Good Gender Is A Social Construct Literature Reviews

April 13, 2022 by Essay Writer

The society creates the various gender roles and as a result, with time, these roles are viewed as the appropriate behavior of a person. Learning and life experiences help develop gender roles. The idea of femininity and masculinity not only prevails in the present times but also in the Victorian era. Although gender construction can be defined by biological factors, a larger convection believes that gender is socially constructed. Therefore, gender is a social construct as the society is responsible for determining what characterizes a particular sex and the subjects act by those characteristics.
Feminism refers to the nature of the female sex while masculinity refers to quality (Watts, 2013). Gender definition in masculinity and feminism in the Victorian era was different as compared to the current definition. Masculinity in the nineteenth century involved the men upholding their pride, having good social behavior and protecting their wives and children. Factors such as economy, gender roles, domesticity, religion, imperialism, manners, and sporting competition influenced the Victorian masculinity. It is clear that the roles of the male sex were defined by society, as there was a way they were supposed to carry themselves. In the current society, there has not been a significant change when it comes to the concept of masculinity. Masculinity is the sign of power, strength, and leadership. The only difference is that the modern society does not always view masculinity with a man being masculine.
Victorian feminism, on the other hand, was based on the cult of true womanhood. There were four cardinal virtues that defined a woman’s nature, and they included purity, submissiveness, piety, and domesticity. The woman allowed her husband, children, neighbors and the society as a whole to judge her through these four virtues (Begley, 2000). These qualities were the key to the happiness of the Victorian woman. According to Sharon Begley (2000, p. 162) “Women who personified these virtues passed the test of True Womanhood.” Today, however, the roles and traits associated with being feminine are influenced by context and location. Feminism is more of resistance feminism, which represents dedication, determination, and strength. This character of women has evolved to house both the traditional femininity while at the same time displaying the male characteristics of power, leadership, determination, and strength. Through the change of time, the society still defines the role shown by each gender.
There are differences between the Victorian feminism and the current feminism. To start with, according to the Victorian feminism, the woman’s place is at home. Women were expected to stay by the fireside and take care of their homes (Wojtczak, n.d.). On the other hand, feminism today does not limit the woman to stay at home. She is a great being who is capable of working hard just like the man. In most cases, feminism regards women as equals to men. Another difference in the feminism is the career. In the Victorian feminism, the woman’s full-time job was to be a wife and a mother (Thomas, n.d.). Today feminism encourages women to have great careers ranging from engineers to doctors. In the past, these fields were known to be male dominated, but this is not the case today. The major similarity between both the feminisms is that in both eras, women are required to be gentle, submissive and pious.
Masculinity also has a share of its differences in both eras. In the Victorian era, the man was expected to show a character of body strength, a symbol of protection to his family and society as a whole. Currently, masculinity is not determined by a man’s masculine nature but the amount of political power and business strength he holds among other factors. To add to the list, masculinity in the Victorian era required the woman to be a submissive creature who was weak and timid. Today’s masculinity upholds resistant feminism with most men viewing women as their equals in fields such as politics and business. In both eras, however, masculinity encourages men to be stronger than females, courageous and determined.
During the Victorian era, it was normal for a woman to receive punishment for not upholding the values stipulated in the cult of true womanhood. The woman was expected to be pious, meaning that she was expected to be more religious than the man. She was to remain sexually pure until she got married. Failure to do this would subject her to punishment that was worse than death itself. This was however not the case for men. Men were not regarded as pious as women, so they were allowed to commit the sin of adultery or fornication. The situation is rather different today. For the record, every individual’s behavior is personified. Each person (whether man or woman) is responsible for their actions. As much as the society expects the women to be still pious, there are no significant consequences for behaving otherwise. However, there are cultures that still uphold the need for purity in women. Modern feminism has not had a significant influence on such societies.
Women who lived during the Victorian era lived a life that was almost next to slavery. They could not make decisions regarding their lives as this was a responsibility of their husbands. The status of a woman varied depending on her social class. A woman from a wealthy family spent her day receiving guests, sewing, writing letters and dressing impressively as her husband’s representative. The man ensured that the wife was well dressed with the latest fashion to show off his wealth. It is, therefore, clear that the status of this woman was lower than the man’s, and she was mainly an object to be controlled. As for the poor woman, she was mainly a servant. She wore fifth hand clothes and ate what was left over from her master’s house. She was in the lowest class and only survived to please her employer. A woman who remained single attracted a lot of criticism and people would disapprove of her existence. No man agreed to cohabit with such a woman.
The situation has changed today. The status of the modern woman is influenced by the unwarranted societal expectations and the mechanization of culture (Dimaano, 2011). Her status is no longer at home. She can choose whether to get married, have children or venture into a career. The society should however not ignore the inequality subjected to women in various societies. It is important to change the perspective by which people view the role and status of the modern woman. Communities should take the responsibility of instilling the correct mentality at an early age concerning women.
The status of a man during the Victorian era was above that of the woman. He was a superior being. The society expected him to be his family’s protector. He was to be spiritual and faithful. He was to rule over his family and was thus known to have extensive power. The men during this era were the breadwinners and by this, they were expected to work extra hard. They were, therefore, the providers. During the late Victorian era, the man was expected to have military virtue. They were to be self-sufficient and have a broad knowledge of various fields. Their status in the society molded them to become hardy and rational. The status of the man in the modern society is slowly being taken over by the woman. Unlike in the olden days, men are neglecting their role as the family’s breadwinner. Most of them do not go to work, and they leave their wives with the responsibility of providing. Therefore, they have become dependent. It is, however, important to note that unlike in the Victorian era, the available opportunities for work are now open to both men and women. It is therefore not fair to expect the man to provide if he has no source of livelihood.
In conclusion, gender is a social construct. It is not determined at birth as science would try to put it but is something an individual acquires through life experiences. In both the Victorian era and the current era, the society has a great influence on gender. Men and women, therefore, tend to behave regarding how the society spells out best. Time, however, has changed the roles and status of women in the society. Therefore, it is the responsibility of women to take collective action against those people who demean their existence. Men, on the other hand, should uphold their roles and status despite woman regarding herself as his equal.


Begley, S. (2000, November 6). Gender stereotypes: Masculinity and feminity. Retrieved February 3, 2016, from A Blongman:
Dimaano, P. (2011). Statusv of Women in the modern society. The Daily Journal- The Peninsula’s Homepage.
Thomas, P. W. (n.d.). A woman’s place in 19th century Victorian history. Retrieved February 3, 2016, from Fashion-era:
Watts, C. (2013). Discuss changing representations of femininity and masculinity in visual culture, and the factors which have influenced them.
Wojtczak, H. (n.d.). Women’s status in mid 19th-century England. Retrieved February 3, 2016, from Hastings Press:


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