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How Is Gender Identity Influenced By Social Structures?

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What is meant by identity? Firstly this essay is going to explore what is meant by identity. Identity is made up of individual characteristics by which a person is known. Internal factors such as physical appearance, personality, mental ability and sex would have an affect on a person's identity. Then there are the external factors such as family, class, religion, culture, occupation and nationality which would influence one's identity. Then, even beyond all these personal and social structures, societal opinions about gender, race, culture, ethnicity and nationality must have an impact on identity.

Many attributes of identity are formed from childhood experience, adolescence, early adulthood and are ever forming. Identity can therefore be ever changing externally according to the life experiences through which a person goes through. Births, deaths, marriage, divorce, abuse, immigration, good or bad fortune for example are likely to cause change, and therefore influence change

to identity. These may ultimately result in a change to the internal identity: physical, mental etc

Gender identities are formed by several different factors, i.e. individual and collective; social and biological. Biologically, it would be quite easy to look at the body of a person and be able to distinguish between a male and a female, from their genitalia. A female would be identified by the absence of a penis. The problem with defining gender identity by simply using anatomical evidence is that is this day and age, we live in a society where most of our bodies are generally covered by clothing, so judgement can also be obscured by the unisex clothes that are worn by both men and women. Most of us are always manipulating our outer appearance according to the latest trends or fashion. It is more acceptable for a woman to wear clothing that is generally thought of as more masculine, but it is seldom that a man can wear clothing that is thought of as feminine. In such case where a man was to wear feminine clothing such as dresses, skirts, frilly blouses, stockings or high heels this would be known as cross dressing. Women on the other hand can wear trousers, jackets and even ties and this is considered completely normal. The same can be said for make-up and hairstyle. Traditionally, woman generally had long hairstyles and men

had short hair, but nowadays many women have short "boyish" cuts and men are even growing their hair long. It is still very rare to find men wearing make-up unless they are cross dressing.

There is also genetic evidence which can be used to differentiate between men and women. This is done with a DNA test, which in women would present two X chromosomes and in men one X and one Y chromosome. Generally people would only have two sex chromosomes, but on the rare occasion there have been people with more than two, and in these cases they could be defined either way, male or female.

There are many aspects to identity, and there are several dimensions to each of these aspects. Culturally, where we come from, different religions, beliefs and values that we may have. Class, our economic background, education and the lifestyle we have. Occupation and Income. Life experience and upbringing. Change. Biology and Genetics. Society. All the factors that make up a person's identity are so complex and often intertwined, it is impossible to any one of them, but all are ever changing and always developing, which is why the identity of a person is always changing and forming.

Word Count: 595

In what ways can occupation and employment affect identity?

Occupation plays a great role in who we are. In earlier times it was men who went out to work and were the sole breadwinners, while women stayed at home to care for their children and the home. In more recent times, although men are generally the primary breadwinners, there are a significant number of women who are in paid employment. Many women go out to work to help support their families financially and in few cases are even the main earner, but nowadays there are a large number of women who choose to have careers before, as well as or instead of having families.

As much as the occupation or career path that a person chooses has an impact on their identity, often their identity itself would have played a key role in them choosing that occupation. For example, a person who has grown up with professional parents is probably more likely to take on a higher managerial or professional career path. This can also be because they are more likely to have



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