The feminist movement that existed during the 1960s and 70s played an important role in highlighting the inequalities between men and women. In addition, the movement also raised public awareness regarding the definition of gender, sex and sexuality. An outcome of this process is that a number of scholars embarked on an exhaustive investigation regarding the definition of these terms and how they were constructed socially (Allwood 102). Despite the fact that a lot of information has been collected relating to the understanding of issues revolving around gender and sex, the realm of the social perspective of these concepts reveals that the meanings of gender, sex and sexuality are subject to change with the changes in the socio-cultural discourse. With the acknowledgement that the meaning of concepts such as gender and sex are subject to change, it is arguably evident that any attempt to explore the meaning of these concepts should be placed in a post modern context that takes into account the socio-cultural realities (Burke 105). This paper uses this as a theoretical basis for discussion of the theories of masculinity and its application to literature. This paper takes into account the evolutionary nature of masculinity theory and a review of its social construction. This makes it possible to expound on the role of the masculinity theory in the present day social context.
The origins of masculinity
According to the western culture, gender stereotypes classify men as being insistent, instrumental and competitive while women are usually considered as passive, submissive and expressive. Early thinking predisposed that the differences in between men and women were intrinsic. According to this viewpoint the measures of masculinity were deployed in the diagnosis of problems associated with gender identification. Current research has refuted this early thinking to assert femininity and masculinity are influenced by socio-cultural conditions. A study by the Anthropologist Margaret Mead aimed at resolving the differences in terms of temperaments that existed among the males and females (Choi 39). In her work Sex and Temperament in Three Primitive Societies concluded that there are no essential differences in terms of traits among the sexes and that the observed differences were not connected with the biological differences among men and women. Instead, they were an outcome of the socio-cultural expectations required of each sex. Mead’s study was influential in transforming the perceptive regarding the nature of masculinity in the sense that the dissimilar gender roles, traits and characteristics were no influenced by biological sex.
An overview of masculinity theory
In explore the concept of masculinity, it is important to have a historical overview of the evolution of the theory of masculinity. An analytical review of literature relating to the development of the theory of masculinity reveals that it has been placed in a wider continuum of sociological research has laid emphasis the concepts of gender and sex. When reviewing some of the most significant highlights of the developmental research in masculinity, Allwood (77) affirms that the sex role theory and the social construction of gender were crucial stages relating to the developmental research on masculinity. From a specific point of Allwood (77) affirms that the sex role theory was deployed by early feminists who had the main objective of seeking for explanations for the differences that existed between men and women. These feminists developed a number of ideas relating to the social construction of gender and the underlying differences between masculinity and femininity. Allwood (78) states that the feminist attempted to explain how individuals learned to act and behave in ways that are gender appropriate through the influences of the family and school. Allwood (79) goes ahead to affirm that the concept of gender served as a replacement for the sex role theory. The development of the concept of gender resulted to an extensive analysis of the development of the concept of femininity. In addition, the concept of gender served as a framework for having an in depth analysis of masculinity. According to Allwood (93), the main distinction between masculinity and femininity depends on the particular social context that the ideology is being studied. As a result, men have been subsequently constructed and viewed as objects of study who are not gendered and that their gender identity is available in cases that involve power relations among the sexes. With this regard, the perspective of masculinity and the manner of its definition is perceived as entailing more complexities when compared to femininity. In addition, Allwood (95) argues that this approach to assessing the male sex role has resulted to the establishment of two predispositions relating to maleness and the behavior of males, which includes the view that the power of masculinity is usually maintained and reproduced.
From Allwood’s viewpoint, it is arguably evident that the development and conceptualization of masculinity is determined by social construction and the understanding of the gender and sex roles. In addition, the complexity associated with masculinity is increased by the fact that it entails the differences in terms of power that exists between and men. Therefore, masculinity extends beyond the particular individual behaviors and actions to take into account the power structures that influence the manner in which men relate to women in a socio-cultural context (Edwards 105).
Theories of masculinity
There are number of models that are used in the conceptualization of masculinity, with the most widely consented approach for explaining masculinity being that it comprises of a group of collection of social practices that have been positioned in the larger gendered power. The following are some of the theoretical models that have been used in explaining masculinity (Edwards 102).
