How Stereotypes Begin at a Young Age

by salutona on September 5, 2014 - 10:55pm

Boys play with trucks and girls play with dolls; that’s how it’s always been. From the very beginning of a girl’s life she is being conditioned to behave like a typical girl. Either by the media or unintentionally by parents, she is bombarded with ideologies about what a women should be like. It’s all about Barbie, pretty clothes, aesthetics, kitchen sets, and playing mommy. On the other hand, boys are handed blocks, play tools and other things that help them develop motor skills. If the boy shows any signs of wanting to play with anything labeled as a “girl’s toy” he is reprimanded. Parents treat children differently even when it comes to getting hurt. If a girl falls and scrapes her knee, she is more likely to be held and soothed than if it was a boy. Although these may seem like small insignificant things, they subconsciously shape children’s understanding of what a woman and man’s role is in society.

The first step to making a change in our society’s gender stereotypes is through open minded parents. If parents were more willing to let their children play with whatever toys they wanted and treated them equally, the next generation might not be so sexist. After all, it all begins with baby steps.

Here is an article to better your understanding on the subject: Boys Will Be Boys? Not in These Families


The first sentence of your post is what made me want to continue reading: “Boys play with trucks and girls play with dolls; that’s how it’s always been.” I think it is really significant as a statement because it represents reality and a common saying that we have all heard, but also because it seems like a metaphor for how society establishes a criteria for both genders. I agree when you say that every example might seem like a small insignificant thing, but that it actually has an impact. If we are constantly exposed to the idea that men and women have a different role to play in society, we begin to believe it and become blind, in a way, to what is right. What is right is to accept and appreciate individual differences and to let each other be free to live without being judged. Your post reminds me of what we have been studying in my “Myth of Race and the Reality of Racism” class. We watched several childhood movie clips and analyzed what kind of effect that these could have on young people. The way that the movies portray different ethnic groups is ridiculous. So often, they are exaggerated and represent such a false reality of the culture. Children, thus, unconsciously start to believe what they see on television, whether the message transmitted to them is valid or not. Gender and race have much in common because, among other things, they are both socially constructed. If we have been able to socially construct the idea that categories exist among people, I believe there is a way to socially construct the idea that we all deserve equality and freedom.

About the author