While I was growing up, gender roles were highly defined by my parents and teachers as well as all other societal influences. Boys were taught to do "boy" things and girls were taught to do "girly" things. The toys that children play with and the activities that are encouraged by adults demonstrate the influence of gender roles on today's youth.
In my formative years, the masculine traits that I learned came out because of the activities that my parents had me engage in and the things that they expected from me. The expectations that my parents held for my sister, on the other hand, varied from those that they had for me, and this was made apparent through the different activities that occupied her time. My parents treated us in completely different regard. We had different toys, different friends, and we were supposed to like different things. When I got hurt my parents would say things like "shake it off," or "that didn't hurt that much," but when my sister would cry, they would give her attention and pull her aside to take care of her. I got into a lot more trouble throughout my life than my sister and this was, in part, overlooked as the boy's mischievous nature.
I played with GI Joes and He-Man action figures, while my sister played with Barbie Dolls. I remember when she and I would play together and the GI Joes would be married to the Barbie Dolls. When I made the action figures fight over the Barbie Dolls, my sister would always get mad. She was more interested in the wedding ceremony. My parents always encouraged me to do things like skateboard, ride my bike, or take karate classes. My sister would jump rope or hullahoop. I remember when my sister wanted to skateboard because I was doing it and my parents would not let her because they said she would get hurt. My mother would cook with my sister, but never with me. My dad would take me to basketball and soccer games.
When you're young enough...
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