Gender issues in the USA

The concept and sex, and especially his studies in psychology and sociology at the present stage. The history of the study of the concepts of masculinity and femininity. Gender issues in Russian society. Gender identity and the role of women in America.

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Male participation in feminism is encouraged by feminists and is seen as an important strategy for achieving full societal commitment to gender equality. Many male feminists and pro-feminists are active in both women's rights activism, feminist theory, and masculinity studies. However, some argue that while male engagement with feminism is necessary, it is problematic due to the ingrained social influences of patriarchy in gender relations. The consensus today in feminist and masculinity theories is that both genders can and should cooperate to achieve the larger goals of feminism.

Debates have emerged within feminism over whether patriarchy is the primary cause of women's oppression, as radical feminist theory asserts, or whether legal systems and class conflict play a large role as well, as is proposed in other feminist movements such as liberal feminism and socialist feminism. Liberal feminism sees sex roles as the agent of women's and men's oppression, with both genders as participants. Some radical feminists have proposed that because patriarchy is too deeply rooted in society, separatism is the only viable solution. Other feminists have criticized these radical feminist views as being anti-men, though some radical feminists reject this portrayal of their views. Societal tension caused by second-wave feminism gave rise to backlash in the form of anti-feminist men's movements, such as Masculism, though today some see masculism as a complementary movement that does not oppose feminism. Some feminists have argued that associating feminism with misandry is an anti-feminist strategy to discredit the movement, even though misandry is not a part of feminism and feminists are not more likely to hate men than non-feminists, and that this characterization has contributed to both men and women's reluctance to identify as feminist despite agreeing with the movement's goals.


Gender-based inquiries into and conceptualization of architecture have also come about, leading to feminism in modern architecture. Piyush Mathur coined the term archigenderic. Claiming that architectural planning has an inextricable link with the defining and regulation of gender roles, responsibilities, rights, and limitations, Mathur came up with that term to explorethe meaning of 'architecture' in terms of gender and to explore the meaning of 'gender' in terms of architecture.


The feminist movement produced both feminist fiction and non-fiction, and created new interest in women's writing. It also prompted a general reevaluation of women's historical and academic contributions in response to the belief that women's lives and contributions have been underrepresented as areas of scholarly interest. Much of the early period of feminist literary scholarship was given over to the rediscovery and reclamation of texts written by women. Commensurate with this growth in scholarly interest, various presses such as Virago Press and Pandora Press began reissuing long-out-of-print texts.

Beginning in the 1960s, authors used the genre of science fiction to explore feminist themes. Notable books in this genre include Ursula K. Le Guin's The Left Hand of Darkness (1969), Joanna Russ' The Female Man (1970). Octavia Butler's Kindred, and Margaret Atwood'sThe Handmaid's Tale. Russ, Le Guin, and other authors also engaged in feminist criticism of science fiction in the 1960s and 70s.


Lesbianism and bisexuality were accepted as part of feminism by a significant proportion of feminists, while others considered sexuality irrelevant to the attainment of other goals. Sexuality, sexual representation, sadomasochism, the role of transwomen in the lesbian community, and other sexual issues arose within acrimonious feminist debates known as the feminist sex wars.

Opinions on the sex industry are diverse. They are generally either critical of it (seeing it as exploitative, a result of patriarchal social structures and reinforcing sexual and cultural attitudes that are complicit in rape and sexual harassment) or supportive of at least parts of it (arguing that some forms of it can be a medium of feminist expression and a means of women taking control of their sexuality).

Relationship to political movements

In the U.S., feminism, when politically active, formerly aligned largely with the political right, e.g., through the National Woman's Party, from the 1910s to the 1960s, and presently aligns largely with the left, e.g., through the National Organization for Women, of the 1960s to the present, although in neither case has the alignment been consistent.


Since the early twentieth century some feminists have allied with socialism. In 1907 there was an International Conference of Socialist Women in Stuttgart where suffrage was described as a tool of class struggle. Clara Zetkin of the Social Democratic Party of Germany called for women's suffrage to build a socialist order, the only one that allows for a radical solution to the women's question.

In Britain, the women's movement was allied with the Labour party. In the U.S., Betty Friedan emerged from a radical background to take leadership. Radical Women is the oldest socialist feminist organization in the U.S. and is still active. During the Spanish Civil War, Dolores Ibrruri (La Pasionaria) led the Communist Party of Spain. Although she supported equal rights for women, she opposed women fighting on the front and clashed with the anarcha-feminist Mujeres Libres.

In Latin America, revolutions brought changes in women's status in countries such as Nicaragua, where feminist ideology during the Sandinista Revolution aided women's quality of life but fell short of achieving a social and ideological change.


