UC Santa Cruz Politics News Post Classifieds

On The Social Construction of Gender

By Andrew DeFazio on January 9, 2013
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In its advent, feminism was a momentous social movement embodying the ideals of liberty and equality consistent with those articulated by the Founders. Pioneers such as Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton laid the foundation for what would eventually become the 19th Amendment, which was ratified in 1920, granting women in the U.S. the right to vote. [1] The feminist movement has since lost its way.

Since gender inequities in civic participation are rapidly fading, contemporary feminists have had to refashion their agenda to remain relevant. Instead of embracing the social progress America experienced throughout the 20th century, they’ve attempted to perpetuate the gender wars by taking up the gauntlet against human nature. Feminists have proposed that gender, the distinction between masculinity and femininity, is constructed by social norms. [2] This theory stems from their antipathy for the female caricature of high-heels, lipstick, cleavage, pink blouses, and accessorizing with three pound Chihuahuas. [3] The “social construction of gender” has become a pervasive doctrine preached by radicals in women’s studies courses across the country. [4]

Judith Lorber, a feminist and professor emerita of sociology and women’s studies at Brooklyn College, has been credited with developing the social construction of gender theory. She defines gender as, “a process of creating distinguishable social statuses for the assignment of rights and responsibilities.” [5] Lorber continues, “As part of a stratification system that ranks these statuses unequally, gender is a major building block in the social structures built on these unequal statuses.” [6]

Lorber’s assertion coincides with “Marxist feminism,” which submits that capitalism propagates gender inequality, thus, social and gender norms are dictated by a despotic patriarchy. [7] The social construction of gender, however, has been contested by neuroscientists who cite empirical data demonstrating that male and female brains are innately different, each having their own unique characteristics and strengths.

For instance, in an interview with The Wall Street Journal, neuroscientist Dr. Sandra Witelson, known for her extensive research on Albert Einstein’s brain, observed that seldom are there complaints about differences among individuals’ athletic abilities or motor skills, but when it comes to the brain, “people do not like to think that there is something innate, immutable. But the brain is an organ of the body like any other organ. So to think that there are no innate differences is an incorrect assumption.” [8]

Dr. Witelson went on to reference a study conducted by psychologists which examined thousands of elementary school students who scored in the top one percentile on a mathematics aptitude test. The psychologists found that there were significantly more boys who tested in the top one percentile than girls. An assessment of the same children 20-30 years later showed that there were more men who became physicists and mathematicians than women, whereas, there were more women who became administrators. [9]

What Dr. Witelson found most revealing about the study were the stark differences between the priorities of the men and women and what they felt was important in life. While women, “are statistically more interested in having close relationships with parents, having a part-time career, living close to parents and relatives…Men, on the other hand, more frequently said they want to have a full-time career, and they wanted to invent and create something.” [10]

Dr. Witelson concluded that “the kind of aspirations that men and women have may be very related to some of the biological drives and needs that we have inherited as Homo sapiens over the development of our species.” [11]

What’s unfortunate about contemporary feminism is that an ignorant minority of radicals exploit their power as academics by inculcating their students with doctrines contrary to empirical evidence. Preaching the social construction of gender is a perverse attempt to suppress natural female tendencies. In the long run, however, reversing biology is an uphill battle.

1. “Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony,” Library of Congress.

http://www.americaslibrary.gov/aa/stanton/aa_stanton_friends_1.html

2. “The Three Waves of Feminism,” Martha Rampton, 2008.

ttp://www.americaslibrary.gov/aa/stanton/aa_stanton_friends_1.html

3. Ibid.

4. “What Is Women’s Studies?” National Women’s Studies Association.

http://www.nwsa.org/content.asp?pl=19&sl=21&contentid=21

5. “The Social Construction of Gender,” Judith Lorber.

http://armine.pbworks.com/f/reading+9.pdf

6. Ibid.

7. “An Introduction to Marxist Feminism,” Helen Gilbert.

http://www.feministezine.com/feminist/philosophy/Introduction-to-Marxist-Feminism.html

8. “It’s Partly in Your Head,” Sandra Witelson on how male female brains differ, 2011.

http://www.feministezine.com/feminist/philosophy/Introduction-to-Marxist-Feminism.html

9. Ibid.

10. Ibid.

11. Ibid.

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By Andrew DeFazio

Uloop Writer

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