Exploring Gender : The Social Construction of Gender
2013 Dinah
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Exploring Gender : The Social Construction of Gender




One of the main questions about gender is: Is gender socially constructed? I believe a lot of the factors going into gender are socially constructed, but not all. When we discuss being genderqueer here, that is something outside of societal norms, and so is something inherent to the individual, not to how that individual has experienced gendering throughout his or her life.

So how does society gender us? From the first moment a family discovers the sex of their baby, often before it is even born, they start building a nursery. In that nursery, the theme most likely will be blue for a boy or pink for a girl. I am not saying that everyone does this type of gendering, but even the hospitals put babies in blue or pink.

Then there is clothing. Parents tend to put clothes on their baby which reflect its sex, whether that be pink for a girl or camo for a boy. It is hard to tell what sex a baby is from looking at it if it has gender-neutral clothes on, so many parents when dressing their child in a gendered way, besides following societal norms, are also trying to avoid the embarrassment of someone assuming their child is the opposite sex.

Then there are toys. Boys play with action figures and cars, and girls play with Barbies and princess things. These preferences are similarly reinforced very early in life. Parents know what society dictates as the proper toys for their children, so that is what they buy. Once children are old enough to pick their own toys, many of them are already cognizant of what they should be buying because of commercials or the toys their friends have.

Gendering continues throughout life. Society dictates a certain appearance for a male, and a certain appearance for a female. Resting outside of those lines can make you an outcast at school, make it harder to get a job, and some people hate you simply because you are different and that is bad and scary.

So what should you take away from this? The next time you are at a toy or clothing store, look at how the displays are gendered. Become aware of how society has come to construct gender, as it is something most people hardly consider. And if you have kids, perhaps give them a chance to exist outside of all of that societal pressure. My mom allowed me to get Spiderman action figures, to paint my room how I wanted, and I am so thankful she let me be me despite how society said that was wrong.

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