The social construction of gender: science and misogyny

Though many conservative commentators would never admit it, there is no doubt that much of the criticism leveled at the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, is because she is a woman – revealing an underlying sexism in our society. This is not defending her policies, performance, or any other aspect of her government. This was well documented in an essay by Anne Summers for the Sydney Morning Herald. Looking at female politicians, Summers makes some very important observations which are well worth reading.

 

Much of this goes to the way that the gender is socially constructed in our society. This social construction often places women in categories: often as being over emotional or completely emotionless. Criticism is also labelled at the way they look rather than their positions. For example, some of the criticism towards mining billionaire Gina Rinehart, whose politics I find appalling, are often aimed at her appearance.

 

I wrote an article New Matilda looking at the underlying social construction of gender in our society and how it makes its way into best selling texts and the speeches of conservative figures. As I discuss, much of it is also based on certain ‘scientific research’ – which confirms that women are hopeless at things like maths and reading maps.

 

I was inspired to wrote this after reading a book about challenging these stereotypes titled ‘The Truth About Boys and Girls‘. The book shows how biases in science ‘confirm’ women are innately incapable at certain things relative to men, and the way we behave simply confirms this. In other words, it is misogyny by another name and it should be confronted.

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