Gender Roles- Stereotypes Agents in the Society

Social institutions such s the church or generally religion, the family setting, mass media, school and even peers have been described as agents of socialization since time in memorial, this means that they have the power or influence to change the outlook of an individual pertaining to different matters. Socialization, which is a process whereby people gradually learn how to relate with other people as well as their social expectations, takes place in these institutions together with the broader culture. The socialization process teaches boys and girls importance of taking up their culturally assigned roles, thereby guaranteeing constancy in carrying out of social and reproductive roles which are expected from birth, parenting and the broader social expectations of each gender. As Gardner explains differences are visible from the time the child is born. Immediately after the sex of the child has been identified , it becomes the beginning of gender roles through clothing, colors, toys, personal interaction among other attributes usually associated with each gender. Beyond the family setting, the social construction of sex roles ends up defining the parameters for both women and men in various significant fields of the society for instance, politics, economic issues, education and religion as well. Consequently, gender cannot be separated from the structural basics of the society which emphasize on gender roles through the social institutions in addition to the figurative depictions and relations expected of each gender. According to Gardner, there is no evident inequality inbuilt or inborn in the biological attributes of any gender since most studies claiming so are just in the primitive stages, gender roles eventually leads to different outcomes and consequences for men and women. Stereotype may lead to unequal or imbalanced access to resources and dissimilar value is placed on each gender. Once social expectations are forced on roles, it tends to give unfair advantage or power to one gender and at the same time devalue the other gender. All this has led to differences being seen in various aspects of life like income distribution, occupational patterns as well as more personal patterns in terms of sexual exploitation and domestic abuse. A look at both micro and macro elements shows that women tend to have a reduced value in the society compared to men. As a consequence, social construction of gender generates structural obstacles to gender fairness and equality which further reinforces the conventional gender constructs. The following social institutions are agents of stereotyping in various ways;

The family Unit
Family is the initial or earliest agent of socialization. Parents, siblings, grandparents as well as extended family members are all involved in an individual’s o some extent teach him or her basics of what they ought to know. For instance, the family unit is in charge of teaching the child how to use various objects like computers, bicycles, books, utensils and many others. How these individuals interact with other people is also taught by the family, they are told to refer to people as family, friends, neighbors’ or even strangers. As Gardner puts it, once the baby is born he or she becomes accustomed to what the people around him or her do or how they act. Girls are handled differently and considered delicate or even weak compared to the boy child by the family while the boy will be described as more active, sturdy or rough. This is already a stereotype since the rough girls who are active are seen as weird and even told to behave like a “girl”. Parents also act differently depending on which gender is involved. The girl is more supported and in some cases rarely punished since expectations from her are lower. On the other hand, the boy receives a tougher approach in his upbringing especially from the father because it is important for him to grow into his role as a ‘’man” and he has to be masculine. Their parenting is stricter since he is expected to achieve more to become independent and successful in Oder to become respectable person. Furthermore, family provides children with their initial system of norms values and beliefs and in most cases these are imparted onto the children subjectively depending on the family’s status, ethnic group religion and other perceptions. These systems are usually a reflection of their own experiences. Another approach shows that most boys are given more freedom because they are left to be independent in terms of curfews or dating habits while girls are protected to prevent them going astray, since they are considered weak and in need of supervision. Because they are given higher expectations, boys are exempted from carrying out some domestic chores like cooking or cleaning and these are left to the girls because they are termed as “feminine”. The girls are restricted by their expectation to be more nurturing, passive and in general obedient therefore having to assume the house duties. This socializes the children into assuming their “roles” as is expected.

