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Genetically females and males are different in their physical attributes, though we have to question whether their roles are already made out for them. Boys are made out to play with action figures whereas girls are expected to play with dolls. My belief is that the society imposes such constructs upon males and females rather than these being physiological attributes. In the same vein, Katha Pollitt in her essay asserts that rather than looking at children in an effort to show evidence that behavioral differences are inherent, we ought to analyze the means of raising them as a means of measuring the construct of feminist revolution. We also get an understanding of how this construct is embraced by adults who take the idea that their female children ought to engage in what was previously male denominated professions and their male children to do what was previously deemed female tasks such as raising children.
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In a summary of Pollitt’s essay, “Why Boys Don’t Play with Dolls,” she discusses the cause and effect resulting into male children becoming macho and strong while girls adopt the role of gentleness and beauty. According to Pollitt, behavioral attributes of male and female children are as a result of social conditioning and as such studies of brain chemistry or activity are not needed. An analysis of the way children are raised portrays how the feminist revolution has failed to reach full fruition. A good example is the exclusivity of Barbie dolls for girls whereas boys are expected to engage in sport games. From childhood girls are exposed to Barbies with thin figures and long hair which are a representation of sexiness and stylishness. The girls would learn from a young age to fit this construct through dieting in order to attain this conditioned ideal. Boys would be expeced to be strong and engage in contact games and would thus live up to this ideal. In general the parents and other adults would impose a certain construct of conditioning whether consciously or unconsciously in order to make the children turn out to be what the society perceives male and female roles and appropriate behavior is.
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Pollitt states that the NOW was founded twenty eight years ago yet the boy child still likes trucks and the girl child plays with her dolls. Pollitt believes that The National Organization for Women does not bother much with what boys and girls play with. It would seem the NOW has already achieved what it set out to accomplish which is more respect and rights. The roles and behavior of females and males is a social construct which has attained basic acceptance from previous generations. Before males took up the domineering role due to their physicality over women, however, the new world is an age of equality and civilization where physical characteristics do not necessarily determine social place and role. On the other hand, some men still hold the view that they are more equipped to engage in dangerous tasks such as working in the military. Conversely, women are perceived from an angle of genetic body structure and beauty. Most women have come to accept the way they are perceived in terms of beauty since they have been conditioned to deem this as the social acceptable way.
Pollitt supports her assertions by offering examples of how women complain of sports yet they would never consider discouraging their children from sports which they deem foolish and dangerous. Social acceptance makes the women accept and love their husbands who are sports fans. This may be attributed to the social upbringing that conditions females and males to take up their different roles. The rolles played by males and females are varied since contemporary society puts great premium on individuals freewill. However, family and friends will treat a person differently if they act against the set and accepted social norms.
While true, Pollitt asserts that the ideology of converging and flexible sex roles is fitting for the future of the children though she offers no real support for this assertion. A question I would like to pose is how and why converging and flexible sex roles are fitting for the children’s future. In general Pollitt offers evidence for her main claim well and her statement is factual in asserting that children are not born kind, religious or polite, among other things such as not having the capacity to remember where they put their pair of jeans. In agreement with the children’s behavior and the values driving them is the great amount of influence that adults subject them to in conditioning throughout their childhood.
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I do believe that the sex roles which are common and acceptable in contemporary society are founded on societal influences. For instance a child getting into a children’s store will see it compartmentalized into boys and girls sections according to the stereotype of the society. The boys section would be filled with toys stereotyped for boys such as toy guns, action figures and sports cars, whereas the girls’ section would have Barbie figures, toy cooking equipment, and baby dolls. Since time immemorial men have been viewed as warriors and hunters due to their physical attributes; on the other hand women have been perceived as being fit for staying home to cook and raise children. Genes may make men stronger physically than women but the roles played by the two genders are a result of transmission from generation to generation.
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