Social Construction Of Gender And Masculinity

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Throughout childhood children are exposed to many factors, which may influence their actions and attitudes regarding the social construction of gender, specifically masculinity and femininity. Children’s attitudes are influenced by a variety of external sources, but are most strongly influenced by their home life and parents. Parents are responsible for nurturing and teaching children about multiple aspects in life, including gender norms; this occurs both consciously and unconsciously. One-way parents pass on their beliefs about gender and gender norms are through the giving of heteronormative toys. Toys children play with and are exposed to subtly and not so subtly teach gender norms and mores that are accepted in society; furthermore, the association of color and toy genre reinforce the social construction of gender and how males are supposed to exhibit masculinity while females exhibit femininity.
Masculinity and femininity are social constructions based on the biological terms male and female, respectively. Masculinity is often associated with the terms active, strong, dominant, and not nurturing; whereas, femininity is often associated with the terms passive, weak, submissive, and nurturing (Shaw & Lee 123, 126, 131). In today’s society, due to gender socialization, people generally believe that men should display masculinity while women should display femininity; this social belief is learned and initially taught to young children through heteronormative toys.
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