Scholars have argued that Nazi Germany and the other fascist states of the 1930s and 1940s illustrates the disastrous consequences for society of a state ideology that, in glorifying women, becomes anti-feminist. In Germany after the rise of Nazism in 1933, there was a rapid dissolution of the political rights and economic opportunities that feminists had fought for during the prewar period and to some extent during the 1920s. In Franco's Spain, the right wing Catholic conservatives undid the work of feminists during the Republic. Fascist society was hierarchical with an emphasis and idealization of virility, with women maintaining a largely subordinate position to men.


Some feminists, such as Evelyn Fox Keller, criticize traditional scientific discourse as historically biased towards a masculine perspective, including the idea of scientific objectivity. Primatologist Sarah Blaffer Hrdy notes the prevalence of masculinely coined stereotypes and theories, such as of the non-sexual female, despite the accumulation of abundant openly available evidence contradicting it.

Many feminist scholars rely on qualitative scientific research methods that emphasize women's subjective and individual experiences, including treating research participants as authorities equal to the researcher. Objectivity is eschewed in favor of open self-reflexivity and the agenda of helping women. Also, part of the feminist research agenda is the uncovering of ways in which power inequities are created and/or reinforced in society and in scientific and academic institutions. A feminist approach to research often involves nontraditional forms of presentation.

Biology of gender

Modern feminist science challenges the biological essentialist view of gender. However, it is increasingly interested in the study of biological sex differences and their effect on human behavior. For example, Anne Fausto-Sterling's book, Myths of Gender, explores the assumptions embodied in scientific research that purports to support a biologically essentialist view of gender.

Her second book, Sexing the Body, discussed the alleged possibility of more than two true biological sexes. This possibility only exists in yet-unknown extraterrestrial biospheres, as no ratios of true gametes to polar cells other than 4:0 and 1:3 (male and female, respectively) are produced on Earth. However, in The Female Brain, Louann Brizendine argues that brain differences between the sexes are a biological reality with significant implications for sex-specific functional differences. Steven Rhoads illustrated sex-dependent differences across a wide scope.

Carol Tavris, in The Mismeasure of Woman, uses psychology and sociology to critique theories that use essentialism and biological reductionism to explain differences between men and women. She argues that women are not the better sex, the inferior sex or the opposite sex, rather she contends that there are ever-changing hypotheses that justify inequality and perpetuate stereotypes.

Cordelia Fine, in Delusions of Gender, argues that there is currently no scientific evidence for innate biological differences between men and women's minds, and that cultural and societal beliefs contribute to commonly perceived sex differences.

Evolutionary biology

Sarah Kember-drawing from numerous areas such as evolutionary biology, sociobiology, artificial intelligence, and cybernetics in development with a new evolutionism-discusses the biologization of technology. She notes how feminists and sociologists have become suspicious of evolutionary psychology, particularly in as much as sociobiology is subjected to complexity in order to strengthen sexual difference as immutable through pre-existing cultural value judgments about human nature and natural selection. Where feminist theory is criticized for its false beliefs about human nature, Kember then argues in conclusion that feminism is in the interesting position of needing to do more biology and evolutionary theory in order not to simply oppose their renewed hegemony, but in order to understand the conditions that make this possible, and to have a say in the construction of new ideas and artefacts.


Feminism has led to increased participation by women in the health care they receive (e.g., the book Our Bodies, Ourselves), deliver (e.g., as doctors and midwives), and seek (e.g., lactivism).


Different groups of people have responded to feminism, and both men and women have been among its supporters and critics. Among American university students, for both men and women, support for feminist ideas is more common than self-identification as a feminist. The US media tends to portray feminism negatively and feminists are less often associated with day-to-day work/leisure activities of regular women.


Pro-feminism is the support of feminism without implying that the supporter is a member of the feminist movement. The term is most often used in reference to men who are actively supportive of feminism. The activities of pro-feminist men's groups include anti-violence work with boys and young men in schools, offering sexual harassment workshops in workplaces, running community education campaigns, and counseling male perpetrators of violence. Pro-feminist men also are involved in men's health, activism against pornography including anti-pornography legislation, men's studies, and the development of gender equity curricula in schools. This work is sometimes in collaboration with feminists and women's services, such as domestic violence and rape crisis centers. Some activists of both genders will not refer to men as feminists at all and will refer to all pro-feminist men as pro-feminists.

Anti-feminism is opposition to feminism in some or all of its forms.

In the nineteenth century, anti-feminism was mainly focused on opposition to women's suffrage. Later, opponents of women's entry into institutions of higher learning argued that education was too great a physical burden on women. Other anti-feminists opposed women's entry into the labor force, or their right to join unions, to sit on juries, or to obtain birth control and control of their sexuality.

