A Class Divided

 
          A Class divided is a 1986 PBS documentary that I came across. It shows the outcome of what happens when an elementary class in divided among those with blue eyes and those with brown. The lesson teaches the children what it means to stereotype as well as discriminate against someone because they are aesthetically different from yourself. The violent way in which the boys treat the problem versus the sad and helpless way that the young girls deal with the problem, sheds light on the way that we as a cultural raise our children based on their gender. In starting at a young age, society should also realize that the way that boys and girls are raised can affect the way that they treat others. The film deals with the idea of stereotyping is a mature and interesting fashion. Although there is an interesting sense of understanding for the children towards the end of the experiment, in which they were taught a lesson of discrimination, they also showed different ways of reacting based on their gender. The little boys treated each other in a violent manner, where as the girls thought in completely different context. The girls were simply feeling sad and helpless because they were not able to be with their friends. When boys and girls become old enough to want to play with toys, parents go by tradition and give their children what is expected. Girls are given dolls while boys are given cars, or guns. The girls are supposed to play house and dress up their Barbie’s. Girl’s games are much more passive and nurturing. Boys, who play more aggressive games like cops and robbers, are taught to be tough. The way a girl is brought up teaches them to be more creative and sensitive. A boy who is taught to play with aggressive toys will not be as sensitive as those playing with dolls. Parents treat their children in different manners. A little girl is coddled and is given affection while the little boys are expected to take care of themselves and be independent. The only reason for this is a long running tradition.  Today men are nurses and women are in the army, times have changed drastically. Although women and men can become whatever they desire to be it does not the change the fact that they are raised in patterns that do not relate. It is the socialization that is so vastly different. It is appropriate for girls to be climb trees and play sports but they are considered tomboys, and their mothers try to change that fact. It is not usual however for a little boy to play with a doll and be considered appropriate. Dolls are considered maternal and feminine and so boys are discouraged from using their imagination to play with such toys because onlookers might consider this a weak boy and some might even assume that this meant that in the future he would become a homosexual because of his penchant for a so-called girl’s toy. It has not been proven that boys playing with dolls affect their sexual orientation but it has helped with becoming more sensitive than the plastic gun-toting boys.  Boston-area psychologists, William Pollack believes the truth is that boys can be raised to be sensitive and empathetic, In the 1970s and 1980s a study was conducted where a baby boy was dressed in a pink dress and when adults handled the baby they gave the boy toys such as dolls. But when the baby was supposed to be a boy the adults gave “him” a truck.

      There is a preconceived notion of how a boy and girl are supposed to perform in social situations. When a boy does act in an aggressive manner it is assumed that he will continue to get into trouble even to the extent of becoming a juvenile delinquent. This is not the same for girls. This may be due to the fact that it has been much more common for men to become aggressive and incarcerated in the past and so the cycle continues. Boys are treated with toughness and so they end up with a thicker skin than the girls. Boys are also expected to be independent while girls are assumed to be helpless. Fathers and mothers watch over every move their daughter makes, making sure she is never in danger. Meanwhile, parents assume that their son can take care of himself at a much younger age. This is not true. Boys and girls need the same amount of protection. Often boys feel abandoned because they are given their independence at too young of an age while girls can feel smothered because they are let little room for independence. When the children start to grow up and create their own identity they are encouraged to be independent and strong. However, once they reach adolescence there is a double standard that exists when boys and girls become teenagers. Boys are cheered for their socializing with more than one girl, while girls are frowned upon if they have more than one suitor. The age of when boys and girls are allowed to date also vary. Girls are often given earlier curfews. This once again reinforces the idea that boys are stronger and can take care of themselves and that girls are the weaker sex.

      The way that a human being is raised greatly depends on the parents. Although society has evolved into something quite different from the sexist past, there is still a looming air of gender discrimination. Boys and men will always be considered the stronger sex because of the biology of their bodies and the tradition that will continue. People can bring up their daughter to be strong and their son to be sensitive. Human beings should simply be raised in a manner that makes them the best possible people. The film causes the audience to witness the realities of how important it is to raise children in accepting an environment. It was interesting that there seemed to be no children of color in the classroom. This was interesting because it showed that there was no real diversity in the small town that they were from. When a child is raised in a town where there is no real diversity, it becomes even more problematic to assimilate children with other cultures.for women, where a hundred years ago no one would have ever believed would be possible.With each forward movement made by women, there are still others in which we stay still and others in which we take a few steps back. Although, very dated, the flick is worth checking out if you stumble upon it.

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