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Gender Role Modeling

Introduction

An individual personality is a complex of mental characteristics expressed through temperament and emotional tone and colors our values, beliefs and expectations. There are two main factors that contribute towards shaping an individual’s personality and that is hereditary and the environment. Hereditary facors are a result of interactions with the social environment we live in. Values, beliefs and expectations are acquired through socialization and experiences we go through especially during childhood.

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In today’s world of the technological era, there is great exposure and access to tabloids that contain images and activities of the lives of popular personalities. Popular personalities play a great role in influencing young people behavior either in a positively or negatively. Adolescents both male and female look up to the media to define their identities. This is a stage that can be confusing and psychologically stressful for these young adults as they try to make sense of the world around them. Female adolescents rely on pop culture in the media to define their role in the society more than male adolescents. They look for tabloids in television, magazines, movies and the internet to emulate their actions because they view these actions as reality and make them feel as if they are part of a larger peer network.

Music videos have been found to have the strongest influence on young female adults than any other programs on television. The content in these music videos portrays high levels of alcohol abuse, smoking and drug abuse, as well as belittle women by making them look merely as objects of sex. Most female adolescent watching these videos tend to change their behavior and emulate what they see in the videos (Carter, 1991). They change their habits, dressing, hairstyles and behaviors to coincide with what is in the videos. Celebrities are also responsible for influencing and exposing adolescent to violence as depicted in most music videos. Given the current life situations i.e. poverty, racial discrimination, substance abuse and family conflicts, music videos have also helped in exposing and encouraging violence to adolescents leading to the rampant violence acts and weapon carrying in schools today (Bandura, 1977).

Over the decades, pop culture has influenced and shaped social roles in the society. According to social comparison theory, people will always compare themselves and others to people who they consider to hold a significant position in society or have realistic goals in the society. Celebrities being always in the public eye influence peoples’ lives and even without knowing it people tend to make decisions based on what they see in the media. We make comparisons of our lives with those of popular people and use these comparisons to strive to achieve more in life.

Socialization

Socialization is what defines gender differences between sexes. It can be described as a process through which individuals learn and accept roles that have been inherited overtime within a particular society. The individual learns the skills and habits required to fully participate in a society. Socialization begins at birth and works by encouraging positive behavior and discouraging negative behavior in children. It is during this time that we learn the fundamentals of our culture and our personality takes shape Socialization process takes place throughout life and depending on the experiences an individual has may cause one to alter beliefs, expectations or personality.

Societies develop a culture through shared norms, values, traditions, social roles, symbols and languages. Various studies have been carried out both scientific and genetic and have come up with the conclusion that human beings are influenced by social influences as well as their genes. Societies vary in cultures in terms of actions, customs and behaviors but what a child acquires through formal or informal education is what forms the fundamental of cultures and ultimately attains continuity. Informal education occurs anywhere and it takes constant experimentation and repetitive practice of basic skills and also imitation of what other people are doing (Bandura, 1977). There are various types of socializations which include;

Primary Socialization

Primary socialization occurs when a child is taught the values, actions and attitudes appropriate in a particular culture. This kind of socialization begins after birth and the main agents of socialization are family members. When a parent express dissatisfaction or opinion on certain issues the child is likely to follow suit and have the same opinion on the issue Carter, 1991).

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Secondary socialization

This refers to the process of learning what is considered appropriate behavior in a certain group that forms part of a larger society. For instance when moving to a new locality an individual is expected to learn what that particular group accepts as appropriate behavior (Carter, 1991).

Developmental socialization

This refers to the learning process of an individual to acquire behaviors appropriate in social institutions.

Anticipatory socialization

This refers to expectations developed by an individual in anticipation or knowledge of certain position or jobs. For instance, when joining an organization there are certain expectations that an individual holds towards his/her contributions to that organization. Anticipatory socialization can come from various sources including, family, peers school and the media. Each of these agents can provide information about roles and tasks in an organization while some can give specific information about certain roles in the organization (Bandura, 1977).

The Agents of socialization include family members who are the primary agent of socialization, education, religion, peer groups and the mass media. The mass media is responsible for influencing the behavior and attitude of adolescents who look to the media to define the world around them. Socialization process takes place throughout ones life and it is through this process that an individual develops ones self image, social identity and is able to form relationships with other people. In modern society the role of socializer has been taken by popular personalities through the media. Media is a strong influence for creating meaning in our lives. Music videos often display explicit and violent scenes and portray such habits as smoking, alcohol abuse and women sexual exploitation as acceptable habits in the society. Most teenagers are easily influenced by such behavior and want to identify themselves with them by emulating their actions.

