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Topic: Gender place in the society

Critical Review of an Article

In the article Gender as a Social & Cultural Construction, Paechter (1998) attempts to identify the essential elements for determining gender. Paechter’s main argument is that the only way to determine an individual’s identity is by asking them their name, which in most cases might not be true. At some situations, the name of the person might be confusing to whether the individual is male or female; for instance, Alex is a name at times referred to both a male and a female individual. However, the writer does not also exhaust on the ways of identifying a person’s gender. Dress code and behavior are critical factors too in determining someone’s sex. In some instances, a woman’s voice is very distinctive from a man’s voice, which can be taken as the easiest way of identifying sex as explained by Connell (2014). The writer should have also mentioned about the gender anatomy of the person; for instance, males and females adorn different hairstyles, depending on their respective genders.

The author argues out a point of a male born who is identified through the physical form (penis) then later on in life develops to have a female identity is problematic. This argument is contentious because homosexuality is a growing, well-known and addressed case familiar in the society today. Homosexuals are individuals who in some cases act in the opposite way to what their gender dictates. For instance, gay men tend to be very feminine since they are only attracted to the male species Connell (2014). Thus, the logic point of view is that it is normal and not problematic in any way. Scientists have proven that it is just an element of a different genetic makeup of the individual that affect their sexual characteristics, which has nothing to do with their day-to-day activities and performance in the society. It is always a matter of accepting that all of us are born differently and appreciating one another.

The author also stresses that the penis and the vagina help detect the reproduction of the baby, which is taking place in most hospitals for identification of the child’s sex. What of transgender children? How does one even identify the sex of the baby while both organs are visible? To my point of argument, it is more than the physical aspect that determines gender. For accuracy purposes, the study of the genetic makeup is essential Connell (2014). Scientists chip in and identify the child’s gender through identifying the biological set-up of the child, if the make-up belongs to an ordinary person or not, and can see which characteristics exceed the other: feminine or masculine. There are also cases where a male child is born with female physical forms. For instance, a case in early 2000; a son was born with physical characteristics of a female, but later on in life during the child’s puberty, examinations were carried out due to no menstruation occurring. After the tests, the female child was found to be male as the inner reproduction of the child consisted of male organs.

The bringing up set-up does not determine the sex of a person. In various cases, a female child is brought up in the midst of many male children. Due to the set-up of the environment and family, the female child tends to adopt various male characteristics such as fighting and carrying out tedious tasks. They also dress in a manly way and also in some cases, the manner in which they walk is affected too, and it resembles that of a boy. The point of discussion here is that a person’s sex has nothing to do with how the environment affects someone’s femininity or masculinity; gender is something that one is born with rather not nurtured Connell (2014). The genetic makeup and the sex of the child at birth help determine the sexuality of an individual. The genetic make-up and the sex remains the same despite the upbringing and surroundings.

The author mentions people identified in the society regarding gender by the roles they play in their day-to-day lives. The question that this argument generates is how to categorize divorced and widowed women and men in society who take up both male and female roles. These women take the role of breadwinner as Connell (2014). In some other cases, men carry out tasks that are believed to be women’s roles; they cook, clean, wash, raise kids and attend to their daily needs. Hence, gender is not defined by the roles played; any gender in society today can perform any duty regardless of cultural beliefs in the society on the roles for people with distinct genders.


Connell, R. W. (2014). Gender and power: Society, the person and sexual politics. John Wiley & Sons.

Paechter, C (1998). Gender as a Social & Cultural Construction. pp. 38 – 53. In Paechter, C. Educating
the Other. Gender, Power and Schooling. London: The Falmer Press.