Gender Socialization in Clothing and Toys

One principal and pertinent sociological study is research pertaining to everyday life. Gender socialization is what educates people to put their gendered actions into practice in the context of their own culture or traditions. These mannerisms of human interactions are what make the societal norms. Having sociological knowledge permits one to understand the source code or framework on which the society is grounded on. One is able to perceive the manner on which people are disadvantaged or advantaged and possibly derive compassion out of the intricacy of the society. Through gender-role socialization, both boys and girls would acquire information on the sexual dissimilarities, cultural, and social expectations. It is outright logic to blame the society for the stereotyped color delineations in boys’ and girls’ clothing and the princess and car toys for girls and boys respectively.

Gender socialization is a factor behind why boys are inclined to certain toys whereas girls to others. Even the toy manufacturers sell gender-specific toys and they carry on the gender roles considered as traditional. It is habitual for girls to play with dolls, doll structures, and domestic things such as stoves, dishes, and sinks owing to their domestic skill, nurturance, and physical attractiveness. Boys, on the other hand, are given toys that are exciting, competitive, violent, and even dangerous such as gun toys. They enjoy shooting squirt guns and constructing block towers while girls prepare a pretend meal in a make-believe kitchen. Boys usually play with car toys, wagons, and trucks. The boy toys are more or less spatial-temporal and lead to aggressive tendencies, take the case of a toy soldier.

Consider the example of JCPenney which has separated the first floor in two separate sections: The first section is designated for girls whereas the second section is left for boys. The sections are differentiated from each other in clothing designs, colors, toys, and decorations. Girls are not only accorded the pink color, but also the purple and neon colors. Boys, on the other hand, are accorded the dark colors including green, black, and certainly blue. This is in regards to clothing as it is rare to associate masculinity with a pink color. The texture and design of clothing are aspects signifying the gender separation. Girls’ clothes are usually the lightest, softest, and thinnest bearing Disney character styles that are fashionable among children. The styles portray girls as beautiful, adorable, and sweet. Boys’ clothing also bears characters that are popular among them including Spiderman, batman, sports, and other well-liked superheroes.

Truck motifs are designed for boys whereas pink is designed for girls. Honestly, it is sometimes difficult to get a hold of gender-neutral clothing essentially for parents that seek to go against gender stereotypes. Boys’ clothing usually has pictures of sharks or fire engines whereas girls’ clothing would bear pictures of cats and princesses creating gendered clothing. However, society has begun enlightenment essentially as it pertains to girls’ clothing which is now embracing some male gendered stereotypes such as including dinosaurs in their T-shirts.

It is ordinary for girls to love pink clothes and boys to be dressed in blue clothes. This is a societal construct that has been embedded for years now irrespective of whether or not the child would own the color later on in their lives. Nonetheless, it is a general rule for women to dress in certain clothing viewed as masculine, whereas the contrary is uncommon. This is the reason why men would hardly put on dresses whereas women have the privilege of dressing both in trousers and dresses. Girls are expected to be put together at all times, unlike boys.

There are differences as it relates to the achievement-oriented tendencies, instrumentality, and expressivity of both men and women. Society expects a girl to be the household maker explaining why they are bought the pretend kitchens for them to make the pretend meals. Boys are expected to be strong, protective, to tolerate pain, to be decisive, independent, to tackle danger, and become forceful in explaining why their toys involve a lot of tumble and violence and their agentic skills. Strenuous effort is required in the attainment of masculine status. Girls are associated with physical attractiveness and care which manifests in their relationships and motherly roles including nurturing alongside other communal roles.

Gender-specific messages contribute to the stereotypes pertaining to what boys and girls should participate in. Girls are informed of their beauty whereas boys are informed of their manly strength and how they should refrain from crying as it is a show of weakness. The girls are informed on how they should be submissive to men, that they should not fight with men for they are inferior sex, and they should stay away from men until marriage. This also explains why there is contention surrounding the LGBTQ identity as some view it as a contravention of the norm. Today, people are convinced that the greatest gender expression differences are because of socialization differences as opposed to biological and other genetic aspects. A boy seen playing with dolls or wearing heels would be bashed for going against typical culture. Generally, adults and children who fail to conform to the stereotypes of gender are usually excluded by peers for their dissimilarity.

Sociological inquiry involves both quantitative and qualitative techniques. They further include observation, interviews, content analysis, case studies, life history, historical research, feminist research, and even the utilization of tape recorders and films. Nonetheless, there are three principal sociological methods including the historical method, observation method, and the statistical method. According to Bertrand, there are five methods including the philosophical method, deductive method, survey method, historical method, and comparative or anthropological method.

Gender socialization sources facilitate in shaping the gender developmental recognition among children. The sources incorporate teachers, peers, and parents. Parents are the ones responsible for offering children their initial lessons regarding gender. Parents play the role of modeling and heartening varied behaviors and practices in their daughters and sons. Many times when a mother is pregnant, people would ask her regarding the gender of the child and then form social categorizations that persist in the course of life. This also explains the reason why the nursery is painted blue for a boy and painted pink for a girl. Nonetheless, throughout the course of children’s upbringing, they get to acquire their own gender definitions obviously through their socialization with teachers and peers. Teachers would uphold traditional gender stereotypes and biases which may be clear-cut or unconsciously held. Moreover, culture is a way of life and one is identified by their culture. One also obtains a sense of identity-based on the culture they are affiliated with.

Growing up, I often associated with members of my own gender owing to gender socialization essentially in gender-segregated schools. I also knew that girls were different from boys both physically and biologically. I also often played with members of my own sex creating a stereotypic play. Little did I know that this would contribute to certain conformity to gender conventional images or stereotypes. The selection of similar sex playmates further contributed to my gender stereotypic nature. Bandura opines in her Social Learning Theory that a child acquires learning through modeling and imitation. Gender is key in the way in which girls and boys acquire insight on how they ought to act and look. For instance, girls are always instructed to place their legs together at all times whereas boys are not instructed on the same.


  1. Bertrand, M. (2019). Replication data for: The Gender Socialization of Children Growing Up in Nontraditional Families.
  2. [bookmark: _gjdgxs]Boe, J. L., & Woods, R. J. (2018). Parents’ influence on infants’ gender-typed toy preferences. Sex Roles, 79(5-6), 358-373.
  3. James, L. (2019). Gendering Toys: How Pink and Blue Define Life Outcomes for Children.
  4. Kwan, K. M. W., Shi, S. Y., Nabbijohn, A. N., MacMullin, L. N., VanderLaan, D. P., & Wong, W. I. (2019). Children’s appraisals of gender nonconformity: Developmental pattern and intervention. Child development.
29 April 2022
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