Gender Role Theory

Gender can be defined as those characteristics that distinguish between male and female or characteristics that reflects one gender identity i.e. either male or female. Gender identity is what a person identifies him/her self as. It is different from sexual orientation and it’s not necessarily based on biological sex. External manifestation of one’s gender identity through masculinity or feminism can be termed as gender expression (Boyer, 1986).

Gender role theory proposes that both boys and girls learn the behaviors, values and norms of a society from families and the culture they grow up with. Other gender differences which are non physical are due to socialization which can be defined as the process of learning and accepting roles required to fully participate in a society (Cobb et al, 1982). Social role theory proposes that the gender differences are as a result of the social structure of a society and that the difference in gender behavior is driven by the division of labor between the sexes and as a result gender roles and gendered social behaviors are created. The characteristics of these roles performed by men and women have become peoples believes and perceptions that define how a man or a woman should behave. People in certain positions are therefore expected to behave in a particular way in a society but celebrity influence has completely changed this view and people have adopted different behaviors and attitudes from the images seen on television, music videos and the internet.

Social Role Theory

This theory defines the roles of both men and women that have been practiced from an early age. Women often assumed responsibilities at home while men assumed responsibilities outside home. As a result of gender social differences overtime, what was expected of men and women began to divulge this in turn has by been adopted by society in modern times resulting to changes in behavior of each gender. For instance, men have developed traits to be more aggressive, assertive and competitive while women have become more independent, friendly and expressive. In modern times women are more aggressive and competitive against their male counterparts.

It is through the process of socialization that each gender learns the skills and attitudes required to fit into a society .Gender roles might affect the choices and decisions of an individual in a particular setting. The implication of social role theory indicates that individuals who go against the stereotypes are generally regarded as unfavorable in the eyes of the society. Women who seek position that are expected of men are considered to cold and less appealing (Davis, 1990).

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Symbolic Interactionism Theory

This theory seeks to explain the interaction of humans and the society. It describes that human action and interaction can be understood only through meaningful communication or symbols. The main principles of this theory are human beings act towards things that pose meaning towards them and that the meanings arise out of social interactions. According to the theory humans beings are not only able to respond to their environment, but have the ability to interrupt their responses. For instance, a human being is able to choose to go with the fashion or not. Meanings can be altered through creative human capabilities and individuals are able to influence the many meanings that form a society.

Role Theory

This theory proposes that human behavior is guide by what expectations that are held by other people as well as the individual. The roles of each individual are guided by a set of rules and norms that the behavior of individuals (Ahammer, & Murray, 1979). Role theory is predictive and it’s therefore easy to predict an individual’s role in a certain position. Gender roles are dictated partly by social structure of a particular society and social interactions of an individual. This two guide the behavior of an individual who in turn influences the norms and expectations associated with roles. Role theory therefore describes the relationship between individual behavior and social structure.

Culturalist Theory

This theory was developed in the 1980s and 1990s and a state that people interact with the media to create meaning from the images they see and message they receive. Most people therefore interact with the media to try and make meaning of their lives by watching what the celebrities are doing. The theory emphasizes that audiences choose what to watch from a wide range of sources and how much of it to watch. People interpret these images and messages in their own way each person differently from the other. For instance, an individual may view a popular personality thinness of body as acceptable and hence try to emulate while somebody else may view this as unacceptable. People may interpret images based on their age, race, ethnicity or religious background. Although few people may exert control over what is presented in the media, personal perspective plays a major role on how an individual interprets the messages.

Globalization

Globalization is often portrayed as a unifying factor that brings together different cultures into one global village and enriching all in the process. The major aspect of globalization is the ever-increasing penetration of the media in the world. In this Era of technology most people are able to access information through sources of media e.g. television, and internet. Developing countries that previously had no access to information can now be able to access information and material over the internet due to Globalization. Globalization has impacted the media industry negatively and consequently influenced young people negatively through music programs it presents.

Conclusion

Media content often presented on television and other sources of media is set to suit the interest of commercial companies with no regard to the effects it has on young people. The negative effects are then felt globally leading to changes in cultures of many societies. Music videos which portray sexism, erotic scenes and violence are bound to have negative impact on children and young adults viewing them. Media International companies are very competitive and choose to overlook the content of music videos distributed and produced.

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