Gender Socialization Cynthia Brown Columbia College Gender 3 Gender is defined in terms of masculinity and femininity; how one behaves based on what sex they are: male or female. Socialization is the application of values, attitudes and morals, motives, social roles, language and symbols of ones society necessary for them to live and function as expected to attain continuity within their culture. Gender socialization is learning the behaviors and attitudes that are deemed appropriate based on one’s sex. These behaviors and attitudes teach girls how to be girls and boys to be boys.
These attitudes and behaviors are taught from the day we are born. The teaching comes from many different venues: family, peers, school, religion, work, media, institutions and our government [Wikipedia, (n. d. )]. Crooks and Baur state that social learning and cultural traditions influence gender-role behaviors within American society (2008). Parents are the first of many who influence of our gender-role by the way they teach us how we are suppose to act as girls and boys (Crooks & Baur 2008). Not all parents teach gender-role stereotypes.
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Susan Gilbert in her book, A field guide to boys and girls, parents discuss the frustration they feel as they spend time going against the grain and providing an atmosphere where social gender-roles are not taught to their twins; a boy and a girl. For example, they purchased doll, trucks, blocks and stuffed animals for both sexes to play with. The boy was fond of the trucks and blocks while the girl was fond of the dolls and stuffed animals. They entered both the children in dance. Not long after the boy quit dance and the girl chose to continue.
The author states that it is healthy for young children to be able to identify with their boyhood an girlhood, if you will (2000). In medical research, there has been evidence that biological factors do play a part in the difference in behaviors between the males and females (Sapiro, 1999). There Gender 4 is nothing wrong with boys behaving like boys and girls behaving like girls. It is when they are forced to adopt attitudes and behaviors that do not feel comfortable and natural to them that that are a result of our societies stereotyping and gender biases that create conflict and concern which therein lies the problem.
Gilbert states that children who are brought up without the restrictions of stereotyping develop a strong sense of who they are and move away from the gender-role behaviors because they do not need to possess them (2000). Peers play an integral part of influencing the gender-role phenomenon as peers are extremely important to children, especially in adolescents. Children live what they learn and they learn from each other. When they are raised with gender biased parents they become gender defined (Sapiro, 1999).
There are institutions that shape gender-role with hierarchy leadership with practices of androgynous systems; education, medicine, employment, religion, government and the legal system to name a few. These institutions continue to practice gender-role stereotypes and support a gender socialization in our society. There was a time when the educational curriculum was geared more toward the male population than females (Crooks and Baur, 2008). For example, Home Economics was a required class for girls and Wood shop was exclusively for boys. Boys could take Home Economics, but usually did so to be around the girls.
Girls were not encouraged to take Wood shop. Sports is another example. In recent years there has been a increased acceptance to allow for co-ed teams to develop. Foot ball continues to be an all man sport in spite of the “feminine” behavior that is displayed on the field. The medical field was once dominated by men for men. Medical research defined health on the male subjects biological and emotional makeup. Physicians were not allowed to examine women in the areas of their bodies that were different from a mans. Mans physiology was the Gender 5 measuring stick for women’s medical issues.
If a woman had an ailment or illness, either physically or mentally, that could not be determined by a man’s anatomy, she was considered abnormal. Women who were emotional as a result of their menstrual cycles were deemed crazy because men did not experience the hormonal changes as they did not menstruate (Sapiro, 1999). An example of the gender-socialization which occurs in the military is the requirement of women to wear make-up and at one time uniform dresses to segregate them from the men as to claim that they could not tell them apart due to the short hair cuts (Crooks & Baur, 2008).
Not long ago local and state government were male dominated except fo rwhat was considered female traditional positions ie. secretaries. Mayors, governors, senators and congress seats were held by men. Male dominance prevailed from Presidency to agriculture, even though women were on the were working along side them. Feminism was alive in the late 1800’s when the term “New Woman” was given to a group of women who decided to become sexually liberated from the Christianity morality that was cast upon women at its birth.
In January of 1894, a woman had written a poem in her journal that shed light on the attitude of the “New Woman” era, “As ‘New Woman’ is she known. ‘Tis her enemies have baptized her, But she gladly claims the name; Hers is to make a glory, What was meant should be a shame” (Himmelfarb, 1994). Feminism is not about women wanting to be men or do we want men to be women. It is about being acknowledged and treated with equality as the human beings that we are. We deserve to breath the same air, play the same games, make the same amount of money and make choices for our lives based on our needs and desires without any interference from
Gender 6 anyone. Our well-being depends on it. It’s okay if women want to be Doctors, lawyers, housewives, bakers, electricians or… without being a threat to men and their ego’s. There is plenty of everything that needs to be attended to in this world so we may as well do what we do best to give the world our best. Most women do not want to be men, they want the freedoms that men feel entitled to. One aspect of humans that is not addressed often in research and studies of gender/sex is the aspect of Spirit. Spirit, not to be mistaken for religion, but as an energy that breaths life into our bodies creating the being of our humanness.
Religion has played a substantial part gender socialization in our culture. Religion has allowed for the oppression and victimization of women. We would be courageous to try to imagine how disappointed GOD must be in man after blessing him with woman to provide companionship, friendship, love, tenderness, and the giving of self to give pleasure and bear children as ‘He’ had desired for her to do. In return, man was to love, honor, protect, and treat her as the daughter of the King. That would make woman a princess and man her prince.
Somehow, we got that all mixed up to look like man had some kind of power over woman to do with as he wished. Somehow, the concept of partnership (equality) got all mixed up with ownership (superiority). It is easy for human kind to claim godliness from Pull-pits, White houses, Benches, or the from the head seat at the dining room table. How we give of our selves in our relationships at home and then in the world, speaks volumes to the degree of godliness or spirituality in our lives. In the Spirit, there is no inequality, only Love. References Wikipedia, (n. d. )Socialization.
Retrieved July 23, 2008, from http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Socialization Crooks, Robert, & Baur, Karla, (2008) Our Sexuality (10th ed. ). Canada: Thomson and Wadsworth. Gilbert, Susan. (2000). A Field Guide to Boys and Girls: Differences, Similarities: Cutting -Edge Information Every Parent Needs t o Know. New York: Harper Collins Publishers Inc. Sapiro, Virginia. (1999). Women in American Society: an introduction to women’s studies (5th ed. ) New York: Mc Graw-Hill. Himmelfarb, Gertrude. (1994) The De-Moralization of Society: From Victorian Virtues to Modern Values . (1st ed. ). New York: Knopf, Inc.