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Essay/Term paper: Gender stereotypes

Essay, term paper, research paper:  Gender

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Gender Stereotypes


Prof. Karen Hall
Teodor Dimitrov AUB102 ID#019500040


Today, every one of us is spending more of his leisure time watching TV,
listening to the radio or reading newspapers and magazines. The shows on the TV
and the articles in the newspapers influence our decision process, shaping our
perceptions for the world. Besides the positive fact that we are better informed
and in touch with the latest news, we should be aware that accepting this
enormous flow of information and allowing it to make our mind can be dangerous.
The TVs infiltrate our lives, guiding us what are we supposed to wear, how are
we supposed to look and act. Children, because of lack of mature judging values,
are more susceptible to the influence of the television. They tend to accept
everything they see on TV as real. Kids often identify with movie characters and
comics figures much more than the elder generation does. It is the role of the
parents to teach them that not everythink that glitters is gold and to give them
a better perception of the world. That of course does not mean that parents are
affected less by the TV. On the contrary, they are often more affected than
their kids, of course not by cartoons, but by shows that contain information
about serious subjects such as parenthood. Concerned with being good parents,
people are accumulating a lot of information on the subject. As the information
can be very helpful, sometimes it can be destructive. That is the case when it
comes to the problem of "tomboys" and "sissies." What are these two terms used
for? The term "tomboy" is used when referring to a girl who is masculine, and
the term "sissy" is used when referring to a boy who is feminine. We need to
state what we consider feminine and what is masculine. According to the
established sense in the society, femininity and masculinity are tightly bound
to gender. Men are supposed to be masculine. They are expected to be strong,
rough, to have high stamina. They are not supposed to wear skirts(the Scots are
an exception) but trousers, and should avoid colors like pink and violet. These
are "feminine" colors. The man in the family is usually the person who should
provide money and build a career. On the othere hand, women are supposed to be
tender and loving mothers and wives, to wear skirts and to walk on higheels.
They are should not have a career, but should take care of the kids and the
house. It seems that these perceptions have been existing forever. That is
because from early childhood, we are thought by our parents that pink is for
girls, and blue is for boys. The trucks and weaponry toys are for boys and the
dolls are for girls. Than, it is not surprising that we accept gender
stereotyping and try to fit in the rigid models of feminine and masculine. For
example, women athletes and especially tennis players and basketball players are
afraid of losing their femininity. These sports are famous for the large number
of gay players that are involved. Because of that, the hetero athletes are a
subject of suspicion of being gays. To avoid this they are trying to look more
feminine. A basketball coach even had developed a term for this phenomenon--
"hetero-sexy." We are not only trying to fit in the models, but we are prone to
pass our perceptions to our children. In this way, we are trying to protect them
from the society. However by doing this, we are causing them more harm than if
they were to become gays.
A recent show on NBC Superchannel was dedicated to the problem of
"tomboys" and "sissies." In it, light was shed on the life of some tomboys and
sissies, as well as on the anxiety of their parents. A girl at an age of three
was shown, dressed with a skirt and playing with dolls. The next shot was at an
age of four, revealing the changes that the attitude of the girl towards the
dolls and dresses has been totally changed. Now she preferred to hang out in
jeans rather than in dress. When she was asked by her mother to try a pink dress,
she refused with the words "Pink sucks!" The girl participated actively in
sports such as basketball and baseball, demonstrating good technical skills at
both. Why then her parents were worried and had searched psychological advice?
The answer to this question is in the assumption that when such kids grow up,
they inevitably will turn to be gay. The fear of the parents is raised by the
fact that their girls or boys ignore the existence of their gender and prefer to
communicate only with the opposite one. A girl on the show, when asked about her
friends, revealed that she hang out only with boys. Her mother explained that,
when she was introducing her to friends and calling her "my little girl," the
kid argued with her that she is in fact a boy "You have two boys mom, not a boy
and a girl, " she replied. The girl was involved into a test the nature of
which was to determine her affections toward some pictures that were shown to
her. From the results could be inferred that the girl was prone to accept her as
a boy and to accept boys as her friends A recent show on NBC Superchannel was
dedicated to the problem of "tomboys" and "sissies." In it, light was shed on
the life of some of them, as well as on the anxiety of their parents. A girl at
the age of three was shown, dressed with a skirt and playing with dolls. The
next shot of her was at the age of four, revealing that the attitude of the girl
towards the dolls and dresses has been totally changed. Now she was preferring
to hang out in jeans rather that in a dress. When she was asked by her mother to
try a pink dress, she refused with the words "Pink sucks!" The girl participated
actively in sports such as basketball and baseball, demonstrating good technical
skills at both. She revealed that all of her friends are boys. Her mother
explained that when she was introducing her to friends and calling her "my
little girl," the kid argued with her that she is in fact a boy. "You have two
boys mom, not a boy and a girl." This attitude of the girl did not appear to be
normal for the parents and that is what scared them. They were scared because
they were not pleased with the possibility of raising a gay. This underlines an
important tendency in our society. Most of the people are still uncomfortable
with gays. They tend to associate gays only with negative things such as AIDS
and other diseases. Gays are not allowed to serve in the army and to occupy
high decision-making positions. That's why, it is not surprising that parents
are concerned with the problem. They are trying to protect their kids from the
society, large portion of which does not tolerate "deviations" from the
established norms of behavior. The assumption that when such kids grow up, they
inevitably will be gay. This paranoia was further expanded by studies which
appeared to be dealing with the problem. The results from them were striking,
25% of all "tomboys" will inevitably be lesbian when they grow up, and 35% of
the "sissies" will be gay. The parents were trying to prevent that to happen by
every mean. Some of them even went extreme and oppressed their kids by using
punishment. However, as later was discovered, the studies were conducted on
extreme cases. For example, all of the participants in the study on "sissies"
were boys who not only played with dolls, but dressed themselves as girls. Most
of them were raised by single mothers and in an environment where their contacts
with men were limited. Recent studies discovered that you do not become a gay,
you are born one, contrary to the assumption that sexuality is formed in the
childhood. In this case, the parent's desire to fit their children into the
stereotypes backfired and resulted in harming their children. The parents were a
victim also, by following the rigid path of stereotyping they wounded the one
that they love most--their children.



 

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