In relation to the biological masculinity theory, the meanings associated with masculinity are based on the outward expressions that are connected to the biological sex. This implies that gender identity significantly depends on biological sex. Masculinity is therefore perceived as an outcome of genetic evolutionary processes. This approach to masculinity is rare to come across due to the fact that it has been ascertained that masculinity is mostly socially constructed (Zachary 256).
Role theories of masculinity
Sociological and psychological perspectives have challenged the biological significance in influencing human behavior and gender identity. The role theory attempts to resolve the behavioral differences that exist between the different sexes. The predisposition of the role theory of masculinity is that the social expectations regarding the status of an individual serve to conform to a particular role and its associated social functions. The accomplishment of these roles is reinforced using inherent rewards and sanctions aimed at encouraging conformity. There are potential difficulties in cases whereby the specific social roles are not accomplished (Edwards 258). For instance, the society may require that a man play the role of the family breadwinner, this implies that there is a strong relationship between the masculine identities with paid employment in that society. If this view is incorporated into individual self meanings, and then that person becomes unemployed, the outcome will be what Connell (78) refers to as Male Gender Role Strain. This implies that higher levels of internalization of masculinity roles, the greater the amount of the gender role strain in cases whereby the cultural norms of masculinity cannot be accomplished.
The explanation of masculinity using the sex role theory has been subjected to a number of criticisms. The first criticism is that role theory is absolutely homogenizing. Haywood (100) asserts that the sex roles do not have adequate historical perspective; as a result, they do not have an accurate understanding of change. Haywood further notes that individuals are usually perceived as empty vessels during conception, which are then socialized according to specific manners associated with masculinity, which in turn results to men’s homogeneity.
The second critic directed at the sex role theory is that they do not take into consideration the issues associated with power. The emphasis on the differences in the roles contradicts the fine distinctions that are involved in regard to the gender relations that functions within the power systems. The complexities in the dynamics associated with gender identity at the social and individual level usually disappear in the sex-role theory. This is due to the fact that abstract viewpoints relating to the differences serve as a replacement for the changing power relations that exist between men and women.
The third criticism associated with the sex-role masculinity theories is that they tend to polarize issues by promoting the sex differences. Haywood (101) notes that the sex-role masculinity theories fail to distinguish the biological sex from gender; as a result, they are a means for creating rigid viewpoints regarding the sex differences. Haywood defines the sex roles being reciprocal implying that polarization is an important element of the sex role theory. This increases the complexities when exploring gender relations especially when they are positioned at opposite ends of a spectrum. Polarization conceals other vital issues such as racial orientation and socio-economic class.
Haywood (105) outlined another criticism of the sex role masculinity theories in the light that they ignore the micro-level structure. The sex role theories lay emphasize on the macro elements of socialization, which in turn reduces the need to take into account core issues associated with structure and agency at the individual level.
Relational models of masculinity
In contrary to the biological and sex role masculinity theories, the relational models of masculinity suggest that men and women are not positioned at opposite ends of the femininity-masculinity spectrum. Connell (105) views gender as sets of relations that exist between men and women. Therefore, masculinity is a part of the gender order, and it is not distinct. This offers a framework through the similarities and the differences between men and women can be analyzed and how other aspects contributes towards the positioning of masculinity in the gender order. According to the relational view of masculinity, it is viewed as the configurations of social practices that have patterns and are arranged in a hierarchical manner. They are usually ordered in accordance to women, although there are groups of masculinity ideologies that are relevant and significant in any particular place and time. These are the hegemonic forms of masculinity practices. According to this view, an array of gender practices with masculinity included can be viewed as habitual practices, which are susceptible to change in various different scenarios. Connell argues that masculinity is a character or a personality trait that is not a reserve for men; rather they are historically contingent and not shaped by the biological sexes or the effects of socialization. As a result, masculinity is dynamic and arranged in a hierarchical manner with the most dominant configurations functioning collectively and become integrated into the society and the social institutions and thereby replicating themselves.
The development of masculinity
There are a number of theories that are used in the explanation of the development of masculinity including the psychoanalytic theory, cognitive-developmental theory and the learning theories that put much focus on direct reinforcement (Rachel and David 145). A universal trend among all the theories is that it entails a two-part process whereby the child initially knows that he/she is either male or female, after which the child terms knows what it means to be female or male according to femininity and masculinity.
