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This day and time, children have a tendency to look upon some people of society to learn what their specific role as a boy or girl should be. When those roles are not being played to part, not only is it shown in the behavior of the child, but it is also shown in the attitude of the parent with the child. In Katha Pollitt’s work, “Why Boys Don’t Play With Dolls”, she wants the readers to ask themselves, “Why are we sending the children these messages, should these roles be present in a child’s life, and will they always exist?”
Society should re-examine their attitude and perspective of gender roles before they send specific messages regarding this area to children. As a whole, society tries to make this generation of children conform to what they think is “acceptable” to the eye. In “Why Boys Don’t Play With Dolls”, Katha Pollitt asks indirectly “Why is it this way?” For instance, if a parent sees their son playing with dolls their first response is “Boys shouldn’t play with dolls because they are for girls.” The gap between males and females continues to broaden. Once again, the parents teach their children to act in a way that is appropriate for their gender. Another example is that adults have a tendency to compliment and encourage girls more particularly in nurturance play, such as taking care of dolls. They hold higher expectations for boys and provide them with more reinforcement for meeting goals. A person feels that boys are supposed to be strong, aggressive, and play with toy soldiers. Girls, alternatively, are expected to be sweet, nurturing, and play with dolls. The public should look within themselves and figure out when and why did the demand of gender roles initiate and then see if there is any way possible to end it.
Gender roles should be present in a child’s life to give him or her a template for their life, showing where he or she fits in. However, it should not be continuously enforced if it is something that the child wants or does not want to do. Parents sometimes “bang” into a child’s head what they should or should not do as a boy or a girl. In Pollitt’s essay she seemingly wants to know “Is this the way life is supposed to be?” Children learn at an early age what it means to be a boy or girl. “We don’t have a choice, really, about whether we should give our children messages about what it means to be male or female-they’re bombarded with them from morning to night” (Pollitt 1). They are exposed to many factors, which influence their behavior. Females are supposed to be sensitive and emotional; however, our society deems it inappropriate for a strong aggressive male to behave this way. Consider this situation A child falls and scrapes his or her knee, if it is a girl her parents’ response will be to comfort her and kiss it to make it feel better; conversely, if it is a boy their response will be to tell him to get up and brush it off and that he will get over it. Why can’t the little boy be comforted like the girl-simply because of society? Women, in general, have been expected to stay at home and nurture their children, while the strong and domineering males go out and make a living. Some kids on a daily basis see only their mother cook and clean and their father work and pay the bills; therefore, they grow up thinking this is the way life should be. The expression “ I wear the pants in this house” normally voiced by the man in the house, has been taken too far. People feel that if there is a man in the house then he should be head of that household. Even the Bible states it. However, who is to say that a woman cannot go out and work if that is what she desires to do?
Today, people are more likely not to conform to gender roles, which is a positive thing. Pollitt feels that change could possibly become present. On the other hand, the traditional mold of a girl who wears dresses, cooks, and cleans and a boy that plays sports, and pays the bills is fading away; yet gender roles will always exist.
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Only when we as humans break through the gender barrier will life be lived to the fullest. From the time of birth to adulthood, life is acted out by what is appropriate for each gender. This places a limit upon people because everyone becomes defined by what sex they are instead of the individual characteristics that truly gives them identity. The gender roles that have been designated from past generations must be eliminated and society should be given a fresh new way to define itself. If the roles of the past are forgotten, and people learn what makes them happy regardless of their gender, equality will thrive and everyone will be able to live life without fear or ridicule of rejection.
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