Soc 101 | Education homework help

Gender Messages

Write a 500 or more word paper about the three main institutions in gender socialization, family, school, and the media. In your paper also:

  • Describe how these institutions affect gender-socialization.
  • Be sure to include contemporary issues and terminology from our textbook to support your descriptions.

Gender and Gender Roles

Depending on your sex, you will see the relevance of this topic differently. Considering we all know someone who is a different sex than us and that person/people portray their sex through different versions of gender I am sometimes surprised that we continue to hold specific views about males and females. Sometimes I have to remind myself that our ideas about gender are based on our values.

Knowing that we will all see this topic differently, I want to remind you that as a sociologist it is required of you to acknowledge your biases so that they are less likely to influence your research and results. As a sociologist, you are held to a higher standard. As my student, I know that you can do this. You might want to consider how gender influences your identity and the gender role that you play. It will be helpful to consider it before we move forward.

The perception of oneself as either masculine or feminine is a gender identity. The characteristics, attitudes, feelings, and behaviors that society expects of females and males are known as gender roles.

Sociologists often describe our roles as gendered, the process of treating and evaluating males and females differently because of their sex. We often hold onto gender stereotypes that can influence our values and are also influenced by our values. You should also consider your gender stereotypes.

Gender stereotypes are expectations about how people will look, act, think, and feel because of their sex.  Let’s start with the Who..


Everyone is a sex and has a gender. We need to confirm the terms sex and gender so that we can have a conversation on the topic, so let’s clear that up from the beginning.

First, sex refers to the biological characteristics with which we are born—chromosomes, anatomy, hormones, and other physical and physiological attributes.

Gender refers to learned attitudes and behaviors that characterize people of one sex or the other. Gender is based on social and cultural expectations rather than on physical traits.

You might be interested to know that India has recognized a third sex/gender. You can read about this news through this website:

There is an intersection of sex, gender, and sexual orientation that can be difficult to understand. A person’s sexual orientation can make other people see their gender differently. I have often heard that people in same sex relationships take the role of a male or female in a relationship, but I think it is important to consider that we see it as we understand it.

Let us also decide upon some definitions related to sexual orientation and some terms related to the gender that people may portray contrary to our understanding. Sexual orientation is one’s preference for sexual partners of the same sex, of the opposite sex, or of both sexes.

Homosexuals are sexually attracted to people of the same sex.

Heterosexuals are called “straight” and are attracted to partners of the opposite sex.

Bisexuals, sometimes called bis, are attracted to members of both sexes.

Asexuals lack any interest in or desire for sex.

Transgendered include transsexuals, intersexuals, and transvestites. Transgendered people can include all of the above. Researchers measure the extent of homosexuality by simply asking people whether they identify themselves as either heterosexual or as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgendered (the acronym is GLBT).

When is sociology useful?

It is useful in everyday life and that means all the time.

First, sociology can help people and organizations make informed decisions. These informed decisions can help improve the quality of our lives. In the early 1980s research suggested that girls often had low self esteem socialization, leading to reactions by parents and the popular press.

  • This research was later debunked for its methodology. Sociology can help us solve issues related to our existence. Second, it can help us understand diversity.

Diversity includes racial and ethnic groups, gender, social class, marital status, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and age which among other factors shape our beliefs, behavior, and experiences. Third, we have an alternate way to look at and evaluate social and public policies.

  • An example of this is the U.S. spends billion on drug enforcement, but it is difficult to measure enforcement activities and drug use. This brings drug policies into question. Fourth, sociology should encourage us to think critically.

Sociology students develop a sociological imagination, not just when they understand and can apply the concepts, but when they can think, speak, and write critically.

Finally, it can expand your career opportunities. Full-time jobs in sociology can be difficult to find, but that does not mean it is not useful to other positions. Surveys of sociology majors show they end up in administrative support, management, social sciences and counseling, and in sales. Sociology students report they can develop evidence based arguments, interpret findings, and write reports for non-sociologists.


So what do sex and gender as well as orientation look like in our society?

We can see it in the roles that people play in relation to their ascribed status, but it can more easily be seen through some of our social interaction.

Sexism is an attitude or behavior that discriminates against one sex, usually women, based on the assumed superiority of the other sex. Sexism is mostly subtle, but some is blatant, or visible, intentional, and easily documented. According to social theorists, cyber-sexism (including stalking, death threats, and hate speech) are prevalent, and when online user names appear to be female, women are 25 times more likely than men to experience harassment.

Heterosexism is a belief that heterosexuality is superior to and more “natural” than homosexuality or bisexuality. Homophobia, the fear and hatred of homosexuality, is less overt today than in the past, but is still widespread. Homophobia often manifests itself in gay bashing—threats, assaults, or acts of violence directed at homosexuals.

A theory is a set of statements that explains why a phenomenon occurs. Theories produce knowledge, guide our research, help us analyze our findings, and, ideally, offer solutions for social problems.

