For years, pink has always been for girls and blue has always been for boys. Parents and family members never really gave their kids a choice in what was given to them. Whether it be color wise or toy wise. Girls grew up receiving frilly, pink dolls and pretend cleaning sets. Boys, on the other hand, were given monster trucks and pretend police officer uniforms. Showing children that it is okay to play with whatever they want doesn’t usually go over well with some parents. Some dads might not want to see their little boy dress up as a princess and some moms might not want to see their little girl roll toy cars through he mud.
Throughout the years, gender roles have been implemented at a young age by the way toy companies promote their toys, parents following their ideas of what is right or wrong, and how the television shows and movies kids watch implement those gender roles. One of the ways gender roles are shown to kids is through their toys. Toy companies have made their own versions of things each gender would stereotypically do. There are commercials for plastic pink kitchenette sets with little girls having a fun time making plastic meals for their imaginary families.
Small toy vacuum cleaners and broom sets are dvertised to girls as something fun to do. Little boys are shown that, instead of being in a kitchen or doing chores around the house, they can go out and fight bad guys and save the day. Professor Judith Elaine Blakemore, a professor of psychology and associate dean of Arts and Sciences for Faculty Development at Indiana University, was quoted in NAEYC’s compilation of research on gender and toys as noting, “In general the toys most associated with boys were related to fighting or aggression (wrestlers, soldiers, guns, etc. , and the toys most associated with girls were related to appearance Barbie dolls and accessories, ballerina costumes, makeup, jewelry, etc. ). ”
Not only is showing girls this idea not good for them mentally but it is not good for young boys either. It shows them that if they are not interested in being rowdy and into violence, then surely they are doing the whole “being a boy thing” wrong. In Blakemore’s study, she also found that girls’ toys were also very nurturing and domestic skill based.
Many of these gender-based toys that she researched did not give very much mental stimulation to the child than the nongender-based toys did. The study concluded that keeping your child’s toys basic, is better for them mentally. Toys such as wooden blocks, toy cars and building logs can allow any child to use them in any way they want. Stores across America are making a change to keep gender stereotyped objects out of their stores. Target is getting rid of their gender-based labels on toy aisles and is getting rid of their pink and blue backdrops on their shelves.
Dr. Elizabeth Sweet, a sociologist and lecturer at the University of California, explains “Studies have found that gendered toys do shape children’s play preferences and styles. Because gendered toys limit the range of skills and attributes that both boys and girls can explore through play, they may prevent children from developing their full range of interests, preferences and talents” (Shaw 2015). Science has shown that children recognize their genders at a surprisingly early age. Kids are able to identify themselves as whatever gender they associate with by the age of two.
Showing kids that it is right or wrong to play with certain toys only hinders their growth and development. Getting rid of gender- based toys is not just an American thing anymore. The Disney Store is also taking part in getting rid of gender based signs in their child costume aisles. Instead of labeling what costumes are for who by using the colors pink and blue, they are going to start displaying them in a section all mixed together. They will start using subcategories such as: costumes for kids, costumes for babies and costume accessories.
Besides clothing, stores have also made the move in how they categorize their toys on the shelves. Instead of having science kits and kitchen toys being separated by gender, stores have started keeping them all together. Stores have come to realize that children are seeing his separation of toys as a message that boys and girls have to play with different toys. Many people believe that this movement big retail stores are making is soon going to be a permanent change happening not only in the United States but also across the world. In the United Kingdom, they have created an organization called Let Toys Be Toys.
They have stated in their research that certain gender-based toys give children a clear idea about what jobs are suitable for boys and girls. Children growing up with this idea have a hard time in the future shaking this notion that all girls are beautiful mothers nd boys are supposed to be rough and interested only in action-oriented activities. Getting rid of gender-based clothing will help to acknowledge not only to children but to adults that it is okay for a little boy to wear a dress and it is okay for a little girl to wear a Batman costume on Halloween.
