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The Psychological Effects of Gender Roles

Let the boys be boys. Youve 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 eems 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 theyre 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 irls make the cross-over without being teased or mocked but boys cant 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 womens clothing and mens clothing. Women can wear mens 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. Lets 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 dont mock ethnic men for wearing ethnic clothing that highly resembles dresses or skirts, so why doesnt 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 Im 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 didnt 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 its that motherly instinct and the bond mothers build with their child while they are still in the womb, but that alone, doesnt explain how they are able to take care of the baby and care to the babys needs. Have you ever wondered why males arrant for the most part very good with children? It is because they werent allowed to play with dolls. When children are at the age of two to seven, that is the period of their lives where they will learn the most information. That is about the age gap where many boys would like to play with dolls but are discouraged especially by their fathers to do so.

If they are allowed to play with dolls, they learn how to care for the dolls and treat them well, and those are the practices females carry on into motherhood. Surpassingly, in a class room experiment done with a doll called Baby, Think Again, which is a computerized doll, which is programmed to cry at certain times of the day for certain reasons, male participants were vary successful with their child. The computer can tell someone how many times the baby cried, what themother/father didnt or did do correctly.

Orland Richards from Project Promise, a program geared towards adolescence, said that when he comes into the classroom and tells his students that 65% of males who impregnate their girlfriend arrant there to help with the baby after their birth and he tells them that they have a responsibility, they try so much harder and care for their baby more intensely than some of the young women in the class because they have so much to prove. They come in the next day and wait for me tom open the computer to see if the lights are blinking, and they arrant.

They even say, See Mr. Richards, I can be a good father. The funny thing is that they even come back the next day and say, Hey, Mr. Richards, can I have the same baby again tonight, you know, the one that looks like me! That makes me feel so good inside, and there will be one less single mother in the world. Why it is so hard to communicate with someone of the opposite sex? Is it really the genetically make up, X and Y chromosomes, or is it that we really truly think differently? We really do think differently.

I know that many parents encourage little girls not to play with the boys because they feel that type of social interaction wouldnt be appropriateonce they reach puberty, especially when they become aware of sex and relationships. So this sort of separation contributed to the lack of communication between the sexes. If cross-gender interaction and communication was encouraged, perhaps boys and girls would grow up knowing how to be sensitive to eachothers needs and also learn more about eachother which would help them understand what it takes to make healthy and long lasting relationships.

It also affects how each sex conducts public communication and who the environment they are most comfortable speaking in. Men speak to convey information, to challenge others, to achieve status in a group, or to put themselves in a one-up situation. Many women, on the other hand, feel more comfortable with private conversations among friends and family. They talk to achieve and nurture intimacy, to promote closeness and equality in a group, and to build better connections to others. (Tannen). Although the gender differences exist in communication, it doesnt mean that one is superior to the other or one is at fault.

It is important that we are able to recognize these differences because it can only help … overcome potential obstacles to their mutual understanding and acceptance. (Hales). One of the greatest influences on children is the entertainment industry. They show us what they feel are the images we should shape ourselves after. They promote beauty, material possessions, money and power. Look at the magazines that are aimed at youngwoman such as Seventeen, YM, Vogue, Cosmopolitan, Madamoiselle, and Glamour. The list is endless. The all show young girls, how to apply their make-up, the seasons must have wardrobe, horoscopes, and the perfect look.

Young girls have died trying to achieve the look that society sees as beautiful. Young girls are told they must be beautiful, slender, and the object of a mans desire. As corrupt as it sounds, entertainment media thrives on this and goes as far as they can to make sure they reach every young girl across the world. Look at the magazines aimed at young boys, there is a totally different theme being carried out. Most boys magazines are comic, sport, and action orientated. The message is totally different. They model they way they dress according to their favorite musicians, actors or sports figure.

Perhaps if womens magazines were more aimed at how to protect yourself from violence, STDs, unplanned pregnancies or how to be confident, and promote education, sports, extra-cirricular activities instead of how to know if your popular, or the must have lipstick of the fall, or how to know if he likes you, or what your favorite Backstreet Boy likes and dislikes, then maybe the rate of abortions, teen pregnancies, STDs, obesity, eating disorders, depression, date rape, kidnappings and domestic violence would decrease. Whether they like it or not, society has a responsibility.

They deem what is acceptable, it is time they deem what is right! There are some positive aspects of gender roles that even I like and wish was still implemented as a part of daily living and modern courtship. It is good to see that many men still open the car doors for their ladies, take them out to dinner and a movie, and initiate contact between the two. Although it is the 90s and we are approaching the millennium, and women are being more and more independent and paying the bills and initiating first contact, I feel that it was something has shaped them when they were younger and to this day makes them independent and free.

Its a good to know that some women dont expect their male partners to pay for everything. The most negative affect applying gender roles to the way you raise your children is that children are motivated to find their own identity. Parents often tell their children to think for themselves or be their own person but they dont understand that when they bombard their children with certain practices, they are sending a mixed message. Yes, its a message most children are to young to understand but its not the children who need their yes opened, its the parents.

Many children, upon reaching adolescence are able to see past the stereotypes and figure out who they are, what they like or dislike, and what is right and what is wrong, but its what they go through that is dangerous. When there is no support system there fore the child, they will go through psychological problems and often look towards food or vigorous activity and suffer from eating disorders and depression and some commit suicide. All because they werent able to play the role their parents molded for them.

This essay isnt to be taken personally, or applied to everyones life. I, in certain cases probably take part in some of these gender role activities but the important thing is that I understand and am able to observe what is going on and what can happen. Im am in no way implying that making your infant son wear blue is bad and if he wears pink as he gets older, it your fault. I know that I probably wouldnt be to happy about the fact that my little boy is wearing pink either, but its how you approach and deal with the situation he can have an effect on your child.

Many parents would probably tell their children this type of situation, Pink is for girls, take it off. What are you gay or something. Are you a sissy? Act like a boy. (Finaut) It is brought upon so negatively and makes the child feel low and incompetent, especially if they are told this by their fathers. Not everyone will agree with my point of view and that is something I understand, but its all about being open-minded which is obviously not the message gender roles send.

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