Thursday, October 3, 2019

Why we treat men and women differently Essay Example for Free

Why we treat men and women differently Essay The process of learning gender roles begins right when we are born. The first question people ask of a newborn is â€Å"Is it a boy or girl? † This question illustrates the importance of gender in organizing our expectations and perceptions of an individual. In American culture we tend to give boys and girls different types of toys to play with and dress infants according to gender. If you look at your baby pictures, you may find that you were often dressed in either blue or pink. One US study reports that 90% of the infants observed at a shopping mall were dressed in gendered colors and or styles (Shakin, Shakin Sternglanz, 1985). By the age of 3 children begin to accurately label people by sex (Fagot, Leinbach Hagen, 1986). Gender role socialization progress throughout life from various sources – parental expectations, modeling of gender roles by peers and images of males and females in the media all contribute to our ideas on what it means to be male or female. Gender role is a psychological construct that develops in children as they are socialized in their environments. As children become older, they learn specific behaviors and patterns of activities appropriate and inappropriate for their sex and they either adopt or reject those gender roles. Sandra Bem (1981) argues that gender is one of the fundamental ways we organize information and understand experiences about the world. The way we think of being male or female is a web of behaviors, attitudes, objects and conventions that are associated with being male and being female. We then use this web of preconceived notions to understand the people around us. To illustrate, lets look at the story of Stella, a senior high school student. Stella’s parents were egalitarian; they believed that gender should not hinder their daughter’s future. They wanted their daughter to grow up without the encumbrances of gender Perception of stereotypes affects our behavior Page #2 role stereotypes. They made sure that they trained her to be assertive, to be an achiever and always told her that being female should not hinder her from pursuing her dreams. True to her parents’ words, Stella was an outstanding student, had good leadership skills and had been accepted to a university that she wanted. However, Stella did not have many girl friends. She was not invited to slumber parties and girly stuff though she got along well with the boys. Then one day, she overheard the boys at school talking about her, one of them remarked that Stella was more of a boy than a girl and he wouldn’t want to go to the prom with her. Stella was stunned, she never thought of herself that way, she felt confused and hurt. The story tells us of Stella’s predicament. She was brought up to think that everyone can reach for his or her dreams and you simply have to work hard for it and this is what she did. But her peers see her as a misfit, the girls did not like her because she was not interested in girly stuff and the boys did not think of her as a girl. We can say that her peers are reluctant to accept Stella because she goes against the traditional gender roles. Majority of her peers have been socialized to think that girls should be emotional, gentle, beautiful and nurturing while boys should be tough, competitive and strong. Our preconceived notions of what a man /woman should be and what they should not be is always present in our daily interactions and in how we understand others. Children generally use the term sissy to label a boy who is not a bully and boys torment girls because they are weak and cannot keep up with them. We applaud men who are achievers, who are leaders, who can provide their family with all the comfort and luxury of life, while we scorn at women who exhibit the same traits because we think that a woman should not sacrifice her family for her career. Consequently we can observe that more and more women choose to be single or marry at Perception of stereotypes affects our behavior Page #3 a later age when they have reached their dreams. Even the sex double standard favors men over women, it is almost innate in us to be forgiving to husbands who have extramarital affairs because we rationalize that boys will always be boys. On the other end we become disgusted when we hear of a wife having extramarital affairs. Our judgment is clouded by our schemas rather than finding out the story behind the act. Gender stereotypes are actually the most ingrained and prevalent forms of stereotyping. It is present across cultures and affects all of us from birth to the day of our death. The way we relate to and are being related to is largely based on our gender. It has become a fundamental part of who we are as persons and even dictates what we become in life. Women generally pursue careers that are nurturing and man generally are in occupations that makes use of their power and authority. Stella in such an early age is confronted with her being not a typical girl and if she gives in to the pressure of being accepted by her peers then she might not become what her parents dreamed her to be. And the end question of whether gender stereotypes are negative or positive is not really the issue. Gender role socialization is a necessary function of society to maintain the status quo. Women are disadvantaged by these stereotypes because it limits their opportunity for personal growth, but at present we see a breaking away of the traditional gender roles into a more egalitarian form. More and more husbands have stayed home to care for the children, while more women are joining the work force and getting top positions in all the institutions of society. Thus, like Stella’s parents, we can dispel our gender role biases and hope that in the future our children would live their lives the way they want it to be, not because they are male or female.

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