A Gender Assignment

This is something I was assigned to complete for participation in my ethics & diversity class that I felt I really needed to share with all of you for some feedback.

The first thing asked…

  1. Focusing on your own gender, how did you learn what it means to be “a man” or “a woman”?  List the sources of your socialization messages.

             This is the “Who” part of the issue.

I answered…

From the time I was about four or five years old I had pretty much personally expressed that I was a “girly girl.” I think that was mostly because of television and media. I had loved singing and I wanted nothing more then to be the next Christina Aguilera or Britney Spears. After watching their music videos (my poor grandmother was brainwashed by MTV when she babysat me) I think that is how I picked up on a lot of my actions and mannerisms. The little girl, who was once rolling in mud and playing dump trucks with my male cousins, was now thinking about what Britney would do.  I think after that my family really noticed that I was very “feminine” and they supported that. I wanted to sign up for dance and singing lessons and my parents went with it. I wanted to drop out of soccer (mainly because I was usually always getting the ball to the face), and they were okay with that as well. Don’t get me wrong, I could still throw a football like it was nobody’s business, but I was just a little more interested in getting my nails done like the girls on television. Media is proven to have always played a big role in gender and personal issues. They try and define what “beautiful” means, and that affects women of all ages. They hold women on a high pedestal that is impossible to reach without a personal trainer, in-home tanning bed, personal makeup artist, and airbrushing and Photoshop to every picture you take. As a woman however, it is so hard to see that and not want it because that’s what we, as a country, have defined as beautiful.

Secondly comes…

2. Generate a list of the socialization messages that your gender typically receives.  These do not have to be messages that you received yourself; include ones that you think most young women/girls and most men/boys receive from the socialization sources you’ve identified.  Examples: “Big boys don’t cry.”  “It’s not ladylike to . . . “  Again, focus only on the messages that are directed toward your own gender.

             This is the “What” part of this section.

This is what I had, do women (or men) have any others? I would be so interested in hearing opinions from the opposite sex…

1. Women should always look presentable. Appearance comes first.

2. You’re emotional because you’re a girl.

3. Women are always thinking about the future, men care about the here and now.

4. In order to be sexy you have to look like this (insert image of some starving model here)

5. Women are so hard to understand.

6. Commercials geared towards toys for “girls” and “boys” instead of just a toy commercial for two children of the same age group and different genders.

You may have notice when you were reading along that I crossed out the who, and what, variables that were stated. I think that instead of having genders focus on the who and what, they need to focus on themselves. Who do they truly want to be, what do they truly want to do, not who wants them to be a certain way, or what factors affect their decisions.

I don’t think I was supposed to take this assignment so seriously, but it really intrigued me. I started to think about stereotypes associated with my gender, and the male gender, and then how many people in my daily life that don’t “fit their mold.” Then I realized that’s what makes them so beautiful. An outspoken girl, and emotional guy, these things are unique and special. Just like each and every one of us. Why should society put constraints on those qualities?

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