Some people have opposed feminism on the grounds that they believe it is contrary to traditional values or religious beliefs. These anti-feminists argue, for example, that social acceptance of divorce and non-married women is wrong and harmful, and that men and women are fundamentally different and thus their different traditional roles in society should be maintained. Other anti-feminists oppose women's entry into the workforce, political office, and the voting process, as well as the lessening of male authority in families.

Writers such as Camille Paglia, Christina Hoff Sommers, Jean Bethke Elshtain, Elizabeth Fox-Genovese and Daphne Patai oppose some forms of feminism, though they identify as feminists. They argue, for example, that feminism often promotes misandry and the elevation of women's interests above men's, and criticize radical feminist positions as harmful to both men and women. Daphne Patai and Noretta Koertge argue that the term anti-feminist is used to silence academic debate about feminism.

Society and behaviors

Many of the more complicated human behaviors are influenced by both innate factors and by environmental ones, which include everything from genes, gene expression, and body chemistry, through diet and social pressures. A large area of research in behavioral psychology collates evidence in an effort to discover correlations between behavior and various possible antecedents such as genetics, gene regulation, access to food and vitamins, culture, gender, hormones, physical and social development, and physical and social environments.

A core research area within sociology is the way human behavior operates on itself, in other words, how the behavior of one group or individual influences the behavior of other groups or individuals. Starting in the late 20th century, the feminist movement has contributed extensive study of gender and theories about it, notably within sociology but not restricted to it.

Spain's desperate situation when invaded by Napoleon enabled Agustina de Aragn to break into a closely guarded male preserve and become the only female professional officer in the Spanish Army of her time (and long afterwards).

Social theorists have sought to determine the specific nature of gender in relation to biological sex and sexuality, with the result being that culturally established gender and sex have become interchangeable identifications which signify the allocation of a specific 'biological' sex within a categorical gender. The second wave feminist view that gender is socially constructed and hegemonic in all societies, remains current in some literary theoretical circles, Kira Hall and Mary Bucholtz publishing new perspectives as recently as 2008.

Contemporary socialisation theory proposes the notion that when a child is first born it has a biological sex but no social gender. As the child grows, society provides a string of prescriptions, templates, or models of behaviors appropriate to the one sex or the other which socialises the child into belonging to a culturally specific gender. There is huge incentive for a child to concede to their socialization with gender shaping the individual's opportunities for education, work, family, sexuality, reproduction, authority, and to make an impact on the production of culture and knowledge. Adults who do not perform these ascribed roles are perceived from this perspective as deviant and improperly socialised.

Some believe society is constructed in a way in which gender is split into a dichotomy by social organisations which constantly invent and reproduce cultural images of gender. Joan Ackner (The Gendered Society Reader) believes gendering occurs in at least five different interacting social processes:

The construction of divisions along the lines of gender, such as those which are produced by labor, power, family, the state, even allowed behaviors and locations in physical space

The construction of symbols and images such as language, ideology, dress and the media, that explain, express and reinforce, or sometimes oppose, those divisions

Interactions between men and women, women and women and men and men which involve any form of dominance and submission. Conversational theorists, for example, have studied the way in which interruptions, turn taking and the setting of topics re-create gender inequality in the flow of ordinary talk

The way in which the preceding three processes help to produce gendered components of individual identity. i.e. the way in which they create and maintain an image of a gendered self

Gender is implicated in the fundamental, ongoing processes of creating and conceptualising social structures.

Looking at gender through a Foucauldian lens, gender is transfigured into a vehicle for the social division of power. Gender difference is merely a construct of society used to enforce the distinctions made between that which is assumed to be female and male, and allow for the domination of masculinity over femininity through the attribution of specific gender-related characteristics. The idea that men and women are more different from one another than either is from anything else, must come from something other than nature far from being an expression of natural differences, exclusive gender identity is the suppression of natural similarities.

Gender conventions play a large role in attributing masculine and feminine characteristics to a fundamental biological sex. Socio-cultural codes and conventions, the rules by which society functions, and which are both a creation of society as well as a constituting element of it, determine the allocation of these specific traits to the sexes. These traits provide the foundations for the creation of hegemonic gender difference. It follows then, that gender can be assumed as the acquisition and internalisation of social norms. Individuals are therefore socialised through their receipt of society's expectations of `acceptable' gender attributes which are flaunted within institutions such as the family, the state and the media. Such a notion of `gender' then becomes naturalised into a person's sense of self or identity, effectively imposing a gendered social category upon a sexed body.

The conception that people are gendered rather than sexed also coincides with Judith Butler's theories of gender performativity. Butler argues that gender is not an expression of what one is, but rather something that one does. It follows then, that if gender is acted out in a repetitive manner it is in fact re-creating and effectively embedding itself within the social consciousness. Contemporary sociological reference to male and female gender roles typically uses masculinities and femininities in the plural rather than singular, suggesting diversity both within cultures as well as across them.

