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 11:52 PM

July 26, 2005

Susan D. Witt, The Influence of School and Reading Materials on Children's Gender Role Socialization

View image

A picture of girls putting on make- up....

Over the weekend, I read an incredible article about the influence of school and reading material on childrenís gender roles socialization by Susan D. Witt. Being so fascinated by this article, I did some researchs about the author, Susan D. Witt. What I found about Susan D. Witt even surprised me more because I am reading her most recent scholarly publications and getting a chance to analyze her works is so amazing. Susan D. Witt is a professor at the School of Family and Consumer Sciences in the University of Akron. She has a lot educations and professional experiences. Some of the classes that she taught were family issues, marriage, parenting educations, childrenís development, parent and children relations, childrenís literature, and now she is also adding some more classes. Most of her articles and class courses that I saw were great that interest me a lot. I canít wait to read more articles from her in the future.
In Susan D. Wittí s article, she emphasized that beside the media and fairy tales, there are also other environmental influences such as parents, peers, and school experience that are an impact on children socialization to their adult roles as they developed. Susan thinks what exhibit males and females in various roles most are the reading materials that children used in school. These portrayals of the gender difference have a great impact on the childrenís perspective of male and female roles in society. She also talked about the history of how the government of the United States assigned compulsory education for all the children, but in reality, boys and girls didnít acquire the same educations experience(1). Boys were the one who received the positive outcomes while the girls received the negative outcomes.
Susan proved her point by talking about how teachers taught gender roles to children through activities, modeling, reinforcing by using different praise of words to boys and girls, and other form of communications in the school setting. She argued that teachers pay different attentions to boys and girls such as teachers pay more attentions to boys than girls because in the classroom, boys seem to be more dominant. This is because the boys are the one that will likely put their hands up faster and push their entire body in the way to get the teacherís attentions(2). While the girls sit silently rising their hands and waiting patiently to be called on. She also expressed that teachers have certain gender-stereotyped expectations of boys and girls. For example, teachers think that boys have behaviors that are more mastery-oriented and that girls didnít perform harder toward their achievement.
In Susanís article, she also emphasized about how childrenís books, parents, and roles models play a great roles in gender bias for children. She highlighted that a lot children are being exposed to childrenís book that have pictures, words, and descriptions that says that boys are superior than girls. Also the expressions that females who are portray in childrenís book as so passive, less important, and not funs while males are portray as adventurer, slow problems with their cleverness and creativity(7). Susan expressed that parents used gender stereotypes on their children at a very younger age basing on rather the children are boys or girls. In the article, there was the example of parents viewing that their boys play outside a lot at the playground, play with swords, cars, dinosaurs, and fighting. While the girls are more likely to sing, sew, swing, dress up, put on make up and play with dolls. She analysis that role models shaped a lot of the childrenís opinions about male and femaleís role because most female are portray as less important than male. Female was less likely to be given great tasks, while male are in the workforce, and army. So importantly, little girls were raised to value marriage, being a mother with children of their own, and live their life with the assumption that their husband with a job will always provide them safety(7).
Reading Susanís article was an adventure for me because I was able to see some of the ways that childrenís genders are being stereotyped. Reading Susanís article also made me realized that the environmental influences such as fairy tales, media, parents, peers, school experience play a great role in gender stereotyped for children that is making it harder for the children, especially the girls. I just donít like the facts that girls are given negative attentions so much and boys are given the positive attentions. Susanís article help related back to how I encountered gender stereotyped as a girl. It doesnít seem fair to the girls, these stereotypes are putting girls self-esteem down.
Susanís article helps me related back to how I encountered gender stereotyped as a girl. I remember being in elementary school and raising my hand for a long time, but he the teacher only pick on the boys because they were in front of me. However, I didnít quite like the issue about how the teachers have gender-stereotyped expectations of boys and girls. If the students donít behaved like the teacher expected, then they are being treated as ď differentĒ and unusual. I think it is wrong for teachers to treat their students like that because they as teacher are supposed to teach the students about what is wrong and right about gender stereotypes and not to use it on the students. Beside, not every boys and girls are like the ways that these teachers expected of them. When the teacher praised boys and girls differently. For example, teachers praised boys for knowledge, achievements, and abilities, and praised girls for obedience, appearance, and experience. It is showing that the girls was never given the chance to proved their abilities, and that the girls arenít good to be in school setting.
One of the topics in her reading that I enjoy reading the most was when she described about the six aspects of the social representation of gender in school setting. Listed below are the six aspected(2) :
1. Social categories - using gender to categorize students (i.e., letís form a boysí line and a girlsí line ).
2. Group composition - using group composition to make sense of classroom interaction; forming groups by gender.
3. Material culture - cultural marking of objects as either masculine or feminine.
4. Activities - cultural marking of activities that identifies roles and routines as masculine or feminine.
5. Space - allocating different areas of the classroom or playground to boys or girls.
6. Behavioral style - labeling particular patterns of behavior as either masculine or feminine (Lloyd & Duveen, 1992: 61).
I liked this topic because it remind me about when I was in elementary school and our teacher have us formed into boysí line and girlsí line.
The rest of her reading was fun and enlighten, and though I donít like the bias about gender difference in children. I found it hard to argue about those other issues because there isnít much that a person can say to gender stereotyped. Gender stereotyped on children is set straight that children have no right to said about how they are being viewed, they will just have to accept it or being treated as an outsider of their society until they are older enough to understand.

