“Traditional gender roles breaking down threatens people’s self-concept and identity.”

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  1. QuantumInc says:

    Ah, thank you for putting my thoughts into words.

    Of course not every quality one might describe yourself with requires a social construction, but a lot of them do, at least the ones that allow you to connect with certain subcultures do. “Nerd” is a meaningful identity marker because of both the mainstream social narratives and the flourishing subculture that exists.

    Traditionally one’s gender forms a huge part of one’s self concept. Even in this supposedly “post-feminist” era people attach heavy meaning to their gender. Gender identity itself quite possibly goes beyond social construction, hormones, and anatomy, as evidenced by the experiences of the transgendered. So one can explain part of the emphasis on a instinctual response to identify with one body type or another. However I think the traditional gender roles play a big part too. A lot of people feel nostalgia for the days when being a MAN or a WOMAN meant something, though it can influence thinking in more subtle ways.

    I’m also imagining a woman asking herself, “If High-Heels have nothing to do with being female, then why oh god why have I been wearing these things all these years?!” People’s rationalizations often depend on social construction, and rationalizations can be surprisingly important.

    But just to repeat the point, when somebody is reduced to only a few identity markers it results in a sort of screaming existential angst. People NEED to have an understanding of themselves. It’s bad enough when you can’t explain some other person, but when you don’t have some way of understanding your own motivations…well…that could send anyone into a panic.

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