From the 'evidence', it can only be concluded that gender is socially constructed and each individual is unique in their gender characteristics, regardless of which biological sex they are as every child is socialised to behave a certain way and have the `proper' gender attributes. If individuals in society do not conform to this pressure, they are destined to be treated as abnormal; therefore it is personally greatly beneficial for them to cooperate in the determined `correct' ordering of the world. In fact, the very construct of society is a product of and produces gender norms. There is bias in applying the word `gender' to anyone in a finite way; rather each person is endowed with certain gender characteristics. The world cannot be egalitarian while there are `assigned' genders and individuals are not given the right to express any gender characteristic they desire.

The difference between the sociological and popular definitions of gender involve a different dichotomy and focus. For example the sociological approach to gender (social roles: female versus male) will focus on the difference in (economic/ power) position between a male CEO (disregarding the fact that he is heterosexual or homosexual) to female workers in his employ (disregarding whether they are straight or gay). However the popular sexual self-conception approach (self-conception: gay versus straight) will focus on the different self-conceptions and social conceptions of those who are gay/straight, in comparison with those who are straight (disregarding what might be vastly differing economic and power positions between female and male groups in each category). There is then, in relation to definition of and approaches to gender, a tension between historic feminist sociology and contemporary homosexual sociology.

Legal status

A person's sex as male or female has legal significance - sex is indicated on government documents, and laws provide differently for men and women. Many pension systems have different retirement ages for men or women. Marriage is usually only available to opposite-sex couples.

The question then arises as to what legally determines whether someone is female or male. In most cases this can appear obvious, but the matter is complicated for intersexual or transgender people. Different jurisdictions have adopted different answers to this question. Almost all countries permit changes of legal gender status in cases of intersexualism, when the gender assignment made at birth is determined upon further investigation to be biologically inaccurate - technically, however, this is not a change of status per se. Rather, it is recognition of a status which was deemed to exist, but unknown, from birth. Increasingly, jurisdictions also provide a procedure for changes of legal gender for transgendered people.

Gender assignment, when there are indications that genital sex might not be decisive in a particular case, is normally not defined by a single definition, but by a combination of conditions, including chromosomes and gonads. Thus, for example, in many jurisdictions a person with XY chromosomes but female gonads could be recognized as female at birth.

The ability to change legal gender for transgender people in particular has given rise to the phenomena in some jurisdictions of the same person having different genders for the purposes of different areas of the law. For example, in Australia prior to the Re Kevin decisions, transsexual people could be recognized as having the genders they identified with under many areas of the law, including social security law, but not for the law of marriage. Thus, for a period, it was possible for the same person to have two different genders under Australian law.

It is also possible in federal systems for the same person to have one gender under state law and a different gender under federal law.

The first person of neutral gender (that is, neither man or woman in legal terms) is Norrie May-Welby, from Australia, whose status was set on March, 2010.

Gender and development

Gender, and particularly the role of women is widely recognized as vitally important to international development issues. This often means a focus on gender-equality, ensuring participation, but includes an understanding of the different roles and expectation of the genders within the community.

Researchers at the Overseas Development Institute have highlighted that policy dialogue on the Millennium Development Goals needs to recognise that the gender dynamics of power, poverty, vulnerability and care link all the goals. Gender explicit issues are only explicit in MDG 3 and 5, however gender impacts all the goals:

1. Discriminatory laws can limit women's access to education and ownership

2. Women make up the majority of those working in agriculture or in insecure employment

3. Women's dual responsibilities as carers and income earners leaves them suffering from time poverty and thus unable to access health and education services

4. Role as carers particularly impacts MDG4 on child mortality

5. Gender-based discrimination particularly affects MDG8 (Partnerships for Development).

As well as directly addressing inequality, attention to gender issues is regarded as important to the success of development programs, for all participants. For example, in microfinance it is common to target women, as besides the fact that women tend to be over-represented in the poorest segments of the population, they are also regarded as more reliable at repaying the loans.

Gender Equality is also strongly linked to education. The Dakar Framework for Action (2000) set out ambitious goals: to eliminate gender disparities in primary and secondary education by 2005, and to achieve gender equality in education by 2015. The focus was on ensuring girls' full and equal access to and achievement in good quality basic education. The gender objective of the Dakar Framework for Action is somewhat different from the MDG Goal 3 (Target 1): Eliminate gender disparity in primary and secondary education, preferably by 2005, and in all levels of education no later than 2015. MDG Goal 3 does not comprise a reference to learner achievement and good quality basic education, but goes beyond the school level. Studies demonstrate the positive impact of girls' education on child and maternal health, fertility rates, poverty reduction and economic growth. Educated mothers are more likely to send their children to school.

