Gender Socialization: Is family or society more to blame?

754 Words2 Pages

Gender may be a universal concept, but the meaning of gender differs between societies. The way humans behave, speak, experience, think, and view the world is the final product of socialization. From the moment the sex of a fetus is known, humans are being molded into the person society wants them to be. Different parts of society have different functions in the gender-socialization process. The familial relationships and interactions one has with their immediate surroundings—peers, school, religion, and neighborhood—are the most influential aspects of gender development. Loosely connected societal influences like mass media, politics, and culture are influential as well. Throughout childhood, one’s family and interactions with their immediate surroundings teach and reinforce gender, while the rest of society acts as a reinforcer. During adolescence, the broader society begins to take on a minor instructor role in relation to the family in the further development of gender. Essentially, family always acts as the main gender instructor and reinforcer, while society acts as the secondary gender instructor and reinforcer.
What is gender? Gender is present everywhere in society. However, people do not consciously choose to do gender. Gender is intentionally and unintentionally taught and reinforced by family and society similar to how language is learned. Gender is not innate, but it is universally recognized, which is why people think that gender is a natural, essential, and biological behavior. Associated with gender are gender roles and gender characteristics that each gender is expected to perform in order to be considered normal in the eyes of society, who function as the reinforcing gender police. If a behavior t...

... middle of paper ...

... supported or proved (Ferree & Hall, 2000). However, gender could be the result of evolutionary pressure from the past. Gender differences arise from biology and are reinforced as they become social norms. Lorber states that the biological fact that females are born a little smaller than males is exaggerated to the point where: Women grow into adults who are less physically strong and competent than they could be. The effect of women’s exaggerated physical difference from men at birth spills over into everyday life (1994).
“Ultimately, women have become dependent on men” to perform simple tasks and for resources necessary for survival and reproduction (Lorber, 1994). The two sex-based body types—man and woman—have led to corresponding gender roles and characteristics, which are different lifestyles where certain behaviors are expected based on one’s gender.

Open Document