The Real Concept of gender

The Concept of Gender, by Idza Farida Hadami. Picture source:

The Concept of gender is first to be distinguished from the concept of sex or biological sex. Understanding sex or biological sex is a gift of nature or the distribution of two human sex is biologically determined, permanent (cannot be exchanged between the male and female), inborn and is a gift of God; as a man or a woman. Through biological sex determination, it is then said that someone would be called male if he has a penis, Adam’s apple, mustache, beard, and sperm, while a woman called female if she has a vagina and uterus as a mean of reproduction, has a tool for breastfeeding (breast) and the experience of pregnancy and childbirth. The characteristics of these biologically are same in all places, in all cultures from time to time, and each can not be exchanged. (Nugroho.2011. Gender dan Strategi Pengarus-Utamanya di Indonesia: 1-3).

Unlike the sex or gender is given by God and has been owned by a person when he was born to become natural human, the term of gender is absorbed from English language and to date, it has not been found in Indonesian meaning, — except by some people for ease, it has changed into a gender — a social creation, not universal and has different identities influenced by factors of  ideology, politic, economy, social, culture, religion, ethnic, class, also history, time and place as well as the advancement of science and technology (Gallery.1987: 6).

The term ‘gender’ was first introduced by Stoller (1968: 15) to separate the human characterization based on the definition of a social nature with the cultural significance of the definition derived from biological physical self. In the social sciences, a man who has been instrumental in developing and understanding the term gender is Ann Oakley (1972: 71). As Stoller, Oakley defines gender as a social construction or attribute that is imposed on a man who built by human culture. Another opinion on gender concepts conveyed by Fakih (1999: 8) that the concept of gender is an inherent nature of men and women who are constructed socially and culturally. Therefore, gender is a term that is socially and culturally constructed for long periods of time, which is socialized from generation to generation, the understanding standard of the concept of gender also does not exist until today because the distinction of male and female interpreted based on gender relations and it is different from one place to another, from one culture to others and from time to time.

As an example of the embodiment of the concept of gender as the inherent nature of men and women who are socially and culturally constructed, for example, the thought that a man is more powerful, manly, tough, disciplined, smarter, more suitable for work outside house and that a woman is gentle, motherly, delicate, beautiful, better suited to work in the home (child care, cooking and cleaning the house), then that is the nurture of gender and it is not nature because it is formed by humans.

According to Fakih (1996: 12), gender differences in fact not become a problem as long as they do not deliver gender inequality (gender inequalities). But the emerging trend is that the gender difference has given rise to various forms of injustice, especially for women. This injustice manifested in the form of subordination, marginalization, domestication, double burden, as well as stereotypes created by the myths in society.

Stereotypes arise because of the myths of society towards women’s work related to the stereotype. In Mulawarman’s book (1999: 12) Williams and Best in research on sex stereotypes in a number of countries, illustrate that man is a helper, aggressive, attempting, bold, and so on; whereas woman is lover, meek, timid, emotional, and so on.

This is where the misunderstanding of the concept of gender often arises, people often understand the concept of gender is a social engineering of culture as “nature”, as something that is inherent in a person, cannot be changed and not negotiable.

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