Here is the link to her article and another link that give some information about Susan D. Witt, I highly suggested that you guys should take a look at some of her articles, they are really great:

http://gozips.uakron.edu/~susan8/school.htm ( article page)

http://search.hp.netscape.com/hp/boomframe.jsp?query=Susan+D.+Witt&page=1&offset=0&result_url=redir%3Fsrc%3Dwebsearch%26requestId%3Dcd7f20acac7cbf2f%26clickedItemRank%3D1%26userQuery%3DSusan%2BD.%2BWitt%26clickedItemURN%3Dhttp%253A%252F%252Fwww3.uakron.edu%252Fhefe%252Fhefefac%252Fswitt.htm%26invocationType%3D-%26fromPage%3DCompaq1Top%26amp%3BampTest%3D1&remove_url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww3.uakron.edu%2Fhefe%2Fhefefac%2Fswitt.htm ( Susan Information)

http://search.hp.netscape.com/hp/boomframe.jsp?query=Susan+D.+Witt&page=2&offset=0&result_url=redir%3Fsrc%3Dwebsearch%26requestId%3Dcd7f20acac7cc0ab%26clickedItemRank%3D13%26userQuery%3DSusan%2BD.%2BWitt%26clickedItemURN%3Dhttp%253A%252F%252Fwww2.lewisu.edu%252F%257Egazianjo%252Finfluence_of_television_on_child.htm%26invocationType%3Dnext%26fromPage%3DHPNextPrev%26amp%3BampTest%3D1&remove_url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww2.lewisu.edu%2F%7Egazianjo%2Finfluence_of_television_on_child.htm ( one article about TV influence on gender role socialization)

Posted by chan0719 at 1:10 AM

July 21, 2005

Linda T, Parsons

View image
here is a image of cinderella and the prince putting the shoe on her.

Today, I read an interesting article called, ď Ella Evolving: Cinderella Stories and the Construction of Gender Appropriate Behavior written by Linda T. Parsons. Linda T. Parsons is a proficient classroom teacher, working on her Ph.D in Language, Literacy and Culture at Ohio State University. Linda had already published a lot of other articles. Most of her articles are written from feminist perspective, where her interest relay on childrenís engagement during aesthetic reading and the impact of gender on literacy.
In Lindaís article, she pointed out that our society are surrounded by media marketing Disney fairy tales that are the sites for constructing the most appropriate behaviors for male and female (pg.135). Fairy tale is a dominant discourse on historical, and cultural message of gender roles in the values of the society. Fairy tales is also expressed as a script for form of acceptable female and maleís behaviors. For example, in fairy tales, women are being portray as weak, submissive, dependent, and self-sacrificing, while men are being dominant, powerful, active, right, and heroine.
Linda argues that fairy tales and their influence on the people today are powerful because people are unconsciously performing what is being portray in fairy tales and accepting the gender discourse as natural. Even children who watch fairy tales are developing not just the knowledge of the appropriate behaviors or role of females and male, but the desires, values, and acceptance of these behaviors as their own behaviors. Linda emphasized that it would be highly important if fairy tales were examine for the messages they are giving to the children or people who watch these shows. So with that ideas, she take in account of examining some of the message convey in the traditional canon, the characteristics of feminist re-visions of fairy tales, and the importance of access to alternative discourse to challenge dominant ideology with the analyze of four different Cinderella stories and it messages (pg.136). Linda found interesting messages in her search such as fairy tales convey a message that women are to suffer, humiliated, before they are reward.
I found Lindaís article to be fascinating because it highlight some of the issue of male and female roles being portray in fairy tales, also help clarify some confusions about gender differences, and it exposed interesting messages about genderís behaviors. One of the messages that Linda find in her search that I find agreeable was that women can be portray as evil or good. Referring to women who are ugly and poor as not evil. However, those women who are beautiful and wealthy are evil. I didnít like the fact that fairy tales and society label man being the most dominant and excluding women from domination. I agree with Linda when she said that most of the behaviors of the gender shown in the fairy tales is portray by what the society demand from the media. She says that people who watch these fairy tales often want to rewrite them because some of the behaviors shown didnít corresponded to the expected behaviors. For example, the fairy tale, The Cinderella story was either revise a couple times and retold a couple time from different culture who then add different messages and roles to the Cinderella and the prince.
Another reason that I found her article fascinating because some of the things that she talks about in her article are so true. I was quite shocked to learn that children watch fairy tales and learn how to act from it. In her article, she involves a lot studies with children reactions to these fairy tales, which I found it to be very interesting. I think that the fact that she works with kids on this is interesting because it show that people learn about gender difference at a young age, so by the time they are mature enough. They already got used to being identify as a male because of dominant behavior, and as a female because of weak behavior and also of the things that they can do from their behaviors and sex difference. I remember watching the Disney and having the same reaction like some of the children in her article. I was also thinking about how I must suffer pain and wait for my prince who will some day come and rescues me from the evil things in my life. However, as I grow older and my prince never came for me, it made me wonder about my roles as a female. Am I going to be portraying as dependant and weak like the fairy tales portray Cinderella or Ella. I also wonder can people really rely on these behaviors that are portray in fairy tales to tell someone out from it gender? Or is there more to this than just the knowledge of how people want to think of genderís behaviors and roles from society expectations.

Here is the link to where I found the article. Please feel free to take a look at the article and leave me some comment about what you think of this article and it topic.


Posted by chan0719 at 3:26 AM