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Inequality between men and women is a prevalent issue in society today, and America is no less. It is a sociological construct that determines how men and women live, affecting choices and access to resources (Macionis, 2018). Despite the fact that women and men are clearly distinct types of people, gender inequality persists (Macionis, 2018).
It is women who are primarily affected by gender inequality. For instance, in male-dominated professions, women often face a “glass ceiling” that limits their promotion prospects. By drawing a simple cartoon depicting a test where a movie passed if it had at least two female characters with names, those characters interacted with one another, and discussions included something other than men, Alison Bechdel demonstrated gender inequality.
This simple test illustrates how men control society, and while some women rise above, many hit the “glass ceiling” when it comes to films (Macionis, 2018). Abrams (1991) claims that the workplace can sometimes be inhospitable to women due to several forms of gender inequalities.
In books and media, children are also influenced by stereotypical roles portrayed by men and women, with women underrepresented in traditionally male roles (Purcell & Stuart 1990). Video games and social media, among other media, are also influenced by these influences as we grow up. Women focus on the product in advertisements, while men focus on the men (Goffman, 1979), perpetuating gender bias and reinforcing gender norms.
The gender identity of a child is ingrained in them even before they are born by their parents, who carefully select clothing for newborn boys and girls according to their gender (Zosuls et al., 2001). In earlier times, gender and its roles were more prevalent than they are today. The differences in biological makeup between the sexes were far more significant (Macionis, 2018).
When hunters and gatherers lived, women were burdened by having to care for many children since there was no way to control pregnancy and reproduction (Macionis, 2018). In order to fulfill their roles, women were bound to their homes and their children (Macionis, 2018).
Therefore, women were often responsible for planting and gathering vegetation for their families and themselves (Macionis, 2018). Due to their biological differences, men, on the other hand, often played the role of hunters and soldiers, leaving women, again, confined to their homes as a result (Macionis, 2018). Since men possessed stronger and larger physiques due to their biological differences, they often played the role of hunters and warriors.
With the amount of technological advances that have happened since the Industrial Revolution, there has been a shift in gender roles as well. The more technology became available, and access to birth control became easier, women gained more power and were less subjected to a male-dominated society. They essentially had a choice instead of being forced into traditional female duties during pregnancy and outside of it. Many new developments that followed the Industrial Revolution helped further make this possible.
After considering how the social-conflict theory and structural-functional approach assess gender equality with regard to hunter-gatherers, it is possible to see some validity in each. Despite this, neither of these perspectives completely approaches a reflection of reality.
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