Courtship, Marriage and the Family
Gender Roles: Foundation for Heterosexual Intimacy
similarities and differences between men and women.
Some research shows that men and women are
similar in areas in which we once thought they were different.
Men and women seem to react to events with similar emotions, but
women are prone to describe their reactions in more emotional terms. Women and men seem to be quite similar in
terms of responses to erotic stimuli. Differences
and women’s tendency to cooperate appear to be extremely
small. Finally, there appear to be few, if
any gender differences in men’s and women’s tendencies toward
differ in numerous ways, including women’s longer average life
span and the way their brains process information.
It is not true that male
abilities are generally superior to those of females.
It appears universally true
that men are more aggressive than women. However,
to note that there are different kinds of situations and
different kinds of aggression.
Females are more relationship
oriented than males. Males tend to value
independence more than females do, while females value connectedness
and intimacy more than males do.
Gender differences exist in
nonverbal behavior. Women are more skilled
at interpreting nonverbal behavior. Conflict
this as a protective measure. From
an early age, females seem to use eye contact to communicate intimacy
more than do males.
All gender differences must be
kept in perspective
Gender Roles are the behaviors required by persons
occupying the Male or Female
Definitions - Our society is constructed
linking social positions with roles
Status is a position in society that
carries with it certain distinct behaviors and abilities.
Role is the behavioral definition
by persons occupying certain statuses.
Thus two people who are
married are linked together by virtue of the
personal, and emotional value they hold for each other.
position (status) of wife is linked to the social position of husband
a collection of behaviors called a roles. Thus any wife-husband pairing will have some common
if that pair is to be useful to the
individuals AND useful to
Rather than seek out important services and need-meeting behaviors
the relationship, wives and husbands do for each other, perform an
of important tasks for each other, hold each other's confidence,
for their family as a team. Marriage then, is a necessary part of
the larger social institution we call Family.
In all aspects of society,
approve or not, people
between groups of individuals based on the individual's occupancy of
- age -Adults vs. Children, Young vs. Old
- race and ethnicity- Blacks vs. Whites, Irish vs. Scottish
- gender - Boys vs. Girls, Male vs. Female.
Gender is the broad concept by
which we divide the human population
into two groups.
Gender - the concept of
or femaleness is: -
in all social interactions. - refers to: physical characteristics
behaviors self-image psychological tendencies behavioral tendencies
that serve to differentiate genders
Gender is the basis of dating,
courtship, marriage, and the
and nurturance of children. Three interacting/interrelated factors
differences in gender role behavior:
What are Gender (Sex) Roles?
- 1. biology - chromosomes, genes, and hormones
- 2. culture - gender-role socialization
- 3. gender identity - the sense of oneself as a male or
We need to distinguish among
gender, gender role, and
gender-role orientation. Sex is biology;
gender refers to males and females as social creatures; gender role
the behavior associated with being either male or female, and
orientation refers to the conception of oneself as having some
masculine and feminine traits.
differences between the sexes have been
There are four distinct norms
that are the basis
for the male gender role: “no sissy stuff,” “the big wheel,” “the
and “give ‘em Hell.”
Women have been traditionally
being less direct, more dependent, and more likely to resort to
influencing other people.
To some extent, these
traditional male and
female roles are stereotypes. But, even
though our ideas about gender roles have been changing, many people
to others on the basis of those traditional roles.
Few if any
have conformed precisely to the
traditional roles. Most people have some
combination of instrumental and expressive traits of each role. An individual can be androgynous: they are
aggressive, competitive, and independent, but they are also gentle and
From the moment of birth, through
incredibly complex process of
from the first peek at baby's bottom, gender role reinforcement begins
for Girls (ribbons, pink blankets, softness) and for Boys (hockey
jerseys, blue blankets, toughness)
Clothing styles, environments, colors, hair styles, parental treatment,
toy selection are all means of reinforcement of Gender Roles.
Gender Role is a part that an individual plays as a
including the patterns of feeling and behavior deemed appropriate or
by others because of the individual's assigned sex - male or female. Gender Identity is a composite of all the rights and
warranted to an individual by virtue of their assigned sex. While Sex
is ascribed at birth, Gender is achieved
and accepted through successful accomplishment of developmental tasks.
