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The Issues Of The Gender Socialization Sociology Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Sociology
Wordcount: 1914 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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Simply accepting one’s conventional societally assigned gender role as a finalization of who you are, or what you can grow to be; is not only scientifically unsound, but socially harmful. Gender roles are demeaning to men and women everywhere, as well as detrimental to the growth and further development of society as a whole. By stepping outside of assigned gender role one can be lead down the path of self-actualization and discovery of what in life matters most, as well as stepping into a world that might have been forever closed if acceptance of conventional male-female gender roles were the only option. Using biologically based assumptions about feminine behavior is not only scientifically unsound but also socially damaging, and is a dangerous tool used to destroy the ability of women to fully explore all aspects of their gender (Kimbrell 24). And conversely, what conservatives believe about men taking on their gender specific “duty” of being the hard-working provider, this actually deprives them of one of the most fundamental elements of being a father, nurturing their children.

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According to Wayne W., Margaret A. L. (2005, p.334), the words gender and sex are used to mean almost the same things. However they have different meanings, the term sex can be said to refer to the anatomical structure of the reproductive organ while gender refer to the social and psychological condition. Gender socialization happens when people are taught cultural roles based on their sex. Boys and girls are treated differently by people in their own environment like parents, siblings and caregivers. This provides a forum whereby individuals learn the difference between boys and girls, women and men (Charlotte K, Ann, S. S. 2006, 78). Parents also contribute to gender socialization by having gender based expectations for their children. For instance, giving children gender-specific toys like baby toys to girls and a toy tractor to a boy, and often later translate into future gender oriented occupations. Most usually the roles that one enacts are sex-linked. The term role is used here to indicate that the behavior patterns exhibited are learned or acted as if according to some sort of social order.

Consequently, Men and men’s roles are typically associated with strength and dangerous occupations while women and women’s roles are more often associated with tenderness, care and nurturing pursuits (Janice, W. A., 2005, p.114). However as this research will indicate, these limitations and distinctions are increasingly changing over time.

Many occupations that were traditionally associated as men’s jobs are viewed as anyone’s job today. Since these aspects of life are seen to vary in different cultures and to be changing at different rates the society and learning bound nature of culture is associated with this trend. (Macionis, J. J., Plummer, K. 2005, 314). Gender identity is recognition of the perceived social gender attributed to a person (Macionis, J. J., Plummer, and K. 2005, p.317). The society has specific expectations on how people of a given gender should behave or treated. Boys are typically expected to be more aggressive, vigorous and competitive as opposed to girls who are commonly seen as nurturing and compromising behavior hence girls are usually treated with a lot of care and tenderness. For instance, a parent may choose to hold the hands of a girl while walking in the neighborhood while the boy is left to walk or run on his own. People tend to engage in those activities and behaviour that are assigned to them by the society based on their gender rather than self conscious.

According to Janice, W. A. (2005, p.114), in most societies, relationship initiation is considered as a male duty and a female doing so is perceived to be contravening the social order. For instance in some communities, a woman cannot have a final decision on when and whom to get marriage to because this depends on the time when a man makes a proposal. In addition, a woman who takes long before marriage due to commitments like career development is perceived to be missing something while their male counterparts are not evaluated on these parameters by the society (Charlotte K, Ann, S. S. 2006, p.78).

Socialization at work place revolves within gender territories even though this is changing in the modern society. Some employers specify the type of gender required for a vacancy which sometimes a companies the advertisement for the vacancy. Because of gender stereotypes, a manger can come up with such decision claiming maternal employment to have negative effects on young children and to regard maternal employment as an interference with close mother to child relationships. This has dragged women behind in economic empowerment while catapulting their male counterparts on the same (Macionis, J. J., Plummer, K. 2005, p.309-313)

How the society assigns roles to the two genders can be seen and interpreted from the way both the male and female gender act or behave. (Janice, W. A., 2005, p.115) The masculine social interaction style can be seen to lay more emphasis on status and focus on goals of dominance, instrumental rewards, and asymmetry in interactions. By forcing men and women into these traditional gender-based roles, we are depriving our children of their future attempts of achieving occupations, status, and lifestyles that run opposite of what society sees as acceptable for men and women to hold. By impressing on our sons the “business-man” role, we are unconsciously enforcing the view that they must ignore any softness and domestic longings, and instead immerse themselves in the robotics of the business world.