In the arena of natural resource management, women in developing countries frequently have principal responsibilities for uncompensated functions that directly impact their and their families' lives, including agricultural chores and obtaining clean water and cooking fuels. For these tasks, calls for women to participate in development are not enough, since they can serve as a pretext to foist undesirable duties on women. Hence, empowerment, and not merely participation, must be core aims in gender and development policies and programs.

Some organizations working in developing countries and in the development field have incorporated advocacy and empowerment for women into their work. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization adopted in November 2009 a 10-year strategic framework that includes the strategic objective of gender equity in access to resources, goods, services and decision-making in rural areas, and mainstreams gender equity in all FAO's programmes for agriculture and rural development. The Association for Progressive Communications (APC) has developed a Gender Evaluation Methodology for planning and evaluating development projects to ensure they benefit all sectors of society including women.

The Gender-related Development Index (GDI), developed by the United Nations (UN), aims to show the inequalities between men and women in the following areas: long and healthy life, knowledge, and a decent standard of living.

Gender and poverty

Gender inequality has a great impact especially on women and poverty. In poverty stricken countries it is more likely that men have more opportunities to have an income, have more political and social rights than women. Women experience more poverty than men do due to gender discrimination.

Gender and Development (GAD) is a holistic approach to give aid to countries where gender inequality has a great effect of not improving the social and economic development. It is to empower women and decrease the level of inequality between men and women.

1.2 Femininity and masculinity

The use of gender to refer to masculinity and femininity as types is attested throughout the history of Modern English (from about the 14th century).

Femininity (also called femaleness or womanliness) is the set of female qualities attributed specifically to women and girls by a particular culture. The complement to femininity is masculinity.

Feminine attributes

These are often associated with life-giving and nurturing qualities of elegance, gentleness, motherhood, birth, intuition, creativity, life-death-rebirth and biological life cycle. The feminine archetype in mythology and world religion, is associated with a natural creative force that has a feminine or maternal function such as Mother Nature, Mother Earth, Great Mother, Great Goddess, and Mitochondrial Eve.

In Carl Jung's school of analytical psychology, the concept of anima represents the female half of anima and animus.

In Chinese philosophy, the concept of yin represents the female half of yin and yang.

In Hindu traditions, Shakti is the divine feminine creative power, the sacred force that moves through the entire universe. She is the female counterpart without whom the male aspect, which represents consciousness or discrimination, remains impotent and void.

In Hinduism, the universal creative force Yoni is feminine, with inspiration being the life force of creation.

In Hebrew language, the divine presence of God, the Holy Spirit, the Shekhinah is feminine.

In the belief system of Kabbalah, Binah is the great mother, the feminine receiver of energy and giver of form.

Feminine archetypes

In psychology, archetypes are unlearned tendencies and a part of the collective unconscious The main feminine archetypes originally introduced by Carl Jung and often adopted in literature are patterns of behavior that follow the biological life cycle of the woman and fall into the following roles:

The Maiden

The Mother

The Crone

The Queen

Cultural norms

Cultural standards vary a great deal on what is considered feminine. Larger breast size, a trait considered feminine, is suggested by visual clues, such as the cleavage between the breasts. Many women in western culture will emphasize cleavage to enhance femininity. They may do so by means of the cut of the outer wear, and by brassieres (bras) that push the breasts upwards and together. Special pads and inserts in the bra can also be used to aid in the higher positioning of the breasts. Also by surgical augmentation in which the breasts are lifted up and moved closer together.

The female figure is typically narrower at the waist than at the bust and hips. The waist-hip ratio (WHR) is a person's waist measurement divided by the hip measurement. Notwithstanding wide cultural differences in preferences for female build, scientists have discovered that the waist-hip ratio of any build is very strongly correlated to the perception of attractiveness across all cultures. Women with a 0.7 WHR (waist circumference that is 70% of the hip circumference) are usually rated as more attractive by men from European cultures.

Corsets are garments worn to hold and shape the torso into a desired shape. Corsets can temporarily reduce the waist size and thereby increase the waist-hip ratio. By wearing a tightly-laced corset for extended periods, known as tightlacing, men and women can learn to tolerate extreme waist constriction and eventually reduce their natural waist size. Throughout history, women (and sometimes men) of many cultures have worn corsets for support and fashion. Contrary to popular belief, historically corsets did not inhibit breath, movement, change skeletal structure significantly, or permanently displace organs. Tight lacing was impractical and looked down upon, and therefore it was only practiced by the smallest segment of society.

Foot binding

For more details on this topic, see Foot binding.

For centuries in Imperial China, foot binding, a practice intended to produce smaller feet, which were considered more feminine, produced unnaturally small and deformed feet, where toes often rotted due to lack of circulation.

