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The role of socialization is to acquaint individuals with the norms of a social group or society. Socialization prepares future members to participate in a group by teaching them the expectations held by other group members. Socialization is an important process for children, who are socialized at home and in school . Gender role stereotypes help to perpetuate gender norms within the three subsystems of biology, society and culture. These stereotypes are perpetuated through various means, such as through pressure from society and institutions, and the creation (and internalisation) of cultural gender norms. They often become so ingrained that we do not realise the extent to which they are socially constructed, and as Harrison notes, “[t]he lack of conscious intentionality in a large part of our performance then supplies its ‘naturalness’” (2006: 49). Indeed, the fact that gender often involves the body naturalises gender performances. Such stereotypes serve to reinforce the rules of the subsystems and allow us to understand what constitutes deviance. It is only when rules within systems are set down and understood that they can be broken – it is only through the creation of stereotypes that gender nonconformity can exist. As Blessing suggests, “one’s gender presentation and responses to those of others are determined by how one thinks (consciously/unconsciously) one ought to look at a given moment” (1997: 14). By looking at the creation of gender stereotypes, we can understand how we believe that certain characteristics of an individual may be described as gender nonconforming.
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