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Lily-Arum

Australia

I'm a young writer from Australia who is always up for constructive criticism.
I love reading, writing (obviously!) and playing the saxophone. My favourite novel is Harper Lee's 'To Kill A Mockingbird'.

Message to Readers

Hey! I wrote this for a school assignment and liked it so upon editing it, posted. I would love to know what you think! I'm planning to elaborate on this but for now, here's what I have :)

The Socialisation of Gender

August 9, 2018

FREE WRITING

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…developmental psychologists have found that children are very aware of the importance placed on the social category of gender and highly motivated to discover what is “for boys” and what is “for girls”.” (Fine, C.) 1.

Socialisation, a key term in this scientific investigation, is the process whereby an individual learns to adjust to a group (or society) and behave in a manner approved by the group (or society)”2. Children, everywhere, every day, are being socialised – they’re given the cultural norms for breakfast in a sippy cup, and spoon-fed ideologies by dinner. But is all of this ‘educating’ instilling adverse effects?
My investigation’s aim was to seek the preferences of young children (spread evenly across the one to five age range) to gendered toys, examining, in both this test and in later observations, the proposed impacts of socialisation.
Out of the eight children I tested, four were male and four were female. The male children were spaced evenly between the “Boy’s Toy” and “Girl’s Toy”, suggesting a real openness to play with whatever they want – this could be observed not only in the children, but in many of the parents’ relaxed attitudes.
In today’s society, traditional gender roles have become less defined. Now if say, a male toddler was to play with their mother’s handbag, no one protests; after all, they’re only a child. I noticed this among other notable examples during my time in the holidays with my eighteen-month-old brother. However, when he did this in front of my grandparents – who were evidently raised in previous generations, differing in customs and ideologies – there were more remarks, like: “Don’t play with that. That’s for girls.
That’s not to say that all parents were particularly pleased at my experiment’s results, especially when I mentioned to some of the fathers that their sons had chosen the “Girl’s Toy”. It was apparent that the older boys, from ages three to five, were the two to choose the “Boy’s Toy”, whereas the younger children held less of a preference to the toy suited to their gender, acknowledging only the one that held the most appeal. This notion was later reinforced when I visited the childcare centre, the worker informing me: “It all begins around age three to four … they start developing preferences to gendered toys and becoming more conscious in what they’re doing.” It goes to show that the longer children are exposed to such socialisation, the more inherently they act upon the new ideologies; like a second-nature. The constant reminders that certain attributes belong to girls, that certain inanimate objects possess femininity, these are taken in by malleable children. As stated in the introductory quote above, children want to discover the gender roles that we, as a society, have been holding on to for far too long.
Majority of female children chose the “Girl’s Toy”, with only one choosing the other toy. The results differed slightly from those of the boys, one of the eldest girls (age four) chose the “Boy’s Toy” knowingly because she “liked the monster” over the Barbie doll. I had observed that she in particular had been dressed ‘lady-like’, complete with a bow in her hair.
According to one of the childcare workers I encountered upon my visit to the childcare centre, they often “see children playing with toys they wouldn’t normally find at home” and that “younger boys can be found interacting with dolls, with the lack of them at home.”
A child’s home life definitely effects their preferences, exhibited especially in a boy of around four who took pleasure in pretending to tackle the domestic task of cooking. He wanted to become a chef “just like his mummy”, whilst his entourage of friends simply enjoyed playing with the toy kitchen – a domestic role traditionally completed by a woman.

The act of socialising, it appears, doesn’t take detrimental effect immediately. It is subjective to the values themselves that we are instilling upon our children. With caution, we are stepping away from our traditional gender roles, slowly but surely. But why, may I ask, are we preserving these outdated values when the future of gender equality is dependent on their demise?
1. Fine, C. (2014). ‘Why Are Toys So Gendered?’. New Scientist.
<http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/new_scientist/2014/04/girl_and_boy_toys_childhood_preferences_for_gendered_toys_are_not_innate.html
 >
2. Editors of Encyclopaedia Brittanica. (2018). ‘Socialisation’. Encyclopaedia Brittanica.
<https://www.britannica.com/science/socialization >

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  • August 9, 2018 - 6:50am (Now Viewing)

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1 Comment
  • Plausible.Poems

    YES! I love the strong points you convey in this piece.


    9 months ago