Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Gender Roles

Contrary to popular belief, the two articles on gender suggest that gender is not simply defined by a person's sex. Instead, people's genders are largely shaped by the social sterotypes and pressures that people are subjected to.
Boys: Boy's are strong, brave, rugged, and most importantly not emotianal, right? The article on male gender traces the expectancies back to youth when kids are "nudged in the right direction by their parents", in an effort to shape their child into a socially acceptable young man. This is furthered once boys reach school where they quickly learn what type of feminine qualities they are not allowed to exhibit. Teasing and bullying can ensue as a result of failing to comply with male stereotypes. Boys are taught not to show much emotion or cry, because that would be gay, of course.
Girls: Girls are to be beautiful, thin, polite, emotional, and vulnerable. Girls should not exhibit any of the rough masculine qualities listed above. Instead, they are frequently judged by their attempt achieve and maintain an impossible appearance. This judging is done by men, of course, and also women through gossip (mostly to cope with the stress and anxiety due to the stereotypes they must try to meet).
What it all means: Not all men and women have the same gender identities, yet all people are expected to fit a cookie-cutter gender identity that most likely does not reflect who they truly are. Instead of achieving the balance and hapiness the stereotypes seem to promise, many people become self concious,depressed, or even develop disorders. Gender roles are unavoidable, because, let's face it, men and women are different. But, expecting each gender to follow strict guidelines and act the same way is ridiculous, and leaves little room for individuality.
I can personally vouche for the idea that gender roles are very prominant thing, especially in high school. Guys are expected to be tough, aloof, and manly. And girls, as much if not more than any point in the rest of their lives, feel the need to reach for the impossible appearance the media has declared is the correct way to look. Many people don't like these guidelines, yet pounce on anyone who doesn't follow through ridicule and bullying. When spoken aloud the idea of gender roles seems somewhat ridiculous, but they definately exist and often do more harm than good.
An interesing poster that illustrates the effects of gender stereotypes.

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