Culture, Power, and Gender Roles: Unraveling Societal Constructs - Paper Example

Published: 2024-01-04
Culture, Power, and Gender Roles: Unraveling Societal Constructs - Paper Example
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Gender Culture Society
Pages: 4
Wordcount: 1032 words
9 min read

Culture refers to the characteristics and knowledge of a specific group, comprising arts, belief systems, social habits, and arts. Power is the ability to influence a particular group's behavior or the course of events. Power is an integral aspect of a culture, meaning, culture, and power are inextricably related. Power is achieved, maintained, and transferred through the culture. For example, a culturally established belief system about gender roles that places males as the dominant and females as submissive is closely associated with male dominance in positions of power and influence and females for more familial roles. Due to their homemaking and role in infant education, some scholars argue that females have been responsible for the transition of cultural practices and knowledge that promote this imbalanced culture and exercise of power. Evolutionally theorists and psychologists also argue that the same can be associated with the traditional roles of the male being the provider (including leadership) and the females being more of care providers. The two notions are highly subjective and political among individuals, with feminists deconstructing the idea of roles defined by femininity and masculinity, in favor of equality (Mendelberg & Karpowitz, 2016). This paper will analyze the role of culture, power dispensation, and gender roles, and how they are related to each other.

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Culture is not rigid, but liquid, complex, and dynamic, making it hard to have any concrete definition. However, in this context, culture refers to a specific form of intellectual growth, through which assumptions about life are patterned, and life's reality and intrinsic values and norms are defined. Based on this, and what feminism and social justice have been fronting, culture is a social construct that would be meaningless as currently constituted if appropriately addressed. However, culture provides the approach people use in communication, and is the foundation of human thoughts, power, roles, and is closely associated with the concept of identity, making it challenging to dismiss.

While culture is a variable component within societies and individuals, it can be argued that the thread connecting the generalized mainstream culture is the core value of power/domination of one species over the other, one group over another, and one gender over the other (Torelli & Shavitt, 2010). Despite the domination assumption, evidence from the past depicts some societies promoting egalitarian, cooperative association as the norm, an aspect fiercely fought for by the current equality champions (Hobbs & Rice, 2018). This culture of domination, especially masculinity to femininity, or vice versa, overshadows the transformative view of the past, present, and future.

Power and domination are interdependent. Domination contains a power asymmetry because its goal is dependent on power. Most cultures associate domination with power, for example, male authority over females, while it should be the capability of an individual (regardless of sexual orientation) to act on behalf of others (Torelli & Shavitt, 2010). Currently, individuals use culturally established approaches to exercise power, including laws and regulations, control of resources, gender, violence, and wealth. These culturally established means of exercising power over others are the means and the outcome of domination.

Domination of one sex blends oppression with the other sex, which is often justified by society's culture as a result of being present for an overly long period. According to Hobbs & Rice (2018), any attempt to disrupt such justifications is met with phrases such as, "they" hate the dominant sex, "they" want to go against nature and God, and how the disruption is making life harder for the dominant sex. In this kind of association, gender plays a critical role. Gender refers to the cultural social construction related to sex differences, expressed in the feminine or masculine construct. The elaborate differences are a critical part of culture and power, where masculinity is defined as controlling, assertive, and aggressive. On the other hand, femininity is described as weak, inferior, serving, nurturing, and submissive.

In a more extreme explanation, this cultural belief asserts femininity as a subspecies that should be treated by masculinity as chattel. The cultural aspect of males dominating females is one of the most widespread and fundamental parts of power dispensation. However, in recent times, the association of power and masculinity has been deconstructed, especially because, in many instances, how both males and females exercise their power is equal, and in other cases, females prove to be better (Mendelberg & Karpowitz, 2016). As such, some societies, especially those in advanced democracies, have started promoting a more egalitarian culture. In these societies, the education levels among women and men are symmetrical together with aspects such as employment and other rights. However, due to this longstanding cultural practice, there exists a power asymmetry between males and females globally (Lombardo & Meier, 2009).


In conclusion, culture, power, and gender are closely related. However, their association is only noted in how one influences the other. Culture is the patterned assumption about human life, its reality, and the associated norms and values. Therefore, culture informs behaviors and beliefs that govern a society. Power is only achieved through society's social constructs and ideas, meaning it can only be exercised, maintained, and transferred based on the culture's tenets. In cultural terms, gender is the sex difference that is informed by masculinity and femininity. In this context, masculinity has been expressed as powerful, controlling, aggressive, and dominant over femininity. Simultaneously, femininity has been associated with inferiority, weak, emotional, and nurturing, making them more vulnerable if allowed in the position of power. However, feminist movements, education, and research have shown that gender is not a determinant of who should hold power, thus contradicting the longstanding culture. These observations have blended a culture made of individuals who openly advocate for the equality of sexes.


Hobbs, M., & Rice, C. (Eds.). (, 2018). Gender and Women's Studies: Critical Terrain. Canadian Scholars.

Lombardo, E., & Meier, P. (2009). Power and Gender: Policy Frames on Gender Inequality in Politics in the Netherlands and Spain. Journal of Women, Politics & Policy, 30(4), 357–380.

Mendelberg, T., & Karpowitz, C. F. (2016). Power, Gender, and Group Discussion. Political Psychology, 37, 23–60.

Torelli, C. J., & Shavitt, S. (2010). Culture and concepts of power. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 99(4), 703–723.‌

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Culture, Power, and Gender Roles: Unraveling Societal Constructs - Paper Example. (2024, Jan 04). Retrieved from

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