Socialization, Policies, Male Domination: Shaping of Gender Roles
In this gender roles essay, I will discuss how gender roles can be constructed in a number of ways such as through policies, socialisation, and society. Gender roles are a result of societies norms and values, thus why it becomes a “social construct”. Policies affect gender roles by emancipating women and providing greater chances for well-paid careers and independence, which diverts attention away from the generic nuclear family. Secondly, primary socialisation is shaping what is believed to be traditionally 'feminine' or 'masculine”. Thirdly, radical feminists believe that the male dominance in society teaches gender roles, therefore perpetuating gender norms. This essay will rule out how gender can be learned.
Policies that have been introduced that have affected how gender roles can be learnt over time are acts such as the abortion act 1967, divorce act 1969, equal pay act 2010, sex discrimination act 1975. This has meant women have more chances in full-time, well-paid employment. Resulting in more “single mums” and a delay in child bearing as women can now enter education and full-time jobs without early pregnancy and pressure of conforming to the stereotypical mother role. Creating a shift from typical gender roles for the younger generation. The idea of seeing parenting in a new light such as women in other roles rather than domestic labour, or even the standard jobs such as teaching, clerical work, store clerks has meant society is progressing, therefore gender roles are merely something that can be easily unlearnt in respect to policies giving that freedom. Gender roles are also learned in terms of the political and economic system as a way to establish men’s and women’s place in society. It can also have contrasting effects; undermining women for the second-class status. For instance, maternity leave but the man is expected to keep working putting the breadwinner back into effect. Gender is socially learned; it is a social construct through the public sphere (low pay for women) and the private sphere (domestic labour) this has been amended giving way to women to establish their role in society through their desires and hard work instead of the control of the capitalist system. Engle’s talks on “gender and class”. Social equality and communal sharing gave way to private property and a class hierarchy. Men can gain pronounced power over women. With wealth being passed on to heirs, upper class men took interest in their children. The desire to control property prompted the creation of a monogamous marriage and the family. Men would be certain of paternity especially who their sons were, and the law ensured that wealth passed on to them. Capitalism intensifies male dominance, as it produces large amounts of wealth conferring greater power to men as wage earners on top of owners of their property. An expanding capitalist society depends on consumers and seller’s women fit into this as “consumers” convincing women that fulfilment comes from buying and using certain products developed. The practice of men being at work more than women has slowly perished but there are still signs that exist such as women maintaining the home in certain circumstances. The Gender pay gap is 18.2% a 7.9% increase since April 2020. Gender roles are learned from the norms and values shared in society. Gender roles can be learnt through these statistics. Furthermore, it promotes men in terms of inheritance of property and careers, leaving women disadvantaged. Men hold the power of being able to own property, making women inferior. This can lead back to the norm of the male being the breadwinner and woman taking care of the house, children as well as the husband. This can be used as an example of how gender roles can be learnt not only from a young age but also during adulthood.
Secondly, we can learn our gender roles from primary socialisation through parenting, toys, and conventional played roles. For example, social learning theories suggest that differences in gender behaviours are learnt, the same way as all behaviours through a mixture of rewards, reinforcements, and punishments. From its earliest days the baby boy is rewarded for behaving “boyish” and punished for being “girl like”. This asserts that from young we are rewarded to act as our sex and punished when acting opposite to our gender. Society creates several divisions between what children are given at a young age if that’s toys such as cars, trucks for boys or even the way parents communicate with a girl compared to a boy. cognitive theories Kohlberg analyses that go to any primary school and you will see how boys and girls sort themselves into groups of their own sexes and this continues in a lifelong process of being reinforced within particular gender patterns. Gender roles are learnt through interactions as a child, it is typical to go to the mum if hungry or to help clean but go to the dad for other problems such as school work etc. This can link back to the intense connections between a child and their mother and the dependence they have on her. Chodorow states although gender identity is established in early lives, it is only provisional structure and one that is open to change in later life. In terms of male gender roles are learnt through peer groups, school, and workplace. They become overwhelmed with work seeking success in it, this concern at work is the key to male identity simply reflects the earlier experiences of childhood the quest of power, autonomy. A theory was explored by Charles H. Cooley’s the “looking-glass self” (1902). Cooley argued that an individual’s perception of himself or herself is based primarily how society views him or her. In the context of gender, if society perceives a man as masculine, that man will consider himself as masculine. Thus, when people perform tasks or possess characteristics based on the gender role assigned to them, they are said to be doing gender (rather than “being” gender), a notion first coined by West and Zimmerman. It was emphasized that gender is maintained through accountability. Men and women are expected to perform their gender to a point that it is naturalized, and thus, their status depends on their performance. Ultimately, gender is learnt through being socialised into the conventional stereotype of femininity or masculinity.
Feminism suggests that the male dominance is how we learn our gender roles. This increases the effects of women continuously holding up the same traditions. The masculinity of a man is established through the expectations of society and the socialisation process which leads them to take up certain masculine roles, e.g., being dominating, and powerful. Men and women are constructed when communicating to one another they will behave in ways that perpetuate their gender identity. Wilson, a Darwinist evolutionary theorist argues that for individuals who ‘… perform their sex role more successfully, their genes would have superior survival value, and so we would expect progressive differentiation of physical and mental equipment as parallel evolutionary developments’. In modern culture there exists a prerequisite for a man and woman to fulfil their biological purpose in order to be successful. It can be vital for society in order for it to work. Examples such as “warm bath theory” and “organic analogy”. Biologically the difference between sexes can be justified but many would argue that there are more similarity’s rather than factors that bring sexes apart it’s down to the norms and values held in society that shifts and sorts of genders into separate categories in order for each individual to fulfil their role. Gender roles can be ultimately down to the power imbalance between a man and woman contemporary society places masculinity above femininity. In patriarchal societies, the male’s perspective and contributions are considered more valuable, resulting in the silencing and marginalization of the woman. Feminism focuses on the theory of patriarchy as a system of power that organizes society into a complex of relationships based on the assertion of male supremacy. This evidence demonstrates that society operates in a way that values men more, putting them at the top of the hierarchy while women can find themselves replicating home chores there exists “gender stratification”. In summary, gender roles are replicated by male domination being the most dominant, which allows gender responsibilities to continue.
Overall gender roles are learnt from the three key factors, socialisation, polices, male domination. Modern-day culture and traditional components push forward conventional gender norms, that are expected to be fulfilled it becomes a natural part of performing gender identity. Society puts pressure on both females and males to execute gender roles. Gender roles are not always set since we now live in a society where women have adapted to diverse fields of employment and children are no longer surrounded by the conventional norms and ideals of segregated marital duties.