Marriage as a Social Practice

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Marriage as a Social Practice

Marriage practice is a social practice that in many ways communicates expectations about gender in various ways. For instance, it is expected that at some of their lives, people of feminine and masculine orientations are expected to marry each other and have form a formal unit called family. It is a natural societal expectation that a man and a woman will get married and stay together. Also, the marriage practice determines that, only people of the opposite gender should marry each other. However, this has raised a series of questions, and lately, most western countries have adopted and agreed the idea of the same-sex marriage. Nonetheless, from many societies across the world are yet to come to terms with it. Marriage communicates a variety of gender expectations, and they vary according to the society. Naturally, even in the civilized countries, there is a common notion that a wife should respect and obey her husband. It is also a natural call that women will have to bear children and the men will play a protective and provider role for their wives and children.

The family institution is one of the major social institutions that have played a significant role in teaching gender roles. Normally, a typical family unit consists of the father, considered as the head of the family, the mother considered as the care giver, and the children. (Marks, Bun, & McHale, 2009); tried to elaborate on the family patterns and the gender role in society, and highlights the presence of different gender roles for every member of the family. A family has a father as the leader and breadwinner, while the mother takes care of the children and runs the family errands. In the same family units with sisters and brothers, it is also normal to see boys getting involved in specific jobs designed for them like looking after the cows, pets and following their fathers’ footsteps. On the contrary, the sisters are expected to help their mothers with laundry, cooking and cleaning the house among other errands. However, this varies considerably depending on the society beliefs across the world.

There are many speech structures that communicate gender expectations. For instance sir and madam are a representation of two different genders, which are man and woman. It is easier for one to determine what madam does, and what sir does. Even if all are assigned the same role in the society, the constant position of a woman still exhibits itself in a variety of ways. For instance, in a staff room with a mixture of men and women, it is easier for one staff member, mostly a woman, to be assigned the role of serving the tea to the male counterparts, because, it is naturally acceptable that a man should be served by a woman. Another speech structure is the use of the lady and gentleman, and a policeman or policewoman. The issues around speech in gender have always raised controversy and even the universal and fairer speeches like “chairperson” in place of chairman or chairlady have not really had a big impact.

Gender expectations differ from culture to culture. One significant reality is that the society has not done enough to establish what constitutes of masculinity and femininity (The Psychology of Sex and Gender, n.d.). The societal expectations vary from one culture to another. For instance, most Asian cultures have put strong restriction on women, especially in the Muslim-oriented societies like Saudi Arabia, a woman is not allowed to sit in the same gathering with a man, nor watch football in a stadium. She can only look after the house and the children and the welfare of the children. On the contrary, in western societies of Europe, women have a stronger influence, they can attend male gatherings, and sometimes they are the breadwinners for the family a role known to be played by men. In some communities in East Africa like the Maasai, women are the one granted with the role to build houses, instead of being the other way round. This highlights the gender discipline as one of the most diverse and complex that presents a variety of exceptions from a scenario to another scenario.


Marks, J., Bun, L., & McHale, S. (2009). Family Patterns of Gender Role Attitudes. PMC , 221–234.

The Psychology of Sex and Gender. (n.d.). Lecture 04: The Social Context of Inquiry: Androgyny & Alfred Kinsey.