A little girl and boy go to play; the girl reaches for the Barbie and the boy reaches for the truck. Is this an unusual occurrence? Kids are heavily impacted by gender roles and know what toys are meant for them. Gender roles are placed on a person before they are born, and their effects never disappear. These stereotypes are placed strictly on children, and they cannot escape the rigid structure presented to them. Gender roles, a foundation of this society, have great effects on all children and cause many complications.
Gender roles are roles, standards, and general behavior imposed on someone due to their sex. They are learned through social influence (Tocu). Men are expected to be independent, tough, confident, assertive, strong, and emotionless. Women, on the other hand, are supposed to be loving, caring, tender, and in touch with their emotions. “In American society, men are supposed to be masculine, women are supposed to be feminine, and neither are supposed to be much like the other.” (Lipsitz 32) Men and women are held to different standards of behavior and are not supposed to act similar to each other (Lipsitz 32). Women are expected to be homemakers and take care of their family while men are not expected to deal with any domestic issues and only have to work (Meyerhoff). These expectations are put on people due to gender, but what is gender? Brilliant phycologist’s Barbara A. Kerr and Karen D. Multon define gender identity as a “spectrum of emotions that shows one’s male or femaleness.” Gender is how one represent oneself in societies standards; meanwhile, sex is your biological composition.
Gender develops over one’s childhood, and is not known at birth. A child’s gender identity is most fluid at one through four years old. Gender fluidity means not conforming to either set of standards for genders. (Kerr and Multon) Gender roles and standards of gender can be learned beginning as young as two years old. They are most rigid at ages five to six (Tocu). For children, gender means clothes, toys and sometimes the occupations and housework they see done by their parents. As they grow older, they begin to understand sex and gender and see where they fit in best.
Gender roles are placed on children before they are born through names and baby products. “The first crucial question asked by the parents of a newborn baby is ‘What is it?’ ‘A boy or a girl?’ only later will they be concerned with any other attribute of the infant, even its physical condition; the first priority is to establish its sex.” (Saltzman 22) After the sex is established the parents will begin to look for names, or even get a baby book full of names for that specific sex, girls need pretty names, boys need important and official sounding ones (Saltzman 22). Everything a child encounters is segregated by gender. Clothing for girls is bright, pink, sparkly, full of princesses and frills, and made to look beautiful. Boys clothing, on the other hand, is dark, blue,...