The gender perspective: what is it and in what areas can it be applied?

The gender perspective is an approach that allows us to study and address the phenomena, links, activities, processes and social systems related to the sex-gender system. It is an approach that has developed since the first feminist movements questioning the relationships of subordination in which many people find themselves who transgress the norms of this system.

Then we will see in more detail what the gender perspective is and in which areas it can be applied.

    What is the gender perspective?

    The word “perspective” refers to a way of understanding and representing something in relation to the eye of the beholder. In other words, a “perspective” is a way of looking at or considering any phenomenon; or in other words, it is to assume a point of view. So, a “gender perspective” is the act of approaching a reality, pay attention to the construction of the “gender” category and its power relations.

    To explain it better, imagine that we are wearing magnifying glasses (glasses) which, as expected, allow us to look at things that without them we could not observe. Since we see different things, but there are things in the world as always, the lenses also allow us to understand this world in a different way.

    They also allow to relate differently to its elements and to intervene with multiple possibilities. In this metaphor, and for the present case, the lenses would be the gender perspective, and basically what they do amplify our vision to address or highlight gender issues, Which at first glance seem non-existent or insignificant.

      What does a gender perspective focus on?

      Assuming or applying a gender perspective involves recognizing different issues, especially those related to how our social bonds and systems have been established through some understanding of sex, gender and sexual orientation.

      Specifically, and in agreement with Mata Lamas (1996), the gender perspective is part of the recognition of cultural appreciation of anatomical differences; valuation established by means of particularly rigid and internalized standards during the process of socialization.

      For example, it is a question of considering that there is no necessary correspondence between the sexual difference and the attributes or social representations built around this difference. In other words, one thing is the physical-biological constitution, and another very different are the values ​​attributed to this difference (which, in the case of Western culture, are based on “male or female”, “female” ) “or” “. male “and” heterosexual “or” homosexual “mainly).

      One thing I would like to pay attention to from a gender perspective is that in these dichotomies the feminine has been consistently associated with realms of nature, especially after understanding motherhood and related values ​​(e.g., caring ), as a biological function and life destination for women.

      Among other things, she broke the rules of this association, she has traditionally been considered an “unnatural”, “masculine”, “crazy” woman, etc. For its part, homosexuality has also traditionally been viewed as an unnatural, pathological, etc. problem, along with non-normative gender identities.

      From these questions, the gender perspective considers that the predisposition and the physico-biological characteristics are not a sufficient condition to provoke a behavior, Not to mention an exclusive personality to the genre. Thus, the gender perspective recognizes that, as Simone de Beauvoir taught us, “the biological is not fate”.

      Some key elements

      In line with the above, Susana Gamba (2008) summarizes some elements that the gender perspective recognizes, analyzes and promotes:

      • Recognize gender as a social and historical constructIn other words, it can vary between societies and times.
      • Gender establishes forms of social relations, i.e. binding them in a certain way depending on whether we have been assigned one gender or another, and according to what is assigned or chosen by other people. . It also has to do with the process of individual identification.
      • There is a sustained asymmetric relationship in the dominant sex-gender system. Often this relationship is of female subordination and male domination. While this is not the only possible relationship (there are also forms of reverse domination and egalitarian relationships), asymmetry has been the general or majority way of establishing these relationships.
      • Gender has a global and structural dimension, because it has not only to do with the relations between men and women, but with social processes and systems (institutions, economic systems, public policies, identities, etc.).
      • In accordance with the above, this is not an isolated category, but transversal, because it is articulated with everyday elements such as education, social class, marital status, Age, among others.
      • Gender is not only a category that accounts for a normative system, but it makes it possible to question the same norms and promote inclusion.
      • Underlying the gender perspective is a commitment to equity, which extends the exercise of power to those who have been systematically subordinated by the sex-gender hegemonic system.

      In what areas can it be applied?

      Going back to the lens metaphor, the gender perspective (like any other) can be used to analyze any system, phenomenon, or relationship, including everyday life. Depending on the context in which it is assumed and applied, the same perspective of considering other variables, such as socio-economic conditions, social class, ethnicity, among others.

      This is because, from the start, the gender perspective it pays particular attention to power relations and conditions of inequality that cross any sphere of social life. And it is that, at its origins, the gender perspective was assumed by movements that sought equal opportunities for women, as well as the questioning of systems that generated different opportunities between people.

      It is therefore a perspective which is not new but which continues to generate rejection or resistance in many sectors, and which, being closely linked to the analysis and criticism of inequalities and discrimination , the gender perspective generally has important political components.

      To give more concrete examples, the gender perspective can be applied to research and intervene in the health system, to analyze public policies and social movements, Study and complete the educational system, analyze organizational practices in business management, among others.

      As we have said, the specific elements that are observed, included or used from a gender perspective largely depend on the objectives and the context in which they are applied. Some may pay attention to the specific needs of women, others may address the conditions of inequality (Velasco, 2009), others to the construction of masculinity, others to the rights and needs of the lgbtiq community, for to name just a few.

      Bibliographical references:

      • Gamba, S. (2008) What is the gender perspective and gender studies? Women on the net. The feminist newspaper. Accessed October 30, 2018.Available at
      • Lamas, M. (1996). The gender perspective. The Assignment, Journal of Education and Culture, Section 47 of SNTE, 8: 1-10.
      • Velasco, S. (2009). Gender, gender and health. Theory and methods for clinical practice and health programs. Minerva: Madrid.

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