I believe the earliest and the strongest influence of our development of our understanding of cultural norms are created from what we learn in the home during our childhood. But, the time during which we start to expand and explore our understanding of the world we have come to know usually begins during the time start learning from our peers and from our teachers in school.
School sponored and other childhood organizations often teach boys what sports they should play and that girls are often best suited as the cheerleader standing in the sidelines cheering for the boys during these games, just as I have seen in an organization called “Upward Sports” where the boys are invited to be the basketball players and the girls have cheerleading opportunities. Not only by teaching gender appropriate roles to our children - doesn’t this whole system influence what is even means to be American? Football games and soccer moms are symbols of what it means to live and grow-up in the United States.
In addition to these extra-curricular activities which are often highly valued in our culture and help us develop an understanding of our place in the American Dream - we are also taught what it is means to be a female or male American within our education system. The history of our country and the people that have influenced it's development is taught to us from text and lessons that have been developed by the male ethnocentric point of view. This just happens because historically women have not had the opportunities to develop skills outside of the home and for the women that have had the chance to receive an education or to become writers or artists were usually through the support of a male partner that allowed them the opportunity to develop and practice these skills.
A perfect example of what I am trying to say can be seen in a video released in 2002 by Disney which is titled “Disney’s American Legends” a compilation of stories that demonstrate the spirit and vigor of what it means to be an American – unfortunately, in this movie women are not represented in any of the stories of our American Legends.