Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Response to "Becoming Members of Society: Learning the Social Meanings of Gender" by Aaron H. Devor

“We acquire gender roles so early in life and so thoroughly that it’s hard to see them as the result of lessons taught and learned. Maleness and femaleness seem ‘natural,’ not the product of socialization.” (Devor, 424)

            Gender roles are taught at such an early age that it’s very difficult to even see them as a lesson. It feels like that’s all there is and there isn’t anymore. You’re either a boy or a girl and that’s how your parents raised you. Your gender role as a male or female is just the “natural” way of doing things. If anyone diverges from their assigned role it is considered unnatural and even immoral by many. I agree with Devor’s opinion that gender roles are taught at such an early age before the child can even realized that they don’t have to follow these societal norms. I’m not saying that a person should be able to chose if they are male or female, you should just accept who you are and what gender you were born with. My point is that you should be able to chose your behavior as a male or female. Individuals should be able to decide for themselves if they want to be more masculine or feminine regardless of theirs gender. In addition, their parents should be supportive of their choices despite of what seems “natural” according to society.



“Children learn that they are both as they see themselves and as others see them…This ‘generalized other’ functions as a sort of monitoring or measuring device with which individuals may judge their own actions against those of their generalized conceptions of how members of society are expected to act… In this way, people can monitor their own behavioral impulses and censor actions which might earn them social disapproval or scorn.” (Devor, 426-427)

            I strongly agree with Devor’s point. Children often base their behavior and personality on their observations of those around them. Children can compare their behavior to see if they are acting “normally,” or at least what society considers as the norm. They will then adjust their behavior to fit those around them in order not to be ridiculed by others.  This is how children learn what is the proper way to behave; we’ve all done it. I can even admit to it. When you’re a little kid you look up to others to show you what’s the proper way to do things. This theory can also be applied to an individual’s gender role in society. A child learns how to behave appropriately according to their gender from others around them. Children learn to control their actions in order to avoid being made fun of or being left out in the playground. 


Lesley said...

I agree with everything you said. Yes children have been raised to only know the "cliches" of gender roles but that is the way that men and women are naturally. No one had to teach a man to be tough and masculine and no one had to show a women how to behave loving and nurturing. It is the natural way they were created. So if a male or female wish to behave outside of those stereotypes then that's entirely their prerogative. Kids will see and notice that though because they realize from when they are born and raised that its just the "human way" for men to be men and women to be women. They see it on their tv shows and while watching movies and reading books. Little girls get Barbies and Ken dolls which completely portrays the feminine beautiful girl and her boyfriend/husband, the strong, buff, masculine Ken. When they see a different approach in life it is normal for them to question it. I know my sister did when she was little and asked why a man had long hair. She called him a "She-man".

Diana Perez said...

You're saying that you should accept who you are meaning your "sex" but yet decide what gender you want to be, whether more masculine or feminine. I agree with you on this, but these are two different words with different meanings people often confuse.
Kids are taught to play with certain toys and do things a certain way but dont you believe that when they are at an age where they are too young to realize how "girly" or "manly" they look they just want to play with the most attractive toy to them? For example a little boy at around the age of 6 months who has an older sister and sees her playing with dolls and then he sees that his toys arent as colorful and attracting as hers, he would most likely want to play with the dolls instead. I dont think that would affect his gender in any way, this can continue throughout his growth development.