When we began discussing social constructions in class, I was wowed. Of course, I have been living my whole life immersed in society and accepting all the messages it was sending me, but I never realized that all of it was just made up. We do, know, and think so many things that allow us to function within society, but most of this was learned. I didn’t inherently know that I was supposed to wear clothes when I left my house, brush my teeth twice a day, or eat three meals a day. I wasn’t born knowing that I was a white, German-blooded, Catholic female who lived in the US, and yet, I’ve grown up with these things as facts of life. Really though, those are all social constructs that have been made up by people and societies who’ve lived before me and taught to me by the people around me.
The fact that race, class, gender and sexuality, among others, are all made up still kind of blows my mind. In and of themselves, none of these words have any meaning. They only mean what society tells us they mean. My race as white tells me that I don’t have to worry about discrimination and I am on the receiving side of privilege, which is “normal” for white people. My status as middle class tells me that I don’t have to worry about where my next meal is coming from, but I can’t afford a new car every other year, which is “normal” for middle class. I am a female, and society tells me that feminine bodies are different from (and often lesser than) male bodies. Societal stereotypes of gender tell me that girls like shopping, light colors, babies, clothes, weddings, cooking, jewelry, and boys–if I like those things, I am a “normal” girl. My sexuality as being attracted to males tells me that I am straight and that I do not have to worry about discrimination, it tells me that I am “normal.”
In my understanding, social scripts of behavior are also tied in with social construction. They tell us how to act in a certain situation. Social scripts tell me to say thank you and walk in when someone holds the door open for me. They tell me how to eat my food at the dinner table. They also tell me how people are supposed to learn about their sexuality and engage in sex.
Social Constructions are made and perpetuated by society, and they apply directly to gender, sex, and sexuality. They tell us what is “good” and “normal,” and what is “strange,” and “unnatural.” They tell us when, how, and with whom to have sex. People who engage in homosexuality, transgendering, polyamory, or BDSM, (and many other practices) often face discrimination because society has said that cisgender, heterosexual, monogamous people are “normal” (although the concept of being “normal” is also made up!). I believe (and hope) our society is gradually moving towards being more accepting, although those who fit in the “normal” categories are still the privileged ones.