Theories are not truth statements. They evolve over time to explain social phenomena. The term “sociology” was coined by Auguste Comte. Comte believed sociology should be an empirical science. Comte was popularized by Harriet Martineau who worked to improve sociology by focusing on systematic data collection. She advocated for social reforms and championed equality for women.

Functionalism or structural functionalism maintains that society is a complex system of interdependent parts that work together to ensure a society’s survival. The perspective maintains that society is a complex system of interdependent parts that work together to create stability.

Functionalist focus on society as a social system made up of parts that, similar to the parts of a body, work together to maintain the whole structure. Each structure fulfills certain functions, or purposes and activities, to meet different needs that contribute to a society’s stability and survival.

  • Some social patterns are dysfunctional because they have a negative impact on a group or society. There are two kinds of functions. Manifest functions are intended and recognized; they are present and clearly evident. Latent functions are unintended and unrecognized; they are present but not immediately obvious.

Conflict theory examines the ways in which groups disagree, struggle over power, and compete for scarce resources (such as property, wealth, and prestige). For conflict theorists, there is a continuous tension between the “haves” and the “have-nots,” most of who are children, women, minorities, and the poor.

Feminist theories on society try to explain the social, economic, and political position of women in society with a view to freeing women from traditionally oppressive expectations, constraints, roles, and behavior. The central argument is that women have historically been excluded from most sociological analyses. Feminists argue that they have historically been excluded from most sociological analyses.

Symbolic interactionism (sometimes called interactionism) is a micro-level perspective that looks at individuals’ everyday behavior through the communication of knowledge, ideas, beliefs, and attitudes. Symbolic interactionists focus on process and keep the person at the center of their analysis. Symbolic interactionism looks at subjective, interpersonal meanings and focuses on symbols and shared meanings.


It can be seen everywhere. Sexism is widespread due to gender stratification—people’s unequal access to wealth, power, status, prestige, and other valued resources on the basis of their sex.

Gender-segregated work and wage gaps are still prevalent in most occupations. Women’s jobs require feminine skills while the occupations that men dominate tend to be masculine. Women-dominated occupations tend to be registered nurses, child care workers, secretaries, and preschool and kindergarten teachers. There is also continued sex segregation within occupations. Women make 80 cents for every dollar a man makes.

This income difference is the gender pay gap (also called the wage gap). Much of the wage gap can be attributed to hitting a glass ceiling, an invisible barrier that keeps women from being more successful. Women face sexual discrimination and pregnancy discrimination with 220,000 complaints filed with the EEOC between 1992 and 2007.

Sexual harassment is unwanted sexual advance, request for favors, or other conduct of a sexual nature that makes a person uncomfortable and interferes with her or his work.

The media is always a source of influence and the entertainment industry has benefited from pornography. Pornography is the graphic depiction of images that causes sexual arousal. The images include photographs, movies, magazines, videos (including those on the Internet), and similar materials. In the United States, pornography is a $15 billion industry. According to some estimates, 25 percent of Americans look at Internet pornography every day with over 90 percent of the viewers being men.


The answer to why will depend on the theory that you choose.


  • Functionalists focus on the gender division of labor and the role played by men and women in society. The male role is an instrumental role of procreator, protector, and provider while the female play an expressive role by providing the emotional support and nurturance that sustain the family unit and support the father/husband.
  • For functionalists, the instrumental and expressive roles are complementary. They also see sexuality as critical for reproduction. The focus of the perspective is on intact traditional marriages. Critics argue the perspective discourages gender equality and the importance of sexual relationships outside of marriage.


  • Conflict theory focuses on gender inequality as built into social structure. Gender inequality under capitalism profits companies and men. Women’s unpaid work helps reproduce the system. Conflict theorists see a link between gendered violence, prostitution, and gender inequality. Critics see the perspective as overemphasizing gender conflict instead of cooperation, and women use sexuality to exploit other women.


  • Feminist perspectives see gender stratification as benefiting men and capitalism. They emphasize, however, that women’s subordination also includes their daily vulnerability to violence and men’s control over their sexual behavior.
  • Feminist branches include liberal (gender inequality through equal rights), radical (patriarchy is a reason for women’s oppression), multiracial (gender, race, and class intertwine to form a hierarchical stratification system). Feminist theorists often point to sexuality as the root of inequality between women and men, both interpersonally and within economic and other institutions. Critics argue that feminism ignores men’s roles, men are not universally oppressive, and multi-causal gender inequality is difficult to measure.

Symbolic Interactionist:

  • Symbolic interaction theory discusses how we learn gender from our culture and construct behavior around gender. Interpretation is important for understanding gendered behavior. Sexual behavior, because it’s constructed socially, can and does change over time.
  • We learn to be sexual and cultural context changes over time.
  • Critics of symbolic interaction theory see it as ignoring the social structures that create and maintain gender inequality. The perspective also doesn’t explain why even siblings, including identical twins, have different sexual orientations even though they were socialized similarly. Finally, it does not explain why women experience sexual exploitation around the world.


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