Author Archives: Sabrina Vahobova

Sabrina Vahobova-Personal Reflection

Intro. to Women’s Studies was an interesting course to take this semester and really opened up a new world of learning for me. Prior to taking this course I wasn’t very much invested in the topics that we discussed in the class like gender myths and theories or feminism early on. Although I consider myself to be a woman, I was never one to have strong opinions based on the identities of women. I learned to continue unraveling myself from the things I have been taught, the typical cultural expectations of a woman being a wife and mother and doing things like taking care of the home. 

It was such a coincidence to see The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan once more, as I had previously read it for my senior English class back at my high school. It was one of my favorite readings from that class and I held admiration for my teacher too. It was such a nostalgic moment for me which I found to be really nice. The Feminine Mystique, when I read it back then, was like a catalyst for me and changed the way I saw the cultural and traditional aspects that I have been taught by my parents.  

Being a part of this class really changed my outlook on that and made me want to be a part of something more than someone who is like a bystander. The research project made me feel accomplished in helping others be informed on abortion rights, which is something that has been on the news lately. Hopefully what we presented could have inspired others to be part of a bigger cause and really keep up with the news on the reproductive rights of women in the U.S. Thank you professor Ashton for this wonderful class, I thoroughly enjoyed the conversations we had during class and the work we did.

The Loop of Gender and Religion Social Constructs

What makes a man, a man? What makes a woman, a woman? Why is it that we are assigned to these categories since the moment we are born? And why are we expected to play roles in society that deems as feminine or masculine? 

Gender stereotyping has a massive part in the social construct of gender and deems certain things as being masculine or feminine. Stemming from the idea that sex and gender are connected: “Gender, specified as masculine or feminine, denotes the psychosocial attributes and behaviors people develop as a result of what society expects of them, depending on whether they are born female or male”(Hubbard, 157). 

There is the idea that men are meant to be the breadwinners and women are meant to be the homemakers. Some other gender stereotypes are that women are emotional, men are tough and they are not supposed to show emotions, hence the saying boys shouldn’t cry. Stereotypes can also apply to jobs like nursing is a heavily female-dominated area of study, which relates to another stereotype that says women are naturally more nurturing therefore they are nurses or teachers. On the other hand, STEM fields are more likely to be dominated by men because they are more logical. Women that pursue careers in STEM are discriminated against by their male peers, professors, etc, and this is the same as men pursuing careers that contain mainly women.  

Religious institutions also have a part in furthering these stereotypes of men being breadwinners and women as homemakers. “In the US, religious ideology and gender role attitudes are deeply intertwined and interdependent institutions”(Siordia, 231). By promoting the idea of men and women being fundamentally different, religious institutions go on to cultivate men being a part of the public sphere and women in the private sphere, hence solidifying the previously mentioned stereotypes. In addition mainstream religious institutions have a strong bias with the idea of monogamous heterosexual marriage as being the norm(Siordia, 231). Gender becomes a man and woman, a perpetuated idea that there will always and ever be two genders. 

The Western assumption is the root cause of there being only two kinds of people. This is a result of there being two sexes that form coupling which leads to producing offspring. “That coupling, if it does not grow out of the teachings of Western religions, it is surely reinforced by them”(Hubbard, 158). Furthermore, Western colonization is the reason why many groups of people in different countries have been shunned for having a third gender. In many cases, prior to this, there have been instances where groups of people such as Native Americans of having a third gender. They were known as nadles or berdaches and were honored despite being neither male nor female(Hubbard, 160). 

Society strives to control the common person. By enforcing these ideas, it becomes easier to control people, restrict their expression and redirect their attention to things that benefit society for itself and those in power.


Hubbard, Ruth. (1996). Gender and Genitals: Constructs of Sex and Gender. Social Text, 46/47, 157–165.

Siordia, Carlos (2016). On the Relationship between Gender Roles Attitudes, Religious Ideology and Familism in a Sample of Adults in the United States. Journal of International Women’s Studies, 17(4), 229-244.