Sport For Babies Essay

A baby is born and the doctor looks at the proud parents or parent and says
three simple words: Its a boy, or Its a girl! Before a newborn child even takes
his or her first breath of life outside the mothers womb, he or she is
distinguishable and characterized by gender. The baby is brought home and
dressed in clothes that help friends, family and even strangers identify the sex
of the child. Baby boys are dressed in blue and baby girls are dressed in pink.

The baby boy may be dressed in a blue jumpsuit with a football or a baseball
glove on it. The baby girl may wear a bow in their hair and flowered pajamas. As
the boy begins to grow, he is given a miniature basketball and a hoop to play
with. The girl is given dolls an d doll clothes to dress them up in. Even going
further, eventually the boy may play with Legos and Lincoln Logs and the girl
gets a PlaySchool oven and a plastic tea set with which to play house. Sounds
pretty normal right? Why? As illustrated in the not-so-fictional scenario above,
gender socialization begins very early in life. Society has accepted such
stereotypical things as baby boy blue and baby girl pink to help identify the
sex of a child. Heaven forbid the little Joey looks like a girl or b aby
Michelle is mistaken for a boy. Mothers and fathers make it easy for everyone to
distinguish their bundle of joy by utilizing the socially established gender
stereotypes. But where and how did these stereotypes come from? Unfortunately, I
don’t think there is a definite answer to that question. We seem to accept that
blue is for boys and pink is for girls. Boys generally play with balls, toy
trucks and building blocks whereas girls spend their time with dolls, tea sets
and stuffed animals. But these are the stereotypes that are influenced by the
parents. A baby child isn’t concerned with his or her gender identity. As the
child gets older though, he or she will begin to develop an identity for his or
herself and establish a personality th at reflects their masculinity or
femininity. In Nancy Chodorow’s essay “Family Structure and Feminine
Personality” she examines the development of gender identity and
personality. Except for the stereotypical examples I have given above which
again are e stablished by the parents, Chodorow states that the development of a
child is basically the same for boys and girls until the age of three. During
those first three years the mother is the dominant figure in the child’s life.

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The father plays a limited role until the child reaches the so called Oedipal
period (beyond age 3). It is at this stage that children begin to try to
separate themselves from the clutches of their mother and establish their own
identity. Chodorow examines how different this is for boys and girls. KFRC radio
disk jockey Ron Parker recently reported that out of a survey of one hundred
fourth grade boys and one hundred fourth grade girls, the boys receive an
average weekly allowance that is approximately 50% higher than the girls
receive. On the average, the boys receive $4.18 as compared to the $2.67 paid to
the girls. To look even further, the survey reported that the boys only perform
three household chores to earn their weekly allowance whereas the girls are
performing twel ve or more. Why are the girls expected to do four times as much
work around the house than the boys are? Chodorow writes that a young boy is
usually unable to identify with his masculinity through his father. The father
isn?t as readily available to th e boy as the mother. Without the father to
follow example, Chodorow concludes that a boy will identify masculine
characteristics be doing that which is not feminine. This could be an
explanation for the big difference in the number of chores the girls d o versus
the boys. Though you might disagree with the morality of this statement, you
have to admit that it is socially accepted that household chores are feminine
duties. Young boys are bound to realize this and following Chodorow?s theory,
will refuse to perform a lot of chores in an attempt to become more
masculine.GENDER?AND?THE?MEDIA Another aspect of everyday life that is highly
influential in gender socialization is the media. What we see on television or
at the movies, what we read in the newsp aper or in magazines, what we see on
billboards or hear on the radio are all very significant on how we form a
opinion on gender identity. Media publishers have very successfully learned to
?play? to an audience and are extremely successful in communicat ing with the
audience they wish to reach. Advertisers are the biggest example of this
concept. Society is very apt in recognizing images seen in commercials and
printed ads and viewing them as socially acceptable behavior. For example, beer
companies w ill target the twenty to thirty year old male audience and include
scantily clad women enjoying their favorite beers. Ironically, popular women?s
magazines also use beautiful women to promote cosmetics and beauty products
(funny that both my examples sho w the exploitation of female images in
society…more on that later). How often do you think people question the
activities they see portrayed in advertising and question them as to there
validity? Probably not very often. It is much easier for society to just accept
the images and not bother to take the time to analyze their bias and untrue
nature. It is this societal ignorance that clouds the mind and allows the images
to continue to influence what we believe to be socially acceptable. And when soc
iety is presented with something or someone out of the ordinary which doesn?t
follow what we deem to be correct, we rebel and try to modify it to our socially
acceptable standards.THE?ANDROGYNOUS?SCENARIO Imagine a baby born with no
visible sex organs. N ow imagine after some tests that there are no internal or
external sex organs whatsoever. No ovaries, no testes, no uterus, no vagina, no
penis, no glands that produce estrogen or testosterone, no semen, no eggs, no
anything. Is this possible? Surprisi ngly yes. It is very possible and in fact
probably more so that one thinks. Though rarely publicized, there are people in
this world that are physically indistinguishable as males or females. Sally
Jesse Raphael recently had one of these androgynous hu man beings on her popular
morning talk show. This person, known as Toby, is neither male nor female and
prefers to live life in the androgynous state. Toby is the only known human
being in the world like this. Medically feasible, yes; but is the androgy nous
person socially acceptable in our everyday lifestyle? Since Toby was born, Toby
hasn?t been able to live a normal life. Throughout childhood, Toby was
constantly pressured to make a decision to either become a full fledged male or
female. Doctors, teachers, friends and family all thought that Toby would be
much happier if Toby could be classified as either a man or a woman. But Toby
didn?t think so. Toby made a decision to stay androgynous and it has caused
some very interesting results. Everyw here Toby goes identity comes into
question. Is Toby male or female? Toby is neither. But that?s not possible. Yet
it is. Think about what you do everyday and how much of it relies on gender and
then think about Toby. What public restroom do you go in? What kind of clothes
do you wear? What store do you buy them in? What colors do you buy? What letter
is after the word sex on your drivers license? How does Toby answer these
questions? That?s not the point. The point is why does Toby have to a nswer
these questions? Because this is what we have determined to be socially correct.

