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The issue of gender sensitive behaviors has been debated for a long time. Over the time that the argument has been going on, two distinct sources of ender sensitive behaviors have come up: social construction and biology. The proponents of the doctrine of social construction state that gender sensitive behaviors appear as a result of the social environment which children and people live in. They stress that people are the products of the environment, that it is what they interact with, ‘purchase and consume’ (Maasik & Solomon 82). On this point, it is emphasized that the society has its own values or expectations from a male or a female, hence providing an environment for the development of ender sensitive behaviors. On the other hand, the proponents of biology as the source of gender sensitive behaviors stipulate that the hormonal setup of the humans is different with respect to their gender; hence gender sensitive behavior is a result of biology. However, gender sensitive behavior cannot be described as a product of either biology or social construction, as it is a product of both aspects (Blum 1). One of the tools which have been used to develop gender sensitive behaviors in children is toys. The following research paper will analyze two toys: the doll and building blocks with respect to how they promote the traditional gender roles. It will also indicate how gender sensitive behaviors occur.
Dolls are toys which have been in use for a long time in the world. They are manmade creations of the objects which have an image of a human being. Dolls are often associated with girls, since they represent small children that the small girls have to take care of. The materials used to make dolls are numerous, ranging from clothe and plastics to other modern age materials, such as composite fibers. On the other hand, building blocks are a collection of small blocks of either plastic or wooden materials, which can be interconnected to make different structures. Building blocks are often associated with boys. The paper will discuss how the above mentioned toys have developed the issue of the gender sensitive behavior in children, starting with dolls and then building blocks.
As indicated earlier, dolls are associated with the female gender. For a long time, dolls have been used to create and develop the traditional female gender roles in girls. One of the gender roles which dolls have enabled to develop is the bringing up of the children. Ideally to girls, dolls are like small human beings and many children tend to think that they also do have feelings. As a result of this, dolls are perceived as the girls’ children, whom they have to take care of just as their mothers take care of them (Barthes 57). This explains the reason as to why girls often carry around their dolls, feed them, clean them, and change their clothes among other things which are done to small children by their mothers. As a result of this, dolls have led to the development of the traditional gender role of bringing up children.
Another traditional female role which has been developed by the doll is the housework. Traditionally, women were meant to stay at home and look after the children and the homestead; hence, many of them were housewives. The house chores included washing, cleaning, cooking, gardening and maintaining the general look of the house. A home was not viewed as complete if it lacked a child. For this reason, dolls provide a child to a girl which later leads to the creation of her own home. The girl has to clean the dolls’ clothes, cook for the doll and herself (although theoretically), provide and maintain a good home environment for the doll among other household chores. In so doing, the doll leads to the creation and the development of a housewife character in a woman.
Lastly, playing with a doll leads to the creation and the development of the woman character in girls. Traditionally, woman is viewed as a caring, hospitable and warm human being. A doll enables a girl to get in touch with the practical world / life, hence leading to the development of a womanly character in her. This is a main objective of a toy, which is linking a child to life, hence leading to the development of a gender sensitive character (Barthes 57).
On the other hand, building blocks are the toys which are made up of wood or plastic or any other appropriate material and are used by children to create structures according to their own imagination. As indicated earlier, building blocks are mostly associated with boys. The building blocks have been used to develop the traditional masculine roles in boys which will be discussed in this section. One of the roles which building blocks have enabled to create is the construction role. Traditionally, men were responsible for construction of the residential houses, homes for animals and any other constructions at that time. Playing with building blocks enables boys to develop this gender sensitive role.
Building blocks also enable boys to become more innovative and develop their ability to provide their future families. Traditionally, it is the role of the man to develop new ideas of how to do things and they are also leading their families through changes. It is also the role of the man to provide for his family. Building blocks enable a boy to get introduced to innovate and construct structures, which provide utility for a specific need in the society, such as creating houses and vehicles (Barthes 58).
Lastly, playing with building blocks enables a boy to develop the masculine behaviors of superiority, ego and strength. This is because boys tend to think that they are doing technical things which need a superpower to be done. This leads to the creation of gender sensitive behavior.
From the above discussion, it is seen that dolls and building blocks enable to develop gender sensitive behaviors in boys and girls. Looking at their use, it can be seen that they fulfill the objectives of a toy; hence, providing a social environment for the development of gender sensitive behaviors. Firstly, they lead to the development of creativity and innovation; girls learn how to become women and mothers while boys learn how to become fathers and men when they attend to the challenges posed while playing with their toys. They also enable the children to explore ways of doing specific things in different manners hence leading to the development of imagination. In addition to the above mentioned, the toys provide the children with a link to life, hence providing a virtual social environment from which they develop gender sensitive behaviors.
So, how is gender sensitive behavior established? Gender sensitive behavior is a product of both biology and social construction. With respect to the social construction, people are a product of what they consume (Maasik & Solomon 83). Ideally, gender sensitive behaviors starts with biology; females and males have different hormonal makeup hence tend to like different thinks and also react differently to issues (Hines 115). This explains why a female infant chooses a doll over a car in her early ages. Johnson Blum states that there is no unmarked woman; in that women’s actions are naturally directed to creating an image for herself which is purely biological (Johnson 1). On the other hand, the social environment amplifies the mild gender sensitive behaviors provided for by biology. This explains the reason as to why the toys discussed earlier lead to the development of the traditional gender sensitive roles. Thus, it can be concluded that gender sensitive roles are a product of both biology and social construction.
In conclusion, it can be seen that toys have great impact in the development of the traditional gender sensitive roles and responsibilities. This research paper has discussed the issue about dolls and building blocks. It has been considered that dolls lead to the establishment of the traditional women responsibilities in girls while building blocks do the same for men. In the paper, it has also been seen that the toys discussed fulfill the objectives of a toy, hence being able to provide the children a touch to life; since the toys provide a social environment for the development of gender sensitive behaviors. The paper has also discussed about the impact of biology in the development of gender sensitive behaviors. It has been seen in the paper that the social environment amplifies/ developments the mild gender sensitive behaviors. The degree of the development is determined by the degree of exposure of a child to the correct social environment. In conclusion, the paper identifies that gender sensitive behavior is as a result of both biology and social construction aspects, but not one of them.