A secret agent. A professional football player. A fire fighter. These would have been my responses when asked that inevitable question, "What do you want to be when you grow up" Family, Media and Peers are said to have influenced my views concerning the role I am to play society.
All of these factors had one thing in common. They all were influencing me to behave according to my gender. Everything from the clothes I wore to the toys I played with contributed to this. Even now as a young adult my dreams and aspirations are built around the gender roles that were placed on me. There were several instances in my childhood when my Family had a direct influence on me according to my gender. Right from birth my role as an individual was predestined.
The gifts I was to receive at a baby shower were all based around my gender. It would have been unheard of for someone to give me pink clothes or flowery decorations at my baby shower. Young boys have always been told not to cry when they fall and scrape their knees. Comments like these from family members definitely had an impact on my aspirations. My dream to be a fire fighter was most likely related to those comments to not cry.
Being a fire fighter would definitely be an occupation where stress would be high. If I could be a fire fighter I would definitely have the opportunity to prove to my parents that I could be strong and not cry. The media was also a factor that had a large impact on my childhood ambitions. Television is a great example of this. In almost all Television shows the gender roles are very prominent. Things such as male characters being strong or in positions of authority are prevalent.
Even the simplest of programs such as cartoons use dominant males to impress upon children gender roles. The "Flintstones" is a perfect example of media influencing children. The main character Fred Fl instone is the head of the family. He is the one who earns the mone to support the family.
His wife Wilma takes care of things such as house work and raising the children. Finally, my peers as a child also had a large influence on me. Because other children my age were also being raised with gender roles, when they came to school or over to my house to play, the toys they brought would be results of gender roles. When we interacted socially we would play with trucks and army men. Parents would not give their sons dolls or dress-up games, because they were trying to teach us to become the stereotypical adult male. As you can see, my childhood dreams were greatly influenced by my family, media and peers in a way that is a direct result of gender roles.
As I enter my early years of college, I am forced to deal with the fact I should know what I want to do with the rest of my life, or at least have a solid plan. I wish I could say that I have totally matured from my childish dreams of professional athleticism, but I haven't. Currently my aspirations for life not only include becoming successful in academics, but athletics as well. Now that I know the sociological theories behind gender roles I can pick out things that are still pushing me towards that stereotypical male figure I was raised to become.
Now the influences have matured from cartoons to the government. Upon reaching the age of 18, males must register for the selective service. This is truly gender roles at its finest. Instead of making this registration open to females and males alike, our government has excluded females.
This proves that no matter how close our society comes to equal gender treatment, there are still ways in which gender roles will be impressed upon the sexes. "Promise Keepers" are another of the many ways my peers continue to influence me with gender roles. At the church I attend, "Promise Keepers" are abundant. The "Promise Keepers" is a national society of men where thousands of men gather to celebrate and reinforce their male responsibilities. In the conferences the speakers talk about being the head of the household. This is a group that excludes woman and homosexuals.
It is fair to say that my current aspirations to succeed in college and become successful in life, are still results of the gender roles that were taught to me as a child and are still being showed to me now. Gender roles are unavoidable at any stage of your life. They are taught to you by parents, conveyed in the media, practiced and honored in organizations and supported by our government. No matter how many feminist groups attempt to bring the two sets of gender roles for males and females together, there will always be the unwritten expectations that males and females are taught. Boys will always play with guns and girls will always play with dolls. As long as this occurs, the ambitions for boys and girls will be directly related to the stereotypical form we are taught.
It is up to the families, media and peers to use the gender roles appropriately.