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Gender scripting is the practice of prescribing roles to people solely based on their gender, rather than their individual characteristics. People usually use gender scripting when teaching children how they should behave and what they should be interested in. Gender scripting is also prevalent through pop culture and various business sectors, including retail and advertising.
Gender scripting is a form of gender stereotyping. However, the terms should not be used interchangeably since gender scripting encourages people to behave in a certain way. Other practices associated with gender stereotyping do not usually try to influence other people.
Gender scripting encourages people to follow gender norms. Girls are encouraged to play with dolls and dress in pink clothes while boys are given cars and dressed in blue, for example.
Parents and other caregivers often use gender scripting to teach children how to behave so they fit in with society. This approach usually helps children make friends and fit in with their peers so they have less chance of being ridiculed and bullied. Some parents feel gender scripting reduces the chance of their child being gay, lesbian, or transgender, although there is no evidence to support this.
However, gender scripting narrows the scope of acceptable behavior for a child and the way gender can be expressed. It also doesn’t consider an individual child’s personality or likes and dislikes. While some children embrace traditional gender roles, others can become confused or frustrated if they do not enjoy the things they are encouraged towards or if they are restricted from others that interest them. They may also feel guilt or shame if do not want to follow their gender script.
Many experts encourage parents to nurture their child’s individuality and reject gender scripting. This will help children grow to feel secure in their gender identity, however they choose to express it and whatever that identity may be. For example, boys can feel comfortable being more nurturing and playing with dolls because they aren’t taught that this compromises their masculinity. Similarly, girls can feel confident about being competitive and athletic because they don’t believe these qualities aren’t feminine. Children who aren’t subject to gender scripting grow up believing there are many ways to be male and female. This can make them more accepting of the differences in gender expression they encounter as adults.
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