- girls are allowed a little more flexibility than boys early
- later on girls are forced into more rigid roles
- "Sissy" to a boy is much more dangerous than "tomboy" is to
- boys don't cry
- girls don't hit
- girls get dolls
- boys get action figures
Gender roles and Gender
The Cause of Gender Roles : Biology or Culture?
- self-identity and self-esteem are partially dependent on
achievement of one's gender.
- social and relational expectations demand it.
- happiness and life-satisfaction is partially dependent on
- understanding of gender role. effects on limiting our
and as a species may inform our choices in life.
One of the controversies
gender roles is whether
they reflect human nature, or do gender roles reflect socialization,
the way in
which children are nurtured? Those who
stress nature may prefer to use the term sex
role, which suggests that the
differences are innate. Sociologists are more likely to use the
term gender role, because prevailing evidence
shows that male-female differences reflect nurture as much as, or
somewhat more than, they do nature. Sigmund Freud set forth an
influential case for the
biological basis of gender roles. Those
who draw on research about the brain and hormones also stress innate
differences. In the final analysis,
behavior has both a biological and a social component. Most social
scientists argue that nurture is an important
part of gender-role behavior. Symbolic
interactionists and systems theorists both stress the importance of
shaping human behavior. Looking at other
cultures, we also find deviations from traditional roles in America
. Most of
the traits and behaviors identified
as masculine or feminine in a society are not innate; a few tendencies
innately linked to gender, but social factors can virtually eliminate
effects of these tendencies; and whatever innate differences exist,
quantitative rather than qualitative.
There is some objective
that differences between the sexes
But are these differences
or social in nature?
- -most truck drivers are male, most nurses female - although
and female truckers.
- -the primary caregivers of children are usually women.
- -men make more money for the same job than do women.
- -women as a group consistently score lower on mathematics
tests - men score lower on verbal and language.
- -men are prone to aggressive, assertive, inexpressive
are prone to passive, expressive ones.
The biology argument suggests
to behave in sex appropriate fashion.
The culture argument suggests that we learn sex
behaviors from those around us - conventional wisdom.
- Thus women are weak physically, where men are strong.
- Women are verbal, where men are action oriented.
- Women are scheming, men are direct.
- Women are nurturant, men are instrumental.
C. Which is
Both - There are biological differences
- Thus women are weak because of thousands of years of
they did not consistently perform physical tasks.
- Women are verbal and scheming because men have afforded
social, political, and economic resources.
- Women have to align themselves with a powerful man to
- Women are nurturant because the have been delegated
Primary gender characteristics are biological imperatives and
include ovulation, menstruation, gestation, and lactation in the female
and sperm production and spitting in the male. Secondary gender
characteristics occur as a
and differentiate men and women in terms of the norm in skeletal
musculature, and hair distribution.
- GENETIC DIFFERENCE - girls "xx", boys "xy"
- HORMONAL DIFFERENCE - testosterone (aggression) and
in males -estrogen and others are higher in women.
- GONADAL DIFFERENCE - ovaries and testes
- GENITAL DIFFERENCE - penis/clitoris.
- REPRODUCTIVE DIFFERENCE - babies/cigars. Effective
the social significance of this one.
to culture however are
powerful. Traditional male and female behavior in American culture is
traditional in other cultures, showing us that "feminine" and
behaviors are culturally affected. Different cultures have
different value placed on gender. Males most
often inherit power, and keep it. Sometimes this is not the case. This
is the PATRIARCHY argument that men have afforded themselves most of
power in society.
sources of gender-role socialization are
family, school, and the mass media.
- The impact of
socialization can be demonstrated
through the phenomenon of body image among men and women.
Dissatisfaction based on body image
illustrates how we learn various cultural ideals in the family, in
from the media. Women tend to be more
dissatisfied with their image than are men.
- Our earliest exposure to what it means to be
masculine and feminine comes from our parents, who teach gender roles
different ways they tread their male and female children.
- Schools teach equality between the sexes if they
group boys and girls together and apply the same standards to both, but
practice, such equal treatment is absent. The
of males and females tends to continue even
- The media are also influential in shaping our
notions of appropriate gender roles. Television
the most influential of all the media, and it
often supports traditional conceptions of gender roles.