The feminine social interaction style, on the other hand, can be interpreted to be calm and graceful with focus on goals of maintaining personal relationships, cooperation, and support. The male style can be described as restrictive because it tends to shorten or interrupt interaction and they prefer to use assertions, commands, threats, and boasts.

The female style can be described as enabling because it facilitates interactions rather than derailing them and involves more often friendliness, acknowledging others’ thoughts, and being more supportive in interactions (Wayne W., Margaret A. L. 2005, p.334).

The gender roles can be seen in schools where children tend to perceive a particular game or activity to belong to those of a given gender hence avoid it and choose the one associated with those of their gender. For instance, boys see soccer as their game and would automatically dismiss girls while forming their teams while girls would prefer to play netball which they have seen their older counterparts participating in. contrasting this social trend can warrant judgment by the society (Charlotte K, Ann, S. S. 2006, p.78). Female gender appears to belong to the lower social class in many aspects of interaction. In some families, social stratification begins with the father then the male children then the mother and last on the list is the female child. Even though the son came from the mother, he gains social recognition and power before the mother.

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The family institution, therefore prepares the female child to be always loyal to the male counterparts maintaining a lower profile (Charlotte K, Ann, S. S. 2006, p. 79). Societal norms present men as the family providers who should be given a chance to exploit economic opportunities while women’s economic activities are marginalized to the informal sector, small-scale farming or domestic work. The different male dominant and female dominant roles place a lot of pressure on both genders (Macionis, J. J., Plummer, K. 2005, p.319-320).

Research shows that the media messages especially through advertisements and commercials promote both negative and positive gender roles (Rita M. K, Jane H. B, Hawkesworth, M. E, Brigitte Y., 2001, p.44). For instance most commercials depict women and girls to be more concerned with romance and dating, while men are depicted as more concerned with their occupations and career development.

However, the media also presents a positive image, in the form of women and girls frequently using intelligence and exerting independence hence are able to be more self-reliant and solve problems when faced with challenges just like their male counterparts (Charlotte K, Ann, S. S. 2006, p. 80). Women in Television movies are seen to be intelligent and tactical in achieving their mission while men are more physical and are more likely to confront their fate head on. In addition, most Soap operas present women as house wives and romantic beings who are always fighting each other over a man’s love while men do not care much about the fighting and are more concerned about their job (Charlotte K, Ann, S. S. 2006, p. 80). Most of the commercials aimed at the female audience use beauty to appeal to their audience while this comprise a very small percentage of commercials aimed at men which tend to focus more on the current affairs, new inventions or politics.

These different gender roles contribute greatly to gender inequality as one group finds itself blocked from participation or access to some facilities, occupation or activity considered a preserve of another gender (Wayne W., Margaret A. L. 2005, p.334). From childhood, people are already influenced by cultural standards outlining the expected behavior and it is during these times that gender differences build up and individuals become indoctrinated by various social expectations. The cultural scenarios, interpersonal relations and psychological factors direct people to behave in a particular way.

Gender roles are promoted by social institutions in our society through gender socialization (Arlsdale, J. A. 2003, p.72). This paper sought to explore and create an understanding of how socialization is shaped by expectations of gender and how gender is reflected throughout one’s life. The role played by social institutions with regards to gender is also examined by this research as well as gender role attitudes.

Gender socialization happens when people are taught cultural roles based on their sex. Men and men’s roles are classically connected with strength and risky occupations, while women and women’s roles are more often linked with softness, care-giving and nurturing.

However as this research has indicated, these boundaries and distinctions are gradually changing over time. Once again as stated at the outset of this paper, simply accepting one’s traditional conservative gender role as a finalization of who you are, or what you can grow to be, is detrimental to one’s personal growth and development.  Gender roles are often demeaning to men and women everywhere, as well as disadvantageous to the development and further improvement of society as a whole. Adhering to biologically based “norms” of feminine/masculine behaviour is not only scientifically unsound, but socially harmful – by exploring the effects of socialization on our expectations of gender society will positively develop as whole. Fortunately, this trend of gender socialization is changing as the western society at least is becoming more liberal in the roles played by both men and women.


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