Socialization Of Gender


Socialization Of Gender Essay, Research Paper

In all aspects of every society, gender identity must be established. It is at birth when an infant (person) is given either a male or female identity. Once the parents have been told, it is then that society will set the example and attitudes for that given gender. “Gender includes a broad spectrum of attitudes, behaviors, and social expectations that we acquire during our lifetimes, through interactions with one another and experiences in various environments (Renzetti, p. 41).” We will ultimately find that this statement is true to its saying.

The very first reading for this class gives many examples of how society constructs a person’s gender. In many of the researches, the biological makeup or appearance was not a clear way of distinguishing the sex, which lead to social identities problems. Such as those with Turner Syndrome, “they are reared as females because their external genitals appear to be female. It may be that parents of Turner Syndrome girls, determined to compensate for the missing X chromosome, [which] intensified the feminine socialization of their daughters (p.37).” Those who were born with only one X cannot be considered male or female. Since there is no Y, they cannot develop as a male and vice versa for a female. The parents needed to socially over exaggerate their identity for the sack of their child. If it did not happen like this, the child may experience gender identity problems.

The same kind of observation was placed upon Native American Tribes. Richardson states, “A family that had all female children and desired a son to hunt for them would select a daughter to be ‘like a man.’ Though in different tribes the socializing process varied, girls achieved the cross-gender role in each instance through accepted cultural channels (p.143).” People in other societies also achieve their gender socially like that of an all female household. This cross-gendered female ultimately, “dressed in masculine attire, did male allocated tasks, often developing great strength and usually becoming an outstanding hunter (p.143).”

The two examples show evidence that although biologically a person may be born as a male or female, their gender order may be completely opposite. Our gender order and arrangement consists only of two recognizable forms. There are also certain rules that follow our attitude with gender. They are: 1) There is two, and only two genders (female and male). 2) One’s gender is variant (You will always be a female/male). 3) Genitals are the essential sign of gender (vagina/clitoris or penis).

In the movie, “What Sex Am I?” a person that was born as a male could not identify with the male gender. They knew they were born in the wrong body and proclaimed it was a birth defect. It was then that the medical profession entered into the picture. These doctors that performed the surgery was stated saying, “[We are] correctly fitting people into the gender order.” Humans look at other humans and distinguish how to interact with the person by their gender. If a person is not getting the certain feed back that they are desired, something must be changed. This is the issue for those who claim to have been in the wrong body. Society will socialize them by their outer appearance, by which these people must correct.

We must closely look and distinguish between social constructionist and biological origins of gender. Social constructionists base their facts upon how social processes lead a person into a specific gender. On the other hand, biological origins of gender base their opinions on true biological facts. Take for example when a baby is born with undistinguishable sex genitals. Regardless of whether or not the infant has an X or Y chromosome, “if [the] penis [is] very small, the child [is] categorized as a girl, and sex-change surgery [is] used to make an artificial vagina (Lorber, p. 568).” It was often the case that biological origins of gender had to be scientific and “correct” the genitals of the born baby.

It was also interesting to see how children would react to playing with certain toys or interacting with the opposite sex. In the movie, “The Opposite Sex,” the research showed quite understandable results. The children considered playing with toys that were decorated as dark, mean looking toys as something a boy would play with. Whether or not it was a tea set, a doll, or a gun, they would always consider one of those a boys toy. There was also an observation made when a group of children were playing with each other. One of the boys happened to be playing with the girls in a make believe kitchen. It was the other boys that would come over to bring him “back to his senses.” They would tell him to, “come over and play with the guys, men don’t play with girl stuff.”

At an early age we see that our gender arrangements are illustrated to us at the beginning. It could be our parents suggestively telling us how a man should act and how a woman should act, by giving us the “boy” or “girl” toys. We are then placed into settings of our own gender and told to play with the boys or play with the girls. We are separated from interacting with the other sex. It socializes males to be strong with the guys and the females should be pretty and nice with the gals.

As we have seen, men and women have been socially trained at what gender they must identify with. As young boys and girls, we have once been given the chance to play with the opposite gender toys. Did we take that chance and been given the same respect? No, certainly not, or else we would not be shy or timid from “acting” or taking on attributes of a woman or man. Have people tried to socially act like the opposite sex? Sure, and now on some slight occasions they have been able to be accepted in the norm. This is not true unfortunately in most of the cases. Society has place boundaries and will consider a person taking on the role of the opposite sex, as offensive and outrageous.

In conclusion, in future times all societies will face this problem and will hopefully one day solve it. It is when socially we break down the barriers that we will break the hidden rules telling us what males and females should do. Like those in the Native American Tribes, if a woman can take on the roles and responsibilities of the male, so can we in a civilized society.

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