Gender-role socilization. this essay is about how society and biological drives and instincts shape the gender roles.

Topics: Gender role, Gender, Human behavior Pages: 6 (1882 words) Published: January 11, 2004
Gender socialization is the way society shapes our sexual attitudes and behavior through various mechanisms, it defines the roles that we as males or females in society are expected to play.

According to Ann Oakley, who first introduced the terms, sex refers to the biological divisions into being male or female while gender reflects the parallel and socially unequal division into being feminine or masculine (Sex, Gender and Society 1972). Sex is therefore can be seen as the biological constructed aspect of differences between men and women. As oppose to sex, gender can be seen as the socially constructed knowledge, values and practices linked to sex based differences mostly by the process of socialization. The term gender has been extended since than and not only reflects the individual identity and personality but also, at the symbolic level, to cultural ideals and stereotypes of masculinity and femininity.

Gender roles are the societal expectations attached to being male and female. Through gender role socialization, a person is introduced and taught the behaviors expected to be played by them. The home often called 'gender factory' by some sociologists, reproduces society's traditional gender roles through parental reinforcement (Appelbaum and Chambliss, 223). From birth to death, males and females are constructed to act according to society's mold of gender identity. Parents describe their newborns with adjectives pertaining to traditional gender roles. Newborn girls are described as "tiny, soft, delicate, and fine-featured," while newborn boys are described as "strong, alert, and well coordinate" (223). Even during breast-feeding gender divides, males are treated rougher and given more milk while females are treated delicately and given less.

This can best be illustrated by an experiment to show how gender stereotyping enters almost every part of an infant since the day he or she was born. The experiment better known as the Sussex experiment tried to unveil how people perceive the way an infant either a male a female should act. Infants dressed in blue were quickly thought to be male while infants dressed in pink were treated as female. Therefore gender stereotypes can be defined as one-sided and exaggerated images of men and women which are deployed in every day life.

Similarly, in the old days and even in some societies today, women's place was regarded to be in the home while men are expected to be the bread winner for the family. But there is no permanent and definite framework on how men and women should behave. Such definitions vary from one society to another. For example the study conducted by Margaret Mead in Sex and Temperament in Three Primitive Societies (1935). In some of the tribes in which she had visited women were place in a higher status than men. They were regarded as the bread winner, hold important positions in the tribe and even made important decisions. Contradict to this, men were placed in lower positions and even played the role as 'housewives'.

The roles and behaviors expected to be played by both sexes also change over-time. For example, the roles played by women in ancient Greek and Roman were limited. Women were portrayed as submissive and inferior. They did not hold any important positions in society. Most of them only played the roles of mother and housewife. Women nowadays are more aggressive and in some areas are more dominant than men.

Women during the Victorian era, were expected to be grace and beauty was signified by having small waist. They were forced to wear corset to get the shape considered to be beautiful.

Sexuality is defined as the sexual feelings and drives as well as the sexual practices common to a society. There is some debate on whether sexuality is innate or learned. To answer this question sociologists have come out with four main approaches: psychobiological, psychoanalytic, learning and sociological.

Sociobiology is the study of human...
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