Sex, mirror what is deemed appropriate for either men

Sex, sexuality, and gender are three separate characteristics that interact in a variety of ways. Sex, the biological differences that distinguish males from females, is not a social construct, but instead a physicality comprised of hormones and DNA, while gender is a socially constructed idea that is built around said sexes and creates socially normative roles for individuals of each sex. Finally, sexuality is a highly fluid identity resulting from personal sexual preferences. John Grey, in his essentialist view that men are from Mars and women are from Venus, is lacking because it confuses sex with gender and sexuality, which are not biologically determined. Much of society shares Grey’s views on a strict female/male gender system, and this has encouraged dangerous prejudices and stereotypes about genders that inhibit people from leading optimal lives. These deep seated stereotypes have stemmed from gender roles created long ago that have led to present day inequalities prominently in the education system and workforce. John Grey’s theory is one of both essentialism, the idea that every entity has a set of attributes that are necessary to its identity and function, and biological determinism, the concept that human behavior is controlled by an individual’s genetic composition. Grey asserts that the biological differences of men and women influence them to think and act in different ways (Conley).  Although Grey has a point in that hormones such as estrogen and testosterone influence behavior, his theory is reductionist in that he does not account for individual differences and preferences in engaging in either masculine or feminine behavior and sexual preferences. Sociologists, in contrast, view gender as a social institution that is entirely different from sex. Gender is influenced by biology, socialization and individual personality development. Because of societal expectations and influence, individuals usually adopt behaviors that mirror what is deemed appropriate for either men or women. Gender roles, sets of behavioral norms assumed to accompany one’s status as a male or female, are widely followed and accepted, and this creates prejudices that associate sexuality and genders with specific sexes, perpetuate inequalities in the workplace, and limit people’s ability to act in ways that they want. John Grey fails to acknowledge that gender, gender roles, and sexuality are fluid and socially constructed ideas. This is supported by both the fact that they are becoming more complicated and open ended in today’s progressive climate, and that in other societies, there have been dramatically different genders, gender roles, and sexual norms than in traditional European and American societies. In modern society, new genders and sexualities are being regularly defined. The LGTBQ community that makes up approximately 4% of today’s US population consists of people all over the sexual and gender spectrum (Allen). With the help of surgery and hormone therapy, people are able to permanently change their gender, and some people are even choosing to denounce gender stereotypes by becoming genderless and adopting pronouns such as “they” or newly made pronouns such as “Ne,” “Ve,” “Ze,” and “Xe” (“Need for Gender Neutral Pronouns”). Parallely, people are choosing to label themselves with a multitude of sexual preference labels such as pansexualism, a relatively newly frequented word which describes the attraction to individuals of all sex and gender combinations.In societies uninfluenced by traditional social norms it is not uncommon to see different practices in sexual expression and gender labels. For example, the Navajo Indians created a third gender called the Nadle which performs both masculine and feminine tasks (Conley). In some Asian societies, it is also considered normal for men to have homosexual relations in addition to reproducing with women (Tirshfield). The fact that gender and sexuality vary between societies supports the theory that these entities are social constructs that become psychologically ingrained into society as non pathological. Microinteractionist theorists West and Zimmerman iterate this in their article “Doing Gender,” in stating that people are governed by free will, but because of societal expectations, people tend to reaffirm and reproduce gender norms such as masculine dominance and female submissiveness. Deep seeded gender norms and prejudices have led to present day inequalities in the home and workplace and can be traced back to division of labor in pre industrial society. For years, gender roles which have been normalized in society have created an atmosphere of hemogenic masculinity, defined as the condition in which men are dominant and privileged, and this dominance and privilege is invisible (Conley).  Many sociologists have theorized why there is such definite stratification between genders, and many refer to division of labor. What is not socially constructed and can be referenced as a root cause of stratification is the simple fact that women are physically able to bear children while men are not. This shaped gender roles in preindustrial society in which women were associated with domestic tasks and child rearing while men were assigned the role of providing for the family. In 1974, Michelle Rosaldo stated that because women often participate in the private sphere, they are associated with domestic life which has less prestige than the work that men do. In 1937, Parsons developed his sex role theory from the idea of structural functionalism, which states that society is a complex system whose parts work together to promote solidarity and stability. Parson suggested that as the primary social structure reproducing labor, the structure of the nuclear family is dependent on male and female fulfilling the roles that help to fill the demands of a capitalist society (Conley). This ideology largely continued until World War II, when there was a dramatic increase in the number of working women. “Between 1940 and 1945, the female percentage of the U.S. workforce increased from 27 percent to nearly 37 percent, and by 1945 nearly one out of every four married women worked outside the home”(“American Women in WW2”). Still, as women enter the workforce, gender prejudices make it difficult for them to thrive in their occupations. Many people share the view of Larry Summers, prior Harvard President, who commented in a speech that “at the highest level of performance, men might have an innate advantage over women in scientific aptitude and that genetic differences could explain the scarcity of female “hard” scientists at elite universities.” Antiquated prejudices such as these prevent women from rising in position in occupations as quickly as men, and in earning the same amount. Sociologists use the terms glass ceiling and glass elevator to explain the invisible limits placed on women moving to superior positions in the workplace and the “accelerated promotion of men to the top of a work organization,” respectively. This accounts for the disproportionate amount of women in high ranking jobs. In 2017, 32 of 500 in the Fortune 500 CEO positions were women, or 6.4% (McGregor). The gender wage gap is also a highly controversial topic– In 2016, women were paid on average 80% of what men were paid for working the similar jobs (“The Simple Truth…”). Although these statistics are steadily increasing, women are still fighting the long standing prejudices created from traditional gender norms that limit them in the workplace. Furthermore, gender norms instill the idea that men must earn money and have a dominant attitude, and this influences some men to hesitate in becoming homemakers while their significant others earn money, and can reduce their overall happiness. Theorists such as John Grey, who conflate sex, gender, and sexuality, neglect to consider that gender and sexuality are constructed by society, and that individuals face social pressures to fulfill gender norms. While sex is a rigid and biological reality, the fluidity of sexual orientation and gender in today’s society, and the gender and sexual norms of different societies exhibit the social influence on gender and sexuality. Long standing prejudices and gender norms dating back to preindustrial times continue to inhibit both men and women in their career paths. Still, there is a positive trend in statistics that reflect equality in the workplace. The wage gap is steadily decreasing and there is a steady increase in the amount of women in positions of power as gender prejudices that are ingrained in our minds slowly erode and make way for a more equal future.