Now I know what you’re thinking. But today we are going to be talking about sex as in gender.
Gender, gender roles and sexuality have changed immensely in the past few years. There are two current ways of thinking when it comes to theories of gender: socialization and performativity (Wells, 2009). People are starting to truly embrace their full and true selves and although this is a very positive thing it can also be very negative in ways as well. Children learn gender roles throughout their development and how they identify themselves greatly shapes their life experiences. There is a lot more opportunity as the years go by for people to express themselves fully, but at times doing so can get them bullied or put down for who they are. Over time there has come this idea from a woman name Judith Butler about gender performativity. In this link here you will find what she has to say about gender performativity (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bo7o2LYATDc). Gender performativity is basically saying that you create your gender through your behaviours, there is no one way to act and every day when you decide to do the things that you do you create what your gender is. These new gender identities and the idea that gender is performative is a positive change but until everyone knows about it and can come to understand it no one who acts outside of the stereotypes is truly one hundred percent safe. And that is just sad. Gender performativity is a good thing because it can allow the people who do not follow the stereotype to be themselves. For example, a boy who likes to play with dolls and cook and clean when playing games at school shouldn’t make him a girl but from what the stereotypes are a woman is known to have the role of cooking and cleaning. These gender stereotypes are learned at a very young age, In this youtube video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-VqsbvG40Ww) it shows just how young children truly are when they learn gender role expectations and gender identity. In this video it is clearly shown that boys and girls know that boys are “not supposed to wear dresses”. So when male children that do want to wear dresses or cook and clean they are ridiculed by theirs peers, as the little boy stated in the video, he would get laughed at.
Certain factors come into play when we talk about gender because although there are performativity theories there are also socialization theories and in all societies there is the stereotype. The stereotype comes about over time and can change but is usually the base of all things. When it comes to gender in a westernized culture and society the stereotype for males is to be tough, and “bring home the bacon” or work to provide for their family. Some women stereotypes are to be dainty and is to always be in the kitchen or taking care of the home and the children of said home. Obviously as time has changed these stereotypes are being challenged on both sides and we are now starting to see that these stereotypes just cannot do. With stereotypes comes bullying, and it is hard as child to develop to your full potential when you don’t have the freedom to be who you are.
Back to socialization, from what I’ve learned a big part of who you are is your genes or “nature”, however at the same time the environment you grow up in or “nurture” plays just as big of a part in shaping who you are and what you become. That being said when you take a look at socialization theories and gender you want to start at the root of a child’s environment. Their home. This is because theories of gender socialization come from general theories of socialization that propose that the child is taught or trained how to be a competent member of society. These theories range from saying that class has a role in gender roles. There are functionalists’ models that say through formal training and learning how to deal with problems as they ascend children move from the family to the outside world, gradually learning and internalizing the behaviours necessary to function in society (Wells, 2009). And many more but basically what these theories are about is how children learn a whole range of roles and practices (Wells, 2009). Gender socialization uses these models but only focuses on one aspect, because gender socialization assumes that individuals observe, imitate, and eventually internalize the specific attitudes and behaviors that the culture defines as gender appropriate by using other males and females as role models (Wells, 2009). Basically put, gender socialization is almost the opposite of gender performativity in the sense that it focuses more on what children learn from their society and how the implement or act on what they know and it basically creates the idea that children are taking on a role every day to present who they are to the world. This can mean a sad life for the people who do not fit into societies stereotypes and in turn cause gender inequality.
The best way to change the idea of gender and a great starting point would be at home. Parents are the people that are with their child the most, for a good majority of their development. This leads people to say that parents actually teach their children gender roles because of the different ways they interact with girls versus boys. Examples of the different ways parents treat girls versus boys would be:
1) the way their bedrooms are decorated
2) the toys they are given
Another thing in studies shows that there are differences in the way children interact with their fathers than with their mothers and these differences are actually quite significant to the children’s gender socialization (Wells, 2009). In the study, it was found that mothers talk to their children more but are also more negative in what they say compared to how their fathers talk. Also some studies have shown that differences in how fathers and mothers interact with their children are reduced if mothers work longer hours and fathers are pulled more in daily family life (Well, 2009). This one being more obvious in the sense that the stereotypes that we in a westernized culture would know is that the father would work long hours and the mother would stay home. So, as a child growing up from a home that does not share this stereotypes, their outlook on gender will then in turn be altered from said stereotypes.
Gender from what we know it to be today will continue to change with the course of time. What gender do you fit into?
What are your thoughts on gender and gender roles?