About this sample
About this sample
Words: 2158 |
11 min read
Published: Apr 11, 2019
Words: 2158|Pages: 5|11 min read
Gender is a social construct meant to explain the biological differences between male and female. In this case gender is being man or woman. Even though it is determined by sex of the individual, gender defines masculinity and femininity. Gender ultimately dictates gender social roles of the different sexes; male is associated with masculinity and female by femininity. The characters associated with masculinity include courage, assertiveness, need for power and authority and independence. Femininity is associated with care, gentleness, warmth, empathy and sensitivity.
Gender socialization is one of the most important aspects of the society. The roles are clearly known and boy and girls are treated differently from the time they are born and are expected to pass the same to the next generation. Gender socialization occurs using four main institutions and agent; family, peers, media and education.
To be male means to have the male physical appearance; to have muscles, a deep voice, and male sexual orientation while being a man means having courage, assertiveness and dominance. The physical features are translated into the social roles and expectations. For me, as a young boy, there were several actions that were encouraged and others were not. I was always dressed in blue and if I wanted anything pink I was cautioned against it. Apparently blue is for boys and pink for girls.
My parents would buy me toy cars, toy guns (water guns) and was encouraged to play outside in the mud and grass. These toys and games were meant to promote solitary play, aggression and improve on motor skills. On the other hand my sisters were encouraged to play with dolls, pretend to be cooking and hosting tea parties and play in doors to avoid getting dirty. These games would promote a sense of nurturing in them. From the onset I knew that being a boy meant to be rugged, tough and courageous while being a girl meant being a homemaker and a good host. I remember once I was out playing with the other boys and we dared each other to climb on top on a tree and those that were afraid were being criticized that they were “acting like girls and cannot fit in with the rest of us”. That incident made me understand that being a boy meant overcoming my fear and being courageous even when not asked to be.
I remember watching the movie called Express; about how American football was revolutionized back in the 1950s and it was clear that while the girls worried about getting their nail polish ruined, the boys would run, get hurt and sometimes injured for sport and still come back to the field. There was a certain feeling of achievement to make it into a team where getting hurt, injured or hospitalized was eminent. The girls were more sensitive while the boys were taking risks.
I always loved being a boy, because it meant running after each other in the mud and rain, building tree houses, watching horror movies and at time reenacting them, setting the neighbor’s yard on fire, stealing useless stuff and constructing what seemed worthwhile to us. At that age we never really cared about social class, we wanted was to take risks and get thrills from the risks. Everything to boys is a dare and sometime we would get into serious trouble. The one thing that was clear is that disputed had to be settled with a fight and a handshake and no hard feeling were left behind. The most powerful boy, the leader, was the one who was strong enough to defeat us in all tasks and courageous enough to take risks. Toys were our own creativity.
There was never really any concern about meeting the expectations of the society. Being boys to us, and personally me was second to nature. All I had to do was ensure that I never got into too much trouble to avoid being grounded and being locked up in the house.
Once I became an adolescent, my construct of gender changed and I became confused. Apparently, according to the society, there are behaviors of a boy and of a man but adolescence is a grey area. I remember as opposed to when I was a boy, as an adolescent I did not know what was expected of me and every so often I would find myself in trouble. My parents tried to talk to me about the body changes that I was experiencing and how they will affect the person I am to become. It was tough for me to be open with them about my concerns as all I could see them as was the source of authority and punishment.
I would in turn discuss issues with my peers who did not seem to know much and we would more often mislead each other. I wanted more freedom to choose what to do, what to wear, who to interact with and really emphasized on privacy. During this time social class played a major role, as I could only mingle with adolescent boys from my social class only. Schools offered sex education to adolescents but the information would leave me with more questions than answers. I was lucky enough to have a good neighbor, a former army soldier who always bragged about serving his country. He was my role model. He told me all there was about being an adolescent boy and what is expected of me when I grow up and become a man.
We talked about career choice and he discouraged me from taking careers in hospitality, nursing and human resource; those were too feminine. He encouraged me to be a fire fighter, an engineer, a soldier or a pilot; masculine careers for men. He was encouraging me to notice young girls and if possible talk to them. In order to approach a girl, I required being confident and decisive, as men do not doubt themselves. He would tell me to run for office to be the school captain and when I told him I feared losing he told me that real men don’t fear losing, instead they fear letting an opportunity of trying pass them by.
