The problem of determining and securing the gender identity of a child in modern society is becoming increasingly important. There is no doubt that the formation of gender, family, citizenship, patriotic feelings and value systems are necessary conditions for the process of socialization of the individual. However, there are big doubts about how to form this belonging in a child and whether it is worthwhile to focus his attention on this aspect in early childhood.
Gender and Gender
In modern society, it is customary to distinguish between the concepts of gender and gender. Gender is a biological characteristic of an individual that determines the distinctive signs of a man and a woman on the chromosomal, anatomical, hormonal, and reproductive levels. By gender it is customary to imply the social gender of the individual, differences between men and women, depending on social conditions. Such conditions may be social functions, the system of social division of labor, cultural stereotypes, etc. Thus, gender acts as a sociocultural phenomenon, meaning what it means to be a man / woman in a particular society. For example, if a man does not work, but is engaged in raising his children, then in traditional society his behavior will be considered atypical (non-male) in terms of gender roles. However, despite this, according to the biological characteristics of this individual does not become "less than a man." As for the acceptability of certain norms that determine the individual's gender identity, they are initially set by the society itself and its culture. In American sociological theory, the concept of gender evolved gradually. At the same time, different aspects were in the focus of attention at different stages of development of this concept:
- gender from the standpoint of the social roles of men and women,
- gender as an expression of power relations,
- gender as a control over the behavior of men and women,
- gender as a special social institution.
The social roles of men and women are usually considered in two directions - vertical and horizontal. Thus, in the first case, gender identity is considered in the context of such concepts as income and wealth, power, prestige, etc. From the standpoint of the horizontal approach, the institutional aspect of differentiation (politics, economics, education, family) and functional (division of responsibilities in the process of labor).
According to the concept of Sandra Bem (1944), three types of gender should be distinguished: masculine, feminine, and androgynous.
The definition of gender affiliation implies the assignment of an individual to a particular gender. The masculine type is characterized by characteristics that are traditionally attributed to men in society:
Often seen as the opposite of masculine type. Feminine gender identity implies that an individual has such traits as:
At the same time, it was traditionally believed that feminine, like masculinity, has a biological conditionality. Accordingly, the dominant view was that these were purely feminine qualities, and every woman, in one way or another, should correspond to them. The presence of this kind of qualities in the male part of the population was considered at best strange, and at worst unacceptable. However, the conduct of feminist research entailed the discovery of a new look at the nature of femininity: it is not so much biologically determined as it has been constructed since childhood. If a girl is not feminine enough, she is being condemned by others. According to the concept of the French feminist theorists E. Siks and Y. Kristeva, femininity is an arbitrary category that the patriarchy assigned to women.
Androgynous gender identity implies a combination of masculine and feminine traits. It is believed that from the point of view of adaptability, this position is the most optimal - a person, as it were, absorbs all the best from two types. Numerous studies have shown that masculinity and femininity are not strictly opposites of each other - their tough opposition is erroneous. It was found that persons strictly adhering to the characteristics traditionally attributed to their sex are often ill adapted to living conditions. The following patterns were identified:
- women with low levels of masculinity and men with high levels of femininity are often anxious, helpless, passive and more prone to depression;
- women and men with a high level of masculinity have difficulty in establishing and maintaining interpersonal contacts;
- young married couples, rigidly adhering to traditional patterns of male / female behavior, often have sexual-psychological disharmonies in the family, as well as sexual disorders;
- androgyny, as a psychological characteristic, has a positive relationship with the level of self-esteem, motivation to achieve, a sense of inner well-being, etc.
The androgynous personality has a rich set of sex-role behavior, using it flexibly depending on the dynamics of changing social situations.
The formation of the gender identity of children can take place in accordance with the sex-role or gender position of the immediate environment. And here we must distinguish between two fundamental approaches: gender role and gender.
