Gender refers to the socially constructed roles,behaviours,expressions and identities of men,women and gender diverse people.In 1964, Robert Stroller coined the term’ gender identity’,which refers to an individual’s personal concept about their gender and how they feel inside. It is based on how people perceive themselves and each other ,how they react and interact and the distribution of power and resources in society.Different cultures had a deliberate description about different gender- specific behaviour for men and women but there is a lot more to the explanation of gender difference. Gender identity is personal, internal perception of oneself; where an individual may see themselves as a man ,a woman,as having no gender ,or as having a non-binary gender.
’Sex’ and ‘gender’ are often used interchangeably, despite having different meanings. Historically ,the terms ‘sex’ and ‘gender’ have been used interchangeably.Sex refers to a set of biological attributes associated with physical and physiological features whereas gender is a sociological concept.Major historical events have had a huge impact on the way men and women are seen and treated.Earlier, women have always been treated as secondary to men and seen as fragile whose job is to take care of the household chores.There were feminist movements which refers to political campaigns to reform on issues of women suffrage,equal pay,maternity leave,domestic violence and sexual vilence.
Feminism in parts of the Western world has gone through a series of waves. First-wave feminism was oriented around the idea of middle- or upper-class white women and involved suffrage and political equality. Second-wave feminism attempted to further combat social and cultural inequalities. Although the first wave of feminism involved mainly middle class white women, the second wave brought in women of colour and women from other developing nations. Third wave of feminism was based on financial, social and cultural inequalities and includes renewed campaigning for greater influence of women in politics and media. In reaction to political activism, feminists have also had to maintain focus on women’s reproductive rights, such as the right to abortion. Fourth-wave feminism focused on body positivity ,stratification of traditionally marginalized groups.
The idea of gender in history always had much to say about the rights or duties of men or rights and duties of women , but it never bothered to provide a definition of who is a man or woman is . There were laws that defined specifically what a man or woman can or cannot do , what work they must not do ,what clothes they must not wear,with whom they can or cannot enter in to marriage ,or what specific obligations they have .People who having a conservative approach towards gender identity , they cling on to the traditional concepts whereas now a days as a result of some revolutionary movements we have achieved freedom to pursue our own gender identity , which is devoid of the stereotypes put forward by society.
The nature and development of gender identity have been studied and disputed by psychologists, philosophers and social activists since the late 20th century.People having a conservative attitude hold that gender identity is fixed at birth by genetic or other biological factors.Early stages of history ,people argued that gender identity or the manner in which gender is expressed , is ‘socially constructed’ ,determined by social and cultural infuences.As a variation from this social constructivism there came a performatism holds that gender identity is constituted rather than expressed, by the continuous performance of gendered behaviour.Further more, a second gender identity developed based on sex associated behaviours ; hetero sexual or homo sexual orientations.
The development about the concept of gender identity starts from one’s own home, by means of how parents teach their children.Parents teach children about sexual behaviours and this is reinforced as the children grow older and enter a wider social world.We can also see a change in the use of language in describing various roles such as in early stages there were only two words to like ‘she’ and ‘he’ on the contrary now a days there is another term also included to denote the third category as ‘zee’.Lesbian, gay , bisexual,intersex and related identities have been present in various forms through out history.Although the LGBT community and individuals remains target for hate, violence and backlash throughout the world. When we analyse some films also we can see how the gender identity is portrayed and how some people are marginalised in society.For example we can see some patriarchal stereotypes in the movie “Drisyam 2” where we can see how a mother tries to reinforce her traditional concepts towards her younger daughter.
Transvestite is a term that alludes a person who wears clothes designed for the opposite sex, cross dresser is also another term to denote this.In the academic world ,’Gender Studies’ is an interdisciplinary academic field devoted to analysing gender identity and gender representation.It includes women studies ,men’s studies and also queer studies.It also analyses how race,ethnicity,religion,nationality influence the categories of gender and sexuality.To conclude there is a broad development in area of gender identity and in the concept of sexuality in our society as the aftermath of various movements.