According to social learning theorists, children are also influencedby what they observe in the world around them. This, again, makescountering gender socialisation difficult. For one, children's bookshave portrayed males and females in blatantly stereotypical ways: forinstance, males as adventurers and leaders, and females as helpers andfollowers. One way to address gender stereotyping in children's bookshas been to portray females in independent roles and males asnon-aggressive and nurturing (Renzetti & Curran 1992, 35). Somepublishers have attempted an alternative approach by making theircharacters, for instance, gender-neutral animals or genderlessimaginary creatures (like TV's Teletubbies). However, parents readingbooks with gender-neutral or genderless characters often undermine thepublishers' efforts by reading them to their children in ways thatdepict the characters as either feminine or masculine. According to Renzettiand Curran, parents labelled the overwhelming majority ofgender-neutral characters masculine whereas those characters that fitfeminine gender stereotypes (for instance, by being helpful andcaring) were labelled feminine (1992, 35). Socialising influences likethese are still thought to send implicit messages regarding howfemales and males should act and are expected to act shaping us intofeminine and masculine persons.


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