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Understanding Gender and Gender Roles
• Sex-refers to male and female in a biological sense. • Gender-refers to male or female, often in a social sense. • Role-refers to the culturally defined expectations that an individual is expected to fulfill in a given situation in a particular culture. • Gender roles-are the roles that a person is expected to perform as a result of being male or female in a particular culture.
as a result of their sex.• Gender-role stereotype-a rigidly held and oversimplified belief that all males and females. • Gender-role attitudes-refer to the beliefs we have of ourselves and others regarding appropriate male and female personality traits and activities. possess distinct psychological and behavioral traits. . • Gender-role behaviors-refer to the actual activities or behaviors we engage in as males and females.
• Gender identity is based on genitalia. • Cultures determine the content of gender roles in their own ways. • Gender identity-The psychological sense of whether one is male or female. • Our gender script determines the role you will fulfill during your lifetime. • We acquire gender identities at a very young age. . and learned at a very young age. • Gender identity is perhaps the deepest concept we hold of ourselves.
• The problem with the view that men and women are opposites is that it is erroneous. the bipolar gender role was the dominant • model used to explain male-female differences. • 3. males and females are polar opposites. Men and women are more alike than different. Males possess exclusively instrumental traits. American beliefs related to gender roles have changed little.Contemporary Gender Roles • Until the last generation. According to this model. • 1. • 4. • 2. While sociologists no longer use this model. . Females possess exclusively expressive ones.
. with males possessing exclusively instrumental traits and females possessing exclusively expressive ones. • Gender schema-is a set of interrelated ideas that help us process information by categorizing it in useful ways according to gender. • Bipolar gender roles-in this model.• Gender schema is one way culture exaggerates existing gender differences or creates differences where none otherwise exist. males and females are seen as polar opposites.
Male-female relationships are characterized by power issues.Gender Theory • Gender theory is based on two assumptions: – a. • Gender theory focuses on: – How specific behaviors or roles are defined as male or female. . • The key to the” creation of gender inequality” is the belief that men and women are "opposite" sexes. Society is constructed in such a way that males dominate females. – b.
from behaviorist psychology. • The cornerstone of social learning theory is the belief that consequences control behavior. Positive reinforcement rewards behavior. .• Social learning theory. while negative reinforcement makes it less likely to recur. suggests that we learn attitudes and behaviors as a result of social interaction with others. • 2.
• Cognitive development theory stresses the idea that we learn differently depending on our age.• Cognitive development theory focuses on the child's active interpretation of messages from the environment. .
• Gender-role learning in childhood and adolescence is influenced primarily by parents. • During infancy and early childhood. and the media. usually their parent(s). peers. teachers. . a child's most important source of learning is the primary caretaker. • Children are socialized in gender roles through four processes: • Through manipulation. certain behaviors are reinforced until children accept their parents' views. parents differentiate in treatment between boys and girls. • Immediately after birth.
. • Teachers. become influential as children enter day care or kindergarten-the child's first experience in the wider world outside the family. parents use different words to describe the same behavior by boys or by girls. • Through exposure to different activities or chores. • Through verbal appellation.• Through channeling. as socializing agents. children's attention is directed to specific objects.
• Children's perceptions of their friends' gender-role attitudes. and beliefs encourage them to adopt similar ones in order to be accepted. behaviors. but parents can be more influential than peers. • Peers react with approval or disapproval to other's behavior. peers continue to have a strong influence. • Peers influence the adoption of gender-role norms through verbal approval and disapproval.• Peers. become especially important when the child enters school. a child's age-mates. • During adolescence. . • Peers reinforce gender-role norms through play activity and toys.
• Parenthood-tends to alter women's lives more than it alters men's lives.• Gender role learning continues in adulthood and takes place in contexts outside the family of origin. • The workplace-has different expectations and opportunities for men and for women creating different attitudes toward achievement. when children are born roles tend to become more traditional. • Marriage-is an important source of gender role learning. with our partner's expectations shaping our behavior. . • College-encourages young people to think critically and to sometimes consider alternatives to traditional gender roles.
with men showing instrumental traits and women showing expressive traits. work. . • Traditional men see their primary family function as that of provider and are more often confused by their spouse's expectations of intimacy.Gender Matters in Family Experiences • Traditional gender-role stereotypes ascribe traits to one gender but not the other. • Central features of the traditional male role. include dominance. regardless of ethnicity. and family. • Males are generally regarded as more power oriented and demonstrate higher degrees of aggression.
• The traditional female gender role did not extend to African. Black women do not see working outside the home and motherhood as mutually exclusive.• Traditional white female gender roles center around women's roles as wives and mothers. women subordinated themselves to males out of respect for the male's role as provider. • Contemporary gender roles are evolving from traditionally hierarchical gender roles to more egalitarian and androgynous gender roles.American women because employment and self-reliance are integral components of their roles of wife and mother. . • In traditional Latino gender roles.
• Men are expanding their family roles beyond "breadwinning": Many of those in the evolving Men's Movement share the beliefs of feminism. . this is less true for women from ethnic and minority status groups. but husbands continue to have more power in actual practice. • Record numbers of women are choosing not to have children because of the conflicts it creates. • Women have greatly increased their power in decisionmaking. • The mutually exclusive division of traits as either male (instrumental) or female (expressive) is breaking down.• Women are increasingly taking on the roles of employed workers and professionals. although these may conflict with parenting.
• When the man's roles of worker and father come into conflict. it is usually the father role that suffers. • Men continue to have greater difficulty in expressing their feelings and may be out of touch with their inner lives. contemporary gender roles and expectations continue to limit our potential. and in many cases are expected. • Contemporary men still expect.CONSTRAINTS OF CONTEMPORARY GENDER ROLES • Although substantially more flexibility is offered to men and women today. . • Men are required to work and support their families rather than have the same role freedom to choose to work as women have. to be dominant in relationships.
• Differences in gender roles have created what Bernard calls the "his" and "her" marriage: Each gender experiences marriage differently. .• Research suggests that the traditional female gender role does not foster selfconfidence or mental health: Both men and women tend to see women as less competent then men.
• Androgynous individuals and couples appear to have a greater ability to form and sustain intimate relationships and adopt a wider range of behaviors and values. • Individuals who are rigidly both instrumental and expressive. • Androgynous gender roles are characterized by flexibility and a unique combination of instrumental and expressive traits.ANDROGYNOUS GENDER ROLES • Androgyny refers to the state of combining male and female characteristics. are not considered androgynous. despite the situation. • Contemporary gender roles are still in flux: Few men or women are entirely egalitarian or traditional. .
separatist strategies for women out of the belief that their subordination is too embedded in the existing social system.• Gender reform feminisms: are geared toward giving women the same rights and opportunities that men enjoy. sexual orientation. race. • Gender-resistant feminisms: advocate more radical. . • Gender-rebellion feminisms: tend to emphasize overlapping and interrelated inequalities of gender. and class.
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