Custom «Is Gender Difference Influenced more by Social Conditioning or Biology» Essay Paper Sample
Katha Pollitt is a well-known poet and essayist who often develops and studies a feminist viewpoint in her works. The article "Why Boys Don’t Play with Dolls" by Katha Pollitt was written and published in New York Times Magazine as a certain response to the issue of gender differences. There has been a great range of studies concerning this issue and many of them explain sex and gender differences as a result of biological processes. However, according to Katha Pollitt biology plays the minor role and the main cause of gender difference is social conditioning and modern environment that dictate the personality and behavior tendencies.
Katha Pollitt believes that it is far more important to emphasize the role of behavior and upbringing instead of the innate characteristics of individuals. Many adults tend to bring their children up the way they think it is appropriate considering their personal life experience and expectations. Social conditioning and our modern environment serve as the main sources of inspiration and imitation both for males and females’ upbringing. Otherwise, there would be no differences and limitations in the range of toys children can choose for themselves. The impact of environment and social classes tends to be absolutely imminent nowadays and it is recommended to find some balance between gender differences. One of the solutions can be in making children play together and exchange various types of toys. It is important to remember that “the social world functions simultaneously as a system of power relations and as a symbolic system in which minute distinctions of taste become the basis for social judgement” ( Bourdieu 435). Moreover, “social snobbery is everywhere in the bourgeois world. The different aesthetic choices people make are all distinctions-that is, choices made in opposition to those made by other classes” (Lipsitt and Spiker 165). There is no doubt that all children are born equal and later they acquire some specific characteristics and their values gradually change. Moreover, religious, political and social viewpoints are also significantly altered as a result of social conditioning (Surhone and Marseken 254). It is considered that parents are responsible of their children’s upbringing and education. However, it is also important to understand that children grow up and develop in society and they cannot develop separately or isolated from it. Child’s upbringing and development can be compared to the way sponge absorbs water and some other substances. Children are an inevitable and integral part of society and all the changes that take place in it. That is why it is especially vital to control and sort out the conditions and surroundings children grown in.
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Katha Politt also discusses the matter of women’s looks in her article and the main reasons for it. It is absolutely typical for girls to play with dolls, however, we seldom think of the consequences of it. Playing with dolls gives not only a sort of experience in caring children, but also it dictates certain stereotypes concerning women’s looks. The image of such a doll as Barbie has been carried throughout many generations already preserving such essential characteristics as “being sexy, thin, and stylish” (Pollitt). Consequently the American ideal is formed similar to the image of Barbie and many women have to experience difficulties with it. The image of an average woman is also created in the media and later developed in various commercials, advertisements and etc. Many looks and stereotypes are basically formed in the early childhood and become a part of our conscious whether we want it or not.
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It is also important to analyze the feministic viewpoint on the issue of gender differences and the process of toys selection. America will never be perceived as a country free of specific sex roles. Some feminists do not support their sons’ strong passion for sports as it usually results in “the ruined weekends, macho values” and other undesired characteristics (Pollitt). However, at the same time women choose and marry men who obtain such qualities and thus preventing their sons from sports sounds quite foolish. Social conditioning seems to be of major importance as compared to the issue of biological determinism. Moreover, according to the feministic approach sex and gender roles are considered to be more flexible and liable to transformations. Katha Politt states that some people tend to accuse feminists of their wrong influence and persistent impact on their children.
The article "Why Boys Don’t Play with Dolls" by Katha Pollitt is written in a very informative and easy for understanding way. It contains particular examples of both parents’ and children’s attitudes to the gender difference issue and a thorough analysis and comparison of each viewpoint. Moreover, the article can be considered to be a great example of convincing and strong commentary on the matter of gender difference as a result of social conditioning. Besides, according to the article "Why Boys Don’t Play with Dolls" by Katha Pollitt the majority of “rigid and hierarchal sex roles evoked by determinist theories” seem to gradually pass away (Pollitt). I totally agree with Katha Pollitt that both males and females are limited in choice and many characteristics including the differences in preferred toys in the childhood, approaches in upbringing and further religious and political views are the consequences of social conditioning and far not some biological processes. Our society contains a huge number of stereotypes that are followed by every generation and such a necessity to fit the existing stereotype results in the gradual emergence and development of the ideology of flexible gender roles.