Thursday, March 22, 2012

Gender roles in the early years

According to Dr. Benjamin Spock, people are likely to appreciate girls' cuteness and boys' achievements. For example, a girl may receive the comment, "You look so pretty!" for the outfit she is wearing. While this compliment isn't harmful in itself, repeated over and over the message the girl gets is that she is most appreciated for her looks, not for what she can do. Boys, on the other hand, are praised for what they can do--"Aren't you a big boy, standing up by yourself!" Many parents encourage and expect boys to be more active, to be more rough-and-tumble in their play than girls. A boy who does not like rough play (and so goes against the gender role he has been assigned) may be labeled a "sissy." A girl who prefers active play to more passive pursuits may be called a "tomboy."

Children at a young age are socialized to behave in their right sexual manner. The girls are to be loving, caring, and compassionate. While the boys, are expected to be caregivers, protectors, and providers.

Females are associated mainly with their emotions, while males with their actions. Children see this at an early age and pick up on it. Girls automatically know that they will get pampered and be cared for, when on the other hand, boys expect punishment and responsibility is usually the last thing going through their minds.

Gender roles are seen everywhere and our children are being socialized to follow them. I went to the Aspire Park recently and noted how the children play and how they interact with others on the playgrounds. I noticed the girls stick to their corner and the boys take the centre stage in the sandbox. The girls held hands while the boys play football/soccer. After a long day, even my baby sister was conforming to their sociological rules. She revealed her emotions of sadness as we left the park.

It was very interesting to see that even when we don’t notice what’s going on around us or what’s happening to us, we’re constantly socialized and conformed to the rules set by society.

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