The Psychological Effects of Gender Roles
“Let the boys be boys.” You’ve heard this phrase before. Often repeated by parents regarding their little boys. So what makes a boy, a boy? Rambo like characteristics? Muscles? Short hair? Wearing blue? Wearing T-shirts and jeans or playing with sporting equipment? Well last I remember, the main characteristics boys shared were penises. The role gender association play in the lives of our children can sometimes affect them negatively. The messages that gender roles send, is that in order to be part of society, you must fit into the norm or the status quo or most importantly what society deems as acceptable. But all the while, trying to incorporate individuality and establishing ones sense of self. Two conflicting ideas that can confuse a child and also alter the way they live their lives. There are two colors that are designated to babies that serve one purpose and one purpose only. Most infant boys were the color blue and girls wear pink. Seeing that it is difficult to determine the sex of an infant without general exposure to the genitals, most parents choose to clothe they’re young child in the respective colors so people will know whether it is a boy or a girl. After all, what male infant wears pink? When the children grow older, do they still continue the practice the color identification game? This is wear it changes. When boys reach the age wear they start dressing themselves and start buying their own clothes, they will continue to wear the blues and the greens and even yellows and reds, but not pink or violet, cause those are “girly” colors. Girls on the other hand, when they reach the same age still continue to wear the pink and violets and can even wear the blues, yellows, blacks, and greens. So why can girls make the “cross-over” without being teased or mocked but boys cannot without being called a gay or a fagot.
The clothing issue goes farther than that. The fashion industry does make boundaries with clothing. There is women’s clothing and men’s clothing. Women can wear men’s clothing, and at times its the stylish thing to do. Young girls can dress like boys or wear boys clothing and at times will only be called a tom-boy, but that is acceptable to society. Let’s see a man in public wearing a dress, and we stop and go out of our way to break our necks just so we can get a good look. Some even have the nerve to yell obscenities and gossip out loud. Most people don’t mock ethnic men for wearing ethnic clothing that highly resembles dresses or skirts, so why doesn’t American society accept it with non-ethnic men that do it cause they want to. As much as fashion and clothing affect the way our children think and act, much of that is advertised through their toys and the entertainment business.
When I was a young girl, my parents never bought me basketballs, baseball mitts,water guns, GI JOE figurines (notice that I say GI JOE figurines not GI JOE dolls), or video games. Instead I received frilly dresses, board games, water balloons, and Barbie dolls. I know I’m not alone. Millions of girls received the same things I did and many boys received similar gifts growing up as well. Many girls were scolded for playing with boys toys because mommy and daddy said, “Those toys are for boys, go play with your dolls.” Parents just didn’t want to see their “sugar and spice and everything nice” turn into a tom-boy. Have you wondered why young girls grow up and are very good with children and are often chose as baby-sitters over boys, and ultimately become good mothers. Many say it’s that motherly instinct and the bond mothers build with their child while they are still in the womb, but that alone, doesn’t explain how they are able to take care of the baby and care to the baby’s needs. Have you ever wondered why males arrant for the...
Cited: Finaut, Jim. Personal Interview, 11, July 1999. Hales, Dianne.
Invitation to Health: Power of Prevention, eighth edition. California: Brooks/Cole, 1990. Richards, Orland. Personal Interview, 13 July 1999. Tannen, Deborah. You Just Don’t Understand: Women and Men in Conversation. New York: Ballantine, 1990.
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