Gender roles vary over time
among societies. Gender-role orientations also change over
time and may even vary over an individual’s life span. Evidence exists
that people are becoming less traditional in
their attitudes about gender roles. In
essence, those who reject the traditional model tend to affirm more
roles. Traditional roles are not dead, however. Both men
and women show some evidence of
lingering traditionalism. This lingering
traditionalism is also seen in attitudes.
Clearly, there is a good deal of traditionalism even while some change
is also in evidence.
- Social Learning Theory - -children are rewarded for
parent's (i.e., societies) expectations and are punished for behavior
that meets with disapproval. (disapproved behavior is extinguished).
- Differential socialization holds that male children undergo
socialization than do females. Fathers seem to be the deciding factor
the early years of life; while both parents support the division in
childhood. -role models "peers" parents media.
- The Feminist Critique of sex role socialization: -power and
the real social motives behind the division of sex roles / division of
labor. Not simply differential socialization - there is no
men to relinquish any of their power and control to women (abortion
equal pay issues, child care issues).
The Feminist Power analysis
A. Social Science now believes
ANDROGYNY is the gender role of
- -men have power and privilege by virtue of their sex
- -it is in men's interest to maintain that power
- -men occupy and actively exclude women from powerful
- -feminine roles and cultural values are the product of
of them is dysfunctional to change. V. Beyond Gender Roles - the
Two dimensions of life:
These are better served if
coexist in a single individual. The
who possess both kinds of traits is better suited to cope with the
of modern life. Males can express their feelings well and are more
than once thought possible. Women can be assertive, task oriented,
at problem solving and self-reliant than once thought proper.
- Expressive and Instrumental
- warmth and assertiveness
- empathy and rationality
- independence and intimacy
Gender Roles and Family
A. Traditional sex roles inhibits
full range of emotional
Confining sex role
restrict personal and family
- don't forget we live in a society that expects women to work
and expects them to care for kids (Family) and expects them to develop
intelligence (Education). Confining sex role expectations can
restrict a couple's sexual
as well - who initiates, who's on top, who's on first. The
Parent-Child relationship can also be restricted by traditional
roles. Uninvolved fathers - allows mom to take the blame for all
mistakes. B. Changing Sex Roles - In the past 15 years or so, American
Culture has become Feminized to
a great extent.
- Males - inexpressive, action oriented, instrumental (no
necessary) Won't stop the car to ask directions.
- Females - nurturant, passive, helpless in a crisis.
The most important change in
history to move our society
from traditional sex roles is the massive movement of women in to the
LABOR FORCE. With it comes other changes, such as changes in child care
schedules, who buys the weekly groceries, who does the laundry, who
decisions. Due to: Economic Reasons - More women in the work force -
among men Demographic Reasons Highly geographically mobile Political
- More awareness of women's rights caused the image of Masculinity and
to change -we are moving towards a "task" oriented before: "when the
well, I do well" Now: "when I do well, the family benefits." When wives
move into the labor force, husbands like it. But husbands have not
increased the time they devote to domestic tasks. (nationally).
Self-Fulfilling Prophecy -
Thomas gave us the
Hypothesis: Things that are perceived as real, will be real in their
If we think we are weak, dependent, unskilled, we will act accordingly.
If we think we are a tough ass, we will proceed as such.
Gender Identity - is the
to take form at about age three, gender identity results from the
of one's anatomical characteristics and the perception of the way one
treated by others. Gender identity is the inward experience of gender
Gender role is the outward expression of gender identity. Important
differences depend on one’s gender-role
- Women tend to have a different
conversational style than men. Gender-role
orientation affects such things as our ability to handle conflict and
the way in which we will try to influence someone.
- Symbolic interactionists define self-concept as the totality of the beliefs and attitudes
you have about yourself. Research
consistently indicates that both males and females who are high in
masculine traits have higher self-esteem than others.
- Masculinity tends to be
with such things as high self-esteem, high levels of adjustment,
subjective well-being, and less depression and anxiety.
At the same time, feminine traits are not a handicap,
because androgynous individuals have both the masculine and feminine
traits and the same advantages as masculine types in terms of
self-concept and mental health.
orientation may be more important than whether
one is male or female in explaining differences in relating to someone