Marriages and Families:Changes, Choices, and ConstraintsSeventh Edition • Nijole V. Benokraitis • Chapter Five • Socialization and Gender Roles
Gender Myths We tend to associate stereotypically female characteristics with weakness and typically male characteristics with strength. He’s firm, but she’s stubborn. He’s careful about details, but she’s picky. He’s honest, but she’s opinionated. He’s raising good points, but she’s “bitchy.”
Why Do We Do This? We tend to see men as strong, not emotional and women as emotional and not strong, although we have seen those stereotypes change through the years and we are seeing them change even more.
Is There a Difference Between Sex and Gender? Many people use these terms interchangeably, but they have distinct meanings.
Is There a Difference Between Sex and Gender? • Sex refers to biological characteristics with which we are born. Such characteristics determine if we have male or female genitalia, among other things. We refer to primary sex characteristics as those physical characteristics at birth such as testicles for boys or ovaries for girls. Secondary sex characteristics are those that develop during puberty.
Gender is more fluid—it represents learned attitudes and behaviors that characterize people as men or women. Children develop gender identityas a perception of themselves as masculine or feminine. Regardless of sex, gender, and gender identity, both sexes experience emotions like anger or sadness—it is our gender identity that allows us to express that in a certain way. Is There a Difference Between Sex and Gender?
Gender Roles Gender roles are the characteristics, attitudes, feelings, and behaviors that society expects of males and females. The first place we learn about our gender roles is in our family. One of the very basic functions of the family is teaching us gender.
Gender Roles Because gender roles are learned and not innate, they can be changed. However, we still live in a culture with widespread gender stereotypes about how men and women are supposed to behave.
The Nature-Nurture Debate Those who argue that nature is most important point to three overall reasons: Health Differences—There are several diseases that affect women and men differently and are more severe depending on whether you are male or female.
The Nature-Nurture Debate The Effects of Sex Hormones—All males and females share three sex hormones. They are: estrogen (dominant in females), progesterone (present in high levels during pregnancy in women), and testosterone (dominate in males). After puberty, varying levels of these hormones in males and females produce different physiological changes.
The Nature-Nurture Debate Unsuccessful Sex Reassignment—In the famous case of the John and Joan twins, the famous psychologist John Money believed that one twin (who suffered accidental penis removal at a day old) could be raised as female and that she would never know that she had been born male. Money went on to publish numerous “data” about the case saying how wonderfully it was going, when in actuality the young woman (who was born male) was very troubled and eventually had sex reassignment back to male.
How Important Is Nurture? Most social scientists maintain that culture, not nature, makes us who we are. There are varying examples across different cultures that would seem to make this argument. What is considered masculine in one culture may be considered feminine in another culture. If all human features were inborn, there wouldn’t be this discrimination.
Male Aggression and Violence If being male meant being aggressive and violent (as we sometimes think it does), then male violence should be basically the same cross-culturally. This is not the case. In countries that still tend to be very patriarchal, male violence towards women is very high (as much as 80% in Vietnam), whereas in cultures where women are more respected, male violence is less (only 13% in Japan).
What Does the Nature-Nurture Debate Ultimately Tell Us? 1. Women and men exhibit some sex-related genetic differences. 2. Cross-cultural research shows much variation in characteristics that are deemed male or female. 3. Nature and nurture interact to determine our behavior.
Why Do Gender Roles Differ? There are many theories to explain for the differences in gender roles from culture to culture: 1. Sociobiology—argues that evolution and genetic factors can explain why men are generally more aggressive than women. To propagate their genes, they must defeat their competition. 2. Social learning theory—says that people learn attitudes, beliefs and behaviors through social interactions. The learning is a result of reinforcement.
Why Do Gender Roles Differ? 3. Cognitive development theory—Argues that children acquire female or male values on their own by thinking, reasoning, and interpreting information in their environment. 4. Symbolic interaction theory—says that gender roles are socially constructed categories that emerge in social situations. 5. Feminist theorists—say that gender is a socially constructed role that is taught carefully and repeatedly—much like social learning theory.
