Gender Stereotypes


Prof. Karen Hall
Teodor Dimitrov AUB102 ID#019500040


Today, every one of us is spending more of his leisure time watching TV,
listening to the radio or reading newspapers and magazines. The shows on the TV
and the articles in the newspapers influence our decision process, shaping our
perceptions for the world. Besides the positive fact that we are better informed
and in touch with the latest news, we should be aware that accepting this
enormous flow of information and allowing it to make our mind can be dangerous.
The TVs infiltrate our lives, guiding us what are we supposed to wear, how are
we supposed to look and act. Children, because of lack of mature judging values,
are more susceptible to the influence of the television. They tend to accept
everything they see on TV as real. Kids often identify with movie characters and
comics figures much more than the elder generation does. It is the role of the
parents to teach them that not everythink that glitters is gold and to give them
a better perception of the world. That of course does not mean that parents are
affected less by the TV. On the contrary, they are often more affected than
their kids, of course not by cartoons, but by shows that contain information
about serious subjects such as parenthood. Concerned with being good parents,
people are accumulating a lot of information on the subject. As the information
can be very helpful, sometimes it can be destructive. That is the case when it
comes to the problem of "tomboys" and "sissies." What are these two terms used
for? The term "tomboy" is used when referring to a girl who is masculine, and
the term "sissy" is used when referring to a boy who is feminine. We need to
state what we consider feminine and what is masculine. According to the
established sense in the society, femininity and masculinity are tightly bound
to gender. Men are supposed to be masculine. They are expected to be strong,
rough, to have high stamina. They are not supposed to wear skirts(the Scots are
an exception) but trousers, and should avoid colors like pink and violet. These
are "feminine" colors. The man in the family is usually the person who should
provide money and build a career. On the othere hand, women are supposed to be
tender and loving mothers and wives, to wear skirts and to walk on higheels.
They are should not have a career, but should take care of the kids and the
house. It seems that these perceptions have been existing forever. That is
because from early childhood, we are thought by our parents that pink is for
girls, and blue is for boys. The trucks and weaponry toys are for boys and the
dolls are for girls. Than, it is not surprising that we accept gender
stereotyping and try to fit in the rigid models of feminine and masculine. For
example, women athletes and especially tennis players and basketball players are
afraid of losing their femininity. These sports are famous for the large number
of gay players that are involved. Because of that, the hetero athletes are a
subject of suspicion of being gays. To avoid this they are trying to look more
feminine. A basketball coach even had developed a term for this phenomenon--
"hetero-sexy." We are not only trying to fit in the models, but we are prone to
pass our perceptions to our children. In this way, we are trying to protect them
from the society. However by doing this, we are causing them more harm than if
they were to become gays.
A recent show on NBC Superchannel was dedicated to the problem of
"tomboys" and "sissies." In it, light was shed on the life of some tomboys and
sissies, as well as on the anxiety of their parents. A girl at an age of three
was shown, dressed with a skirt and playing with dolls. The next shot was at an
age of four, revealing the changes that the attitude of the girl towards the
dolls and dresses has been totally changed. Now she preferred to hang out in
jeans rather than in dress. When she was asked by her mother to try a pink dress,
she refused with the words "Pink sucks!" The girl participated actively in
sports such as basketball and baseball, demonstrating good technical skills at
both. Why then her parents were worried and had searched psychological advice?
The answer to this question is in the assumption that when such kids grow up,
they