High heels

Modern women often wear high-heeled shoes. The discomfort commonly associated with high-heeled shoes is endured for the visual effect of elongated legs.

Modest dress

In the Muslim world, women wear a hijab, indicating modesty in feminine dress. Most Islamic legal systems define this type of modest dressing as covering everything except the face and hands in public. A burqa is an outer garment worn over regular clothing when a woman goes out in public and visible to men who are not their husbands, fathers, brothers, uncles, sons and grandsons. In Western culture, modesty is not often valued today as much as it was in the past. Despite this, modesty can show that a woman is confident with herself and that she respects herself, thus increasing her femininity. Likewise, modest dress can be a classic look and style that is timeless for women of all ages and eras.

Femininity in men, as masculinity in women, is often considered to be negative due to its contradiction of traditional gender roles.

Masculinity is according The American Heritage Dictionary someone or something that possesses characteristics normally associated with males. The term can be used to describe any human, animal or object that has the quality of being masculine. When masculine is used to describe men, it can have degrees of comparison-more masculine, most masculine.

In all cultures, the basic characteristics of manliness include physical prowess, (strength, fitness, and a lack of laziness) courage, and honourable behavior.

The opposite can be expressed by terms such as unmanly or epicene. A typical near-synonym of masculinity is virility; and the usual complement is femininity.

Literature review

Ancient literature goes back to about 3000 BC. It includes both explicit statements of what was expected of men in laws, and implicit suggestions about masculinity in myths involving gods and heroes. Men throughout history have gone to meet exacting cultural standards of what is considered attractive. Kate Cooper, writing about ancient understandings of femininity, suggests that, Wherever a woman is mentioned a man's character is being judged - and along with it what he stands for. One well-known representative of this literature is the Code of Hammurabi (from about 1750 BC).

Rule 3: If any one bring an accusation of any crime before the elders, and does not prove what he has charged, he shall, if it be a capital offense charged, be put to death.

Rule 128: If a man takes a woman to wife, but has no intercourse with her, this woman is no wife to him.

Scholars suggest integrity and equality as masculine values in male-male relationships, and virility in male-female relationships. Legends of ancient heroes include: The Epic of Gilgamesh, the Iliad and the Odyssey. Such narratives are considered to reveal qualities in the hero that inspired respect, like wisdom or courage, the knowing of things that other men do not know and the taking of risks that other men would not dare.

Jeffrey Richards describes a European, medieval masculinity which was essentially Christian and chivalric. Again ethics, courage and generosity are seen as characteristic of the portrayal of men in literary history. In Anglo Saxon, Beowulf and, in several languages, the legends of King Arthur are famous examples of medieval ideals of masculinity. The documented ideals include many examples of an exaulted place for women, in romance and courtly love.

Masculine physical attributes

During the first half of the twentieth century, men were often associated with images of industrialization. Some research has indicated that a number of women may be aroused by broad chins and shoulders, high cheekbones, and find large eyes as the most attractive, though there are cultural differences in those preferences. Some research has also indicated that women recognize a good body as indicative of a man of discipline and self-control.

Biology and culture

Direct competition of physical skill and strength is a feature of masculinity which appears in some form in virtually every culture on Earth. Here, two U.S. Marines compete in a wrestling match.

Some gender studies scholars will use the phrase hegemonic masculinity to refer to an ideal of male behavior which men are strongly encouraged to aim, which is calculated to guarantee the dominant position of some men over others.

Western trends

According to a paper submitted by Tracy Tylka to the American Psychological Association (APA), in contemporary America: Instead of seeing a decrease in objectification of women in society, there has just been an increase in the objectification of both sexes. And you can see that in the media today. Men and women restrict their food intake in an effort to achieve what they consider an attractively thin body, in extreme cases leading to eating disorders. Thomas Holbrook, also a psychiatrist, cites a recent Canadian study indicating as many as one in six of those with eating disorders were men.

Younger men and women who read fitness and fashion magazines could be psychologically harmed by the images of perfect female and male physiques, according to recent research in the United Kingdom. Some young women and men exercise excessively in an effort to achieve what they consider an attractively fit and muscular body, which in extreme cases can lead to body dysmorphic disorder or muscle dysmorphia.

Although the actual stereotypes may have remained relatively constant, the value attached to the masculine and feminine stereotypes seem to have changed over the past few decades.

Those associated with recent work in the study of masculinity from a philosophical perspective view masculinity as an unstable phenomenon and never ultimately achieved.


A great deal is now known about the development of masculine characteristics and the process of sexual differentiation specific to the reproductive system of Homo sapiens. The SRY gene on the Y chromosome interferes with the process of creating a female, causing a chain of events that leads to testes formation, androgen production, and a range of both natal and post-natal hormonal effects. There is an extensive debate about how children develop gender identities.

