Gender Socialization - Research Paper Example

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The aim of the paper “Gender Socialization” is to analyze differences related to gender role, sexuality, and the fulfillment of age-appropriate social activities. The clothing for toddlers and elementary aged school children were made of the same materials…
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Gender Socialization
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Gender Socialization

After visiting all of the appropriate clothing, toys, and bookstores specializing in products for youths in varying levels of cognitive and physical development, it became clear that there were significant differences related to gender role, sexuality, and the fulfillment of age-appropriate social activities. The clothing for toddlers and elementary aged school children were more durable and generally made of the same heavy cotton materials. This was true for both female and male clothing, which seems to reinforce that manufacturers automatically expect that youths will be engaged in more rigorous play and experience exposure to dirt, spilled foods, or other haphazard recreational activities. In terms of gender lines, for the very young children most of the clothing was indistinguishable other than color and the presence of male or female-oriented characters. For preteens and teenagers, the clothing was much more identifiable for male versus female articles, often decorated with different slogans and inexpensive faux jewelry, suggesting a less rigorous lifestyle. These differences between early-aged youths and teenagers exist as it is during this stage where youths experience moratorium or attempt to gain their own self-identity through fashion. Toddlers and elementary-aged youths have not yet reached this level of self-awareness in terms of identifying with their social environment, thus the clothing is more streamlined than with the unique patterns and styles available for older youths in their adolescent years. For teenagers and preteens, much of the clothing available did not exhibit any noticeable sexuality aspects other than the short skirts available for teenaged girls.
The toys available were generally the same across the shelves, except for those more masculine toys for teenagers that included military-garbed action figures while young girls were being exposed to promotional products that included make-up, homemaker accessories, and other feminine-minded products adorned in pink and light blue packaging. At the bookstore, most of the products were similar for boys and girls until reaching the section for older teens that were more themed related to gender, such as books by Judy Blume that dealt with identify formation for girls related to their sexual development and curiosity about their bodies.
Consumer products, based on the research, seem to group children into appropriate gender roles, only after they have reached the elementary age and seem to carry more depth related to socially acceptable gender roles after they have reached early adolescence and beyond. There is definitely a trend that indicates consumer products expect more gender segregation for the preteen and teenaged children, hinting that older children will tend to socialize more with their own gender groups than the younger, elementary-aged children. The virtually indistinguishable male and female clothing, toys and books for younger children were appropriate (mostly) for both boys and girls and did not become unique and gender-specific until advancing into the age group of early and mid-adolescence.
Manufacturers are responding to both market demands and the social norms that exist in the country related to expected gender roles for boys and girls. Demand is created by the youths themselves as they get older and begin to establish their own sense of identity in relation to their environment and peers (or even media) and is a product of the cultural norms which exist in this country. Advertising for these products might play a role in creating demand, however it is the presence of gender-specific expectations for youths in older-aged brackets that builds interest in these products. Preteens and teenagers have reached a stage in cognitive development where they begin to think abstractly (Huitt & Hummel, 2003), while younger youths are more expressive and consider less in terms of gender segregation. Based on all of the data discovered, it seems that the most gender-specific items (whether toys, clothing, or books) did not become segregated until they were marketed for elementary-aged children and beyond.
Huitt, W. & Hummel, J. (2003). “Piaget’s Theory of Cognitive Development. Retrieved 3.8.2011 from Read More
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