I remember how he taught me how to drive a car, he told me that confidence and understanding the art was all I required. To date his advice still rings in my head in almost everything I endeavor. From my mentor I learnt that confidence, bravery and courage were not a choice, to be a man, and they were a requirement. That was when I understood why boys in some African communities undergo painful initiation processes that are believed to turn them from boys to men. They are made to go through painful experiences, and expected to endure the pain. Now I understood that the boys actually felt the pain, they just endured it to meet the societal expectations; to be accepted and understood as a man.
During this time, I remember wishing for a lot more than I had and would envy those who had more than I did. This made me to seek for approval from those who had what I wanted. Peer pressure here became real and I would do things that before I would have never done. I would question almost everything including the authority from parents. Without proper mentorship, adolescent boys who have been taught by society to never be afraid to try something new can easily fall prey to crimes. At this point I was tempted to try alcohol, drugs, different dress codes and even crime. However, my mentor would always talk to me and bring me to reality.
I also believed that girls had it easy in comparison to boys. All they had to do was look pretty and they could be invited to any dance or party, but for me it was all about knowing the right person and acting cool.
As a young adult I had accepted that I was now a man and adolescence had taught me that choices come with consequences. If I longed to have something, I would have to work hard at getting it; there are just no shortcuts in life. I had learnt that a man does not complain about not having something, he instead figures out a way of getting it. I saw myself as the ultimate decision maker in my life and that peer pressure and other’s opinions was meant to distract and advice be consecutively.
In most of the relationship I had be it friendship or even family, I had learnt to be assertive in communicating what I wanted, consequently if I felt I was being oppressed I would quickly end it. Being a man also means being responsible by paying the bill at the end of a date with a girl, dropping her home and making sure she’s home safe, maintaining a steady job and helping out at home by fixing things. Conversely, it felt off for me to be cooking, serving, cleaning and even doing laundry, these are more feminine chores that I can only do when left without a choice.
My neighbor and my parents have made significant contributions to influence my understanding on gender role and how the society expects me to be. My parents have made me understand what is right and what is wrong and that I am accountable for my actions. As a young man, they showed me that being a man means being brave and courageous at the same time warm and gentle depending on the situations. I have to understand and access the situation and then choose the kind of man I want to be. As a young adult in the spirit of choosing a manly course I chose physical and social sciences and easily closed the door to several careers but at the same time I opened doors to careers that can impact people’s lives and change it.
As a young adult I could notice power, status because I had started seeing the consequences of choices and actions. Those adolescent boys who decided to be assertive and had some form of independence never feel for peer pressure enough to ruin their lives. Being able to afford all the necessities challenged me to work hard to be a better person.
Currently as an adult man, I believe that there are no doors closed for me; the career I choose is based on my passion and not the role that the society believes I should play. I am exposed to a world of possibilities that I can achieve anything I seek to achieve. The perceived closed doors are a state of the mind. I believe that I have been equipped with the necessary personality traits that the current society requires for survival.
There is no gender that has privilege over the other; the society currently offers equal chances and opportunities to achieve the best and improve the society. As a man I believe that the current society offers equal chances without discrimination to both genders. Education has played an important role of ensuring that girls and boys have been educated equally and they have equal chances of pursuing their career of choice.
It is a survival for the fittest society and the traits I picked up being a boy, an adolescent and a young adult has made be to be brave, courageous, decisive and responsible and this prepares me well for the society. I hope to instill the same in my male children should I have them in the future.
The society has its already set gender roles that are taught in the informal social institutions; conversely education has empowered the perceived weaker gender, woman, to be able to compete equally with man. Previously, in work places only a third of the women used to apply for positions that they are qualified for as opposed to three quarters of their male counterparts. But with the increase in the lean in movement, more women have been empowered. Also, the current government has put in place legislation that allows women to earn the same as men, through the Paycheck Fairness Bill that advocates for equal pay for both men and women and reduction in workplace discrimination.
According to my own personal observation, I believe that gender roles and identity exists but only in the informal social institutions like families and marriages, conversely in the formal institutions like schools and work places, there is equality and discrimination by assigning roles based on gender is highly discouraged. This ensures that both informal and formal social institutions flourish.
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