Masculinity and femininity is always influenced by geographical, cultural, and historical location. Currently, the combined influence of gay movements and feminism has blown up the conception of a standardized definition of masculinity and femininity.
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Therefore, it is becoming increasingly fashionable to adopt the term masculinity or femininity not only to reflect the modern times, but also to depict the cultural construction and manifestation of masculinity and femininity to closer and more accurate scrutiny (Beynon, 2002, p. 1). In this regard, social, behavioral, and cultural scientists are specifically concerned with various ways in which gender acquires different meanings and contexts.
pecifically, gender is more associated with definitions attached to notions within the cultural and historical framework. According to Andersen and Taylor (2010), gender roles are closely associated with masculinity and femininity in different cultures. In western industrialized societies, people intend to believe that these masculinity and femininity should be absolutely juxtaposed as two opposite sexes due to the social functions they perform. This is why the era of capitalism is highly distinguished among other historical periods.
Cultural Variations of Masculinity and Femininity in the Era of Industrialization
Given that maleness has a biological orientation, then masculinity must have a cultural one. According to Beynon (2002), masculinity “can never float free of culture” (p. 2). Culture shapes and expresses masculinity differently at different points in time in different situations and different areas by groups and individual.
For instance, Hispanic professional males depict a somewhat higher robustness rating than other categories (Long and Martinez, 1997). In Hispanic cultural societies, traditional masculinity is associated with power status. Hispanic professional men (and women) fight the challenges of attempting to balance the popular cultural values in the United States with their ethnic identity and ethnic values.
Traditional masculinity has an appreciable influence on Hispanic men’s perception of self. Thus, social counselors must consider the cultural values and ethnic identity when handling a social issue involving the Hispanics. In addition, Beynon (2002, p. 2), argues that, masculinity in the first place exists merely as fantasy about what men ought to be, a blurry construction to assist individuals structure and make sense of their lives.
Much research has been done on discussing gender differences from a cross-cultural perspective. To enlarge on this point, Costa et al. (2001) have found out that there are significant gender variations that were observed across cultures. Specifically, the researchers have defined that gender difference were the most communicated ones in American and European cultures where traditional gender roles are diminished.
Such a behavior is explained by the fact that gender aspects are more perceived as roles people perform, but not as cultural traits. Regarding the identified period, the industrialized society is more on presenting direct associations with their social roles where males and females distinction come to the forth and are recognized as norms for behavior.
Full opposition for two-gender dimension has also been supported by Gaudreau (1977) whose research proves that the terms ‘masculine’ and ‘feminine’ are perceived as independent traits, but not as bipolar dimension.
In general, cross-cultural research on masculinity and femininity indicates that all cultures assign different roles to men and women. However, characteristics that are associated with each indicate some cultural diversity. Due to the fact that gender variations have been perceived as cultural determinants influencing the formation of societies, it has significant social meaning.
Historical Patterns of Masculinity and Femininity during Capitalist Period
Historical variations of gender distinctions are also heavily discussed by researchers in terms of social and dimensions. Furthermore, the studies have also underscored such aspects as domesticity and public movements related to masculinity-femininity aspects. Therefore, these differences and variations play a significant role in forming various social dimensions and evaluating social situation.
The observations made by Sethi (1984) has shown that industrialization have displayed tangible chances to the concepts of gender influencing such aspects as residence patterns, house composition, and sleeping accommodations. With regard to historical perspectives, gender and social reproduction are introduced by feminist theory.
In particular, Laslett (1989) argues that societies Europe and North America in the twentieth century were oriented on such social differences as consumerism, procreation, sexuality, and family strategies. In this respect, the researcher supports the idea that re-organization of gender relations have given rise to the development of macro-historical processes. In whole, femininity and masculinity in the industrialized society is presented as two opposite conceptions that have a potent impact on social reproduction.
The acceptable way for expressing masculinity in the modern American cultural society was for a young American man to enroll for war. Indeed a traditional way to lure young American men to enroll to war was to remind them of opportunities it offers to act heroically (Boyle, 2011, p. 149).
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This approach exploits the mentality of young American men of equating heroics with masculinity. This reveals how cultural perception of masculinity-femininity can be use to motivate people towards a specific social course. These young American adults go to war with hope of getting an opportunity to perform heroic acts thereby expressing his masculinity. Nevertheless, most of the American war narratives depict the outright converse.
These narratives depict vain attempts by men to exhibit traditional paradigm of masculinity, because they manifest a state of being out of control and in need of rescue (Boyle, 2011, p 149); a traditional view of femininity. This misconception of masculinity is accountable for increase captivity and rescue associated with the intention to pull a heroic masculinity stunt.
In whole, the are of industrialization witnessed constantly changing patterns of masculinity and femininity that were based on chances in social perception of gender roles. Ranging from traditional norms on assessing gender relations to more radical, historical variations are also connected with social movements dedicated to the protection of human rights, such gender equality. In addition, racial disparities also significantly influenced the situation within the identified period.
Studies exploring cultural and historical variations of masculinity and femininity in the era of industrialization have revealed a number of important assumptions. First, cultural variations in gender functions exist due to the shifts in stereotypes and outlooks on social roles of males and females in society. Second, different industrialized societies propagandized various functions and influences in terms of domesticity, consumerism, and bipolar dimension.
Finally, industrialized society is more inclined to present direct, traditional traits attached to the terms under analysis. With regard to historical perspectives, most of past events are also connected with shaping different stereotypes connected to femininity and masculinity, ranging from traditional patterns to the emergence of sub-cultural forms. Both aspects are significant in defining the social significant of these shifts for the formation new patterns and variations.
Andersen, M. L., and Taylor, H. F. (2010). Society: The Essentials. US: Cengage Learning.
Beynon, J. (2002). Masculinities and culture. Philadelphia : Open University Press.
Costa, P. Jr., Terracciano, A., and McCrae, R. R. (2001). Gender differences in personality traits across cultures: Robust and surprising findings. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. 81(2), 322-331.
Gaudreau, P. (1977). Factor analysis of the Bem Sex-Role Inventory. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology. 45(2), 299-302.
Laslett, B., and Brenner, J. (1989). Gender and Social Reproduction: Historical Perspectives. Annual Review of Sociology. 15, 381-404.
Long, V., & Martinez, E. (1997). Masculinity, Femininity, and Hispanic
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