Early gender identity research hypothesized a single bipolar dimension of masculinity-femininity—that is masculinity and femininity were opposites on one continuum.
This led to the development of a two-dimensional gender identity model, in which masculinity and femininity were conceptualized as two separate, orthogonal dimensions, coexisting in varying degrees within an individual.
Two instruments incorporating the multidimensional aspects of masculinity and femininity have dominated gender identity research: the Bem Sex Role Inventory (BSRI) and the Personal Attributes Questionnaire (PAQ).
Twenge (1997) noted that, although men are generally more masculine than women and women generally more feminine than men, the association between biological sex and masculinity/femininity is waning.It is important to note that, though sex and gender are terms often used interchangeably, they are actually very different (though sometimes related) concepts.
This is certainly relevant to the discussion of masculinity and femininity, because the characteristics and practices of both are socially constructed, reproduced, and reinforced through daily interactions.
This type of approach would appeal to the sensitive and relational characteristics typically associated with femininity.
Third-wave feminism seeks to challenge or avoid what it deems the second wave's "essentialist " definitions of femininity , which (according to them) over-emphasized the experiences of upper middle class white women.
Wood's studies explain that "communication produces and reproduces cultural definitions of masculinity and femininity. " Masculine and feminine cultures differ dramatically in when, how, and why they use communication.
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