The psychoanalytic theory proposes that an individual’s gender is created through identifying with the parent of the same sex. Gender identification is a result of the conflict that is intrinsic during the oedipal stage of psychosexual development (Rachel and David 152). At an age of about three years, the child usually creates a strong sexual connection towards the parent of the opposite sex. At the same time, negative feelings are exhibited towards the parent from the same sex mainly due to resentment and jealousy. At the age of six years, the child usually resolves the psychosexual conflict by associating with the parent from the same sex. As a result, boys usually learn masculine ideologies from their fathers while girls learn their feminine ideologies from their mothers.
The cognitive-development theory is also a gender identity development theory that proposes that there are pertinent events that usually imposes lasting impacts that shape the development of gender identity; however, they are cognitive and not psychosexual. In contrary to the psychoanalytic theory, individual gender identity development precedes the influence of the same-sex parent (Zachary 147). After the gender identity of an individual has been established, the individual is motivated to act and behave in accordance with the identified gender, before the onset of same-sex gender modeling, which only serves to enhance the process. Two important stages during the development of an individual’s gender identity include the acquisition of a fixed gender identity and the establishment of gender identity constancy. The initial stage usually commences with the individual’s identification as either male or female through labels such as boy or girl after which one applies to the self at an age of about three years (Rachel and David 147). Gender constancy entails the acknowledgement that the one’s gender is not likely to change irrespective of changes in age and outward appearance of the individual.
The learning theories are one of the most important theories that are used for explaining the development of gender identity. According to the learning theories, the social environment usually influences the gender identity of an individual. In this case, the parents teach the child on the aspects of masculinity and femininity directly using rewards and punishments and indirectly by serving as models. Direct rewards and punishments are used in the context of outward appearances in terms of what to wear, object of choice and behavior (Edwards 147). Children can learn suitable appearance and behavior when rewards and punishments are deployed. Indirect learning usually entails the imitation of the behaviors and thoughts of the same-sex model.
Sociological view for measuring masculinity
The symbolic interactionist approach to masculinity proposes that gender identity is best examined using the identity theory, which states that the self is usually organized self meanings and identities that are arranged hierarchically and function as a source of motivation for individual behavior (Rachel and David 245). Developments on the identity theory suggests that the identities are organized in the form of control systems, which serve to maintain congruency when the self meanings that have been internalized and the perceptions of social-cultural discourse regarding identity. The central point in this view is the individual’s self meanings.
An individual’s gender identity depends on the self-meanings that the individual has internalized as a result of the constant associations with the gender roles off males or females in the society. Owing to the fact that they are self-meanings, they cannot be observed directly and are usually inferred from the behaviors that the individual engages. Gender identity is considered as one of the role identities that people observe. In sociological context, it is assumed that the roles are not in isolation but are connected to counter roles (Edwards 202). The definitions of masculinity and femininity are essentially contrastive implying that to be masculine is not to be feminine and vice versa. Therefore, the gender meanings are placed in the opposite ends of a spectrum, which is somewhat similar to the bipolar conceptualization of masculinity. It is a fact that there is negative relation between masculinity and femininity, especially when individuals are asked to decide on being masculine or feminine. The contrastive nature of masculinity and femininity is not applicable in the case of individual behaviors due to the fact that individuals can navigate between masculine and feminine behaviors (Rachel and David 155).
The sociological interactionist view suggests that the self meanings that people adapt to determine their gender identity are important in some cases when determining their individual behavior. Gender cannot be used in accurately predicting the individual behavior when compared to gender identity. Despite the fact that gender identity may in some cases be accurate in determining behavioral outcomes, there is a possibility that gender and gender identity will result to different types of behavior. For instance, when analyzing the problem solving discussions between newly married couples, Jackson (55) reports that female individuals and those inclined towards masculinity were more likely to show signs of negative expression, dominant and oppositional behavior associated with complaining. Whilst masculinity more masculine identity should serve to increase dominance, the females were more dominating compared to the males. Jackson notes that the dominating behavior was exhibited by females who were perceived as weak and inferior in the society by the spouses. These women used coercive communication as a means of counterbalancing their inferior position in the society in order to attain some control. The significant problem is that when acting to counterbalance their weaker status by adopting masculine traits, women may be unknowingly informing the male individuals of the weak position in the society. Whilst the gender identity of an individual is likely to be stable over time, it is susceptible to change in accordance with the individual experiences. When examining the stability of gender identity on newly married couples, Burke (56) found out that gender identities of just married couples were relatively high during the initial three years of marriage. According to the identity theory, gender identities are likely to change due to the constant changes in the socio-cultural environment. For instance, the birth of the first child indicates a significant change in the environment that serves to bestow femininity and masculinity on women and women respectively. Burke (98) reports that the birth of the first child reinforces the gender identity of an individual, for instance, women become more feminine while men became more masculine. Gender identity can also be modified through the social psychological processes. Burke (100) reports that the more a spouse emphasized on the viewpoint of the other during marriage, the more one is likely to shift his/her gender identity in relation to the gender identity of the other. For instance, a women that plays the conventional roles associated with men such as being the breadwinner implies that the women is more likely to shift her gender identity towards masculinity.