Sex role approach
In accordance with the gender role approach, the formation of gender in the process of socialization of the child should occur through the assimilation of the typical characteristics of their gender. So, boys are oriented towards creation (instrumental role) and creation, and girls - towards care and maintenance. It is believed that this is provided by nature itself. In relation to American society, the instrumental role primarily implied financial support for the family. In turn, the woman, while the man works, takes care of the children and the house, maintaining an atmosphere of mutual love and support. At the same time, inclinations and interests of the individual, which also determine the upbringing of gender belonging regardless of gender, were not taken into account. More precisely, they could simply coincide if the man or woman had inclinations and interests corresponding to their sex-role positions. If this did not happen (a man or a woman showed interest in activities that are not typical for their gender), then they simply had to accept the established patterns of behavior. Thus, the task of society is to educate a man and a woman in accordance with traditional gender roles, determined by their biological affiliation.
The gender approach is based on the theory of social reality construction by Peter Berger (1929) and Thomas Lukman (1927). The “revolutionary” position of this approach is the idea that gender roles are not of innate nature, but are created in the process of interaction of individuals in society. Accordingly, the formation of gender, family, and citizenship of an individual should take place, taking into account, above all, her individual psychological characteristics (character, temperament, interests, abilities, etc.), and not gender. Both women and men can perform those activities that are of more interest. In modern society, for example, male designers, female leaders, etc. have long become familiar. Nevertheless, stereotypical thinking about gender roles in society continues to exist.
Thus, supporters of a gender approach carry out the idea that the formation of gender affiliation among preschoolers should be determined primarily by its personal characteristics. The boy will not be taught the idea that crying is not like a man, and tears are a sign of weakness. In turn, the girl will not think that she should be careful “because she is a girl” - because accuracy is not a purely feminine trait. Choosing toys for their child, parents (if they are supporters of a gender approach) will not be guided by a hackneyed scheme, according to which, as a rule, the gender identity of preschoolers in the traditional education system is formed: boys - cars, girls - dolls. Baby in the same way may be interested in cars, and the guy - a doll, and this one will not be forbidden. In this case, the girl will not be "less girl", and the boy - "less boy."
Gender schemes in child development. Polotyping process
The formation of femininity / masculinity in children occurs at an early age. Thus, by about 4-5 years old, gender is fixed (in the second junior group of the kindergarten). Children begin to give preference to typical games that match their gender. This correspondence, as already mentioned, is determined by the cultural norms of society. Also, the formation of gender identity among preschoolers is manifested in the fact that children prefer to play more with children - representatives of their gender. Typing by sex (English sex-typing) received in psychological science the name polotypization. It is accompanied by the acquisition by the individual of preferences, personal attitudes, skills, “I” -conceptions, etc. The significance of polotyping, which determines the formation of gender, family, citizenship among preschoolers, is viewed differently in different psychological theories of development.
Polotyping in the psychoanalytic concept
At the heart of polotyping, as its primary mechanism, psychoanalysis identifies the process of identifying a child with a parent of his gender. The identification process is carried out within the framework of the child’s own genital research as sex differences. The appearance of penis envy and castration fear arising in boys and girls leads to the successful resolution of the Oedipus complex. However, this concept has also been criticized by feminist schools, because it emphasized the biological conditionality of gender differences.
Polotyping and the theory of social learning
Unlike psychoanalysis, the theory of social learning focuses on the significant role of the reward-punishment system in educating a child’s gender identity. If a child is punished for behavior deemed unacceptable by his parents (or, on the contrary, encouraged, acceptable), then certain patterns of behavior are fixed in the child’s mind. The second significant aspect in the theory of social learning are the processes of observation and modeling.
Accordingly, the theory of social learning considers the source of polotypization in the field of socialization, differentiated by sex. One of the advantages of this theory is the application to the development of female and male psychology of the general principle of learning, well known in relation to the development of many other types of behavior.
Polotyping within the framework of the theory of cognitive development
This theory primarily focuses on the primary agents of sex-role socialization of the individual. The process of sex typing is carried out invariably, naturally, on the basis of the general principles of cognitive development. In other words, from the point of view of the theory of cognitive development, since children need the cognitive stability of self-determination of themselves as women or men, this motivates them to appreciate what seems to them more like them, in terms of gender. Based on the gender aspect, the assessment system, in turn, contributes to the child’s motivation to act actively, according to his gender, by making appropriate efforts to master gender attitudes, as well as giving preference to peers who are identical with him by gender.