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Divide ut Regness: The Illusory Nature of the Gender Divide in Contemporary Societies

On 9 December 2016, film director Ali Miguel confirmed that Kelly Mantle would be the first performer to ever be considered for an Oscar nomination in both male and female categories, namely Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress1. The Academy’s decision aims at acknowledging the actor’s non-conforming gender identity2. Mantle, who identifies as gender-fluid, plays the role of a transgender prostitute in Miguel’s movie Confessions of a Womanizer. According to transgender activist Jacob Tobia, “the fact that the Academy forces performers to be nominated on the basis of gender is an outdated tradition that we need to do away with”3. By openly challenging this well-established principle, the Academy is shedding the light on a broader debate: is division on the basis of gender essential to the very fabric of civilisation? There is no denying that the issue has become an integral part of the ongoing development of gender theory. This essay will therefore explore the question from a purely academic point of view.  

 

From social structuralism to gender roles

First and foremost, it is essential to understand whether the current social structure has a direct effect on men and women and, if so, whether it is positive or negative.

Social structuralists argue that two major differences – men’s greater strength and women’s ability to bear a child have constituted the basis for the gendered division of labour4. Under this theory, individual behaviour is determined by physiological differences, hence Acker’s statement “sex is nature and gender is nurture”5.

While this divide seemed to make perfect sense in the past, the rapid evolution of postindustrial societies has undeniably led gender specialists to cast doubt on its legitimacy. On the one hand, men’s physical attributes are increasingly less important [...] Read More.

 

by Danae Coquelet
Alumna del European Inter-University Centre for Human Rights and Democratisation.

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