‘Boys will be boys’, a phrase coined to exonerate the entire male sex of loathsome acts past, present, and potential. But what about the female sex, if females act out of turn they are deemed ‘unladylike’ or something of the sort and scolded. This double standard for men and women dates back as far as the first civilizations and exists only because it is allowed to, because it is taught. Gender roles and cues are instilled in children far prior to any knowledge of the anatomy of the sexes. This knowledge is learned socially, culturally, it is not innate. And these characteristics can vary when the environment one is raised in differs from the norm. Child rearing and cultural factors play a large role in how individuals act and see themselves.
When expecting parents want to identify the sex of their child, occasionally the doctor will inform them to paint the nursery blue or pink rather than tell them the actual sex. More often than not they know which to expect, a boy or a girl, dependent on the color, and how to stock the nursery, with trucks or dolls, why is it that children are separated according to gender, and so early in life too? Sex is a reflection of biological organs, while gender is a state of mind. The concept of gender is so deeply rooted in society it becomes difficult to pinpoint its effects as learned rather than natural occurrences (Devor 383). It seems just natural for women to be the care givers and men the providers. Behaviors people become comfortable with are exhibited openly towards their children. Susan D. Witt states:
From the time their children are babies, parents treat sons and daughters differently, dressing infants in gender-specific colors, giving gender-differentiated toys, and expecting different behavior from boys and girls…one study indicates that parents have differential expectations of sons and daughters as early as 24 hours after birth. (1)
These expectations are passed on by parents and parents’ parents in a viscous cycle. When a person’s parent fits the vision of perfect masculinity or femininity the children are quite likely to mimic their acts. Proof of the cultural impact on gender; some backgrounds have more than the two genders typically associated with western societies. They are born either male or female but how they choose to identify themselves is their gender. In Samoa, the Fa’afafine are born males who choose to be raised as girls and are encouraged by their families and communities to act as such (Schmidt 1). Many occidental cultures, especially America, do not see it as such, this would classify as transvestism. Carmen Vázquez’s “Appearances” discusses, in depth, the effects of gender deviation in America, “At the simplest level, looking or behaving like a stereotypical gay man or lesbian is reason enough to provoke a homophobic assault…I call it gender betrayal…[one man] said, ‘We hate homosexuals. They degrade our manhood’ (Vázquez 474). American culture is so opposed to divergence...