The psychological effect of gender roles
Gender roles are one of the most controversial topics in society today. While many feel that the issue of sexism is no longer pertinent or that the thought of male vs. female dominance doesn’t matter, instances where the two genders clash or one is treated significantly different than the other happen all the time. Men and women not only look different, but also, think, speak, feel, and express emotions differently, and as long as these differences exist, the two sexes will continue to clash. The question is, what are some of the thoughts of how the sexes are supposed to behave, how deeply are they rooted in society, and how do they differ between individual to individual?
Although research has been done on the topic of gender roles for decades, opinions tend to change as often as fashion trends. In the 40’s and 50’s, young women could not wait until the day they got married which is when they could settle down with the man of their dreams, have his children, take care of him, those children and his house and still have a hot dinner on the table before he got home from work. This in turn meant it would be frowned upon if she left the home to find a job for herself. Any woman who had a job outside of the home may be looked down on by other women in the community. This made it hard for her to eventually find a man to marry. This mindset changed rather suddenly at the turn of decade as the free love movement began and the idea feminism began to take shape. Both sexes, but mainly women’s, worries and taboos on topics such as stay at home moms, monogamy, pregnancy, and the sanctity of marriage seemed to disappear. (Lisa J. Cohen; psychologytoday.com) The differences in gender roles are made very clear early on in an individual’s life in many cultures. As babies, boys are taught to like colors such as blue and green, while girls are taught to like pinks and purples. Boys are told they are supposed to like ferocious animals such as lions and bears while girls are the ones to like puppies and kitties and butterflies. It is said that not until adolescence do these pre learned behaviors begin to appear. (Schaffer, 1980 pg. 25) At this time, boys are pushed towards looking ahead to a career and gaining social status, while girls are usually caught on the fence. While many girls at this age usually disregard their prescribed sex roles and begin to look toward careers along with their male classmates, there are still some who are unsure if their futures hold a career or roles as housewives and mothers. Some disregard the idea of feminism entirely and look forward to being nothing more than what has be set forward for their gender. The largest influence when it comes to sex roles during the adolescent and teen years would have to be the peer group. These groups tend to encourage activities which are heavily influenced by gender- appropriate stereotypes. A group of boys many want to ride bikes or play ball while girls have just as much fun going shopping. An individual who doesn’t per say enjoy these activities may experience difficulty in finding friends of their gender. Parenting styles vary widely between the genders. While the father may be looked at as the disciplinarian, the mother is usually looked at as the comforter. Children often look at their father as the head of the household who makes all final decisions. They see their mother on the other hand as the deciding factor when it comes to trivial matters such as what food gets bought and cooked in the house, and what clothes get purchased for all the members of the family. The decision of parenthood was once thought to vary solely between the genders but now it is apparent that the desire to have kids varies for individual to individual. While one man may one his significant other to bear many children, another may not want the responsibility of any, and while one woman may want to give birth to...
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