Last Updated 09 Apr 2020

Dominant Images of Women and Gender Construction

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Introduction Women in society are viewed as subordinates to men. Women are expected to listen, sit and wait for the men. There are examples of the subordination of women everywhere you look. In literature, the media and different societies all over the globe, women are portrayed as lesser than men. In the past, many Eastern and Western societies did not allow women to be educated due to the fact that men thought women should not have the knowledge and be able to use their knowledge in any way. Men treated women in such a primitive manner.

All the females needed to know were the basics of keeping house, raising children, and following their husband’s orders. In section 2, I will describe two dominant imageries of women. I will provide modern day examples of these two dominant images which I chose to discuss. I will discuss how these images co-play with the mechanisms of gender construction. There will be a feed-back loop on the effects of expectations of women due to these 2 types of imagery. 2. Women as Sex Objects Women are often viewed as sex objects.

One reason why men view women as sex objects is because men use women to reproduce and without women, there will be no way to have more children. Another reason why men view women as sex objects is because it makes them feel more superior to women. This is especially true in the porn industry. Pornography constructs women as what men want sexually. Pornography is the answer to the fantasies of men. Women are constantly being dominated by men and used to satisfy the men’s desires. In many cases, women who are perceived as “dangerous” are often made to appear less threatening, more childlike.

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Women who are perceived to be too pure are portrayed to be more “bad”. Many antipornography feminists protest against pornography because it degrades women and promotes violence against women. Overall, pornography radiates a bad image of women to the world. As a result of women being viewed as sex objects, men acquire a certain expectation from women to act and behave the way women are portrayed in pornography. Sometimes, men take pornography scenes too literally and are tempted to re-enact the scenes out, giving life to these fantasies. In MacKinnon’s, Pornography, Civil Rights, and “Speech”: The books that were ound with this man were: Violent Stories of Kinky Humiliation, Violent Stories of Dominance and Submission – you think feminists made up these words? – Bizarre Sex Crimes, Shamed Victims, and Water Sports Fetish, Enemas and Golden Showers. The Minnesota Supreme Court said, “It appears that in committing these various acts, the defendant was giving life to some stories he had read in various pornographic books. ”(1993: 379). Women as Earth Mothers Ever since ancient times, women have been viewed as earth mothers because they are considered to be closer to nature.

Staying at home, having kids, raising the kids, teaching, cooking and cleaning – these are all the things that are expected naturally from women. According to anthropologist Sherry Ortner: Women are universally devalued and this is tied to the symbolic association of women and “nature”. (1974: 29). She argued nature is controlled by culture by means of symbol and artifacts. In her sense, “culture” is associated with human consciousness and the products of humans, such as technology and thoughts which humans use to control “nature”.

This means that culture is superior to nature because it can form and shape nature any way it wants to shape it according to the needs or wishes of humans. As earth mothers, women are associated with “nature” and men have been associated with “culture”; so therefore, men are seen as superior to women and men can easily control women. Women are considered closer to nature in 3 ways. One is due to their ability to bear children. To be able to reproduce makes women a step closer to nature than men. Another reason is based on the fact that women are caretakers or infants and children.

They are nurturing individuals who take care of children who are too young to acquire cultural values so this makes children closer to nature. The women are viewed as even closer to nature because they are taking care of these young children who have yet to acquire culture. The third way women are seen as earth mothers is because women deal with more concrete issues such as taking care of the children, taking care of her husband, and housework. As a result of women being viewed as earth mothers, the women act the role while the men expect the women to have kids and nurture the family.

If this standard expectation is not followed, society will criticize the individuals. 3. Conclusion There are many dominant images of women. The main ones I chose to discuss are women portrayed as subordinate sex objects and women portrayed as nurturing earth mothers. The world is still filled with the idea that women are subordinates compared to men and it will be a tough fight for feminists; but little by little, progress is being made. Soon, not only women are going to be viewed as the caretakers of the family – men are slowly adopting the roles women are currently playing. Society is gradually changing.

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Dominant Images of Women and Gender Construction. (2018, Aug 15). Retrieved from

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