One of the other ways children are exposed to gender roles is through television shows and movies. Many little girls grow up watching Disney princess movies which all depict weak, defenseless women that always get rescued by a strong prince. Whenever the princess is in any sort of life-threatening situation, he runs away in her small high-heeled shoes and falls in a tear- stained cheek heap on her bed. The male characters in these princess movies are always showed saving their princess from harm’s way while she’s off cowering behind a tree.
Tarzan was adopted by a tribe of the strongest mammals on earth, and spent his formative years trying to imitate them. The entire film displayed his ripped musculature, and Tarzan killed a vicious saber-toothed leopard only with a pointy stick. On the other hand, female characters have been portrayed as weaker, more controlled by others, emotional, warmer, tentative, romantic, ffectionate, sensitive, frailer, passive, complaining, domestic, stereotypical, and troublesome than male characters” (Yerby, Baron and Lee).
Young boys are seeing that it is okay to be rough, action oriented and never showing a single emotion. Girls, on the other hand, are shown that it is okay to let a guy help her in any situation she may ever face in her life. These movies also show male characters as being almost “God-like. ” In Snow White, the prince comes along and gives her one kiss that magically wakes her up from her deep sleep. No man in real life is going to be able to do that for any girl. Snow White is also shown as being totally okay with doing housework because she knows that one day a man will come and rescue her from that life.
Kathi Maio, a Boston Journalist, wrote an article, called “Disney Dolls, on Disney gender roles, states, “That this is the making of a typical Disney movie, the young women portrayed in a majority of Disney films are happy homemakers, and wait for a young man to give them a reason worth living. ” Just like in Snow White, Ariel, from The Little Mermaid, tries to figure out how to get her man to love her. Ariel is willing to do anything to et with Prince Eric. She gives up her voice so that she can have legs, which would make her more attractive to the man that has caught her eye.
Ariel gives up her family, her voice and everything that she loved in order to be with someone. This could potentially be a bad influence for girls that have to work hard, study and figure out what they want their career to be in the future. Doctor Stacy Smith and Amy Granados, child psychologists that conducted a study on gender roles in children’s media, found that there are four effects that may occur with exposure to film and television shows. Those four ffects are: negative beliefs about self-worth, beliefs about occupations, beliefs about bodies and beliefs about relationships (Smith and Granados).
A young child seeing a television show that shows a lack of gender equality communicates that girls are not as vital are. Young girls seeing this may start to believe that boys are valued greater than girls. Children’s media can also affect a a story line like boys child’s idea about certain occupations. Certain children’s media may portray to children that certain jobs may not be suitable for girls or boys. Some shows do, however, show that girls can be nything they put their mind too.
Smith and Granados note “Seeing or reading about females in nontraditional roles in occupations in the media can heighten the suitability or women’s achievement, confidence and employment in nontraditional vocations. ” There is also a belief about having a certain, ideal body type being portrayed to children in shows. The media gives people the idea that a woman’s ideal body type is thin and attractive. Showing bodies that look like this to young girls may lead them to believe that the way that they look may be seen as ugly to the general public.
Showing bodies like this to oung boys can also negatively affect them. They may start to believe that girls should be valued by the way that they look rather than their personality. Boys may also begin to develop unrealistic expectations as to how their future girlfriends should look, dress and act. The final effect, beliefs about relationships, show children that normal people fall in love at first sight or as soon as their partner tells them that they love them. Some movies also show young couples always fighting one another up until the very end of the movie.
Smith and Granados state that “One study has found that viewing reality dating shows ignificantly and positively predicts endorsing attitudes that regard women as sex objects and men as sex driven. ” Disney has in recent years, however, made some of their princesses more self-reliable. Ariel from The Little Mermaid, is rebellious and wants to be successful. Mulan disguised herself as a solider to fight off an army and keep her country safe from being invaded. Mulan is independent, brave and is not as focused about finding a significant other like the other Disney princesses seem to be.
