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Gender equality in the contemporary social debate - Essay Example

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Gender equality in the contemporary social debate

Devor argues that gender identity is socially constructed. By referring to “The task of learning to be properly gendered members of society”, he makes it clear that gender identity is leaned and not congenital. This process of learning is reinforced through a system of social rewards and punishments throughout the life of an individual. Gender performance must conform to established social norms. Gender Identities “act as cognitive filtering devices” which enable people to learn appropriate gender role behavior. The development of Gender Identity begins when a child is about eighteen months and is the result of learning from the people around the child. Children first “understand gender as a function of role rather than as a function of anatomy”. The individual concept of the self-includes the self-image of oneself as an individual (the subjective ‘I’) and the image of oneself as seen by others (the objective ‘me’). At first, children indiscriminately absorb the generalized standards of society, based on the attitudes of people around them. Devor terms this the attitude of the “generalized other” which functions as a “guide, or an internalized observer” that helps the child to avoid social disapproval and scorn. Some people play a more significant role in the “formation of one’s self-image and one’s ideas and goals” because they interact more closely and for longer periods of time with oneself....
The individual concept of the self includes the self-image of oneself as an individual (the subjective ‘I’) and the image of oneself as seen by others (the objective ‘me’). At first, children indiscriminately absorb the generalized standards of society, based on the attitudes of people round them. Devor terms this the attitude of the “generalized other” which functions as a “guide, or an internalized observer” that helps the child to avoid social disapproval and scorn (530). Of course, all people do not play an equal role in social and personal interactions of an individual. Some people play a more significant role in the “formation of one’s self-image and one’s ideals and goals” because they interact more closely and for longer periods of time with oneself (Devor, 530). Such individual comprise the “significant other.” The ‘generalized other’ denotes the “innumerable faceless members of society,” while the ‘significant other’ denotes those individuals who exert a stronger, more intimate influence on the formation of self-image. Gender identity is one of the facets of this developing self. Devor’s concept of the ‘generalized other’ finds expression in Cofer’s account. In Puerto Rico, Cofer’s relatively fair complexion and height make her a tall, “white girl” (Cofer, 537). On moving to America, the very same skin color and stature make her “a brown girl” and “the smallest member of my classes” (Cofer, 537). Here, it is clear that the larger Puerto Rican and American society constitutes the ‘generalized other’ which teaches the child Cofer that her identity is defined by the social norms which stereotype physical appearance. Cofer’s personal identity of ...Show more
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This essay describes gender equality in the contemporary social debate. It is generally accepted that women have been discriminated against over the ages, and this attitude is in need of urgent change.Gender equality is a very crucial factor in the contemporary social debate…
Gender equality in the contemporary social debate
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