The concept of masculinity in modern social discourse
Having reviewed the historical development of the concept of masculinity, the role and the outset of the concept of masculinity in the modern day society can be examined. When exploring the development of masculinity theory in the present day society, Leach (36) affirms that an expansion in the understanding of masculinity theory results to the evolutionary nature of the concept mainly due to political realm. Leach is of the opinion that masculinity functions politically at diverse levels. In one level, masculinity is considered a form of gender identity, and therefore serves as a means of self-understanding that influences individual behavior and attitudes. At another level, masculinity is viewed as a cultural ideology that describes the gender appropriate roles that a male individual should accomplish. Despite the fact that Leach perceives masculinity as a collection of behaviors and variables that are socio-culturally constructed. Leach therefore argues that the state of masculinity is not natural. In contrary with the biological definition of maleness, Leach states that masculinity is a gender identity that established mainly due to social, historical and political construction. Therefore, masculinity can be defined as the cultural understanding of maleness that is learnt via social interaction and participation with the society and its social institutions. As a result, masculinity is an ever changing ideology that needs to be closely connected with the socio-cultural discourse. The male individual usually expected to identify and incline towards the social institutions that attempt to construct masculinity and behave in a manner that is consistent with what the institutions outline as acceptable behavior.
A number of scholars who have examined the development of the theory of masculinity have issued their comments regarding to the definition and the acceptance of behaviors and actions that are innately masculine. According to Phillips (404), the current ideologies relating to masculinity are based on the view that babies are brought into the world in a culture that starts by defining them as either male or female after birth. As a result, they usually come to identify and acknowledge themselves as either male or female via the gender norms that are dominant in all the aspects of culture. Phillips (410) further asserts that modern socio-cultural context is characterized by individual social construction. Therefore, reality is considered as what have been created. Basing on this view, masculinity and femininity are usually created by the individual as a collection of rules that aim at identifying the individual.
Despite the fact that existing research proposes that masculinity is determined by the willingness of the individual to embrace the rules of behavior, which involves displaying the male qualities, researchers are of the opinion that the choice to accept masculinity imposes psychological consequences on the individual (Choi 50). Choi conducted an experiment by investigating the differences in the sex role groups among the four groups, who included masculine, feminine, androgynous, and undifferentiated. Depending on the particular way that the individual perceived his/her sex role, there were different consequences. According to the findings, individuals who were more inclined towards the masculine ideologies showed higher levels of self-efficacy. Choi therefore concluded that the cognitive notion of masculinity serves to indicate some resemblance to self-efficacy in the sense that self-efficacy is viewed as cognitive assessment of individual prospective performance. When relating this view to the aspect of personal development, Choi (54) reports that individuals who shown higher levels of self-efficacy also depicted higher levels of self-esteem. In addition, individuals who associate themselves with masculinity were more aggressive, assertive and had the ability of getting the task completed. It is arguably evident this has consequences on the social function of an individual. With an increase in the understanding and insight of masculinity, issues that enhance the success of personal and professional development also increase.
There are also a number of scholars who are of the opinion that personal perceptions regarding masculinity influence psychology and individual behavior. Jackson (37) notes that young male individuals who show signs of female characteristics usually depict higher levels of underachievement in comparison to males who associate their personality with masculinity. The problem of underdevelopment usually imposes consequences associated with the development of self-esteem in the sense that an increase in underachievement results to a decrease in self-worth.
