Throughout history, women have made up a sort of “minority” in the world’s many societies. They have been looked upon as property to husbands and fathers. Their place was deemed the male’s home. Women were to provide services to men, ranging from carrying an heir (hopefully a male) to providing a clean home and cooked meals. Women in high-income nations still continue to face challenges because of their gender, and those in low-income nations often remain thought of as property. From a symbolic interactionist perspective, gender is an issue that is based on many underlying historical concepts, and it continues to contribute to world-wide poverty.
As symbolic interactionists view social problems using a microlevel perspective, they see that gender roles are learned behaviors taught by individual socializing agents in each society. Parents immediately begin teaching their children what it is to be a male or female in how they treat their sons and daughters. For example, parents are more likely to play rough with their sons, who are often dressed in clothes pertaining to superheroes. This teaches the young male that strength, athletic ability, and courage are “desirable.” He might then try to epitomize this throughout his lifetime. On the other side, a daughter is often dressed in frilly outfits depicting maidens in distress (Cinderella, for example), and they are usually kept inside from getting dirty to learn homemaking skills. Throughout their lifetime, then, they will remember what it is to be a female according to their parents. Thus, from birth, children are subjected to differing gender roles within a society. Symbolic interactionists also see that gender roles could be taught with something as seemingly insignificant as communication. Linguistic sexism, which is patterns of communication that degrade a particular sex (usually female), is often cited as employing the dominance of one gender to perpetuate traditional gender roles. For example, the English...
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