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March 26, 2013

Sample Essay on Socialization

In our everyday language and our habits and the way we are brought up are constantly slipping between uses and understanding of words such as masculinity, femininity, masculine, feminine. Part of this awareness is, we know that these words are common and widely known and used in our lives. Other times, it seems that we have become used to associating the particular terms or their use in a specific situation, which makes us unaware of the issues or problems it brings with it.
 In this paper, therefore, I am going to explore the aspect of my socialization in which I was intrinsically taught about the gender differences through the family, peer and media attitude. I will also delve on the meaning of "masculine" and "feminine" in the society.
Connell (1995) defines hegemonic masculinity as:
The configuration of gender practice which embodies the currently accepted answer to the problem of the legitimization of patriarchy, which guarantees (or is taken to guarantee) the dominant position of men and the subordination of women. (Connell, 1995, p. 77)
That it is not, as Connell himself seems to admit at times in his argument, "the use in which we call some women" masculine "and men "Female", or certain actions and attitudes "male" or "feminine", regardless of who displays it"(p. 69) that arises it. It seems to lead to a situation in which masculinity in general, remains a bit out of the concept of discussion, but the "hegemonic masculinity" becomes a kind of ideal-typical construction of what men cannot adapt what is found empirically, but not closely related to collective ideas about men in a given society.
In my view we have a situation in which masculinities are various ways that defines "how men should empirically found to behave", but are then ranked according the closeness of their relationship to a particular hegemonic masculinity. Same is the case of perceiving feminine characteristics.
Researchers like Cynthia Fuchs Epstein (1988, 1999, and 2007) assert that the differences or gender assigning of roles is mostly because of the culturally embedded values in the minds of the people in their upbringing. Though it is a fact that historically men and women enjoyed gender equality in term of performing the same tasks, the modern women do not enjoy such status. This is mainly because of the difference in the social arrangements. So the debates that whether it is nature, that is biology, that shapes the gender views or nurture, that is socialization, that influence it, is a controversial one in which the social dimension holds the dominant position.
            But it is usually emphasized by some sociologists that there are some natural biological factors that play a major part, apart from the social factor, in shaping the gender differences. As Alice Rossi (1977,1984) states that females are attuned to mothering better than men as they are more sensitive to the skin of infants. This is a biological predisposition that is emphasized by culture. As it is thought that it is not society but the innate difference that defines man and women. As historically the societies were patriarchal and men have always been more willing to accept the dominant role. According to him this male dominance is “inevitable resolution of the psycho physiological reality”
When I as a child underwent socialization I was taught about the different roles girls and boys are suppose to fulfill. This imposition of roles and features is so subtle that according to Susan Goldberg and Michael Lewis, parents especially mothers teach these gender orientation without being aware of it. These roles include that girls are passive, docile and dependent while boys are taught to be aggressive, rebellious and independent (Goldberg, Lewis, 1969). These different roles entail different toys for boys and girls like dolls for girls and guns for boys. No boy was supposed to play with dolls it was only for girls.
            But the researches on gender socialization show contrary results. Since the role family and peers play in the socialization is very important. The role of parents in encouraging the stereotyping has been mentioned but some researcher like Stern and Karakar, have noted that young children are more gender-stereotyped than adults. (Stern and Karakar, 1989). In fact research has shown those fathers are more inclined to gender-type their children than mothers (Mitchell et al., 1992). But now it is being noticed that children raised by their fathers exhibit healthier behavior towards gender roles (Pruett, 1985).
            Apart from parents, peers are also an agent of gender socialization, since they develop expectations and identify certain behaviors as gender appropriate and act and interact according to these new formed beliefs. Similarly in Guns and Dolls ", Laura Shapiro cites the results of scientific studies and reports on differences between boys and girls and their causes. The article explicates the idea that differences between girls and boys are learned (social), rather than innate (biological). Harvard professor of psychology Jerome Kagan explains, "If in our society, nature is the gift of life, devotion, affection, aid, and the girl learns subconsciously that these are the qualities that it must strive to achieve. And the boy will not. And that is exactly what is happening "(Shapiro). Here the professor concludes that because the boys do not raise children and they simply do not learn the same qualities as the girls. It supports that girls are taught early on that they are the nurturers and caregivers, and are made aware that they are different from boys.
The role of media in reinforcing the gender stereotypes is also very important which makes children often internalize gender stereotypes from books, songs, television, and the movies. Of the numerous factors that help influence gender-typed behaviors, role models and imitation are extremely influential. So children watching the gender-type television programs are more likely to imitate that stereotype. Additionally we as children also imitate the important persons in their lives and develop such games in which they role play by practicing social roles like “playing mommy” or “playing daddy”.
            Thus as the inheritance of values is an important aspect of socialization, children in America and all over the world are influenced to adapt specific perspectives regarding their day to day interaction. This aspect of socialization is very important which shapes the way the child is going to behave as a grown up.

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