The realm of the view that masculinity can influence how one perceives him/herself can result to positive influences on personal development. Research studies on masculinity in modern society also reveal that this process can also impose negative consequences on personal development. A recent survey by Sanders (37) regarding perception of men towards masculinity in modern social discourse indicates that with the change in the role of men, most of the males are being faced with the challenge of ambiguity regarding how they are supposed to behave and act and their respective roles. Statistics collected by Sanders (37) indicate that approximately 4 out 10 men are of the opinion that their role in the society is increasingly showing less dominance. Most of the men are of the view that the society is in an era of transition regarding to the definition of masculinity and its significance in the men’s domain. Sanders (38) further asserts that an outcome of the transition regarding the definition of masculinity and its evolving nature of social construction has resulted to many males being uncertain about their masculinity and how to act like a man.
The aspect of individual identity in relation to masculinity is also an important element of masculinity. Irrespective of this acknowledgment, researchers are of the opinion that most scholars who are exploring the concept of masculinity and femininity usually make assumptions that are not subject to justification and quantification. This is mainly due to the inclination that ‘we all know what is meant by these terms irrespective of the recognition that diverse personal and cultural aspects of masculinity exist and significantly influences to one gender identity as either a woman or a man. Despite the fact that there is need to offer a comprehensive definition of masculinity, Hoffman et al argue the definition of masculinity needs both personal and social integration in the sense that each person must be given an opportunity to make a decision of the significance of their gender identity to them. This implies that the individual is given some free will when adapting a meaning of masculinity that one feels is comfortable with. This approach to defining masculinity imposes significant challenges in arriving at a universal definition of masculinity. Connell (11a) expounded this viewpoint of the concept of masculinity through investigating the individual construction of masculinity. Connell (11a) argues that the development of the masculine identity is a process that needs an individual to synchronize the external social environment with the internal in order to establish a gender identity and roles that one perceives as comfortable. Connell (14b) therefore considers masculinities as constructions that are found in the gender order and notes that there are not simple and static, which is uncontested due to the fact that individual males usually form their own meaning of masculinity that depends on the existing social construction of males and the individual qualities and traits.
Masculinity and gender identity
Gender identity usually determines whether an individual is masculine or feminine according to individual perceptions and self-meanings. An individual’s gender identity is usually determined by social factors instead of biological factors, which determines an individual’s sex. The members of the society usually determine what it entails to be male or female in terms of either dominant or passive and brevity and emotions (Zachary 203). In most cases, males usually associate themselves with masculine characteristics while females associate themselves with feminine ideologies. Owing to the fact that these are social definition, there is a possibility that a female individual may associate with masculine ideologies and vice versa. It is therefore vital to differentiate gender identity from other concepts that are related to gender. For instance, the gender roles are defined as the shared expectations of individual behavior in accordance with one’s gender. For instance, a gender role may include a woman being involved in domestic roles while a man is involved in productive roles (Jackson 102). Gender identity is also distinguished from the aspect of gender stereotypes, which is defined as the shared perceptions of personality traits that are often connected to a person’s gender; for instance, associating instrumentality with men and expressiveness with women. Gender attitudes involves the views of other people of situations that are usually associated with an individual’s gender such association of justice in the thinking of men and kinking care with women’s thinking. Gender attitudes, gender stereotypes and gender roles usually play an integral role in shaping the gender identity of an individual (Steinberg 147).
From a sociological point of view, gender identity entails all the self-meanings that an individual uses for gender identification. As a result, the self-meanings serve as a source that motivates the individual to behave in a gender-related manner. An individual that is inclined towards masculine identity is need to behave in a manner that is considered masculine and should act in manner is associated with dominance, autonomy and competitive. It is vital to note that the individual behaviors are not of significance but the self-meanings that a person uses for gender identification (Rachel and David 178).
After birth, the self-meanings relating to an individual’s gender is usually established in the social institutions are attained by social interactions with other people such as parents, peers and the teachers. When the individual draws upon the universal perspectives of masculinity and femininity, they are likely to perceive themselves as deviating from the masculinity or femininity cultural model (Steinberg 147). An individual is likely to label oneself as female but she may view herself using the masculine stereotype characteristics. The point of argument is that individuals usually have the perceptions of themselves within the feminine-masculine dimension including inclination towards more feminine, while some are more masculine while some mixes the two. Gender identity is usually influenced by the feminine-masculine dimension of meaning, and usually influences the manner in which individuals behave.
