How we Learn to Identify Ourselves Be who you want to be and do what makes you happy. Is this true? Are we really able to be free and live our lives without limitations? Into adolescence, we begin to realize this is not true. From the moment, we are born into this world, our gender is determined for us.
Our rooms are painted for us pink (girls) and blue (boys), our toys are chosen for us such as girls receive dolls and boys receive action figures, and we are told what is acceptable behavior for a female and what is acceptable behavior for males. Gender norms are socially constructed behaviors and roles that society considers appropriate for males and females. These gender norms play a big role in a person’s health because what maybe normative for that gender may cause health issues and one rather ignore the health issue then face social exclusion or judgement. We are members of a gender. The people we interact with taught us how to identify one another as male or female and to act according to the gender expectations that have been placed. The author writes, ” children do not inherit a “natural” understanding of how to act “masculine” or “feminine” or how to classify themselves in terms of these categories.
They acquire this understanding through their interactions ( Sandstrom, Lively, Martin & Fine, 2014, p. 96). This understanding starts with our parents. Parents teach us what is an acceptable way to behave as a young lady or gentleman, what an appropriate emotional response should be for a male or female, and what toys or books are acceptable. Then we enter into school were teachers reinforce these gender roles such as disciplining girls differently than guys and organizing the contest that are boys versus girls. These boys versus girls rules teach girls that they are not as strong as the guys so must play separate from them so they won’t be injured.
Therefore, at a young age we are already seeing that our gender does matter and effects what we can and cannot do. Now, parents and teacher are not the only ones defining our gender identity we ourselves play a role in creating our gender identity. Understanding our Gender How do we understand our gender? The child learns to understand their gender identity by those who they interact with on a daily basis. Sandstrom states that cultural cues are what helps us to distinguish gender differences. The author writes, ” the young child also learns how to display his or her own gender appropriately. As the child grows out of infancy, he or she learns how to dress, look, and act in order to be recognized as a boy or girl” (Sandstrom et al.
, 2014, p.97). Through cultural cues such as girl toys being pink-princess themed and having bright colored kitchen sets makes a child think she must succumb to playing with these toys. It also causes one to grow up thinking women are to be caretakers,cooks, and care about their appearances more than who they are inside. The same goes for boy toys. They receive action figures which are the same as dolls, but these “action figures” are not holding babies they are holding guns and are titled heroes. This in turn causes boys to grow up wanting to be tough and protectors. Through these cultural cues children, learn what it means to be a man or women.
It also teaches them what is appropriate for women to do and what is appropriate for men to do.Gender Norms Affects on HealthGender norms are what society abides by whether it makes sense or not. Gender norms affect health outcomes for male and female, but in different ways as discussed in this article. The American psychological association states that ” gender norms refer to socially constructed roles, behaviors, activities, and attributes that a given society considers appropriate for boys and men or girls and women”. Masculine norms are the key study when discussing the relationship between gender norms and health. Gender plays a huge role in health. How one acts to determine what category their cultural, society puts them in. If how one behaves goes against the gender norms set then the individual can be condemned which can lead to a person feeling lost about who they are.
In most countries, it is normative for men to participate in life threatening activities because it redefines the norm about men being strong, brave, and risk takers. Fleming (2015) states, ” it is normative for men in many cultures to drink excessively, avoid certain health food options, and avoid health-care”(pg.67). Adapting to these norms puts an individual’s health at risk because not all are built the same, so just because some men can handle eating anything or drink excessively does not mean it won’t have overall health implications for another. Men being told that they are to be tough results in them going to the doctors less than women. They feel like they are less than a man if they attend the doctors instead of overcoming their illness on their own.
Women have no problem going to the doctors because their gender norms state that women are to take care of themselves and how they need care when they are in need ,hence, completely opposite of men, gender norms.These gender norms shape the way individuals interact with the world around them, engage in the substance abuse, and physical activity. These factors shape gender attitudes from a young age and they enter the world thinking they must conform to these norms.Gender and Health Behaviors Substance UseMen must constantly demonstrate their masculinity through their actions. Therefore, men partake in risky behaviors, avoid medical care, and engage in substance abuse because society has said those are the thing that defines who you are as a man. Substance use such as alcohol is less frequent amongst women because it is “unladylike” for women to participate in such an act.
Peralta (2007) states that ” Research reveals that gender norms largely determine abstinence versus moderate or heavy drinking in women. For example, in communities where women’s drinking is not socially acceptable, drinking rates are relatively low for women” (pg. 743). Women do not want to be condemned for going against these social expectations so engage less. However, men drinking shows masculinity. Drinking behavior is part of “doing gender” as men socially construct their identity as masculine (Peralta, 2007, p.747). Drinking alcohol showed power and redefined the norm of men participating in high- risk behavior.
The more one can consume the manlier they are. Men intoxication being more accepted over women proves how society continues to hold men at a higher status just because they are “protectors, stronger, and are providers”. Hughes, Wilsnack, and Kantor (2016) states “a culture’s acceptance of public drinking and intoxication for men but not women can serve to reinforce male superiority over women in status and authority in that culture” (pg 122). Men are leaders and women are nurturers so males continue to hold the ” authority” when it comes to important decisions. Drinking should not be acceptable for men or women even if men are said to “hold liquor better” man or not liquor causes health damage. Gender and sports cultureSex differences in concussions reporting is due to an individual trying to conform to masculine norms that are set in contemporary sports culture. Concussions are a major concern for all athletes who participate in a contact sport.
Not easy to detect how severe a concussion is or if one has one so it is vital that athletes communicate to coach or doctor. However, a lot of concussions go unreported by athletes because they are afraid of being removed from the game. Female athletes are possibly more prone to concussions due to physical differences than men such as the difference in head size, neck muscle strength, etc. The other reason could be that women are more likely to report symptoms than male athletes, therefore, it would seem as though females receive it more.
Kroshus, Baugh, Stein, Austin, and Calzo (2017) states “many males, participating in contact and collision sport is a way of performing traditional masculinity, and playing through injury is a way to perform traditional gender role norms “(pg.157) Men have been taught to take a risk and be strong even if hurting and you are not a man if you let pain stop you. Women are taught to speak up if there is a problem. However, sex differences in injury reporting may be due to athletes, gendered behavior, meaning it’s measured by if he or she conforms to traditional norms of contemporizing sports culture. Gender and diet Virtually any behavior can be interpreted through gender lenses. It can be from the food we eat to the clothes we wear to the sports activities we choose.
We have become so accustomed to it that we do not even notice we are participating in it on a day to day basis. Food consumption has been an emerging area of study amongst male and female. The foods we eat are even categorized as either a male or female thing. The author discusses how people who eat unhealthy amounts of food are more masculine whereas those who eat small portions and healthy are viewed as feminine. Rothgerber (2013) found that “meat, especially red meat,was associated with positive images of masculinity; in fact, being a meat eater was explicitly identified as one of the attributes of an ideal man, primarily through increased muscle strength” (pg.
364). Men eating meat reaffirms their masculinity and shows strength and power. Women eat meat less because it is considered more feminine to eat healthy and women have an appearance to keep up. Rothgerber (2013) states, “Females were more likely than males to report eating meals that were completely vegetarian” (pg.
365). Men felt that if they did not consume meat on a daily basis they were less of a man. More concerned about following gender norms than their overall health.
Rothgerber (2013) states, “following a vegetarian diet or deliberately reducing meat intake violates the spirit of Western hegemonic masculinity” (pg 374). Men felt that they were less powerful and feminine if they cut back on meat and ate healthy.