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Gender Roles in the United States Essay

1. Briefly discuss the history of ethnic relations in the United States. The ethnic history of the United States was long rooted during the colonial period. The first settlements in the United States were the Spanish outposts in the towns of Florida and California and a French outpost in Louisiana. English colonizers declared the United States’ independence in 1776 due to their yearning for freedom from their own country (Doane). “The class, racial, ethnic, and gender relationships of the contemporary nation have their roots in the colonial period” (Doane).

Because of the failure to force Native American settlers to work on the fields, the British settlers resorted in importing African slaves to work on cotton plantations located at the South, while the Whites chose to reside on the North to further hone their emerging industries (Doane). The ethnic relations of the United States during the early years are characterized by the major issue of racism and discrimination based on skin color. During the colonial times, the poor whites and the indentured servants served as bridges for the slaves and the landlords.

The poor whites tried to identify themselves with the rich landowning whites and propagated the idea of white racial identity rather than the class identity (Doane). This action in turn reinforced the racial discrimination in the country. The status, skin color and position in the labor market characterized the relationships among racial and ethnic groups. Some of the Blacks migrated northward to work on industrial jobs but disparity continued as they were paid less than the whites on comparable jobs. The Blacks also received less social benefits than the Whites reinforcing discrimination (Doane).

2. Describe the process of gender role socialization. Give examples of how females and males are trained to fulfill the expectations of their gender roles. There is a tendency for the society to mandate societal rules and determine what is right and acceptable to the people. This process is referred to as gender role socialization, wherein social institutions control the society’s expectations on “dress code, language, personality, leisure activities and aspirations for each sex” (Padavic and Reskin 53). Through this process, people learn their gender identity.

The society associates well established values, attitudes, behavior, choices and performance that are appropriate for gender categories such as men and women. People are able to absorb the specific roles that the society is trying to inculcate to the members of a particular sex (Senior 25). Learning our gender roles is important in the aspect of socialization and our interaction with other people. Childhood experiences of socialization prepare the people in their gender and social roles in such a way that adult members of the society are expecting them to behave (Senior 25).

Even as children, people have been trained to behave and act according to their biological sexual orientation. And as such, parents reinforce gender role socialization on their child-rearing methods. They give toy guns and robots to their male children and dolls and kitchen utensils to their female children. People may be unconsciously aware but through this method, social roles are being inculcated within the consciousness of children in the society as they become adults. Toy guns for male children depict that males should be aggressive and courageous.

Boys are also more exposed to high-tech toys like PSP and Gameboy reflecting their advantage in the technological field of industry. Female children or girls, on the other hand, are encouraged to play with dolls and kitchen utensils to prepare them to their future social roles which are in charged of the household, homemaker and as domestic provider. It also encouraged the attitudes of women to become caring and nurturing. 3. Discuss the evidence, which points to either gender roles being biological or cultural in origin.

Base on this evidence, what conclusions can be drawn about the origins of gender roles. Discuss some of the most important sources of gender inequalities in our society. How can these inequalities be alleviated? One of the speculated causes of the significant difference in the attitudes and social characteristics between men and women is their biological structure. It was said that genes and other biological components play a big role in influencing these social characteristics. There are biological explanations provided in an attempt to examine aggressiveness in males.

It was already known that the inherent presence of Y gene in the 23rd chromosome makes males susceptible to physical disarray. However, there is no strong evidence explaining the role of genetics in the aggressiveness of individuals, particularly the males. Several indicators of violence have been found to be more evident in males than in females (Englander 122). Research further reveals the role of androgens in the prevalence of violence. Androgens are male sex hormones that are abundant in males. These hormones were indirectly linked to criminal violence and also to traditional behavior.

Studies show that women with congenital adrenal hyperplasia, a medical condition in which androgens are secreted in the uterus of females, have an inclination to male tastes and preferences. Although there is no concrete evidence of the relationship between androgens and violence, it was suspected to be the reason behind men’s more aggressive behavior (Englander 123). Another biological factor that is thought to be responsible behind the violent attitude of men is the enzyme monoamine oxidase (MAO). Behavioral patterns are related to the level of MOA presence in the blood.

Men are found to have lower levels of MAO than women. Lower MAO levels are associated with aggressiveness and the sudden burst of anger and frustrations, especially impulsiveness (Englander 123). Another essential factor that was believed to be responsible for the development of aggression in men and the nurturing attitude of women is the social construction or the difference in how each was reared and molded by culture and society. A person’s social environment is accountable for the values inculcated in his or her personality. His or her socially-constructed identity is viewed to be inherent with his biological sex.

Difference in gender has a widespread effect in the society, which was supported by documented knowledge in socio-biology and evolutionary psychology. This collection of knowledge states that men and women are irrevocably different in bodily configurations (Taylor & Spencer 41). Such disparities in gender can be alleviated through programs that will breach the inequality in gender such as having equal opportunity on the workplace. We could also start hastening changes through campaign programs that will call for equality between genders.

Works Cited

Doane, Molly. 2007. “Culture of United States of America”. Advameg, Inc. 11 November 2008 <http://www. everyculture. com/To-Z/United-States-of-America. html>. Englander, Elizabeth Kandel. Understanding Violence. New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc. , 2007. Padavic, Irene and Barabara F. Reskin. Women and Men at Work, 2nd edition. Thousand Oaks, California: Pine Forge Press, 2002. Senior, Olive. Working Miracles. London: James Currey Ltd. , 1991. Taylor, Gary and Steve Spencer. Social Identities: Multidisciplinary Approaches. New York: Routledge, 2004.


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