Gender Roles

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I was heavily influenced by gender roles throughout my childhood.  Within my neighborhood and my family there were certain expectations and attitudes about what it meant to be a male and the type of behavior that men should display.  As the oldest male in my family I was expected to excel in sports and to be athletic.  I still distinctly remember as a child being told that I was not allowed to play make believe with one of the girls because it was not what boys did.  Instead, I was signed up for baseball, basketball, soccer, and contact football. At my grammar school only the girls could join the cheer leading team and only the boys could play on the football team.  I was confused and dismayed at the division of activities based on sex, but being so little I rarely challenged the norms that existed.  Throughout my childhood I was told again and again to “tough it out.”  I loathed contact football, but if I quit I would have been the only boy in my class who did not play for the school team.  By being forced to prescribe to specific gender roles, I am now able to see how they are socially constructed and just how powerful their influences are.  As an educator, it makes me more sensitive and empathetic to students who do not fit in the boundaries of what society deems appropriate for men and for women.  I also make sure to create a classroom environment that welcomes all types of people and respects diversity.  I want all children and adults to feel comfortable being who they are and not making themselves fall in to subjective categories based on gender roles.

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