In many cultures, displaying characteristics not typical to one's gender may become a social problem for the individual. Among men, some non-standard behaviors may be considered a sign of homosexuality. Within sociology such labeling and conditioning is known as gender assumptions, and is a part of socialization to better match a culture's mores. The corresponding social condemnation of excessive masculinity may be expressed in terms such as machismo or testosterone poisoning.

The relative importance of the roles of socialization and genetics in the development of masculinity continues to be debated. While social conditioning obviously plays a role, it can also be observed that certain aspects of the feminine and masculine identity exist in almost all human cultures.

The historical development of gender role is addressed by such fields as behavioral genetics, evolutionary psychology, human ecology, and sociology. All human cultures seem to encourage the development of gender roles, through literature, costume and song. Some examples of this might include the epics of Homer, the King Arthur tales in English, the normative commentaries of Confucius.

Another term for a masculine woman is butch, which is associated with lesbianism. Butch is also used within the lesbian community, without a negative connotation, but with a more specific meaning.

Downside and failure of concept

It is a subject of debate whether masculinity concepts followed historically should still be applied. Researchers such as Care International have argued that there is a harmful downside due to considerations such as the following:

The relationship between masculinity and gender-based violence

The disempowerment and impoverishment of women and the persistence of gender inequalities through men's violence.

The loss of men's dignity and self-esteem when they are taught to behave violently

Although men may improve their behavior when they are equipped with the proper knowledge and skills, the more deeply rooted gender inequalities that shape sexual encounters are more difficult to transform.

The images of boys and young men presented in the media may lead to the persistence of harmful concepts of masculinity. Men's rights activists argue that the media does not pay serious attention to men's rights issues and that men are often portrayed in a negative light, particularly in advertising.

Pressures associated

In 1987, Eisler and Skidmore did studies on masculinity and created the idea of 'masculine stress'. They found four mechanisms of masculinity that accompany masculine gender role often result in emotional stress. They include:

The emphasis on prevailing in situations requiring body and fitness

Because of social norms and pressures associated with masculinity, Men with spinal cord injuries have to adapt their self identity to the losses associated with SCI which may lead to feelings of decreased physical and sexual prowess with lowered self-esteem and a loss of male identity. Feelings of guilt and overall loss of control are also experienced.

Masculinity is something that is becoming increasingly challenged, especially in the last century, with the emergence of Women's rights and the development of the role of women in society. Such is the case that in recent years many 'Man Laws' have been created, as a way for men to re-affirm their masculinity. A popular example is the Miller Lite Man Laws, and other various sites on the internet offering rules such as: A real man does not need instruction manuals. Although many of these rules are offered in a humorous fashion, they attempt to define masculinity, and this highlights the change from traditional views on masculinity.


The driver fatality rate per vehicle miles driven is higher for women than for men; although, men are much more likely to cause deaths in the accidents they are involved in. Men drive significantly more miles than women, so, on average, they are more likely to be involved in motor vehicle accidents. Even in the narrow category of young (16-20) driver fatalities with a high blood alcohol content (BAC), a male's risk of dying is higher than a female's risk at the Same BAC level. That is, young women drivers need to be more drunk to have the same risk of dying in a fatal accident as young men drivers. Men are in fact three times more likely to die in all kinds of accidents than women. In the United States, men make up 92% of workplace deaths, indicating either a greater willingness to perform dangerous work, or a societal expectation to perform this work.

Health care

A growing body of evidence is pointing toward the deleterious impact of masculinity (and hegemonic masculinity in particular) on men's health help-seeking behaviour. American men make 134.5 million fewer physician visits than American women each year. In fact, men make only 40.8% of all physician visits, that is, if you include women's visits for pregnancy, childbirth and associated obstetrical and gynecological visits. A quarter of the men who are 45 to 60 do not have a personal physician. Many men should go to annual heart checkups with physicians but do not, increasing their risk of death from heart disease. Men between the ages of 25 and 65 are four times more likely to die from cardiovascular disease than women. Men are more likely to be diagnosed in a later stage of a terminal illness because of their reluctance to go to the doctor.

Reasons men give for not having annual physicals and not visiting their physician include fear, denial, embarrassment, a dislike of situations out of their control, or not worth the time or cost.

Media encouragement

According to Arran Stibbe (2004), men's health problems and behaviors can be linked to the socialized gender role of men in our culture. In exploring magazines, he found that they promote traditional masculinity and claims that, among other things, men's magazines tend to celebrate male activities and behavior such as admiring guns, fast cars, sexually libertine women, and reading or viewing pornography regularly. In men's magazines, several ideal images of men are promoted, and that these images may even entail certain health risks.

