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Giovanni Santoro
Professor Beadle
English 115
7 December 2016
Understanding Your Gender
Gender is one of the biggest parts of a humans life, and it helps with identifying peoples
roles in society. Gender is different from sex because it is how someone identifies whether they
are male or female based on behaviors, whereas, sex is decided on one's physical features. Many
observations and articles to this day explain how society shapes our gender. In the book
Composing Gender, by Rachael Groner and John F. OHara , there are articles on the different
explanations and opinions that writers have towards how gender is described. The different
articles break down what someones gender is, and how your gender is conveyed. Gender roles
are shaped through the ways that society teaches how a male or female is suppose to act, like
how most of Composing Genders articles are based upon the main idea that the male figure is
seen as powerful and the female figure is seen as emotional.
Aaron Devor explains his opinion on identifying gender through his article Becoming
Members of Society: The Social Meanings of Gender in the book Composing Gender. He gives
an idea on how gender is described through masculine and feminine characteristics, and he
exemplifies that society is what helps us to realize the gender norm. The masculine thirst for
power, which can, lead to aggression, and the feminine quest for harmony and communal wellbeing, which can, result in passivity and dependence(Devor 39) shows how a persons
characteristics describes and shapes a genders actions. Devor's quote describes how a male in
society today is suppose to be strong and not show sad personal feelings because it is not

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manly. His concept is similar to my idea on how a male and female have different
characteristics that describe how theyre suppose to act. A male is seen as a stronger and
powerful individual because he was basically given a role to protect his family. A females role
is described as the opposite of a males role because they are seen as unstable and not
independent. This shows how there are many people that have the same reasoning for why males
act more masculine, and females act more feminine. .
In the article From Women, Men, and Society, Composing Gender, Claire Renzetti and
Daniel Curran elaborate on what it is like growing up feminine and growing up masculine.
Renzetti and Curran gave examples that also showed how parents interact with their kids, such as
how a mother or father engaged with their son was different from when they were engaging with
their daughter. Parents tend to respond differently to newborns on the basis of sex(Renzetti and
Curran, 83) mainly because society shaped the worlds idea that little boys are suppose to grow
into strong men, and little girls are suppose to evolve into beautiful women. The way that these
parents define their kids genders is by how their physical appearance is, such as their specific
body parts. The parents in Renzetti and Currans article did not let their son play with the
typical girl dolls, and instead had him do more manly boy stuff like playing sports. Parents like
these talk about how they are going to name their kids and get them involved in activities even
before the baby is born because of the assumptions of how a boy or girl is suppose to act once
brought into the world. Many of these gender assumptions are actually discussed during the
mothers ultrasound, which is where the mother is able to see the baby in her womb on a
computer screen. Renzetti and Currans article relates to my opinion that physical body parts
describe a person's gender roles. This comparison explains that people are judged based on their
physical appearances.

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In society today, we can easily say that gender is described through how history shows
what a male and a female role is in life. Gender roles have been socially constructed by
explaining how a guy or girl acts, looks, or sounds. These traits have been explained all
throughout the book Composing Gender. Through Devor, Renzetti, and Curran's articles, we see
similarities with how parents usually are the ones to shape their child's gender characteristics.
This is similar to when explaining how parents act differently towards their son, then they do
their daughter. This goes to show how parents have also been shaped by society. Parents teach
their kids how to act and grow up in different ways that are based on their gender. Like how a
little boy needs to be taught discipline and hard work because they are going to grow up to be the
strong man in his own family. The little girls are usually just taught to be nice to everyone and to
look cute throughout the day. We tend to realize that society uses the social norm as a way of
describing whether or not someone is following what society considers as right.
There are many people in the world that are, and have been, denying and going against
the gender norms. For example, there are people that identify themselves as either gay, lesbian,
bisexual, or transgender. These identities have gone against societys idea of the social norm,
which then began to lead into conflict between humans. Gender is a way that humans identify
themselves, whether it's male or female. During these identifications, we understand that the
gender roles have also been given to us as soon as our parents realized our sex. Gender roles are
performed throughout our daily lives. I see myself as a male not only because of how I see
myself, but because I know that I have been following the gender role of how to be a man. Such
as, when I am walking to school in the morning and I decide to use the restroom. I would have to
use the restroom that has the image of a guy on the door. Society has specific laws, like the male

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and female restrooms, because it allows for males and/or females to know what gender they are
categorized in. These descriptions are what shape the lives of many people to this day.
During this reading, we were able to realize many facts about the understanding of ones
gender. Composing Gender was a good resource when trying to figure out what gender has been
evolving into throughout the years. The many different views, within the articles, gave great
insight towards what were some peoples thoughts and opinions towards the main idea of how
society is shaping our gender. Someone's gender should be discovered more by how they act and
what their characteristics are, but also by the way they physically look. These articles have given
and have shown readers many situations on how a gender and their sex helps to shape their life.
With this idea, the understanding of a persons gender is changing, and there are new ways that
people have begun identifying themselves.

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Work Cited
Devor, Aaron. Becoming Members of Society: The Social Meaning of Gender. Composing
Gender, Edited by Rachel Groner and John F. OHara, Bedford/St. Martins, 2014, pp. 35-45.
Renzetti, Claire, and Curran, Daniel. From Women, Men, and Society. Composing Gender,
Edited by Rachel Groner and John F. OHara, Bedford/St. Martins, 2014, pp. 76-87.