Friday, June 18, 2010

"Doing Gender"

Our society has strict socially acceptable roles for male and female. Our society as a whole has put a lot of energy in people "doing gender" and performing their roles in an acceptable way. We have taught that "doing" female means being sensitive and caring, putting effort into our appearance, being superwoman and many times putting others feelings before our own. While males on the other hand have been taught that "doing" male means being successful, aggressive, sexual, self-reliant while by all means staying away from anything feminine. In order to be accepted and respected our society expects you to do and perform the appropriate gender. 
Our society rigidly pairs masculinity with males and femininity with females.  Social isolation meets many people who do not identify with a socially prescribed gender. There are no in-between spaces and our society does not view gender as a continuum. From birth until death society uses this binary way of defining people in every day situations. In X, this child was not accepted by neighbors, parents or other children because he did not prescribe to a distinct gender. In the article one set of children's parents went on to say 
"The Joneses, they said, should be forced to tell whether X was a boy or a girl. And then X should be forced to behave like whichever it was. If the Joneses refused to tell, the Parents' Association said, then X must take an Xaminiation. The school Psychiatrist must Xamine it physically and mentally and issue a full report. If X's test showed it was a boy, it would have to obey all the boys' rules. If it proved to be a girl, X would have to obey all the girls' rules, and if X turned out to be some kind of mixed  up misfit, then X should be Xpelled from the school. Immediately!"
 This instance shows how deeply our society is embedded in the importance of gender. Why does it matter what gender X is? Society has placed a strong importance on children acting out their appropriate gender and for fear that they will not be accepted or be ridiculed based on their likings many children do not take part in things they may want to because of the restraints society has put on them. Masculine and feminine are socially constructed and something that is socially hard to get around. It makes the lives of people who do not prescribe to a certain gender nearly impossible. Why would it matter if a girl was dressing, acting and playing with "boy" things? 

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