The Social Construction of Gender

January 23, 2012 § 4 Comments

After reading chapter 11, I had to step back and think about for 22 years how this has always been normal for me to never second guess or ask why girls wear pink and boys wear blue.  My brother and sister -in -law are about to have their first child, a baby girl. I realize as we prepare for the baby shower, everything is pink. Why have we for so long associated girls with pink? Growing up with two older brothers I remember when I was old enough to make my own decisions, I hated the color pink and would much rather wear boy clothing than girl. But why was it a big deal? What ever made us create things for boys and girls and not a gender friendly medium?

This chapter has really made me think about my everyday life. I soon realized that the construction of gender really takes part in our choices about others.  One of my best friends has been talking to this guy but refuses to date him because he is just too feminine. She was raised on a tobacco farm and in every aspect is a “tom boy”, he on the other hand, was raised by his mother growing up. He likes to cook, bake and clean, and she likes to turn wrenches and fix cars.  She hates the fact that she is manlier than him. Another thing that came to mind after reading this was one of my good guy friends. He has longer hair than some one my girl friends, and is considered “gay” by other guys because of the way he wears his hair. This goes for girls too, because a woman chooses to cut her hair short she can sometimes be referred to as a “lesbian”. Why have we constructed gender by the way someone looks, by the things they like and by what they wear?

§ 4 Responses to The Social Construction of Gender

  • I think the point you make at the end is important about the perceived relationship between gender and sexuality. When people transgress their gender norms or refuse to categorize themselves as one gender, people make assumptions about their sexuality, often times assuming that they are gay or lesbian. Sometimes this is true, and sometimes it is not true. Sexuality, just like gender, is far more complicated than this. I think we are taught to make certain assumptions because it is easier than accepting that the world is a complicated and diverse place.

  • sbarell says:

    I agree with this last comment. People make assumptions based on the appearance of someone first without getting to know the person. Just like the example of the friend with the long hair. People think he is gay because of the judgment of his appearance. Gender is based on process, the creation of social differences, but I don’t think people should rule out dating someone or getting to know someone just because they think “that guy is too feminine”. Gender seems to be a very complicated role and it’s not just one factor that comes into play its many. If people were a little more open to looking into all of the aspects that go along with gender maybe perspectives about a person would change.

  • I’d like to address your observations on people judging each other based on gender norms. I just find it really interesting how some differences from the norm are more acceptable than others. Notions of “masculinity” involve ideas regarding control and domination. While it is considered odd if a woman chooses to act like a man, it is not entirely written off. The idea falls under “well men are the standard anyways so we can’t really blame her.” Being “feminine” is associated with submission and weakness. For a man to do something feminine undermines the gender norms of how he should behave.

    In regards to pink being associated with girls, blue for boys; I have a theory that involves pink nipples and blue balls but it’s a work in progress.

  • stephoa says:

    This is just a video I found interestingly related to your topic.

    There is no answer to why society refuses to accept abnormal portrayals of gender according to sex other than conditioning. This clip shows how a fresh open mind of a child that has not fully assimilated into societal standards would question the reasoning behind why gender has to be stereotyped.

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