Wednesday, August 1, 2012
When I wrote the post about building a desk, I never thought it would get the amount of reads that it did. At the time, I didn’t really have a clear idea about how gender image, when discussed without referring to sexuality, could be seen. Anyhow, I did some research over the last week and I read this book called Delusions of Gender: The Real Science Between Sex Differences and it raised some interesting points about how we see particular genders and how those expectations of societal ‘norms’ can shape and damage us. If we see a child dressed in pink, we assume that the child is a girl, just as we assume the child dressed in blue is a boy, because that is the way we’re told to think, ever since we were children ourselves. It is what society and retailers expect of us as we see onesies in those pastel colours all over the place. To overcome any errors when talking to friends who have infants, I ask the parents what the child’s name is before making any out-loud assumption on gender. “Cross-gender behaviour is seen as less acceptable in boys than it is in girls: Unlike the term ‘tomboy’, there is nothing positive implied by its male counterpart the ‘sissy’. Parents were aware of the backlash they, or indeed had, received from others when they allowed their children to deviate from gender norms.” Page 2O3 I put a reference to this quote on Facebook to debate with my friends. The responses were interesting, with one person asking if Tomboy was ever used in a positive way. Possibly this was after my comment that it was semi-positive, though never having referred to myself of had it used to refer to my own behaviours, I may have the wrong end of this. I know of people who used this term as they were growing up to define themselves and their behaviour when it went outside of social expectations for females. I didn’t grow up with brothers. If someone needed to bring wood up for the fire, including cutting it up, my sister and I were expected to do it. My mother and father shared lawn mowing and cooking duties. If my car needed an oil change, my father taught me how to do it, so I didn’t have to rely on others to fix it. I will try to lift heavy items myself safely, but will ask for help if needed from anyone near me. I can put up a tent by myself. My use of manual tools to put together shelves and desks isn’t a thing of perfection, but the fault of that lies in my home-grown skills and not in my gender. I was even in the scouts briefly, leaving because I was made to feel uncomfortable because of my gender minority. This book discussed a lot of issues relating to gender stereotypes and how we can restrict our own choices because of gender expectations. Have you ever been put in a situation where gender stereotyping has stopped you/ restrained you from participation in cross-gender activities?