I was assigned to the female sex category at birth and raised as a girl; the very fact that I can state that simple statement and people can get a fairly clear idea how I was raised shows just how intertwined we are with the social construction of gender. Women can relate because they were probably raised in a similar fashion, and men know that they were raised differently than I was. This is one of the many ways our society supports Lorber’s claim that gender translates to a difference among the binary American society operates on (Lorber, pp. 47-48). My parents kept my hair long until I decided to donate it when I was 12 years old, my ears were pierced when I was 8 years old, and I was taught how to shave my armpits and legs as well as taught how to put on makeup in high school. As a baby, my gender was emphasized to the extremes of bright colors and lace garments so everyone around me knew I was a girl.
From a young age, my parents have gendered my future based on marital and procreative status as well as my gender’s kinship roles. They talk about my responsibilities rearing my children, and my mother frequently brings up hypotheticals about my future wedding plans, despite the fact that on numerous occasions I have expressed not wanting children, or wanting to get married.
My behavior and mannerisms were either justified or condemned based on my gender’s expectations. People around me told me I would be emotional because I am a woman, and that I would be interested in certain things because that’s what my gender is interested in. Whenever I was more lax about how I presented myself, people would made comments about how I presented. I was often asked to “do something...
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... was a firm pat on the back or handshake depending on familiarity, a wish of good luck, and a congratulations. Whereas women would become very excited, hug my coworker, and ask him a plethora of questions regarding his plans for his new baby. Women were far more interested in the fine details than the men were.
Doing this exercise and taking this class has made caused me to pay more attention to how we all do gender. Even when I try to present more neutrally, I still have many traits, ideologies, and presentations that peg me as a woman. It is very difficult to exist in a gender-neutral environment. I don’t believe gender as a construct is a bad thing, it’s a core part of who I am as well as who other people are. I think the problem resides in the power inequality as well as the oppression that takes place because people see a hierarchal difference between genders.
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