Attack on Sex-Role Socialization

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Attack on Sex-Role Socialization
masculinity and femininity 'refer to the differing feelings and behavior expected of males and females at a particular time' and place and are largely a product of sex-role socialization. Such socialization has been accomplished in many ways, many of which are unintended ' and unconscious [Travis and  1977; Pogrebin, IIJ80}. In American society boys have .been rewarded for being aggressive, competitive, and career-oriented; girls have been rewarded for being gentle, "ladylike," and domestic. Men"'/have been trained to direct and command; women have been trained to o~_y and serve and to get their way through cue try and manipulation.

When frustrated, men have been expected to shout and women to cry. Men were praised while women were scolded for, showing a fierce dedication to career success at the expense of other values. Men were rated according to their career advancement ("He is ,a prominent lawyer in Washington"), while will were evaluated by their domestic skills ("$he has a very successful husband, a lovely home; and three perfectly darling children"). Thus men were rated by their accomplishments, while women were rated by the accomplishments of the men to whom they were attached. In hundreds of, different ways, the sexes have been soserialized to feel differently about themselves and to act differently. [Chappell, 1978; Stockard and Johnson, 1980]. There is ample evidence that sex-role stereotypes are very much alive today [Gilbert 1978]. In almost every work activity men are judged to be more competent women.

In many experiments alternate male and female names or pictures have been attached to some 'piece of work to be evaluated by a team of referees-sa literary essay, an analysis of a management problem, a legal.brief, Until very recently all such experiments found that a majority of the referees, both male and female, evaluated a work more highly when it was attributed to a male author [Pheterson 1971]. A number of studies show that when women are successful, it if a like lotto be attributed to either luck or great effort, while men's success is more often attributed to ability [Deaux and Enswiller, 1974; Levine, 1982 J. Men are still judged as generally more competent, even in many "women's" occupations, for the most prestigious fashion designers, hair stylists, interior decorators, and , chefs are usually men. No legislation can achieve genuine sex equality unless there are changes in the ways men and women feel about themselves and each other. for this reason feminists are attacking the sex-role socialization which produces these sex stereotypes [Sprung, 1976). they object to anything which reflects and perpetuates sex-role stereotypes-giving toy all trucks and tools only to boys and dolls and tea sets only to girls; TV shows which cast men in dominant roles and women in supporting, domestic, or comic roles; and magazine ads depicting the sexes in only traditional work roles. Feminists launched a spirited attack on "sexist" textbooks, in which little girls cower and whimper while little boys are heroically protective, and where men and boys appear in adventurous work roles and women only in housewife roles or "feminine" occupations. They object to sexist vocabulary and the use of the terms "man," "mankind," "he," "him," and "his" to refer to human beings in general [1977). Feminists ask that these generic masculine terms be replaced by neuter or evenly balanced terms, and that sex-role stereotypes be deleted. In this effort feminists were quickly and easily successful. Textbook publishers soon.sent detailed instruction manuals to their authors, while editors thoughtfully edited out sexist usages authors overlooked. Changing sex-role stereotypes is not easy.

In one school experiment, a six-week crash program attempted to show children how both sexes could profit from non stereotyped roles. The program used all the "right" teaching aids and materials. At the end, the girls showed the desired. attitude changes but the boys had become more rigid in their acceptance of stereotyped roles [Guttentag and Bray, 1976]. Yet there is evidence of substantial shifts toward more egalitarian attitudes in children [Duncan and Duncan, 1978;Duncan, 1980). A number of guidebooks on nonsexist socialization have appeared [Sprung, 1976; Pogrebin, 1980]. When today's children become  adults they will probably show more flexible gender roles than their-parents.