From the moment we come into the world, gender is identified and we start to become socialized. When we are born, there are specific roles that are attached to what sex we are. As an infant these roles may not be enforced right away, but sooner or later we are expected to act a certain way, because of our sex. The moment a new life is formed in the womb we began the socialization process. One of the four agents of socialization is the family. When we prepare this new life’s room, we are placing expectations of gender on our child. This is why we see most baby girls’ nurseries pink or purple, and boys’ nurseries blue or red.
Couples often chose neutral colors when they do not know the sex of the baby, such as yellow or green. Society has even placed certain colors with specific genders. Another way we place gender roles on our new babies is when they are born in the hospital. Right away the colors are presented again. They place a pink outfit on baby girls and a blue one on the baby boys. Also, in some cases there are procedures, such as circumcision for boys that are done because society has told us that this is the normal way for a male’s body to look. Relatives can also place expectations on our children.
From the moment they are brought home infants are treated a certain way based on their sex. Girls are held tightly and handled with extra care, because society has taught us that our daughters are supposed to be protected by us. We speak to them in a soft tone of voice that is nurturing. On the other hand, our boys from day one are taught to be tough. We talk in a deeper tone of voice with them so they can know what it sounds like to be manly. When we carry them we bounce them around and are rough with them so they can be tough. Gender is even placed on the items that our children play with.
This does not start out right away. When they are infants most of the toys are gender neutral, which means it is okay for either sex to play with. However, when they become toddlers, around the age of 3-5 years old, this is when toys are made for specific genders. For example, Tonka trucks are made for baby boys, and there are all sorts of dolls made for little girls. I find it ironic that when our children are around 2 years old it is normal for them to play with giant building blocks for their mental development, but if a girl would want to play with Leggos she would be playing with a boy’s toy.
This continues through the rest of life. There are certain items made for boys and others made for girls. Boys’ video games are usually fighting or sporty, and girls’ video games usually have something to do with Barbie or taking care of a pet of some kind. Parents socialize their children by giving them certain role around the house. Girls are usually responsible for the indoor chores, such as washing dishes, washing clothes, cleaning the bathrooms, bedrooms, and living room, and even helping out in the kitchen when meals are being prepared.
Boys, however, are usually expected to do the dirty work, such as taking out the trash and maintaining the appearance of the house on the outside. The sports our children play also have gender attached to them. Boys’ sports are more physical and have more contact involved, such as football. It shows the physical strength of the individual. Whereas, girls’ sports are not as risky, but still involve some physical strength, such as volleyball. The only difference is there is usually not any contact involved in girl sports. We have even gone as far as to tie gender and occupation together.
Men have always been “considered” superior therefore we have placed them at the top of the totem pole when it comes to their personal achievements. Men are expected to attain the top positions within a company, or just in general. Men are usually expected to become doctors, lawyers, politicians, or any job that is considered to be elite. Women, on the other hand, are expected to do the nurturing jobs, such as teachers, nurses, and counselors. Socialization is a process that starts from the moment or sex is identified. Society has placed roles and expectations on genders that we feel the need to conform to.
This is so normal to us that we do not even notice when a large percent of nurses are female, and a large percentage of doctors are male. Gender not only determines our career path, but it determines the toys our children grow up playing with, the sports they play, the chores they do, and even the person they become. In fact, we are the person we are because we went through the socialization process. Whether we like to admit it, or not, almost every choice we make is determined by the way we were socialized and gender roles.