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How Males Are Socialised Into Traditional Masculinities Essay

Explain and briefly evaluate how males are socialised into traditional masculinities Hegemonic masculinity describes the patriarchal working class males, those who have labouring or manual jobs. He has to be physically tough and dominant to assert his masculinity. He is definitely heterosexual, technically competent, is sexist and aggressive. Males are socialised into traditional masculinities by a variety of socialisation agents. The school is instrumental in the socialisation of males into traditional hegemonic roles. Becky Francis (2000) found that, although they were more harshly disciplined than the girls, boys’ behaviour was tolerated more by the teachers. This encourages the boys to demonstrate the traditional masculinities. Subject choice is also an important factor in male socialisation as they were traditionally gender biased.

This was studied by Grafton in a comprehensive school in which he showed that there were only a limited number of placements available for those who wanted to study non-traditional subjects for their gender. This reduces interest in those subjects and guides males into the more traditional, craft subjects. Males are canalized meaning they are directed into playing with certain toys and activities. For example, boys may play football while the girls play ‘house’. While the education system is very important in the socialisation of males into traditional masculinities, the family is the main socialisation agent. Parents may encourage and reward behaviour that they deem appropriate and discourage that which they think is inappropriate. For example, parents may encourage their daughters to focus on their appearance and their sons to watch and support sports.

Also, Oakley referred to the labels (For example, ‘princess’ and ‘pretty’ for girls; and ‘brave soldier’ and ‘strong’ for boys) as verbal appellation and says they teach the children society’s expectations. Children also imitate their parents because they are their significant others. They learn norms and values through this process. In addition, children learn important messages about gender identification through dress up games where they pretend to be their role models. While it is assumed that parents are successful agents in the socialisation of children, not all adults acquire the necessary skills for nurturing their children. Palmer (2007) suggested that childhood socialisation is not as effective as it was in the past. He proposed that this is because parents no longer spend enough quality time with their children and are relying on ‘electronic babysitters’, like the television, which produce a ‘toxic childhood’.

The peer group, on the other hand, consist of people of similar status who come into regular contact with one another (for example, groups of friends and school children in the same year). It is and agent of secondary socialisation and is arguably the most influential for young people during adolescence. The peer group often impact gender-role socialisation. Skelton and Francis (2003), said that boys dominate playground space playing football while girls are on the margins, skipping or talking. This encourages boys into the traditional masculinities of noisy, ‘laddish’ behaviour. Frosh et al (2002) said that boys identified characteristics such as ‘hardness’, holding anti-school values and being sporty as those to aspire to. These were characteristics of hegemonic nature that would give them popular status.

He also found that boys wanted to make their heterosexuality very clear to avoid being teased or bullied. Judith Rich Harris (1998) said that boys need to know which groups are popular, which are feared, and which are pitied. They need to understand what they can say and how they can act within their group. This shows that masculinity has to be carefully negotiated as they cannot afford to be too different. Each socialisation agent can be criticised but they all have a role in the socialisation of males into traditional masculinities but it seems they play their part at different times in the male’s life. Family is the primary socialisation agent which affects children the most at a young age. The peer group affects males in their adolescence and can often be more influential to the males than education and family at this time.


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