How Do We Learn Gender Roles? Parents are usually the first and by far the most influential socialization agents. Parents teach gender roles through: Talking—parents often communicate differently with boys and girls. Setting expectations—even at times unknowingly, parents set different expectations for girls and for boys in things like sports, school, and household chores.
How Do We Learn Gender Roles? • Providing opportunities—Parents provide cultural opportunities based on what is accepted for boys and girls. • Play and peer groups—can encourage gender-stereotypic behavior.
Teachers and Schools Teachers and schools send a number of gender-related messages that follow boys and girls from grade school through college. Teachers in elementary, middle, and high schools have a huge influence on our children and some have very sex-stereotyped expectations.
College Women earn about 58% of bachelor’s degrees and 60% of master’s degrees. Still, women focus more on traditional female kinds of roles like teaching, social work, and nursing. Some say women choose these fields because they like them, while others say they are not given the same early chances in math and science that boys are given, so they don’t choose those fields.
Popular Culture and the Media Media myths that every women should look like a supermodel assault our senses every day. Advertising is one important way that women are “taught” to look a certain way. It is not overt, but tends to be very covert.
The Publishing Media Newspapers especially tend to be very male-dominated. A survey of 104 national magazines and local newspapers found that in 3,500 frontpage stories, male sources outnumbered female sources almost three to one! For the most part, men still dominate written and television media.
Instrumentaland Expressive Roles Instrumental roles tend to be occupied by men in our society. They must be the provider and protector of the family. Expressive roles in our society tend to be played by women—they provide emotional support to the family, nurturing, etc.
What Are the Costs and Benefits? Traditional roles have both benefits and costs—see table 5.5 following.
Why Do Traditional Roles Continue? For many families, traditional roles are beneficial for several reasons, especially when one partner can be the sole breadwinner and one partner can be the caregiver when it comes to the children.
Gender Stratification Gender stratification refers to people’s unequal access to wealth, power, status, prestige, opportunity, and other valued resources because of their gender.
The Second Shift In many cases, one of the major sources of tension between couples is that there is an unequal split of the second shift—that time after work when housework, dinner, and child care takes place.
Gender in the Workplace In the U.S. (as is true in most of the world), occupations are gendered. While we say that anyone can do any job, there still tend to be jobs that are “women’s” jobs and jobs that are “men’s” jobs. There is certainly greater equality in the U.S., but we still have a long way to go.
Gender and Politics Again, as with workplace discrimination, discrimination in politics has come a long way. We still don’t have a female president, but with Hillary Clinton being appointed as the Secretary of State, and some female governors now, we are starting to make progress.
Gender and Politics Worldwide, the U.S. far lags behind many other nations in the world. Women in the U.S. are less likely to receive encouragement to run for public office. There is still a lingering sexism among some men and women that men are better leaders.
Gender and Education Our educational system seems to be gendered to some regard. When children enter kindergarten they score the same on similar tests, but by third grade the boys are scoring better on math and science. Is it because we expect them to do better in those areas so we “push” them? In higher education women earn the higher percentage of post-graduate degrees, but in typically “male” fields like engineering, a woman is much less likely than a man to be hired in higher education as an instructor in that course.
Gender and Religion Religion shapes gender and family roles in many ways. Religion also shapes the division of labor in the home. At religious colleges and universities, some female faculty members believe that their expected gender roles are constraining. Often there are few female full-time faculty at such institutions.
Gender and Interaction Women and men are more similar than different in their interactions. Research shows that women’s interactions focus around relationship and relationship building, while men’s communication tends to be more focused on conversational dominance, such as speaking more frequently and for longer periods of time.
The GlobalGender Gap Index The GGGI tries to measure the well- being of women on a global scale. It gauges the relative equility between men and women on an indicator.
The past 25 years have seen the beginning of dramatic changes in some aspects of gender roles. More people say they believe in gender equality. Significant change in gender roles elicits constraints for both sexes at every level: personal, group, and institutional.