- Normative Narrative
Going through and reading many of my classmate’s blog posts and stories about their own experiences in the topics of race and gender, I realize that some of my fellow peers share the same type of story that I do on the topic of gender. In my blog post related to gender, I explained the moment when I first felt gendered. It was at a young age that I realized that boys and girls are very different from each other. I was taught from a very young age that girls did this, and boys did that. We played with different things, had different jobs, and most importantly acted in very different ways from one another. I, being the baby of the family and the only girl, quickly fell into the “girl roles,” and found myself often living up to those expectations.
I realized after a few short reads of some of my peer’s blogs that lots of us shared the same knowledge of gender and what it means to be a “girl”. In Shaylee’s blog post, regarding gender, she shared the same type of story. “Obviously if you were a little girl, you would play dress up with mom and have tea parties, then when mom wasn’t looking you would sneak into her makeup bag and pretend to be Barbie.” Shaylee at that age did not understand that she was playing the roll of the “girl,” but along with the environment around her, she also fell into the gender rolls. Not only did Shaylee and I share the same stories of our childhood, but so did Ashley. Ashley and her sister always played Barbie’s together, but when they had boy friends coming over, they instantly assumed that they could not be playing Barbie’s with the boys. “Neither of us has to say anything to the other, but we both safely assume that neither of the boys will enjoy playing Barbie’s with us, so we suggest playing outside instead.” Again, Ashley and her sister were never taught directly that boys didn’t like Barbie’s, but through media and the environments around them, they had adapted to the gender roles just like Shaylee and I did.
Now, it is not that any of us did anything wrong, or were taught wrong. It just is simply how it was when we were growing up. The boys played with action figures and the girls played with dolls. From the article we read in class, “Girls are Pink, Boys are Blue: On Toddlers and Gender Rolls”, Eliot tells Helena de Bertodano of the Times of London: “the brains of boys and girls aren’t really that different at all; it’s the social conditioning they receive that makes them pick up and internalize gender rolls.” Boys and girls are not all that different, it is the way we were raised and the institution we are placed in is what we learn to become. Gender roles are shown through actions, they aren’t just born with the individual. Shaylee, Ashley and myself have all been institutionalized into the “girl gender rolls.”
- Disrupting the Normative Narrative
From the minute we are born and welcomed into this world, we are instantly gendered and under the impression of what we will become and do in our lives. The first time your parents hold you, they begin to have thoughts of what their son or daughter will be. If they have a son, they instantly start thinking about the endless opportunities they will have getting the hands in the dirt and working alongside their father. If you are a girl, your mother instantly begins planning tea parties and shopping for the cutest dresses for you. The moment we are welcomed into this world, we begin to be gendered in every aspect of our lives. We, as young people, instantly lose the option to become anything else we choose because from birth you are either female or male. You either get carried out of the hospital wearing pink or blue.
This is the case for many young individuals, this was the case for Shaylee, Ashley, and I. We were constructed into our “normal” gender roles, and being comfortable where we were, we never had a thought of disrupting those roles. However, after reading more of my classmate’s blogs, I noticed one of my peers, in particular, wanted to overpower those roles and become the person she wanted to be and not the person she was born into. Jess, in her blog post, comments on how she did not fall into the gender rolls that were assigned to her and instead she did what she enjoyed and what made her happy. She didn’t care that it wasn’t “normal,” because to her she didn’t feel normal doing the things that girls were supposed to like doing. “Not about me being a boy, obviously, but about the fact I really did only like what was considered “boy things.” I preferred tag, grounders and kickball at recess, and finally I realized that I actually really hated hopscotch and jump rope.” Jess wasn’t afraid to overcome the gender rolls and play with the boys, she no longer cared what people said about her because she was being herself, she no longer had to hide behind any mask. “I was name called the “tomboy” for everything I did. But I never paid those people any mind. After all, what’s wrong with being a tomboy?”
So, where can we go from here? In the article “Girls are Pink, Boys are Blue: On Toddlers and Gender Roles”, Eliot suggests that “it isn’t as easy as giving a girl a ray gun and having a boy play with My Little Pony: ‘Many parents have tried this, to little effect. Girls turned trucks into families, boys played catch with the dolls, and both sexes knew there was something fishy going on.’” To dismantle the gender binary, parents, teachers, grandparents, etc., need to be prepared and welcoming to the idea of dismantling the specific gender rolls taught to children. Society needs to become more welcoming to the individuals who wish to overcome their gender rolls and just be themselves happily and freely. Jess was a good example of someone overcoming their gender rolls and not falling into a specific way of life. I find it truly inspiring when young individuals will stand up for the way of life they wish to choose, after all everyone should have the right to be happy.