Saturday, September 24, 2011

Chapter 5

1.) Chapter 5 is titled “Socialization and Gender Roles.” The chapter discusses gender myths, similarities and differences between males and females, the nature versus nurture debate, and the major subject is Gender Roles. Gender Roles are discussed at length in the chapter, including: differences in gender roles, learning from them, traditional views, gender roles in adulthood, variations in gender roles, and five theoretical perspectives. These perspectives are: (1) Sociobiology – the study of how biology affects social behavior; (2) Social Learning Theory – people learn attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors through social interaction; (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 Theories – gender roles are socially constructed categories that emerge in social situations; and (5) Feminist Theories – gender is a socially constructed role that is taught carefully and repeatedly.

2.) Under the section “Why Do Gender Roles Differ,” I found the idea of Sociobiology interesting. Sociobiologists argue that men are generally more aggressive than women because they need to prevail over their rivals in orders to ensure the propagation of their genes. This idea made a lot of sense to me when you consider the animal world, where the dominant male mates with the females, but I never thought of it in terms of humans. I also found the Social Learning Theory to be interesting. The definition for this theory is in part one but it is a result of reinforcement, imitation, and modeling. Again, when this idea made sense to me in regards to the animal world because pets, such as dogs, need to be with and play with other dogs because they will learn things from other dogs that they cannot learn with humans. Then when I thought about it in terms of humans, it clicked, so to speak. When we’re young, we learn what to do, what to say, how to behave, and such from interacting with other kids, whether it be in school or on the playground. We also learn these things from interacting with adults, for example, children interacting with teachers in school teaches them proper behavior. The book also mentions that in 2009, Disney released The Princess and the Frog, which features Disney’s first black princess. However, it says that critics asked why the hero is a white prince. I’m somewhat confused by this because from watching the movie, I didn’t think the prince was white at all, he seemed foreign to me because of his tan skin, dark hair and accent.

3.) I’m curious as to other people’s opinions on the Nature vs. Nurture debate. We all know that some of these gender “myths” can be true in some families or that they can be actual myths in other families. I would like to know how you guys feel gender roles have changed today (have they changed a lot, or have they barely changed) and how they might possibly change in the future. For example, I believe that gender roles have changed significantly. You can see it in families that have Dads that perform domestic responsibilities, or the fact that there is a women’s tackle football league – given, I think they were little, tight uniforms but still, it’s a step. You can even see it in politics, we now have women who are interested in running for President, whereas 30 or 40 years ago, I doubt a woman believed she’d be able to do so.


  1. I think that although gender roles have shifted a drastically, there are still a lot of things that haven’t changed. For instance, you brought up about how women who play in a tackle football league wear tight clothing. Women’s images are extremely sexualized and have been for ages. Although we may be gaining more respect and may be advancing in our general lives, I think this notion of us being sexualized will hold back exactly how far gender roles are able to shift. This also makes me think that until we are able to gain the proper respect from men and have them view us as equals, the paradigm will not shift. With this being said, the “myths” about the nature versus nurture exist only because they hold some truth. It seems very similar to the typical stereotype; although the stereotype may not be true or hold much to back it up, the stereotype formed for a reason-because at one time there was enough evidence to hold it to be true. In my opinion this doesn’t mean that things will not change, but I think this is our biggest controversy and the largest component to holding us back from success and equality.

  2. Nature vs. Nurture -- The gender roles that we have been raised into comprehending and perpetuating are informed by both social and biological factors. Biological factors offer natural suggestions as to how we should socially constitute gender roles; for instance, women do not gain muscle as easily as men, and so it is not surprising that women are in general expected to be physically weak, whereas men are expected to be physically strong. Nature operates in this physical dimension making suggestions. There are many social constructions that are not informed by nature, such as the fact that women make better cookers and cleaners than men. That women make better cookers and cleaners than men is a purely social norm -- not in any way informed by or suggested by nature. When it comes down to it, we decide on gender roles as a society and people are 'nurtured' into them. Nature suggests that men should be lumberjacks rather than women, but society must affirm it (and does). Meanwhile, nature makes no suggestions as to whether women should cook or run for political office, but society once affirmed that women should cook. Ultimately, we are raised into seeing gender by our behaviors being sanctioned and rewarded in accordance with pre-established gender norms.

  3. Mari-Kathryn:
    I agree. I took Sociology of Gender and we discussed female athletes. Today, they are idolized, just as male athletes are. However, when you see them in magazines, they are dolled up. If they are mothers, they are shown with their kids. Whereas, the male athletes are shown in uniform, looking just like an athlete would look. Change that's been around for so long will obviously not happen over night but hopefully sometime in the future, things will change.

    So I'm assuming that you feel gender socialization is a mix of both nature and nurture?...

  4. I think gender roles have shifted drastically. If you take a look at how many women are the breadwinners in the family and how many fathers are now "stay at home dads." Just with that alone I think gender roles have shifted dramatically in the past years. With that being said, I also agree with what Mari-Kathryn said about how even though women are playing tackle football it has become very sexualized and the notion of women being sexualized will hold back exactly how far gender roles are able to shift. I think in some aspects gender roles are shifting drastically, but in some aspects things are staying the exact same.