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Communication and Gender Studies! Brief Discourse (1)

We continue our discussions on gender, the media and society. This is a brief discourse on the dynamic nature of gender in today’s society. Just read the piece below and attempt an understanding of the scenario in both western world and developing societies regarding the postulation that gender is a dynamic feature.

 

Loren Rex Cameron, a popular transsexual woman to man (Credit: rulygeeky.com)

 

Gender Is Now Dynamic! An Analysis of the ‘Dynamic Gender’ Agenda Of the Western World 

Gender is no longer a constant. It is now a dynamic trait or state, in view of the dynamism of the contemporary world. Before further explaining this postulation, let’s take a look at the definition of gender.

Gender is the socio-culturally determined roles of males and females in any society. This is different from sexuality which is biological state of being male or female. While gender is the socially perceived state of being male or female, sexuality is the biological state of being male or female. Gender is basically, socially constructed roles expected of a man or woman in any society. So gender refers to either of the two sexes (male or female) particularly in relation to socially constructed roles and relations between males and females.

Gender roles could vary according to society. Men could be regarded as bread winners in a specific society especially in the developing world, where as in the developed society that role is not restricted to men. Women could carry families too. This is even the case in some matriarchal societies in some communities in the developing societies in modern times. Some communities in the Indian State of Meghalaya still run matriarchal (female dominated) societies.

Now let’s go to the focus of this brief discourse. Gender is dynamic in the sense that someone who is male today can become female tomorrow. It is also possible that the person could decide get back to his original male gender and reverse his societal expressions from the adopted female gender to the original male gender. Sounds confusing, right?

Here is the picture. In this era where gender in-betweens are recognized, especially in the western world, gender is truly dynamic. It means no one is stuck in one gender, that is, the state of being and remaining male or female. It is now a matter of choice and exigencies where someone could be male today and ‘officially’ be female tomorrow. With the growing acceptance of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) community and their gradual adaptation into various facets of the society, gender is now a dynamic trait, feature, function, state of mind, or even behavior, depending on how you wish to see it.

The media across the world are already accommodating the dynamic nature of gender with popular radio and television stations, magazines and newspapers primarily focusing on gender in-betweens (especially the LGBT community). We now have popular lesbian magazines, gay TV series, LGBT radio stations with large audience base, among others.The churches, governments, movie industry, politics, educational systems, even the military sector, are all opening up to the fact that changing your socially constructed role as male or female is no longer a big deal. Today, we have gender-neutral public toilets in some countries in the western world. Even sexuality is now a dynamic feature. You could be male today and decide to be female tomorrow through surgery and some other hormonal implants. So anyone still seeing gender as a constant, that is, unchanging state and functions you were born into, is not facing realities. Apparently such a person is still stuck in the past.

The ‘dynamic gender’ agenda is a more conservative approach towards accommodating the LGBT community. This should not be mistaken with people switching to opposite gender roles or men and women taking up occupations socio-culturally reserved for opposite gender. Such situations are informed informed by the dynamism of gender roles in an evolving society where . The dynamic gender agenda sees male and female (in sexuality and gender) as variables, not constants. This means you could be male today by sex and gender, and decided to be female tomorrow by sex and gender. But there are primary gender dynamics in the society where someone could for instance, decide to remain female but take up roles or jobs socially reserved or preserved for males, and vice versa. You could find men and women in non-traditional gendered occupations. For instance, today you find women taking up mechanic works, joining the police in countries such as Afghanistan where such jobs were seen as exclusive ventures for men. You also find men taking up the jobs of baby-sitting or teaching in kindergarten schools. Women now drive in Saudi Arabia, a function previously reserved for the male gender. This is a reflection of gender dynamism brought about by the sophistication of the society. But no matter how you look at it, the fact is that gender (whether viewed as role construction or from the sexuality point of view) is a dynamic feature.

Tomboy

Here’s how diagnosemylife described gender dynamics or dynamism of gender roles to an evolving society; “Women began to gradually expand their gender roles as they began joining the workforce, professional sports leagues, and other traditionally male-dominated spaces. With time it became okay for women to express masculinity, because they were in spaces that typically rewarded masculine traits (for example, as women climbed the corporate ladders they dressed more “professional” in blazers and pantsuits, as well as became more assertive and independent in their attitudes). So, in order to put a name to these new changes and differentiate from the traditional feminine woman, “tomboy” was born.” Tomboy is a concept used to refer to a masculine woman, while tom girl refers to a feminine man. This is also a reflection of the dynamic nature of gender in modern world.

The media in the western world have accommodated the dynamic nature of gender and sexuality in contemporary world. However, Africa and some other developing societies are having a strangle hold on their culture, refusing to accept the dynamic perception of gender and sexuality being forced down their throat primarily through media imperialism. Hence, the media in Africa and some other developing societies still do not mirror or reflect the ‘dynamic gender’ agenda of the Western world. Note the role religion plays in this argument; the more religious a society, the more they shut their doors to the ‘dynamic gender’ agenda of the Western world.

What is your position on this postulation that gender is dynamic?

You can raise your questions when we meet in class.

The Author

Chinenye Nwabueze

He is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Mass Communication, Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University, COOU, (formerly Anambra State University), Igbariam Campus.

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