chapter  7
The Learning of Gender Roles
Pages 12

A newborn baby is not only classified immediately by sex: it is also assigned a gender. In most maternity hospitals sex-typed comments on the behaviour and appearance of newborns are aired within a few moments of birth. The male baby who has an erection while being weighed is referred to jokingly as ‘a dirty little man’: the female baby born with curly hair is told she is pretty, and some hospitals keep pink and blue blankets for girls and boys. All these responses mark the beginning of a gender-learning process which is critically important for the child.