Gender Roles

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorCollege, Undergraduate September 2001

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Gender and gender roles are a constantly evolving part of our lives. Our gender influences the way we perceive ourselves, and the way that we are perceived. As this paper will discuss, our societal gender roles dictate what is acceptable and unacceptable for people of our gender. Often these roles can be harmful to a maturing person who defies the normal behaviors of their gender.

Some say that before we are even born, our gender exists inside us. This is an essentialist viewpoint. Essentialists say that we have inborn gender, and that it is maintained solely in our chromosomal make-up. It often seems that we are brought in to a world with our future already planned out. Our parents have conscious and unconscious expectations for us. They conform to the societal expectations for parenting. As soon as the sex of their baby is found out, the parents conform to society's preexisting notions for their child's gender.

The parents behave this way because of their interaction. Parents contrive proper gender actions from other parents and the media, and they form expectations for their own children based on this interaction and based on their own experiences. They decorate the nursery in the colors typical in this society for each gender- blue for boys, and pink for girls. These two colors are one of the most common and earliest ways for society to impose gender roles on the young.

Along with colors, parents choose toys and clothing that conforms with society's standards. Boys are dressed in clothes that are accommodating to their "active lifestyle,"� with harsher and more rugged fabrics, such as denim and cotton. Girls are dressed in more formal and showy clothing, with more delicate fabrics such as velvet and lace.

The toys we select for our children...