Monday, November 9, 2009

Perpetuating Gender Roles

Gender roles are reinforced everywhere we look; whether it is in the toys that are marketed to children, or the types of vodka we are told to drink. One place that we hope to be free from such gender reinforcement is from parents. Of course parents will perpetuate certain norms (e.g. dressing their children in gender appropriate clothing), but one would hope that parents would treat their children fairly and equally regardless of gender. But it appears that this is merely wishful thinking. Highlights magazine polled children asking how many performed household chores. The results revealed that significantly more girls than boys had chores. Thus, not only are parents abiding by conventional gender norms, but they are enforcing them in less overt ways than one might assume.

So, as a call to action, breaking down restrictive and oppressive gender roles start in the home, in the most basic ways. If we all adjust to how we interact with our children or children around us, we can influence how gender roles are embodied in future generations. Distributing chores fairly and allowing kids to be kids and play with whatever toy they please, rather than the toy associated with a particular gender, can inspire change.

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