Pocahontas is also another example of an independent princess. Pocahontas does not have a mother igure in her life, which is what all of the princesses have had. Having only a father figure in her life, her feminine side is skewed by her father’s masculine views. These views her father gave her the confidence that she can be a potential leader of her tribe of people. Over the years, gender roles have changed greatly which in turn has caused Disney to make a dramatic turn in what they portray their female characters to be like.
Women today are no longer seen as feeble and emotional individuals. Instead, they are seen as strong and able to do whatever they put their mind too. I think that is a great thing to portray to young children growing up with these movies. Lastly, gender roles can be taught to children by their parents and what their parents might have grown up with. This day and age is a lot different compared to what almost anyone has come to know. Younger people are more open towards the idea of letting people express themselves however they want.
Some adults, on the other hand, might not be all for that idea when it comes to their own young kids. Kids start learning what it means to be male or female from their parents. Parents also dress their sons and daughters much differently. Children are dressed in a gender specific color, given gender specific toys and they are expected to behave differently from one another. Young children are able to understand these stereotypical messages about boys and girls.
Susan Witt, a professor of child development at the University of Akron states “One study found that children at two and a half years of age use gender stereotypes in negotiating their world and are likely to generalize gender stereotypes to a variety of activities, objects and occupations. ” Parents give their sons sports equipment and their daughters baby dolls to take care of. Children also have bedrooms that are specific to their gender. Their parents paint their daughter’s room pink and cover everything in butterflies.
Their son’s room is blue with footballs or baseballs. A study of children’s rooms has shown girls’ rooms have more pink, dolls and manipulative toys; boys’ rooms have more blue, sports equipment, tools and vehicles. Boys are more likely than girls to have maintenance chores around the house, such as painting and mowing the lawn, while girls are likely to have domestic chores such as cooking and doing the laundry” (Watt). Once their children are old enough to participate in outside activities, parents may have their boys play rough, contact sports, while girls take dance classes or cheerleading.
There is also the stereotype that boys are better at science and math in school compared to girls. Scientific studies have actually disproved this stereotype. Your gender has nothing to do with whether or not you are good at doing long division. Girls’ insecurity about math is not just because they have heard about the stereotype but because some teachers actually instill this idea that girls just are not good at math into their students.
Teachers teach what scientists have called “math anxiety. “The more anxious teachers were about math, the more likely girls (but not boys) were to endorse the commonly held stereotype that ‘boys are good at math and girls are good at reading’ and the lower these girls’ math achievement. Indeed, by the end of the school year, girls who endorsed this stereotype had significantly worse math achievement than girls who did not and then boys overall” (Wade). Math is something that boys and girls equally have the opportunity to master. All it takes is practice and a society where people do not tell girls that they cannot do math.
There have also been studies linking parents enforcing gender roles on their child can affect their development. Those affects usually last long into that child’s adulthood. While some may see getting rid of gender stereotypes as something negative, there are plenty of positive things that come out of not having them. Enforcing gender roles in children not only limits what both boys and girls can do but it also ignores the possibility of personal creativity and it continues to spread unfairness in today’s society towards genders.
Androgynous individuals have been found to have higher selfesteem, higher levels of identity achievement and more flexibility in dating and love relationships” (Watt). People who identify as androgynous take bits and pieces of both male and female genders. They do not have a specific gender, rather, they create their own form of gender and follow what they want to do. Implementing gender roles at a young age can be detrimental to a child’s creativity and freedom.
Gender roles will soon, hopefully, be a thing of the past when people come to realize they are not as important as society believes. Girls should not be taught that they should only be housewives that do chores all day and take care of their kids. Girls should be shown that they can be engineers or astronauts. Likewise, boys should not be taught that they have to be manly police officers. Boys can wear pink and take care of their family too. Everyone should be taught that they can do whatever they put their mind to. Gender should not hinder our abilities.