Society’s Impositions on Gender Roles

It is clear that Butler saw gender roles as a social construct. She claims, “Gendering is a kind of impersonation and approximation”. After reading this article I saw that although Butler does not favor the way society makes gender “a kind of imitation for which there is no original” that is the way it exists and the way she sees it to exist. Butler farther asserts, “The sexual ‘positions’ of heterosexually differentiated ‘man’ and ‘woman’ are part of the Symbolic…of imaginary pursuits”. Butler clearly sees no connection between the sexual orientation of a person and their socially assigned gender. Gender roles in the eyes of Butler are something that society assigns to people. It is a standard that we feel the need to live up to and supply and ideal look, act, or mannerism. I believe that through these lines, Swift’s argument about gender roles is also explained. Swift and Butler cohesively agree that that gender roles are a social construct. They see gender roles as more of a standard and less of an innate desire. We learn through imitation and by example how we are suppose to act and behave as men or woman. Based on if you are a man or woman the gender role requirements differ.

Swift, being the satirist he is, points out the absurdities of stereotyping genders. He does so by making overly dramatic misogynistic remarks about this woman who he once viewed as attractive in her makeup and fancy clothes but now views as repulsive as he discovers what lies beneath the façade. In “The Lady’s Dressing Room” Swift describes the grotesque image of the lady post being dolled up as “her Eye-Brows from Mouses’s Hyde, she takes off her artificial hair, picking out her Crystal Eye, untwists a wire from her gums.” Yuck. I think Swift so graphically describes the woman’s horrible “truth” to make a point that so perfectly compliments what Butler has said about gender roles. They create these ridiculous facades that have nothing to do with our actual sexual orientation. Society puts pressure on both men and woman to dress and look a certain way that is “attractive”. Butler helps us understand this poem by pointing out that the woman in Swift’s poem (prior to her unflattering disrobing) is in fact an impersonator, imaginary, and an imitation of what a “woman” is suppose to look like. Swift satirizes this poem to illuminate the obscurity of making gender roles a social construct. If no woman actually looks the way she does when she has make up on, then why is there a constant need for all women to look less like women actually do?

I agree with both authors that gender roles are in fact a social construct. We look to our friends, family, and most importantly the media to tell us how to behave/act/dress/look as men or women. As both authors have pointed out to us, it is a ridiculous concept that society makes us feel that our sexual orientation is causation for us to abide by a certain type of behavior.



One thought on “Society’s Impositions on Gender Roles

  1. Grade S! Addressed all the questions in the assignment. Really evaluated the works and their meanings by the authors as well as making clear your own opinions.

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