Sample Sociology Essay Paper on Learned Gender Roles from Socialization Experiences

Learned Gender Roles from Socialization Experiences

            Socialization occurs throughout a person’s life. Primary socialization occurs in the early stages of life as we learn human characteristics and develop a concept of self (Thompson et al. 2016). In line with Thompson’s observation, my socialization experiences as a child played an important role in shaping my identity and in helping me to understand what society considered as the norm for my gender. From an early age, my parents taught me the importance of being courteous to people, especially my elders. I considered everyone from my parents’ generation to be worthy of being considered a parent. This meant that by the time I joined school, I found it easy to approach female teachers with the concerns that I would present to my mother, and male teachers with the concerns that I would present to my father. Furthermore, having both a brother and sister at home made it easy for me to interact with both genders upon joining school. I had been taught to regard all genders as equal and that it was okay to interact and make friends with any person, regardless of gender. However, my preexisting beliefs would soon be challenged through my experiences in elementary school and high school. As I will explain in this analysis, my experiences growing up taught me that some roles and behaviors are gendered, and that failure to comply with the norm may lead to discriminatory treatment by peers (Deutsch et al., 2001).

            In the process of developing gender identity, Thompson et al. (2016) explain that individuals are often needed to fulfill gender roles, which is made possible by acknowledging one’s sex and internalizing the norms, values and behaviors of one’s gender. I starting noticing this as a pupil in elementary school by observing a trend whereby boys preferred sticking together while girls did the same. At an early age, I noted that it is considered ‘girly’ for a boy to hang out in a group of girls, and that one was more likely to create more friends of the same gender if he/she identified with the interests of their own gender. I noticed that it was perfectly okay for a girl to cry but for a boy, crying showed weakness (Tilburg et al., 2002). Whenever a boy was engaged in a fight, it was expected of him to endure the unpleasant experience without shedding a tear (Tilburg et al., 2002). It was expected that a boy should dissociate physical pain from emotional hurt, because a man was expected to be strong. Similarly, girls were expected to be “girly” by keeping off behaviors and mannerisms that are associated with boys, lest they would be labeled “tomboys” (Doucet, 2009). Thus, a girl was expected to play with girls, to sing and be enthused by her mother’s baking, rather than climbing trees in the backyard with boys.

            According to Thompson et al. (2016), anticipatory socialization occurs during adolescence – serving the purpose of preparing us for future responsibilities as adults. As I reached adolescence, it was clear that I was growing up to become a man and that I had to fit into male stereotypes in order to survive in a world where only the toughest survive. I found myself interacting with my elder brother more and borrowing the influence of my father. Fortunately, my father was a good role model who helped me to grow up to become a responsible man. Nonetheless, I cannot overlook the fact that my experiences with society still had an influence on the way I regarded the life and expected qualities of a man. For instance, contrary to the earlier experience whereby a boy would be strictly required to stick with boys, the onset of puberty at the high school required boys to explore their ability to win girls over (Witt & Wood, 2010). At the same time, boys were still expected to keep off bright, colorful attire, lest they would be labeled gay. Boys who were not bold enough to make sexual advances to girls were seen as timid while girls who were not receptive of boys’ advances were equally stigmatized.

            Society taught me that one ought to have values and principles to be able to distinguish which gendered roles are justified and which ones have damaging consequences on me and on other people in the long-term. For instance, I learned that it is the role of men to stand up for the rights of those who are victims of bullying. I learned that it is my duty as a man to defy stereotypes and stand up against that which I felt was wrong. I also learned that I was at a favorable position to use my gender to get my voice heard and to speak for that which is right and to reject the wrongs of society.

            My experiences taught me that gender is more socially constructed than it is defined by an individual’s sex. Behavioral differences between males and females are the result of cumulative lessons obtained growing up. While gender construction may be harmful at times, for example, when men use their positions to oppress women, or when women use their gender to gain advantage over men (Thébaud, 2016), I have learned that it is possible to use our experiences towards bettering society so that it is favorable for younger generations. Thanks to the guidance I obtained from my parents growing up, I understood the value of respecting my elders. Further guidance from my father taught me that being a man required me to show a sense of responsibility and to stand up for that which is right. I believe that these lessons should be emulated in bettering society for future generations.

References

Deutsch, Francine M., Laura J. Servis, and Jessica D. Payne. 2001. “Paternal participation in         child care and its effects on children’s self-esteem and attitudes toward gendered             roles.” Journal of Family Issues 22(8): 1000-1024.

Doucet, Andrea. 2009. “Dad and baby in the first year: Gendered responsibilities and             embodiment.” The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social             Science 624(1), 78-98.

Thébaud, S. 2016. “Passing up the job: The role of gendered organizations and families in the       entrepreneurial career process.” Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice 40(2), 269-            287.

Thompson, William E, Joseph V. Hickey, and Mica L. Thompson. 2016. Society in Focus:             An Introduction to Sociology, Eighth Edition. New York: Pearson Education.

Tilburg, M. A., Unterberg, M. L., & Vingerhoets, A. J. 2002. Crying during adolescence: The      role of gender, menarche, and empathy. British Journal of Developmental             Psychology 20(1), 77-87.

Witt, M. G., & Wood, W. 2010. Self-regulation of gendered behavior in everyday life. Sex             Roles, 62(9-10), 635-646.