The Socialization of Gender

The Socialization of Gender - Allison Taylor SOC M162-...

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Allison Taylor SOC M162- Lianna Hart M/3:00 The Socialization of Gender Gender and sex are not equivalent. Gender, as something that is socially constructed, does not instinctually stem from genitalia and initial sex assignment. Socialization ” refers to those actual processes through which an individual becomes integrated into a social group by learning that group’s culture and his other roles in that group. It is largely through this process that an individual’s concept of self is formed.” (Lorber 99) Socialization is something that helps us form social identities from a very young age. “Comparing themselves to their peers and deciding ‘I am the same’ as one kind and ‘I am different’ from the other. On the basis of how they feel inside-what their interests are, how they want to behave- they put themselves into a gender category, the one in which they are then socialized.” (Harris 49) Gender is widely thought of as being solely determined by biology, however our gender is also largely constructed through socialization processes occurring in everyday life. Not only does socialization help us create our sense of gender, but it also assists in structuring our interactions. (West and Zimmerman 18) “Gender is constantly created and re-created out of human interaction, out of social life, and is the texture and order of that social life.” (Lorber 99) Gender construction starts at birth with sex assignment according to genitalia. Starting from when gender is made evident, the child is treated in a particular way and given “gender appropriate” toys, books, and clothing in order to initiate the “doing of gender” properly. Children then begin to recognize from a young age how they are similar and different from those around them based on how they are treated through social interactions and internally assign themselves to either one group or another. “Categorization is established
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and sustained by the socially required identificatory displays that proclaim one’s membership in one or the other category.” (West and Zimmerman 14) Therefore, gender segregation may indeed be a creation of culture and our social institutions play an integral role in this gender construction and stabilization process. My observations from a children’s toy store is a perfect place to start when depicting how social institutions substantially promote gender and sex segregation within our society. “Sex-specific toys foster different traits and skills in children and thereby serve to further segregate the two sexes into different patterns of social development.” (Newman 135) Even before stepping foot in the toy store sexual division was immediately apparent. Once inside, the division was intensified through the use of opposing colors, textures, and characters. The “girl” side was much more brightly
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The Socialization of Gender - Allison Taylor SOC M162-...

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