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Maria Ortega
Professor Beadle
English 115
16 September 2015
Discrimination in Civilization
From the moment babies are born they are categorized into male or female depending on
their sex organs. If a persons sex is established this way, then how is ones gender established?
There are many opinions and theories ranging from processes to choices, however, Judith Lorber,
Aaron Devor, Barbara Kantrowitz, and Pat Wingert are all writers that would agree that gender is
constructed in individuals starting at a very young age. The authors all discuss the different traits
between the binary pair male and female, though gender construction helps organize society it
does so by devaluing feminine traits and creating a hierarchy in which masculinity plays the
leading role.
Adults treat genders differently which implants different reactions and attitudes in
children which then establishes the feminine and masculine traits. Devors article Becoming
Members of Society: The Social Meanings of Gender gives an in depth explanation of this
process ones gender identity is a lifelong process... society demands different gender
performances from us and rewards, tolerates, or punishes us differently for conformity to, or
digression from, social norms (35). Devor shows this by discussing the conflict between the
personal I and the social me. The social me is an internal observer that people have learned
to create, they supervise ones behavior so that it aligns with their gender. Lorber in Night to

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His Day: The Social Construction of Gender also addresses this idea in her article when she
says For the individual, gender construction starts with assignment... at birth... once a childs
gender is evident, others treat those in one gender differently from those in the other (20). By
giving personal examples Lorber shows the audience what this looks like in a real life scenario.
She discusses her own son whos gender was constructed even though he attended a nonsexist
elementary school. Though Lorber did her best to keep her son unconstructed, he still refused to
wear make up for a school play and by doing so led all the others boys down the same path as
well (25). This example shows the role that gender plays in the western society.
A prominent point that the authors share is the idea that gender was created to have a
more organized society. Gender sets guidelines and limits to individuals and thus creates a more
disciplined and orderly form of society. Devor gives examples of what this could be using
masculinity and femininity. As patriarchy has reserved active expressions of power as a
masculine attribute, femininity must be expressed through modes of dress, movement, speech,
and action... (40). This concept can be seen anywhere, but is often overlooked. An example of
this is the style of clothing babies are given; girls wear pink, yellow, and purple colors while
boys wear blue, green, and reds. As the kids grow up they start to learn what society deems
acceptable and act in those ways. This goes back to the personal I that Devor discusses because
it creates a conflict between the way a person should act, and the way they personally feel
comfortable with. Lorber say this in a different way though It is produced and maintained by
identifiable social processes and built into the general social structure and individual identities
deliberately and purposefully (30). By this she means what Devor is saying, there is a built in

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personality in every person that also makes up some of their individuality to make sure they
follow the societal pressure.
A more recently issue is the many people that are refusing to choose a gender because
they feel like they do not fit in with either one. This makes the refuser and the conformer
uncomfortable, Lorber says ...we are uncomfortable until we have successfully placed the other
person in a gender status; otherwise we feel socially dislocated (20). To humans, gender is just
another way to organize their everyday life, where they go to the bathroom and what they wear is
more limited and so it is easier to make a decision. Kantrowitz and Wingert in Are We Facing a
Genderless Future? show that even language is organized with gender Now if we could only
figure out that pronoun problem (71). In Western society the words addressing a single third
party is either he, him, her, or she. In other countries there are words for a person that does not fit
into either gender, but in western society it does not exist. Kantrowitz and Wingert end their
article with this sentence to allow the reader to think further into how much Western society
relies on gender for organization.
Now as if Western society did not use gender enough for organization, it continues to do
so further by devaluing feminine traits and portraying mens as desirable. Devor says that it
seems most likely that gender roles are the result of systematic power imbalances based on
gender discrimination (43). It appears that western societies have a system of hierarchy meaning
people or a group is organized above another because of their status. In this case people who
portray masculine traits would be above the people who portray feminine traits. No one wants to
be weak and emotional, most people try to be independent and strong (which are considered

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masculine traits). Lorbers article shows similar views by saying The social order as we know it
in Western societies is organized around... gender inequality (30). History has shown gender
imbalances when women could not vote, women could not go to war, women could not work,
women could not get an education. All of these acts were to boost up the masculine traits so there
was a clear understanding of who would be in charge.
Though organization is very beneficial to a society, there are many other ways to better
organize. Some people claim that it isnt gender discrimination at all but rather they are two
different things and so they will never be equal, however, it is not an excuse to demean one set of
traits and praise the other. By reading Lorber, Devor, and Kantrowitz and Wingerts articles I
have noticed just how much the social me shows up in myself. As much as I dress and act in
what I think is my personal unique self, Ive realized that part of myself was established
through my childhood from society. I have created limits in my actions because they are
comfortable to me, however they are comfortable to me because I know that as long as I stay in
these boundaries I wont be judged or scorned by society. I will be unnoticed. And yet I have also
experienced the opposite: being noticed for not fitting in with my gender role. Having played
percussion for ten years and being in drum line for five, I have noticed that most players are
male. Therefore most people associate drum line and men as a pair. I am constantly being called
out and praised because I am female and on drum line, though I know it means well I can not
help but think: Is it really that surprising that I am a female could manage to do this? Beneath the
statement is the meaning that people are surprised and cheer me on because I do not perform
feminine hobbies, this also shows the devaluing of femininity.

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Most western societies are portrayed to be more free and equal, they offer opportunity for
everyone right? The actuality of it is that these societies discriminate against people who refuse
to conform to one gender, and against feminine traits. Society is against the refusers because they
feel like their organization is being destroyed. By using hierarchy society places masculinity
above femininity which devalues femininity and might not seem like a big deal but it has its
effects. There is change happening though, more and more colleges are allowing unisex
bathrooms that will help genderless individuals feel comfortable in choosing where to go to the
bathroom. By doing so, it will help create a more equal and fair social structure comforting all
types of individuals.

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Works Cited
Devor, Aaron. Becoming Members of Society: The Social Meanings of Gender. Composing
Gender. Ed. Rachael Groner and John F. OHara. Bedford: St. Martins, 2014. 1971.
print.
Kantrowitz, Barbara and Pat Wingert. Are We Facing a Genderless Future? Composing Gender

. Ed. Rachael Groner and John F. OHara. Bedford: St. Martins, 2014. 19-71. print.

Lorber, Judith. Night to His Day: The social Construction of Gender. Composing Gender.
Ed. Rachael Groner and John F. OHara. Bedford: St. Martins, 2014. 19-71. print.