Correlation Of Language, Gender And Culture

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It is very likely that parents will decorate the baby room with pink if they have a baby girl and decorate the room with blue if they have a baby boy. Girls are expected to be polite and emotional while boys are expected to be strong and aggressive. A lot of scenes in daily life show that the way we dress, speak, behave and all expectations from self or others are determined by gender identities and roles. In fact, many people may struggle with gender identity because their own perceptions of their gender may differ from “standard” perception which formed by culture. Therefore, have a deeper understanding of how culture influences gender identities and roles might be the first step for people know more about themselves. The purpose of this essay is to discuss how culture influences people’s understanding of gender identities and roles through three aspects: family, school and media.

According to Healthy Children, babies are not able to have a stable sense of their gender identity until four years old. This means that family especially parents play a significant role in forming a gender identity and role in children’s childhood. Children’s understanding of gender identity can be influenced by parents’ treatment. Usually, parents will trait children differently based on their pysical sex when they are born. In other words, the conception of gender roles and identities is shaping by symbols and language from the moment that babies enter the world. For example, parents normally will buy blue clothes for boys and pink clothes for girls or use other symbolic colors which related to gender. The language that families use to describe a boy is usually focused on topics such as physical characteristics and strength and agility, while the language that the family uses for girls may involve emotion, expressiveness and vulnerability. Dr. Michael J. Carter in California State University believes that “these boundaries are eventually internalized and become identity standards—the references in which interactions, settings, and contexts are used to compare the self to others.” (Carter, 2014). What’s more, children’s understanding of gender role also affected by parent’s roles they behaved in the family. Gender roles messages can be transformed through parent’s modelling sex-typed behaviour. (Collins & Russell, 1991) For instance, children will find that men and women act differently when they observe their mothers spend more time on care-giving and fathers focus more on leisure activities. Scientists found that parent’s time spent on household tasks have an important impact on children’s gender roles development. Children who observed contribution to housework from fathers are more likely to be involved in the same type of work after they establish a family. Father’s involvement with children may increase the gender identity because fathers are more tend to toward sex-typed activities than mothers when they interact with children especially boys. (Marks, Bun & McHale, 2009)

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School is not only a place that students can gain their educational achievement but also a platform that they are able to establish social cognition and feelings. Students spend a large amount of time in school, which means that this period of time gives them an opportunity to explore more about gender identities and roles through peers and teachers. Peers might be an important influence factor on gender identity and role, different perceptions of peers in different type of school may affect students’ roles and behaviour. Professor Brutsaert in Ghent University mentioned that the research often indicated the subjects selection in mixed sex school is more polarized than a single sex school. For instance, boys or girls in mixed sex school are more tend to avoid choose subjects that are more aproaite to opposite sex. Take me personal experience as an example, I took Human Development course and my friend Vivian took Computer Sciences course when we were in high school. Only two boys show up in my class and only two girls show up in her class. This phenomena explains that makes choices based on their gender identity to keep the gender boundaries. On the other hand, the data illustrates that in single sex school especially female, grils have a better chance of being included in the mathematics or sciences subjects, and they are less likely to see mathematics and physical science as masculine and have a more positive attitude towards these areas of research. However, they are more likely to take language and humanities courses in mixed sex school. (Brutsaert, 2006). Furthermore, teachers and activities that teachers created are other factors to influence students’ identity and role. Lee & Gropper (1974) found that teachers like to create activity corners based on students’ gender especially in preschool, such as a cooking corner for girls and a car corner for boys. This action may reinforce the understanding of gender identity and role while reinforcing the idea of gender stereotyping. Based on UNICEF, teachers have different expectations for boys and girls, they have larger expectations for boys’ success and larger acceptance for girls’ failure. (UNICEF,2002) The language that teachers use when they talk to boys and girls is different as well. It is more possible for teachers to use euphemistic positive words to girls when they criticize students’ fault because teachers expected girls would be more emotional and sensitive. The behaviour of teachers and the way teachers treat students influence gender identities and roles unconsciously.

With the rapid development of technology, media is an unplaceable part of people’s daily life. There is no doubt that media also has a huge impact on gender identities and roles.  

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