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Gender Socialization as a Female

Essay by   •  February 22, 2011  •  Research Paper  •  1,454 Words (6 Pages)  •  1,360 Views

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Gender Socialization

We are currently living in a society where women are making new gains in the business world and are obtaining more jobs that at one time were considered "male" jobs. But, it is still no secret that women and men are not treated as equals. From the beginning of your life you are either treated as a male, or a female. Not in terms of sex, but in terms of gender. Stephen Sweet (2001) describes sex as being genetically determined, while gender is a social term that encompasses the expectations of men and women that are not sex-linked. From birth boys and girls are treated differently. The lives of boys and girls growing up are socially constructed throughout their childhood, mine was no different. The two agents that most affected my socialization are my parents and my peers. These groups showed me how to conform to the expectations that society was going to put on me because I was a girl. I believe that these three agents are very common among all people, but where they differ is in the context of the class society that we live in. These agents affect us all, they just may teach us different lessons. My middle class upbringing is very different from that of a boy growing up in the South Bronx, but the agents that affect us the most are the same.

My mother and father were the first people I had major interactions with when I was young. Therefore, they were the first and most dominant influence on my socialization into the world as a female. Many of the lessons I have learned from my parents still stick with me today. They are the ones that at a young age taught me the appropriate way to dress. Being a girl, I was expected to look nice, keep my hair combed, my shirts buttoned, and my collar flat. I was expected to wear a dress to church on Sunday and to always look nice for school. This lesson has stuck with me all nineteen years of my life so far. I believe in presenting myself in a manner that shows that I care about how I look and that assures everyone around me that I keep up on my personal hygiene. One thing that I was taught growing up that is different from how many females in generations before me were taught is that I would go to school and get an education, and that was the most important thing. I saw throughout my family women that had married and had kids at a young age and didn't have a high level of expectation for a career because that was the man's job. This was changing and my mother and father always expressed to me how important doing well is school was so that I could go to college and get a good job to help provide for my family. I attribute my work ethic and drive to do well in school to how I was brought up by my parents in order to conform to the changing norms of the society around me.

I believe that every child, no matter their social class, has learned a lot from their parents growing up. Many of life's lessons are learned in the early years of our youth and our parents are who we have the most contact with. I believe I relate to the boy in Fist, Stick, Knife, Gun because we both learned many lessons from our parents. Even though I was raised by two parents, and he was only raised by his mother we are still similar. One of the major lessons that Geoff learned at a young age from his mother was that as males on that block you couldn't be afraid of anyone and that he and his brothers had to stick together and fight for one another. One day when Geoff and his brothers returned from the playground with one of the boy's jackets missing the mother responded to them, "You let somebody take your brother's jacket and you did nothing?" (Canada, 1995:4) This enforced in Geoff and his brothers that family was very important and you had to stick up for each other on the streets. Even though this lesson was much different from any lesson my mother ever taught me, it shows that no matter what socioeconomic class you come from, or what street you live on we are all influenced by the same primary agents, the largest being our parents.

After my parents I believe that my peers were the next biggest influence on my socialization. Friends place different pressures on you, that your parents cannot, that teach you lessons that are still very important to how you grow up. After your parents you spend a lot of time with other kids around your age, mainly the ones you go to school with who live in your neighborhood. Growing up I lived in the suburbs so most of the kids I went to school with lived really close by and I was able to develop some very good friendships. From my peers I learned that at recess girls jumped rope or played on the swings while the boys played football or soccer. I learned that girls had to try to look pretty to fit in, while the boys could wear sweats and still be cool. Also



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