How has gender been defined over the course of 1880-2015
In the past, gender has been defined as the physical characteristics or appearances of a person that makes them either male or female. More recently, the definition has changed to become more about how an individual perceives themselves in regards to their own sexuality, pushing away the scientific basis to how gender has been viewed historically. There is plenty of evidence throughout the course of 1880-2015 that this is true.
During the victorian period, 19th century, men were increasingly commuting to work, leaving wives at home to take care of domestic duties such as cleaning the house and taking care of the children. As men were commonly associated with working and taking care of financial duties such as bills, the women during this time era were expected to take care of the domestic duties because of the victorian belief in “Separate Spheres.” Separate spheres refers to the growing middle class ideology stemming from physiological characteristics of men and women, which meant that men were physically stronger while women were considered physically weaker but morally superior to men, making them better suited for domestic duties.
The 1900’s women were requesting the same rights as men. In this process during the second world war men were off fighting, which left a lot of job openings that women took advantage of and filled. The war lasted 6 years from 1939-1945, so when the men came back women were again kicked out of the workplace. Women didn’t appreciate that so in the 1960’s there was a women’s rights movement which helped women get their own rights to jobs, not being sexually harassed, and even equal pay. In 1963 congress passed a law for equal pay for men and women and in 1964 you were not able to discriminate based on gender, this was pointed towards women so that you couldn’t not hire a women because of her gender opening up a lot of jobs for women.
Finally in the 21st century, the entire idea of gender has changed to gender identity which is how you feel or perceive your sex to be. The exact definition of gender identity is in fact “The external appearance of one’s gender identity, or usually expressed through behavior, clothing, haircut or voice and which may or may not conform to socially defined behaviors and characteristics typically associated with being either masculine or feminine”. A perfect example would be Bruce Jenner who is now Caitlyn Jenner. Bruce Jenner had felt a lot of feminine urges really making him feel like a woman. After a course of 50 years Bruce Jenner finally expressed his feelings to the world feeling like a woman and actually transitioning to one. He switched to the opposite sex because he felt more feminine and felt that him becoming a women would better suit him. Another person who has gone through the same transition is Laverne Cox, a well known actress best known from starting in “Orange Is The New Black”. Due to these popular role models, the transgender community felt more comfortable with showing how they feel and let world know in 2014.
People are now more open to the changes of how people perceive themselves. Before there were consequences for the changes people went through and now others are open and are more accepting of those who wish to go through the change.Being gay or transgender was deemed as a disorder or deviant. Between the 1950’s-1970’s people did not know what to do with gays or transgenders. With that said they would put them in asylum's to try and make them “unlearn and get rid of their urges or misperceptions that misgendered their experience” according to hawaii.edu. During this day and age there is no punishment such as being put in an asylum for being gay or transgender.
In the book “Into the wild” a character named Alex goes into the wild for his own reasons. He goes with little to no preparations at all. In the first chapter, a truck driver stops to give him a lift to his destination. As the truck driver talks to Alex about surviving in the wilderness, he realizes that Alex doesn’t have the basic necessities of surviving in the wild. As he notices this he offers Alex some small things that could help him on his journey. If it was a women that was in Alex’s position many would have stopped her since you rarely see a women being strong or going out on her own into harm's way and being fearless. Women weren’t known for doing these explorations in 1900, people would have never thought a women would go on her own into the wild like Alex did in the year of 1992.