Application of masculinity theories in literature
Masculinity theories can be effectively applied in literature through the development of feminist views and character analysis of feminists. Femininity and masculinity are predominant themes in literary works, implying that the theories of masculinity can be effectively deployed to carry out a character analysis of a literary work. This can be achieved through an analysis of their views towards feminists and the role of women. Gender roles depicted in literary works can also be used in ascertaining the relationship between masculinity and femininity. In a number of literary works, the question of the role of each gender lays emphasis on power. For instance in the play by Oscar Wilde titled “The Importance of being Ernest”, men have been depicted to have stronger influence compared to the women. This is because the men are in charge of making the political decisions within the households while women are involved in the domestic chores within the family set up and taking good care of the children. Men are usually valued basing on their intelligence and judgment; women on the other hand are valued basing on their attractiveness, beauty and chastity. In the play, Wilde poses a number of questions regarding to the roles of the genders in the society, this is evident by his placing of women such as Lady Bracknell in power positions and depicting irresponsibility and poor decision making by men such as Jack and Algernon. This denotes the satirical nature of the play in relation to the feminism of the Victorian era.
A synthesis of all the data gathered in this paper can be used to reasonably conclude that the development of the concept of masculinity is significantly influenced by modern socio-cultural discourse. Generally, masculinity is viewed as an instance of a constructed reality that compels a person to evaluate the gender roles and rules that are socially acceptable and then apply them in a manner that is meaningful to him/her. For people having a strong sense of identity, the process of defining masculinity can turn out to be empowering in the sense that it provides the individual with an opportunity to form a distinct viewpoint on the concept of masculinity. For people who are dependent on the definitions of masculinity basing on social construction, the process is rather difficult due to the view that males may be of the view that their masculinity is being questioned with the ever changing nature of modern socio-cultural discourse. Perhaps the most interesting attribute of masculinity in modern times is that they usually involve making an informed decision regarding individual behavior. Despite the fact that there are some informal social rules that serve to mitigate the definition of masculinity, the reality of the matter is that most male individuals usually have the capability to create their own individual masculinity, which is likely to depict a deviation from the from the conventional social construction of maleness. An outcome of this approach is that it does not only brings about a definite level of flexibility during the definition of the gender roles but also offers a liberal viewpoint of masculinity that is determined by the social evolution of human beings. Although there is more flexibility when examining masculinity from social construction point of view, it is precisely evident that the concept of masculinity also has a formidable influence from the psychological perspectives. As indicated in the paper, the conceptions regarding masculinity usually have an effect on how one views his/her achievements and personal development and social capabilities. This makes it logical to affirm that despite the changing nature of social construction of masculinity, there is adequate evidence to claim that masculinity still influences the perceptions of men regarding their roles and how they maintain their relationships with women. Therefore, modern socio-cultural discourse has not influenced all the aspects relating to masculinity.
Future research on masculinity
There are number of opportunities for future research regarding the application of masculinity in literature. Firstly, understanding the issues associated with the stability and change of an individual gender is still on its infantry stage. Future work is needed to explore how the gender identities are subject to modifications through the involvement in societal institutions in the religious, political and economic context. For instance, research is needed to determine to what level and the various ways that employers can socialize their respective employees into specific views relating masculinity and femininity to ensure that there is a smooth workflow. Research is needed to ascertain how the individual involvement in careers of the opposite gender likely to affect their gender identity (Haywood 102). For instance, does women involvement in engineering and political positions makes them more masculine? And does men involvement in careers such as hospitality and catering are likely to make them more feminine.
The second opportunity for future research with regard to concept of masculinity is the salience of gender identity among the various individuals, groups and cultures. Salience in this case refers to the probability that a given gender identity is likely to be invoked in a particular situation. This is likely to vary according to the social situations and individuals. For some people, gender is not necessarily relevant while others hold the significance of gender. This poses the need to effectively apply the Bem’s viewpoint of gender schematization, which refers to view of the world in terms of gender. What are the underlying reasons for gender significance and its respective consequences? What specific scenarios demand makes gender and gender identity significant? What situations can force an individual to navigate his gender identity?
The third opportunity for future research with regard to masculinity is due to the fact that there is little information relating the cultural, sub-cultural and the cross-cultural variations in the meanings that are associated with masculinity and femininity. Most information relating masculinity and femininity are usually derived from the western cultures. According to Margaret Mead, socio-cultural discourses are not universal. This poses the need to explore the specific meanings associated with masculinity and femininity and determine whether they are universal trends that are observed. This may be helpful in providing an insight as to why there is division of labor along masculine-feminine line, the structural differences in power and status and how the privileges and responsibilities in the societal context are allocated.
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