Barbie vs. Action Figures: How Gender Roles and Stereotypes Affect Children

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Barbie Vs. Action Figures
How gender roles and stereotypes affect children

Table of Contents:

1. Hypothesispg. 3
2. Abstractpg. 3-6
3. Conclusionpg. 7
4. Acknowledgementspg. 8
5. Reference Listpg. 9

Like most people I have nieces and nephews. Whenever I take my niece to McDonalds she always orders the Happy Meal. Without asking whether we wanted a girl or boy toy, they automatically gave her the Polly Pocket Doll, instead of the Smurf toy that she actually was hoping for. Being a girl, the cashier assumed that she would prefer the doll over the Smurf toy. This sort of incident happens more often than you would think. It really made me, wonder how gender roles and stereotypes affect children in their everyday lives.

Gender roles and stereotypes have a significant effect on children. They are constantly bombarded with images of what a girl is supposed to act like. The same thing is portrayed to the boys. They are taught that they are supposed to be tough individuals, while girls are seen as little weak beings who are obsessed with superficial things. In the long run these images of what they are supposed to act like eventually shape who they become as adults.

Gender roles refer to the set of social and behavioral norms that are considered to be appropriate for individuals of a specific sex in the context of a specific culture, which differ widely between cultures and over time. Gender stereotypes are simplistic generalizations about the gender attributes, differences, and roles of different groups or individuals, According to Joan, Ferrante, Seeing Sociology: An Introduction 2011. They are relevant in more ways than most people even care to recognize. Sources such as advertisements, television, sports, and even parents are where children pick up most of their behavior traits. These factors could affect sexuality, growth, development, personality, and job choices.

There are several ways for children to be influenced gender stereotypes. Researchers such as Adrian Furnham and Twiggy Mak, show that advertisement is one of the main factors in keeping gender stereotypes alive in children. Toy commercials are the ones usually perpetuating these roles and stereotypes. Commercials that are targeted towards girls usually show playing house or cooking. They almost always have a doll in their hand. Being popular, beautiful, and passive are key points the media tries to get across. Girls are never seen playing with “boy toys” such as trucks or guns.

In addition, commercials targeted towards boys they are seen as power seekers. Speed and physical ability are a huge factor when it comes to the toys that are supposedly for their gender. The children in the commercials are told to act aggressively and independently. Society wants boys to take and learn more dominant roles. The boys in commercials will never be seen playing with “girl toys”.

By the time a child reaches four they realize their sexuality and pick toys targeted towards their sex group. That is also around the time where they learn the behaviors associated with their specific gender. Children tend to associate the toys they play with to what they see in their environment. If a child’s behaviors and interests stray away from what is believed to be normal then they are subject to discrimination and ridicule by their peers and adults.

Carol Lynn Martin thinks, “Most children display traits of both sexes”. When a child notices that they act outside of what is considered “normal” for their gender, they become sexually confused. On the inside they tend to question why they are not like most children of the same sex. Most children who show opposite sex characteristics are often labeled “gay”. Boys who show more feminine traits are called “effeminate”. They are seen as the boys who want to be girls. Usually they gravitate more towards female or domestic activities, have all female friends, and tend to cross-dress....
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