Posted by: shelly9109 | October 20, 2012

Gender Roles


How early does gender influence society?  This video shows that as early as two, our children are already gendering the everyday roles in the household.   If we believe that change begins with us then, we must be able to raise our future children as gender neutral so that they are able to have an unbiased opinion of the way people lead and live their everyday life.  As young as two, children are categorizing the females as caretakers and the males as breadwinners.  There needs to be an understanding that the roles of men and women are able to be exchange without any connotations of women missing out on their family life or the men having an unsuccessful career so that the women had to step in and take care of the family. But how do we get society to begin to think this way and understand that it is okay?


Responses

  1. Thank you for sharing this video…I am definitely not surprised since I work with this age and I am use to seeing little girls tell the boys they can’t play with them and vice versa, but every so often there is a few that decide to go against their gender role and play with the opposite gender’s toys e.g. a girl playing with cars with the rest of the boys in the class. I think the most disturbing part of the whole video was towards the end when ALL of the children pointed to the woman barbie for “who likes to clean the house”. There are plenty of men out there who will gladly clean too..some even more than women do. While it’s not an overwhelming amount, it still some. It is very sad that kids, even at two years old, are making gender stereotypes…and there is no one really more to blame then the parents and media (gendering toys, commercials, etc.). I think raising a gender-neutral child in society today would be merely impossible, especially when they most likely would be surrounded by friends who would still be stereotyped.

    Another prominent example in the video was when the little boy made the claim that boys are better and typically stronger than girls. His definition of “stronger” at this age was probably more closely associated with aggression. At this age, both girls and boys are about equal in strength but very different in aggression…which continues on through adolescence too (like we have discussed in class). I think it is going to be very difficult to shape the way society thinks about the roles of men and women, but if I had to suggest something it would be to increase awareness and strengthen women’s roles in society-those who want to take a different role. I realize some women are perfectly fine staying at home, but there still needs to be some sort of change because there are many women who want to go into the workforce and they shouldn’t have to think twice because it goes against a societal norm.

  2. I think that while it is okay for certain ideas regarding men and women to be categorized, we need to practice the idea early on that these categories are not concrete. If we can do this, it would reduce Misogyny ten-fold in our society. It would certainly be better than keeping our children gender-neutral.

  3. I agree that raising kids to be gender neutral would be extremely difficult. As we have discussed time and time again, what if there are people who truly desire to live out these stereotypical roles such as being a stay-at-home mom? That is what the kid will see and grow up with and know as truth. It’s hard to teach against these things if we naturally want to act on it ourselves.

  4. I think that this video was extremely disturbing. I understand that it is good to know your identity, but to what extent? Children should not be polarizing themselves based on gender. In the part where they asked the children to pick which doll cleans the house, the children responded by choosing the female doll. If children are being taught this from an early age, then the typical stereotyping of individuals based on gender will never stop. It is important that parents realize the negative effects of not raising their children to be gender neutral. Children need to know that it is alright to be diverse and that they don’t need to be restricted to their gender.

  5. I agree that it would be nearly impossible to bring up a child as gender-neutral. Everything from the things they see around them to the clothes they buy would have to change. I can’t think of a time in history in which such drastic changes were made to a culture’s basic principles without a huge, horrible event.

    Now from my experiences, my mom runs a day care, and I, just like many other members of the class, have an infinite supply of examples of gender mixed with kids at a young age. The one that jumps out at me is when we would paint the girls’ nails, the boys would be curious and want their nails painted as well. Obviously we’re not going to say no–to prevent a tantrum, if nothing else–so the boys would get their nails painted too. As they grow up, and are more socialized, obviously they would become accustomed to the fact that boys aren’t supposed to paint their nails, but at this age, they don’t see it as a gendered act, and instead just see it as “Emma has blue nails and I want blue nails, too.” Now I’m not sure if that’s raising a child to be gender neutral or creating awareness, but I believe that at the most basic level, we need to use every opportunity we can, from the parenting standpoint, to make the child understand that being an individual is more important than their gender.


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