10 March 2015
Sexuality and Children “Societally constructed sexual scripts establish norms and expectations concerning how to be sexual, why to have sex, whom to have it with, and what the appropriate sequence of activities is. Watching is an eager audience of children and adolescents who may have little experience of their own and monomial input from other sources to which they can compare these portrayals,” (Ward 596). Although gender is already established at an early age, to what extent is our sexuality influenced by our sex or the gender norms that society has constructed for our sex among children?
Children develop their sexual concepts through gender norms. Society has always set the image for children to believe that the right way to recognize themselves is to only be attracted to the opposite sex. The human sexual development is influenced by many things. “It is influenced by biological maturation/aging, by progression through the socially-defined sages of childhood, adolescence, adulthood, and later life, and by the person’s relationships with others including family members, intimate partners, and friends,” (DeLamater and Friedrick). For example, there are toys that are specified for both genders. “Toys for boys tend to encourage exploration, manipulation, invention, construction, competition, and aggression. In contrast, girls’ toys typically rate high on manipulability, but also creativity, nurturance, and attractiveness.” (Renzetti and Curran 82). In a way, children are taught to act and take on roles according to their biological gender. The biological differences between men and women are very discrete, but how does this relate to the social norms that society has set for us? Women are more caring and nurturing, therefore they are given roles to help others. Women are more likely to have jobs that involve them helping others, such as a nurse or a teacher. Men are viewed to be more masculine and strong, therefore they have gender roles such as, a policeman, a firefighter, or a businessman. Society has set the social gender role norms based upon the qualities of what men and women are capable of doing without actually looking at the idea that a person’s biological identity should not determine what their gender roles should be. For example, I am a young woman. I shouldn’t be told what I can and can’t do because of my biological gender, but because society has set these social norms I am expected to take on roles and different jobs since I am a female.
Society and media play a huge part in the development of a child’s sexuality. The media, meaning magazines, books, television shows, the internet, and any advertisements, are mostly viewed by young children and teens. The society sets the social norm standard for everyone. It is believed that the right way to live is to have a sexual relationship with a person of the same gender. People who step outside this boundary seemed to be viewed as different from everyone else in a negative manner. Since when was it not okay for a person to have a sexual relationship with a person who is the same gender as them? Media also portrays an idea of a social norm. For example, it is rare that you will see a homosexual relationship, or a person who is gay being advertised in magazines or even on television. The ABC Family network broadcasts the Modern Family television series about a multicultural, homosexual and heterosexual family. Within the family, there is a homosexual couple who have adopted a young girl as their own child. This show portrays the homosexual relationship as the social norm for their family. There are many differences between the ways homosexual and heterosexual parents influence the gender identity among their children. If a child is raised by heterosexual parents, then he or she is at a 50-50 chance of either being homosexual or heterosexual. This leads to heterosexuality among the children. Children