A gender role is defined as the expected behaviors society has for males and females. Men have different expectations than women do, and vice versa. These roles are assigned from birth, sometimes even before, and are an enduring part of our culture.
I am the third child in my family but I am the first girl. My brother just above me is three years older than me. I remember that when I was old enough to start playing with toys and appreciate them, I was given dolls and dress up clothes, and everything was in the color pink. My brother loved to play with me and loved to play with my toys. My parents finally got him a doll that he named ‘baby’. One day I remember him coming home from school very upset. They had been sharing their favorite colors in class, and my brother stated very confidently that his favorite color was pink. Immediately his peers began to tease him, and told him that only girls could like pink. He came home and declared that he no longer liked pink, or any of my toys, and that his new favorite color was blue.
This is a glimpse into how early these gender roles are assigned. He was around eight years old at the time, and society had already socialized these children into understanding that pink was for girls. No one had ever told my brother before that he could not like pink, and once society rejected him for liking it, he conformed with the expected role. He obeyed because he did not want the social stigma that comes from being different. Gender roles especially are powerful influences in our society. If he had continued to like pink I think he would have been ostracized from his classmates, particularly the boys, from that time forward.