The School
The strengthening of stereotypes and gender roles goes on even when the child enrolls into school. Research proposes that gender socialization is still very much part of the education system even though it has gradually reduced. Even in lower levels like in kindergarten, girls are treated in a manner likely to suggest that they are less intelligent compared to the boys. A good example is when a study that was conducted targeting how teachers handle girls and boys showed that the boys were given more chances to express themselves better and received more appreciation than the girls. Boys are in addition allowed a greater extent of freedom when it comes to adherence to rules in the school. Minor deviance acts and breaking of rules is associated to the boys while girls are expected to be more obedient when it comes to following rules. Schools emphasize the divergence in gender roles by placing boys and girls in competitive as opposed to collaborative arrangements. The two sexes are also encouraged by the teachers and other faculty in the school to join or participate in extracurricular activities depending on their gender. Girls are expected to take up piano or dance lessons while boys join the school football team. If a boy chooses to engage in singing or ballet for example it is looked at as weird or not normal. And this made worse by the fact that boys tend to receive more ridicule as a result of gender nonconformity. At the same as a girl opting to take up basketball or karate, she may be referred to as tomboy. When it comes to studies, boys have always been considered smarter especially in technical subjects and sciences because they tend to score lower yet the fact that they get higher grades in languages and arts compared to boys is not focused on at all. Generally through socializing boys and girls into behaviors’ such as following rules and schedules and teamwork while the teachers serve as leaders and role models reinforces the society’s expectations from the children. Sociologists depict this characteristic of schools as a concealed course or curriculum or a form of informal teaching.

According to Ursula, Religion is an important avenue of socialization for many people. In some religions there are obvious displays of sex segregation being practiced. In the Jewish synagogues, the men and woman’s section are usually separated by a curtain or wall referred to as a mechitza because the men are not allowed to conduct prayers in the presence of the women to apparently avert any forms of distraction this is sexist view which perceives women as sexual objects. In the Islam religion, there is also segregation brought about by the stringent rules of interaction between the women and the men. According to the Muslims Quran, the women are not allowed to go into the mosque without having their hair covered with hijabs, modest clothing, have no nail polish or perfume among other things that are also considered distractions to the men through causing sexual distress. As a result of this, they pray separately or behind the men. When it comes to roles in the marriage unit, Christianity tries to balance the relationship between the man and woman but still emphasizes on the man being the head of the family and therefore the woman has to be submissive and listen to him. The Islam religion allows the men to marry from different religions whereas the women are only supposed to get married to a Muslim man. If a woman initiates divorce it becomes difficult because she has to return the dowry paid for her and at the same time give up child custody if he or she is above seven years. However, the man still has to take care of the woman in some cases. In Christianity, because God is more associated with the male gender, the men are considered more god-like compared to the women hence require respect. For instance, in 1 Corinthians 11:7, man is described as "is the likeness and glory of God whereas the female is the glory of the man". This reinforces female inferiority and male superiority. Modern life is gradually beginning to bring out a shift in these trends because it is the women who run things in the home and in some cases even at the work place currently.

Mass Media
Mass media is another agent of gender socialization. In movies showed on the television, women are predisposed to less important functions and constantly depicted as just mothers and wives. If they are lucky enough to land a lead role, women have to act in a certain extreme way, either as a saint like or all round decent figures or mean and spiteful, hypersexual roles further supports this by stating that children usually emulate certain leaders in the society and this includes in movies that they watch since they see these characters as their role models so the media has a lot of influence in forming perceptions about gender which most people follow. Commercials on television as well as different forms of advertisements promote gender stereotypes and inequality. Women are more or less completely present in advertisements that promote cleaning, cooking, child care and other products related to the women type of work. Generally, women are more prone to being underrepresented in major roles involving intelligence or leadership. A major cause for alarm is the representation of females in dehumanizing ways, in particular their portrayal in some music videos. This is also becoming rampant in the marketing strategies’ being used by mainstream media when it comes to advertising. Women’s bodies or sex appeal is used to attract people and popularize products or services. Sexuality and violence themes are escalating. An example is a music video of the song “pimp” by 50cent, similar to a lot of rap videos, the women are portrayed as scantily dressed and servile intended for the benefit of men. The men on the other hand have to be depicted as fearless, tough, authoritative and commanding which fits into the masculinity of the male role in the society. Even children know this due to the representation of the superheroes, male of course as tough people who have to fight for the community to restore justice. They are also given more speaking functions and roles. The men however also receive negative connotations. They are known to be helpless around the house and television shows depict them as inept when it comes to raising the children. Movies and talk shows show that the man is only concerned with sex, food or beer and sports which are not necessarily true since even men are capable of being home makers.

Most of these roles that social institutions have imparted into our minds are gradually being avoided or overlooked due to modernity. Both genders are currently involving themselves in fields that are considered dominated by the opposite sex. This I becoming the norm as people become more accepting of the diverse roles and that each gender can engage in whichever activity they wish.
12/07/2017 08:15:32
Or visit this link or this one