July 31, 2005

George Abrahams, and Sheila Ahlbrand. Boy Versue Girl, How Gender Shapes Who We Are, What We Want, and How We Get Along

Today, I read a few chapters from this book called, Boy vesus Girls, How gender shapes who we are, what we want, and how we get along, by George Abrahams, Ph.D., and Sheila Ahlbrand. George Abrahams is a psychologist that specialized in working with children, adolescents, and families for over twenty years (pg. 194). Sheila Ahlbrand is the Director of Children, Youth, and Families at a downtown church in Saint Paul, MN and also a freelance writer (pg.194). George worked with a lot school, hospital, and other program on gender-roles issues and promoting school-based programs for teenagers. Sheila, who is also an actress that take tours of Midwest, spend her time presenting program on sexual-abuse prevention to elementary and junior high audiences. These two authors wrote this book focusing on childrenís reaction to gender stereotypes and show how children should go about solving it.
In this book, George and Sheila started chapter one (what in the world is gender, anyway?) by asking others students what is their definition of gender. Some of the common answers that middle class students gave was that gender is being a female or male, gender means a separation of boys and girls, it is all about the opposite sex, gender means human, gender mean who you are, what youíve done, how you feel about yourself, not if you are a boy or a girl, it goes much deeper than that and etc (pg.5). After that, genders was questions about rather it equal sex, where do gender roles and gender stereotypes come from. In this book, sex was defined as biology and body parts such as the sets of body parts that are used to tell rather a person is a boy or girl (pg.6). While gender is being defined as what you or others think, feel, and expect of people based on what sex they are (pg.6). The authors believe that this definition of gender is what causes the idea of gender roles, which come mostly from the society. It goes the same for gender stereotypes. The rest of the book talks about what influence gender roles and what boys and girls should do about the gender roles that they are being assigned.
What is most interesting about this book is that some of the things these authors talk about is very similar in a way to the recent articles by Linda and Susan that I read. For example, in chapter three through chapter six in this book, George and Sheila also emphasized about how the gender roles of boys and girls are being influence by the family, teacher, fairy tales, role models and the media like Linda and Susan. These two authors also think that parents used gender stereotypes on their children by assigning their boys and girls different play activates and toys. For example, the girls was given dolls, fancy dress-up clothes, tea party sets, miniature stove for as their toys, and boys was given trucks, racing cars, bulldozers, and toy guns toys (pg. 36). Parents think of their children playing as the childrenís jobs. They think that these plays will teach their children about the things they will do when they grow up. For instance, a girl playing with a baby doll will teaches her how to care for a baby when she is have one when she grow up. And a boy playing with a toy workbench will teach him about tools and fixing things when he grows up. These authors always points out that teachers give more attentions to boys than girls and that role model influence boys and girls to act according to the roles being portrayed.
The assigning of different chores for boys and girls, the different sets of rules for boys and girls, the equality of gender role for the boys and girls were three topics mentions by George and Sheila that was different from the other two authors. These two authors believe that parents assigned their boys and girls different chores based on their sex difference. When students was asked whether chores in the house was the same for girls and boys, a lot of the boys felt that they got to do the hard chores and the girls got to do easier ones. While a lot girl also felt that they got to do the hard work while the boy got off easy. For instance, boys get to do more of the hard physical work such as meat cutting, wood cutting, fixing thing around the house, lawn mowing, shoveling and helping out the father. While, girls mostly do housework, cleaning the bathroom, cooking, doing the laundry, and baby-sitting.
Rules are set differently for boys and girls. Parents are stricter with their daughters because they worry their safety(pg.47). Parents feel that their boys can take care of themselves while girls need protecting(pg.48). Girls have to be well behaved and responsible, while boys can be foolishly and irresponsible. Girls are not allows to say things if they are not going to say it right. Boys are not to suppose to fight, but they can stick up for themselves if they have too. These two authors think that boy and girls should be given the equal roles in a family because every child should have the right to choose what they want to do in their family. There are boys that might want to do house chores, while there are girls that might want to do hard works like the boys.
I really like how they wrote this book because they donít just provide us with the information about children reactions to gender roles in the society, but they also provide a lot of interesting survey questions that was answers by other children. It is good to see from the boys and girls point of views about the gender stereotypes that they faced from their family, teachers, role models, and the media. Their answers made me think back a lot about how I would answer the questions the same ways too. So I wasnít surprised at some of the answers that I saw in these surveys and I feel that some of these answers are true, looking from a childrenís perspective.
This book isnít just like a knowledge book, but a book that walks children or teenagers through gender problems that they had faced during childhoods by giving them possible solutions and advises. I liked it how these two authors provide it readers the information and then also add some questions for the readers. I think that this caught the readerís attentions a lot because as I was reading this book and run upon those questions, I have to stop reading and answer those questions. For example, as I was reading chapter four (making the grade: gender issues in the classroom) and came upon the questions about whether teachers should always treat boys and girls the same, what some of the ways teachers treats girls and boy equally or what are some of the ways that they donít and etc. I stop reading and made about a list of answers to these questions and most of them are like what other students think in the books such as the teachers treating boys more important than girls, even though the girl try harder at everything. And there are some teachers that try to give equal attentions to both the gender.
Another reason that I liked reading this book is how the authors argued that every children should have the choice to choose what gender roles they want to take on and donít go along with what the society expected of them, which is different from what Linda and Susan agrued. I agree with George and Shelia about how children should have the right to choice what gender roles they wanted to take in their family, school, and media. George and Sheila think that gender shouldnít be think of it a complicated problem because it is very simple, no matter what sex people are, they are all human being. They should be treated equally and the parents, teachers, and media should consider the happiness of these children more by letting them figures what their true selves and what roles they liked instead of forcing the children to be what they expected. I think that George and Sheila meant to argued that these children should be able to made their own choices in their life, and that is not weird if boys want to do things that girls do, or if girls want to do things that boys want to do. I will go into more detail about that topic when I read up to that chapter in the book.

Reference for the book:
Abrahams, George. and Ahlbrand, Sheila. Boy versus Girls, How gender shapes who we are, what we want, and how we get along. Free Spirit Publishing Inc. Minnesota, 1951.

Posted by chan0719 at July 31, 2005 11:52 PM