What are gender roles? Gender roles are the public expression of attitudes of ones gender identity whether they are male or female. What is masculine and what is feminine? All of us were taught from the time we are born what masculinity and femininity are.
The socialization of masculinity and femininity starts as early as childhood. Boys are supposed to wear blue and girls are supposed to wear pink. Boys are supposed to play with trucks and action figures, and girls are supposed to play with Barbies and make-up. At the start of a boy’s life he is socialized to be tough, like not crying when he got hurt. When a girl got hurt, she was usually embraced by her parents and told that it’s alright.
In our society females are depicted as weak and delicate creatures, females are thought to not be as capable as a male physically. Sports are a way for males to show their masculinity. This also applies to females showing femininity through certain sports and other activities. Males participate in sports like football, basketball, baseball and wrestling. Some sports females involve themselves in are cheerleading, volleyball, softball, swimming and diving. Certain stereotypes have been established in this society; if anyone deviates from these rules of society it’s common for people to make these violators pay for it by making them victims of ridicule. If a man were to participate in something feminine like ballet or cheerleading, other men would insult his masculinity and sexuality with names like fairy boy, queer, or wimp. If a woman would take part in a physical sport like football or hockey, men and women would insult by calling her butch, dyke, lesbian or even calling her a man. Women of this generation are making a bigger impact in the sports world, this is partially because of the education amendment Title IX (Title 9) which was enacted in 1972.
Title IX states that, “no person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.” Title IX applies to all aspects of education, both private and public, but I’m just going to focus on athletics. Title IX also prohibits sexual harassment, grants equal athletic opportunities, and equal benefits like scholarships and extra tutelage. Things have changed in the past fifty years, partially because of Title IX. More girls are being encouraged to participate in athletics today, much more than they were in seventies. I have a personal example of this socialization that I’ve seen recently. I live in a small, but very diverse, community. I’ve wrestled from middle school through high school. I’ve competed against people of different cultures but never anyone of a different sex. Last year in 2012 I got the chance to do so. We were at a practice and it was just her and me and it came time for us to wrestle against each other. We were using a different style of wrestling than what I knew and she knew a lot more about this style, but I could still keep up with her. She could do everything I could, whether it had to do with agility or technique. After the practice I was glad to have a partner that we both would have to work to keep up with. I had no problem telling some acquaintances about that practice and how she got the best of me. An acquaintance said, “how tough could she have possibly been? She’s is a girl. Or maybe you just suck.”
He mocked me for not being able to utterly dominate her, like it was supposed to be a walk in the park. That statement stems from our society’s stereotypes about females being weak and feeble. She was going against what our society deemed as feminine. Gender roles will always follow us. When parents find out what the gender of their child will be, they’ve already decided to raise their child to follow that specific gender role. When that child grows up, the choice to continue to follow that gender role belongs to them.