Communicating Gender Diversity: A Critical Approach Family Lauren Batherson
Family is a social institution“Many of one’s most intense interpersonalexchanges occur within one’s family.” Thecommunication hat goes on in one’s family settingsgreatly influence one’s understanding of genderand family.
Why so important?“Family is usually the first source of informationabout gender and one of the most influential.”The way a family communicates constructs gender.Even if values aren’t pushed upon one, theybecome used to seeing things done a certain waywhich becomes the norm in their eyes.
The Nuclear FamilyThe Nuclear family is the traditional idea of twoparents (one male, one female), and biologicalchildren. In the nuclear family the male is theprimary bread winner and the female is Susie homemaker.
It is important to understand how family interlockswith other institutions. For example if there is agender/sex division at school or work, it will likelyappear in the family.Other institutions:-Extended family-Friends-Work-Religion-Schools-Social Services-Media-Law
Politics and law enforce the idea of the nuclearfamily by frequently using the slogan “familyvalues”, representing the idea of the nuclear family.
Imbalance in the division of housework is theclearest indicator of the nuclear family norm anddifferent gender roles. Studies show the amount ofhours of housework men do has increased. Despitethis, women still spend 5-13.2 more hours a week.
Identity CrisisChildren begin acquiring a gender identity betweenthe young age ages of 2 and 3.When they begin todevelop this identity they choose activities they feelfitting. Parents may provide children with genderspecific toys, such as Barbie’s for females andtrucks for males. Children then choose toys oncethey have been socialized to desire them.
ObservantChildren are usually closest to parents physicallyand emotionally for a long period of time. Childrenobserve their parents behaviors and they are likelyto model them if they admire their parents. Most ofthis observing is done with little thought.“Children tend to learn the gendered lesson theyobserve, not what they are told.”
Rewards & EncouragementMothers and fathers tend to reward daughters forbeing sweet and polite. Sons are rewarded fordemonstrating physical or verbal aggression.
RelationshipsThe cultural assumption is that everyone isheterosexual and wants to be married. Children seethis early on in fairy tales. These fairy talesgenerally portray a strong male and a beautifulfemale who live happily ever after. I know I wasraised to view this as the norm. Now I realize thereare many different kind of relationships andmarriages and I accept them all. Most of mygeneration does as we are surrounded bydifferences, in comparison to older generations whoonly knew the heterosexual marriage and nuclearfamily.
Emancipatory FamiliesA variety of family forms can provide a safe, loving,and accepting home for people to grow to theirfullest potential.
Parents: take noticeKyle Kostelecky believes: “we spend more time asparents trying to create clear gender roles which areactually destructive rather than trying to create moreflexible gender roles that are liberatory andresponsive to each person’s individuality and livedexperience.”You should be able to be yourself around yourfamily without judgment or pressure to besomething your not. Parents should be aware of theinfluences their actions can have on their children.