Masculinity and Femininity: Finding Differences
Defining gender and sex has always been complex because of societal rules and worldviews; thus, there is a need to explain these two terms. Sex refers to biological differences between men and women, while gender is a set of traits and behaviors expected from males and females (Keirns et al., 2015). In this textbook, masculinity is described as possessing such characteristics as aggression, strength, and dominance (Keirns et al., 2015). For instance, riding a bicycle is considered manly behavior, but the patriarchal view of masculinity is not the only accepted form. Men wearing skirts or long robes in Scottish, African, and Middle Eastern cultures are still considered masculine. Furthermore, males are believed to have better analytic skills than females (Keirns et al., 2015). However, masculinity should be distinguished from simply being male because not all individuals with specific anatomy and physiology due to Y-chromosome and high testosterone possess conventional masculine features.
Being female, at all times, required following established rules and taking specific responsibilities. In this book, femininity is defined as being nurturing, passive, subordinate, dressed in a particular manner, and displaying specific behavior (Keirns et al., 2015). Women are expected to wear skirts, clean, cook, dance, and sing for men. They are also likely to choose professions that require teaching and caring about children and the elderly, not strength and analytic skills. In fact, strong and dominant females are often viewed as masculine, creating the issue of double standards and sexism. For example, when Caster Semenya, a South African female athlete, won the 800-meter world championship by showing a substantial improvement in her time, she was suspected of doping (Keirns et al., 2015). The laboratory examination revealed that Semenya was biologically male, possibly explaining her score. The problem, in this case, was that she was checked because the committee perceived her as too masculine, and if a male athlete demonstrated a similar result, it would be accepted as usual.
Keirns, N. J., Strayer, E., Griffiths, H., Cody-Rydzewski, S., Scaramuzzo, G., Sadler, T., Vyain, S., Bry, J., & Jones, F. (2015). Introduction to sociology (2nd ed.). OpenStax.