true but also valid.

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