There are two sexes, male and female and you must be one or the other. How can
there be an in between? Such a person should have no place in our culturally
biased s ociety.FEMALE?EXPLOITATION As I briefly mentioned earlier, advertisers
utilize female images to sell products. Society associates beauty with the
female and we are more inclined to pay attention to a beautiful woman presented
to us on a screen or a page in a magazine. But can this be more harmful to a
society than good. Recently in my woman?s studies class we were involved in a
student panel discussion regarding this topic. The presenters literally filled a
wall with images taken from magazines and ne wspapers and each of the
photographs were of beautiful women endorsing some product. Everything from
lingerie to Coca-Cola utilized a female image to attract attention to their ad.

This doesn?t just stop in advertising either. A documentary viewed in t he same
class entitled ?DreamWorld?, exposed the demeaning portrayal of women as sex
objects in music videos. Specifically those shown on the popular music video
network MTV. The women in the videos were all sex objects; beautiful, buxom,
sexy, promiscu ous and lacked any moral values whatsoever. Also, the woman in
the music videos all served one main purpose: to satisfy the sexual needs of
men. The documentary helped us to see how we are easily influenced by images
when we do not stop and think what t hey are showing us. Removed from the
context of how they were originally intended to be shown, the images in the
videos were very disturbing to both men and women. But, for those who only see
them as they were produced, which is most of the viewing popu lation, the videos
do indeed portray these woman in a fantasized nature. This too can lead to what
society views as being socially acceptable. In a perfect world, there would be
no gender differentiation, no racial tension and no ?political incorrectness ?.

But we live in an imperfect world that is currently making a turn towards
becoming more ?PC? (politically correct). Fading away are such terms as
fireman, stewardess, boyfriend and girlfriend, policeman and secretary. Now we
are starting to use a mo re socially acceptable language and replacing such
terms with fire fighter, flight attendant, domestic partner or significant
other, police officer and administrative assistant. We are slowly, and I do mean
slowly, moving towards a non gender separated s ociety. Eventually we may be
able to control what we see and how we see it, but until then we must rely on
ourselves to determine what is reality and what is part of a DreamWorld.


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