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Term Paper

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Essay title: Term Paper

One of the most studied and at times most controversial debate in present time is the debate of Nature vs. Nurture. Which of the two plays the defining role in our development as to whom we are? Do Mothers and Fathers typically seek to socialize children into conventional masculinity and femininity? Whether you are born male or female will be of major consequence for all aspects of your life: for the expectations others in society will have of you, for your treatment by other people and for your own behavior. This is true no matter what society someone is born into, although the consequences will vary from society to society. Virtually all societies are organized on the basis of gender differences between men and women. It is generally accepted that boys and girls are socialized differently in our culture. Perhaps parents are consciously aware of their molding of the child to meet specific sex role standards and much of the differential treatment handed out is a reflection of the adults’ own life history, their firm sex role socialization dimming awareness of its generation replication. While biological evidence contributes to our understanding of the origins of gender differences, another route to take is the study of gender socialization, the learning of gender roles through social factors such as the family. ‘Medical technology like an ultrasound enables the identification of sexual difference even before birth’ . When the sex of the fetus is known the construction of such a difference is extended to life in the womb. Parents can then actively construct the fetus as a gender identity. This occurs through choosing gender appropriate names, discussing and purchasing gender appropriate clothing (such as pink clothes for girl babies) and by ascribing specific attributes (such as ‘tiny baby girl’) to the fetus according to the sex. Knowledge of the sex of a fetus therefore extends possibilities for the ways in which mothers and fathers begin constructing gender realities about their offspring. Luria and Rubin (1973) have shown that stereotypes even influence adults perceptions of newborn babies. When viewed for the first time in the hospital, infants known to be boys are seen as robust, strong and large featured whilst those perceived to be girls are delicate, fine featured and ‘soft’, even when there is little basis for the observations. There are practically no firm sex differences that regularly show up in infants before the ages of two. Anneliese Korner has found boys to be somewhat larger at birth than girls. Moreover there is tentative evidence that boys are somewhat stronger and more vigorous than are girls, whereas girls seem to be a bit more sensitive to physical stimulation, partially around the mouth, than boys are. Research show that from birth, mothers treat boy babies quite differently from girl babies. Infant girls are talked to and gazed at significantly more than boys, whereas infant boys are held more than girls. Micheal Lewis has summed up the major differences as being the mother’s propensity to offer boys more close stimulation and offer girls more distant stimulation. Wherever the same is true of fathers, or if they treat girls and boys in opposite manner is not clear from research. Many studies have been carried out on the degree to which gender differences are the result of social influences. Studies of mother-infant interaction show differences in the treatment of boys and girls even when parents believe their reactions to both are the same. Adults asked to assess the personality of a baby give different answers according to whether or not they believe the baby to be a girl or a boy. In one classic experiment, five young mothers were observed in interaction with a six-month-old called Beth. They tended to smile at her often and offer her dolls to play with. She was seen as ‘sweet, having a soft cry’. The reaction of the second group of mothers to a child the same age, named Adam, was noticeably different. The baby was likely to be offered a train or other male toys to play with. Beth and Adam was actually the same child, dressed in different clothes. (will et al. 1976) As the babies got older, mother made less of an effort to soothe the males. ‘Moss (1970) sees this as the initiation of a pattern in keeping with cultural expectations according to which males are seen as more assertive and less responsive than females’ . Murphy (1962) found that mother appeared to treat male children with respect for their independence, when babies this meant following the babies own rhythm and adopting a ‘come and get it’ approach. Girls were more fussed over than boys were. ‘Hartley (1966) found that mothers were much more pre-occupied with girls’ appearance than with boys appearance’ . This led to girls being dressed in feminine clothes and to frequent references to their appearance. ‘Sears, Maccoby and Lvin (1967) found that American mothers distinguished between

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