Alcohol consumption behavior

Research on beer commercials by Strate (Postman, Nystrom, Strate, And Weingartner 1987; Strate 1989, 1990) and by Wenner (1991) show some results relevant to studies of masculinity. In beer commercials, the ideas of masculinity (especially risk-taking) are presented and encouraged. The commercials often focus on situations where a man is overcoming an obstacle in a group. The men will either be working hard or playing hard. For instance the commercial will show men who do physical labor such as construction workers, or farm work, or men who are cowboys. Beer commercials that involve playing hard have a central theme of mastery (over nature or over each other), risk, and adventure. For instance, the men will be outdoors fishing, camping, playing sports, or hanging out in bars. There is usually an element of danger as well as a focus on movement and speed. This appeals to and emphasizes the idea that real men overcome danger and enjoy speed (i.e. fast cars/driving fast). The bar serves as a setting for the measurement of masculinity (skills like pool, strength and drinking ability) and serves as a center for male socializing.

Honorable Masculinity

Honor is a major component in the construction of masculinity. Traditional avenues for men to gain honor were that of providing adequately for their families and exercising control over their wives and children. The traditional family structure consisted of the father as the bread-winner and the mother as the homemaker. During World War II, women entered the workforce in droves to keep up with the demand of the war. While some returned back home to resume their positions as homemakers after the war ended, many remained in the workplace. Over the decades since, women have risen to high political and corporate positions. This shift in ideologies has caused an increase in women becoming the primary income-earners and men the primary care-givers - a process author Jeremy Adam Smith calls the daddy shift in his 2009 book of that title. As of 2007, 159,000 dads were primary care-givers and this number is increasing. Dubbed stay-at-home dads, these men are gaining respect and admiration for performing duties in the home which were traditionally associated women. Contrary to the popular belief that men base their perceptions of masculinity on strength, aggression, dominance and sexual performance, it is more important to them to be viewed as respected, dependable, self-reliant, honorable. Regardless of age or nationality, men more frequently rank good health, harmonious family life and good relationships with their wife or partner as more important to their quality of life.

Men are driven to the military in an effort to gain honor and prestige. Militaries have been identified as masculine institutions not only because they are populated with men but also because they constitute a major arena for the construction of masculine identities and play a primary role in shaping images of masculinity in society at large. Terms like honor, cowardice, bravery, heroism, and duty are central to the recruitment and training of armed forces. Society places high esteem on the men and women that protect them. Holidays and public celebrations take place in most countries to honor and pay tribute to those that have made honorable sacrifice. In 1861, Bernard J.D. Irwin received the first Medal of Honor, the highest award for valor in action against an enemy force which can be bestowed upon an individual serving in the Armed Services of the United States. This award carries such honor; it is usually presented by the President of the United States. Since the first medal was awarded, over 3,400 individuals have received such honor.

The affects of obtaining honor isn't always positive. Countless lives have been lost do to violent acts led by Militant groups that have unorthodox beliefs of honor. Most are radical extremists motivated by skewed interpretations of religious doctrine. They perform heinous crimes against innocent individuals in an effort to achieve their idealized version of honor.

1.3 Gender issues in Russia

This study is connected with the gender factor in transition, and it covers both urban and rural parts of Russia. The scope of issues the women in Russia are facing is known insufficiently, and therefore there is a tendency to underestimate gender impact on transition.

The purpose of the study is to assess the range of gender issues that have emerged since the beginning of reforms in Russia, to demonstrate their economic, legal, social, and cultural dimensions, and to study specific factors (socioeconomic, demographic, regional) influencing people's adaptation to changes. All this will permit us to draw a full-scale picture of gender strategies in transition.

In the Soviet time, the dominant ideology of equal rights for men and women allowed the level of education among women to grow very high opening the opportunities for their active participation in professional activities. However, such indicators were misleading, as personal life and family arrangements were touched very little by this ideology, shaping up an image of the working mother, so that the issue of combining professional responsibilities with household duties remained women's problem.

Russian scholars note that the role of women in transition was not defined conceptually. Women lost many past advantages, including many of the opportunities to participate actively in political, institutional and structural changes in Russia. For example, female education and employment indicators in Russia appear to be relatively high, thus misleading estimations of women's positions were presented both in Soviet period and in transition. There is also a lack of understanding of the real practices of female participation in transition and the roles of women. Women's direct input was elicited through discussions at focus group meetings and the construction of typical life histories.

Transition did not solve the problem of male domination in private life; it also narrowed professional, political and educational opportunities for women. State policy of protection for women and motherhood was replaced by a highly competitive environment that created discrimination in various aspects of women's life. Women are forced out from politics and jobs to the family. In many cases household duties and family care are the only responsibilities remaining for women to undertake. Even according to the mass media propaganda, household work is purely female work.

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