From the moment, one enters the world they either hear those around them say, “boys will be boys” or “act like a lady”. What do these things mean? Traditionally, boys are taught to show aggression over fear or sadness because those are viewed as emotions that show weakness and are associated with women. When a young boy falls off his bike he is told not to cry or to suck it up, but in comparison, when a young girl falls off her bike she is allowed to cry and is given affection to make the tears go away. Traditional gender roles are instilled within a person from birth and are fulfilled throughout one’s entire lifespan. Gender roles also dictate the way one utilizes characteristics associated with aggression and power. Although not everyone subscribes to traditional gender roles, it is without a doubt that society enforces majority of people to do so thus dictating how males and females choose their emotions and actions based on aggression and power.
Women and Relational Aggression
Before diving into the research, it is imperative to recognize the two main forms that aggression takes on. According to Matlin (2012), there can be physical aggression, which is characterized as deliberate violence that could cause bodily harm to another person, or relational aggression, which is defined as a form of hostility that could damage another person through purposely influencing personal relationships. It is males who primarily use physical aggression while females tend to use relational aggression. In the research done by Basow, Cahill, Phelan, Longshore, and McGillicuddy (2007) stated, “Because indirect aggression (including relational aggression) differs from direct aggres...
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...from serious psychosexual problems.
It is without a doubt that if one is wanting to change the problem of male and female aggression in society, one must first break down the stereotypical gender role. While the female gender role is not as physically aggressive as men, relational aggression still produces a significant amount of damage to one’s personal health and their relationships. With the male gender role being particularly physically aggressive and powerful, physical and sexual aggression will occur to those they see as weaker than them. Gender roles create a circle of aggression for both men and women and should be put to rest. In conclusion, one should no longer say “boys will be boys” or “act like a lady”. Until gender roles allow people to accept themselves as equals, no progress will be made in regards to aggression within males and females.
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