Gender socialization starts when you are first born and intensifies as one reaches adolescence contributing to gender inequalities in education, employment, empowerment, and other related issues. Gender socialization gives more information on the behaviors associated with specific sex during the development stage of a child and hence setting norm which should be adhered to by a particular gender. In the current world, it is believed that gender expression variations are credited to modifications in socialization instead of genetic makeup and therefore boys and girls are supposed to act in a specific manner since their tender age. Individuals have become socialized into considering gender as masculine-feminine binary; in some instances, individuals gender identity nay not align with assigned gender role. According to sociologists, the process of socialization involves transferring norms, behaviors, beliefs, and values and this consists of cultural practices governing a particular group and complying with social norms through education and instruction. Understanding gender socialization brings together essential historical concepts and shifts person behavior when interacting with society, i.e., political and cultural structures. Gender awareness together with exposure to gender from various resources of socialization impacts children’s attitudes. For example, some children may favor their own identity and therefore end up showing discriminatory behaviors. Gender socialization is important in people's growth cycle and gives more insight on what to expect in the future by how individuals behave, interacts and views themselves within the society.
As a child, my gender identity was brought to my attention, and I was heightened to the information concerning the people to interact with. My parents always exposed me to multiple sources that made me realize it was bad to spend much time with girls and playing their games. Since making a decision on who to play with was a challenge, my parents ensured that I mingled with their friends' children that provided me with opportunities to play in a mix-gender group to develop positive interpersonal relationships with both boys and girls. Since gender is one of the most essential aspects to be aware of, by the age of five, I was more aware of my identity and hence began learning cultural gender stereotypes, i.e., how to behave like a man and engage in activities that most boy children engage (Mills, 2000). I was more able to note what was appropriate and inappropriate for both genders and adopt behavior in accordance to my gender.
Due to increase in gender egalitarian attitudes within the society, my parents provided me with first lessons and guidelines about gender, and like many other parents, fathers are more expectant to regard their traits, activities, and abilities to their children, I was able to consider my gender status. This gave me the opportunity to hang out with my father occasionally and know what was desired of me from society, i.e., caring for the females and young ones more. This involved the provision of toys that described my gender patterns and socializing mote with other boys in activities such as football and other games (Mills, 2000). Considering how I was dressed; it came to my realization that I was different from my mother and thus reinforcing my gender roles. Also Interacting with my peers socialized me to my identity and therefore leading to my adoption of different behaviors rather than that of girls.
Education institutions are essential in establishing gender socialization; similarly, to parents, teachers have higher expectations for different genders. Since boys and girls have different roles when it comes to specific activities, we were used to being grouped when it came to performing particular duties (Stockard, 2006). Morally boys are believed to excel more in fields such as math and science, the teacher always encouraged me that in the future I should pursue engineering course or computer science. Also, this meant me being involved in more challenging tasks and exempting girls in such activities. Although girls participated in particular sports activities that we also did, I noticed their turnout was low and hence making me assume that this meant we differed to a certain degree.
According to religious beliefs, humans should act in a specific way, for example, most of the leaders in the Catholic church are men, and therefore some teachings stress on the issue such as the role of men or female. This involves reading bible stories that involve mainly men who are seen as a role model through their endurance and thus stressing more on our identity (Stockard, 2006). Church has enabled me to come into recognition whom l was and know the difference between genders by a trending Junior teachings.
Knowing proper gender role behavior helps one to differentiate on the roles and giving expectations that determine sociological imagination that guides intellectual concerns. This enables people to fulfill the promise of social science and focus on structural and psychological build up that determine one's behavior which affects values and character (Stockard, 2006). Since gender role defines appropriate behavior in children, this gives desire and ambition to explore their identity and engage in activities that fit their capability. Therefore, gender identity gives personal conception that defines outward manifestations of personality in terms of behavior, dressing and mannerisms.
Since gender norms are important in internal gender socialization, that is defined by standards and expectations to which men and women conform and hence defining a particular culture. Violation of these norms can result in society taking action against such Individuals such as imprisonment. Violation of these gender norms means forcing a kid to be who she or he is not and since this alters their overall behavior, and hence resulting to negative impacts where a child may feel like an outcast, society can take action of reporting the case to human rights organizations (Mills, 2000). Society may choose to isolate such individuals from the community and consider them as an outcast and may create awareness within the society by addressing the issue and asking children undergoing such experiences to seek help from organizations.
Gender socialization allows us to adhere to particular gender through behavioral adoption and hence come into a full realization of what we desire to be in life by the way we perceive others. Because many behavioral differences are attributed to socializing with individuals, people can comply with social norms and pre pare them for future endeavors (Stockard, 2006). Therefore, giving individual identity by considering how deeply our internal and personal experience feels and, in the process, corresponding to a person's sense of the body. This helps to establish healthy sexuality and determine the choice that people make in their adolescence and adulthood.
- Mills, C. W (2000). The Sociological Imagination. Oxford University Press.
- Stockard, J. (2006) Gender socialization. Handbook of the Sociology of Gender (p. 215-227). Springer, Boston, MA.
- Conley, D. (2017). You May Ask Yourself: An Introduction to Thinking like a Sociologist (Fifth ed.). New York, NY: W. W. Norton & Company Inc.