Sociology of Gender in Politics

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An example of this on a more professional level is how women were not allowed to wear pants on the senate floor until 1993 (Why Women Couldn’t Wear Pants, Sears). Feminist theorists teach that men are the standard, the universal, the neutral, the unmarked gender, while women are the other, the marked gender, linked with the body, and with domestic, private space (Cracked not Shattered, Karen Stein). This shows how women are more likely to be treated as property, again dominated by males in every aspect of life. From a Marxist point of view, women will eventually realize that they are being oppressed, and then rise up in revolution to overtake their oppressors, or the males (Sociology, Macionis) From the third perspective, it is more beneficial to analyze each situation from a micro-level at the perspective of the individuals. People make up their own realities based on the symbols around them (Lecture, Erger).

The social interaction perspective focuses on the self and the presentation of self. This is especially relevant for politicians, as every public appearance marks an occasion for representing themselves to the voters. The way politicians represent themselves determines their status and reputation. They must present themselves in a way that is both professional and relatable, so the voters will like them and their presence. The presence of a politician is first represented by their clothing. This is why there are rules as to how politicians in the house, senate etc. may dress. They are always presented in suits, pants suits, skirts and blazers, and criticized when found in anything else. If there is anything about their outfits that comes across as remotely unprofessional, the media addresses it to make sure everyone knows about the thing they did wrong. That usually applies to women, as they have harsher expectations set on them. For men, the harsher expectations usually come from whether or not they have a wife on their arm working to make them look better. If men can prove they have a family, they can be seen as having the tender, caring side that is necessary for politicians from the social interaction perspective. Another important aspect that must be present in politicians from this perspective is toughness. Politicians must be tough to fight for their agendas and tough on certain issues that are seen as needing a swift heavy hand to carry out and caring for the people. This makes the role of a politician particularly difficult for both men and women. Men are not traditionally caring enough, and women are not tough enough to be politicians.

Therefore, men and women need to find ways to present themselves to represent the other side of things without going so far as to break the stereotypes, which would confuse people and their realities. Thus, men have their wives, but women have nothing clear to prove they can be tough without being malicious. This is a clear inequality currently existing as a way to represent women who stand out in order to create change as unfavorable by being too tough but men who show this characteristic are seen as good, strong leaders for the people. Goffman’s presentation of self says, “the self comes from outside forces, and what the people want will shape the identity”. With that in mind, politicians have not made their own identity; the voters made them who they are. Every appearance is dictated by the voters as they either give or deny their support, and it has been that way since the beginning of democracy. This suggests that the actions of politicians result not from what politicians do, but how people respond to their actions.

Throughout time, how the people respond to the actions of those in power changes with the norms of the time. This proves that everything is socially constructed and is subject to change. The demeanor of men and women also contributes to the image they give out. Women stand with their legs together and arms at their sides while men unconsciously do the opposite to look bigger and make their presence known. Through communication, women will make “listening noises” while men will just stare, and if men ever touch it is to claim territory, usually of a woman. This is seen most commonly among politicians and their wives, more specifically the president and first lady. The social interaction perspective essentially specializes in the symbols and interactions used by men and women in politics to idealize themselves in the eyes of voters. Men tend to be bolder than women in their representations because of the high standards women are forced under. This causes women to go unnoticed, so men have the majority of the power in the government. The three perspectives in sociology each provide a new way of looking at a common issue, searching instead for the possible source instead of the current problem. In order to really promote change in society, people have to find the right way to approach it. The structural-functionalist approach does not offer much in terms of change because of how much the perspective supports the gender roles. The societal negotiator (politics) favors the male population while women are forced into submission, and the cycle of inequality repeats itself. If women are not voted into office, there will not be equal female representation, and society gains nothing. The social interaction perspective provides a better basis for change, approaching the situation by the interaction of individuals. If individuals would notice sexist behavior and call it out, it would surely promote change, but that would require a lot more than just one person speaking out to change the reality. What it comes down to then, is a feminist revolution, sparked by the ideas of Karl Marx.

As mentioned before, Karl Marx believed the only way to be free from oppressors is revolution. Originally, he was talking about laborers and capitalists, but it applies to gender in politics as well. The change has even started happening already. More women are elected to higher and higher positions each year, and we almost got one as president. Where there is no change, people are comforted in believing that masculine and feminine behaviors are ‘natural’ when that is not actually the case (Gender and Power, Raewyn Connell). Gender roles are taught throughout life in the home and out in society, so what’s to stop those gender roles from being forgotten? Our political goal, at this point, must be to move to a post-gender society (Gender as We Know It, Barbara J. Risman). To achieve this, we must make social change happen at the greatest degree. This means changing the societal structure set in place by misogynists thousands of years ago to determine man’s power over women. Once there has been a beginning in the wheels of change and women start gaining higher positions they can only go higher. As it turns out, a higher share of women in the [government] opens the door for women to take up a greater number of high posts (“Citizenship, MA?GORZATA FUSZARA). In America specifically, every movement is radicalized into a revolution. Take, for instance, the revolutionary war, the industrial revolution, and now: the feminist revolution.

The social conflict perspective supports the idea of revolution as it is basically the only way to solve problems on a grandiose scale. American perspectives increasingly meet around a set of concepts, problems, and variables connecting collective action to politics (National Politics, Sydney Tarrow). What this means is that, though politics may sometimes move slowly, the only way to force change is by everyone standing up and making their voices heard at the polls through voting, and if that doesn’t work, literally get up and start shouting what you want. Most people don’t know what they want, so they will just follow the voice that is shouting the loudest because it seems like the most popular or the only option. Movements challenging the status quo routinely emphasize the degree to which they are excluded from access to positions of power and influence (Missing Feminist Revolution, Jeff Manza). The movements bring the issue to the forefront of society and force everyone to look at what a problem it is, and that is exactly what we need to do in order to promote equality between the genders in politics. To do this, people must vote, and protest, and march, and post on every social media outlet to get their voices heard. We must elect more female officials so everyone knows that women are just as strong as any male politician. No longer will women be ignored in history; they will make it. 

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Sociology of Gender in Politics. (2022, Feb 03). Retrieved July 13, 2024 , from

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