David Popenoe On Gender Roles In Children

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From the second a child is born the world begins to nurture that child into performing a specific role. Parents, family, friends, media, toys, society: all work together to shape the attitude and emotional complex of a newborn. The direction of this nurturing and the direction of a child’s gender role, however, is not primarily based on innate gender compulsions, but rather on the differences in how that child is molded based on sex. One vital source of child development, and I would argue of gender development, is not surprisingly the toys with which a child will grow up playing and associating. Such playthings contribute to a child’s cognitive and motor skills as well as social skills (Rommes 186). If a child could learn to associate a toy…show more content…
David Popenoe, in his article Parental Androgyny, states that men and women are biologically different, and can therefore not equally take on the same social roles in the home. He claims that parental androgyny, specifically dad acting in the place of mom, and men being motherly towards their children, is bad for children and for a lasting marriage based on biological differences (6). Popenoe’s argument is that men and women have their social roles and these roles should not be switched or tampered. Men should not be the primary caregivers of their children because that is the woman’s biological job. I disagree with this argument because there is scientific evidence that men can be just as “motherly” as women when the need arises (Brooks). Men and women are biologically different, but that does not mean they lack what the other has in parenting skill. In other words, Popenoe’s claim that a father raising his children in the place of their mother is “not what children need” is outdated, and therefore strengthens the earlier mention of men and women transcending the limits on gender roles. However, the gender roles portrayed by modern toys are still within the traditional ideals of what men and women should be doing based on Popenoe’s biological differences. Boy toys are tailored to serve…show more content…
An examination of boy toys and girl toys reveals a distinct shift in the ways that each toy is designed to engage its user. Girl toys focus very little on “potential learning/skills development” while boy toys focused more on these aspects, including knowledge of construction and technology (Francis 332-333). A doll does little to prepare a girl for future academic curriculum, while a model car provides a subject to a boy’s developing motor and engineering skills. One could argue that girls perhaps gain more social skills, while boys gain more technical skills when playing with gendered toys, but this is the exact polarization that I am claiming to be stereotypically gendered. Understanding that gendered toys could lead to different developmental patterns in boys and girls, which then leads to different involvement in different fields, is a very real possibility and consequence to the real world. Toys are capable of forming and molding a child’s personal expectations to meet standards; whether or not we push these standards or leave them unchanged is going to define what our children believe they are capable of achieving in the
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