Paper 2: Gender Acquisition

Paper 2: Gender Acquisition – Individuals learn gender – to identify as a girl or boy/woman or man, and to be able to act in gender-appropriate ways…

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Paper 2: Gender Acquisition

Paper details

PAPER #2: GENDER ACQUISITION 

Instructions REMEMBER: Your paper must be word-processed, double-spaced and at least 1000 words in length (excluding your name, title, and references). 

Individuals learn gender – to identify as a girl or boy/woman or man, and to be able to act in gender-appropriate ways. But individuals do not always conform to these lessons completely, or consistently. 

Drawing from course materials, discuss four (4) examples that illustrate different modes of gender acquisition – through socialization (emulating adult or media examples; elicitation, or being treated in gendered ways; education) and ritual (e.g., rites of passage).

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One example may come from your own observations of a culture/society. 

Evaluate each particular example in terms of how it’s supposed to work (and what it’s meant to convey about gender), and how it seems actually to work (or not) in practice. What means of gender acquisition seems to you to be most powerful? Why?

Solution

Gender Acquisition

Gender acquisition refers to how people learn to identify themselves as either a girl/woman or boy/man and shape their lives specifically in a manner conforming to how the gender should behave (Meade & Wiesner-Hanks, 2021). Such phenomenon is prevalent across communities and is considered core aspects of such peoples’ lifestyles.

There are two modes of gender acquisition: socialization and rituals. As a result, the paper will explore these modes of gender acquisition, focusing on examples such as media, family roles, rites of passage, and debutante balls. It will further examine family roles as the most powerful means of gender acquisition. Therefore, gender acquisition through socialization and rituals are critical societal elements dictating gender identities and perceptions within the community. 

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Gender Acquisition through Socialization

Gender socialization refers to how children learn about social values and attitudes related to gender (Hoominfar, 2019). Children are drawn into aspects of gender, and in particular to same-gender models, developing a perception of their gender identity. Influences from the media and family roles are two examples that illustrate gender acquisition. The promotion of gender-based stereotypes by the mainstream press orchestrates the acquisition of gender.

For instance, the media, such as television, reinforces gender stereotypes and inequalities through gendered advertisements (Blodget, 2020). In this case, women are used for advertising products related to cooking or childcare, presenting women as neglected and feeble. In contrast, it presents men as powerful and energetic. Blodget (2020) observes that using images of women as sex objects who depend primarily on men is consistent with cultural notions of gender.

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Family plays a significant part in gender socialization as well. Merla (2018) argues that parents set gender roles examples by supporting or opposing particular boy and girl behaviors. Such messages support children’s understanding of gender. While many parents nowadays strive to treat their kids equally, gender norms influence how we parent and relate to our relatives.

For instance, parents socialize gender roles by interacting with their children, setting an example of behavior, and sharing activities (Merla, 2018). They separate home responsibilities like childrearing (for girls), lawn mowing (for boys), caring for domestic animals (for boys), or cooking dinner (for girls) to teach kids what it means to be a girl or a boy in a family. This shapes the children’s future perceptions about gender since they continue the cycle by applying it to their children.

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Gender Acquisition through Ritual

The formalization of cultural norms and practices in shaping people’s perceptions of gender is included in gender acquisition through rituals (Meade & Wiesner-Hanks, 2021). For instance, rites of passage are celebrations marking a person’s progress into another phase of life. Birth, adulthood, aging, and ancestor-ship are among them. The investigation and expression of gender and sexuality are part of several rites of passage.

Consider marriage and how the ceremony promotes gender norms and sexuality through rituals like specific dress rules and “walking down the aisle.” Mukanda, for instance, was a rite of passage for the Chokwe group in 19th-century Angola (Meade & Wiesner-Hanks, 2021). In this context, getting married to another guy was both a milestone and a natural part of a man’s life cycle. A young warrior presents his parents with spears just as they would if their son were to wed their daughter. The boy assumes the spouse’s responsibilities, doing domestic duties and having sex.

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Consequently, Lindqwister (2019) observes that the ritual of debutante balls continues to reinforce racial and social inequality, perpetuate traditional gender norms, and legitimize heterosexuality. The progressive societal changes throughout the centuries have not effectively reduced dehumanization and gendered distinctions in social interactions (Lindqwister, 2019).

For upper-class aristocratic ladies, debutante balls are a part of the coming-of-age tradition. Men of a particular social standing customarily performed these ceremonies to declare their daughters eligible for marriage (Lindqwister, 2019). It is an important milestone with clear social status significance. Debutante balls in the modern era are no longer just for making matches.

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Which Means of Gender Acquisition is Powerful?

Based on the analysis, the family remains the most powerful mode of gender acquisition since it is central to children’s lives. Children acquire new attitudes and values based on what they witness throughout their upbringing. Merla (2018) observes that most parents, guardians, or siblings unconsciously create a gendered environment for children’s development, resulting in their socialization.

For example, a child may grow up being cared for primarily by their mother- from changing diapers, and bathing, to feeding them. Through this, they grow up knowing that the mother must take care of a child, thus enforcing gender socialization.

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Conclusion

Gender acquisition modes like socialization and rituals are critical aspects of society’s gender identity mechanism. The paper explores the gender acquisition modes by examining the influence of the media, such as gender stereotypes in television. It also examines family roles as an essential aspect dictating gender acquisition, whereby parents separate children’s roles based on gender, like tasking girls with cooking.

Additionally, it elaborates on rites of passage by examining their influence on gender by promoting sexuality. The final example is the debutante balls, which influence gender by promoting traditional gender norms. Based on the discussion, family roles are the most powerful example of gender acquisition. Henceforth, communities must consider the need to combat the negative influences of gender acquisition.

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References

  • Blodget, J. (2020). Gender roles in families. Available at: https://orparenting.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/2020-06-16-Gender-Socialization-Newsletter-Practitioners-V2.pdf
  • Hoominfar, E. (2019). Gender socialization. Gender Equality içinde, 1-10. https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Elham-Hoominfar/publication/348843246_Gender_Socialization/links/606e2f87299bf1c911b6312e/Gender-Socialization.pdf
  • Lindqwister, E. (2019). A Waltz through Gilded Age America: Nineteenth-Century Dance Manuals and the Sociosexual Anxiety of a Debutante Ball. Herodotus Undergraduate History Journal, 29, 62-73.
  • Meade, T. A. & Wiesner-Hanks, M. E. (2021). A companion to global gender history (2nd ed.). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons. ISBN: 9781119535805
  • Merla, L. (2018). Rethinking the interconnections between family socialization and gender through the lens of multi-local, post-separation families. Sociologica, 12(3), 47-57. DOI: https://doi.org/10.6092/issn.1971-8853/9085

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Gender acquisition
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