Saturday, July 21, 2012

A Quick Thought about the Stupidity of Gender Roles

I work at a place that sells glasses. Every time we get a new pink frame into stock, my boss makes the same joke. "Hey, I have a new frame you will like". He than pulls out something pink and laughs. It was funny the first time and now it is just dull and old. But I am not offended by it. Why should I be? I do like pink. It is a nice color. That has nothing to do with me being gay. I am gay because I am attracted to other guys. My liking the color pink really has nothing to do with it.

My sister and brother-in-law have good friends that are married and have a 2 year old son. Their son likes to play with dolls and toy cleaning equipment. They keep trying to get him to play will baseballs and other "manly toys", but he still prefers the "girly toys". Obviously this concerns them very much. Because it is wrong for boys to want to be nurturing and clean, isn't it? Maybe they are worried about their 2 year old's masculinity. They might even be worried about his sexuality (they are super religious so I am sure that is a big "fear" of theirs).

Why are people so hung up on meaningless and empty gender roles? There are men that are amazing cooks and women that are amazing athletes. And whether those men and women are heterosexual or homosexual is of absolutely no consequence. A man can like pink and be attracted to a woman or a man. A woman can like sports and be attracted to a man or a woman.

I have a friend from my childhood who's family emotionally tortured her because she likes to play hockey. They would tell her that is not how a girl is suppose to behave. People would assume she is a lesbian, in spite of the fact that she is straight just because she liked sports.

What is even more ridiculous is when a straight guy likes something that is considered "girly" and hides it because he is afraid someone might think he is gay. What is most ridiculous is gay men that are so insecure in their masculinity that they have to prove how tough they are. I've seen on a number of gay dating sites people that write things like "I don't like rainbows. I am gay, not a girl". And if they did like rainbows what would happen? Someone might think they are gay? Well they are gay, so who cares?!

Social gender roles make absolutely no sense. They do nothing but constrain people and make them feel uncomfortable with themselves. People are all different and have all different combinations of interests. A straight guy should not be scared of liking musicals and a woman should not be afraid of linking football. Its July 2012 and I cannot believe that this is not obvious to everyone yet.  
Gender Roles are Stupid

40 comments:

  1. i actually think its quite hot when girls love/play sports....

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    1. Whatever floats your boat :)
      I like it when guys wear some makeup and dress in tight jeans :)
      Thanks for reading and commenting!

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  2. Gender roles have a way of keeping order for some people. But I for one do not understand why it is so horrible for a little boy to play with "girlie toys", as a kid I would play with action figures and read comics. Those are considered "boy toys". I'm a girl and I don't really like the color pink and I can't cook to save my life. -.- We have changed through the years but there are still quite a few things that remain from such old fashion thinking.

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    1. Thanks for reading and commenting Kimmy.
      I hope you will continue to follow my blog :)

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  3. I agree with you!

    Good post, Ami

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  4. Can you get your hands on an old copy of Free To Be You and Me or watch it on YouTube? It will make you smile.

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    1. I am download a copy of it as I type this :)

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  5. >Why are people so hung up on meaningless and empty gender roles?

    Is it really that meaningless and empty?

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/23/aurora-shooting-boyfriends-died-protecting-girlfriends_n_1695290.html

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    1. Yes they are meaningless and empty. It doesn't matter that a man sacrificed himself for a woman. What matters is a person sacrificed themselves for another person because of love. A woman can't be willing to sacrifice herself for someone? A man can't be willing to sacrifice himself for a man?

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    2. PS
      http://www.detroitnews.com/article/20071205/METRO/712050396

      http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F50C17FB345512738DDDAE0A94D0405B898CF1D3

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    3. You are totally misunderstanding. WHY is it that the BOYFRIENDS felt the need to save their girlfriends? Answer: Gender Roles. In this case, it is gender roles that built OBLIGATION upon a man....to be a man. Why didn't the boyfriends and girlfriends stare at each other and decide which one was going to save the other? Would you have felt differently about these guys if their girlfriends forced them down under the seat, with all their strength and covered them up? Lets be honest. Of course you would. And if she came out if it alive, she would also feel perplexed why the boyfriend didn't insist on being the one to sacrifice himself. How would you feel if a husband sent his wife out of bed to go investigate a loud noise while he stayed in the room? Ya, exactly. In general, when push comes to shove, though a woman might love her partner, resentment would always be there if he played the coward in a crucial part. Would a man have that feeling upon his female partner? NOPE!!! Why? Gender Roles!

      Ever hear of "saving the women and children first"? That does not come from egalitarianism or progressiveness. It comes from Gender Roles. Your whole post is totally off to the question at hand. It's not about playing with dolls and liking rainbows. Its about behavior, responsibility and obligation in the wider scope of society.

      The fact that a woman CAN sacrifice herself for a man is immaterial. We are not talking about CAN or CAN'T, but what DOES happen in a society in general and what all of us, inside expect from one gender vs the other.

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    4. Bologna! You feel that way only because society tells you to feel that way. And "women and children first" comes from the idea that women are as defenseless as children.

      Every couple has their own structure. I would imagine a female body builder married to an average build guy would be the one to get out of bed and check the noise.

      Gender roles are antiquated social roles that in your example says that a woman is inherently weaker and in need of protection. Biologically most women are weaker than men but that is not always the case. Every individual is different and gender roles do not take that into account.

      And 99.9% of the time in life a man will not be asked to sacrifice his life or fight someone to save a woman. 99.99% of the time gender roles is about playing with doles, colors, sports and other non important things. So don't go to the rarest and most extreme example to try justify these baseless ideas.

      And of course you are not thinking about 2 women or 2 men. Who is "suppose to" sacrifice themselves in that situation? Each couple has their own dynamics. Do not assume everyone fits into your outdated social mold because plenty of people do not.

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    5. >And "women and children first" comes from the idea that women are as defenseless as children.

      No, it comes from the idea that women are defenseless compare to Men, not children, and that being the case, men, have an OBLIGATION to their female counterpart: (ie. gender roles). Are you seriously going to tell me that you wouldn't show the slightest resentment for a man that allowed his girlfriend to take a bullet for him when he had the opportunity to save her?

      And how do you know you don't feel that way because society is telling you something else? I can claim you are just as brainwashed into a new social "norm" as I am in an old one. Which one is right? Well, I tend to think the traditional norm is the correct one since it actually corresponds to the differences between men and women.

      Yes, you can have female body builder, but I bet you a female body builder would not want to partner up with someone weaker than she is, AND she would STILL feel troubled by the fact the SHE was the one that needed to save her husband. Whether she is a stronger than him is immaterial. She is still a woman and has expectations to what her husband should do for her family. This isn't what society tells us, this is who we are made. What man wouldn't feel shitty about himself (forget what others may think of him) if he let his wife protect the family from some intruder? The problem is, egalitarianism because like any other religion. It has its dogmas that must be pushed and defended no matter what the hard truth is.

      >99.99% of the time gender roles is about playing with doles, colors, sports and other non important things.

      No, that is not true. As I said, gender roles come across in discussions about what a mans role is vs what a woman's role is.....SPECIFICALLY, in relationships. What sort of obligation does he have vs. what obligation does she have. But if you really want to talk about those things, just go to any playground or talk to a teacher of boys and girls and see how each group gravitates to certain things. It isn't about what society tells every single child to do and play and say. It's how they actually are. That is the generality of male and females. Are there exceptions, yes there are. But that is what they are, exceptions.

      >Every individual is different and gender roles do not take that into account.

      Well duh! We are dealing with generalities. If you are not willing to have a conversation about generalities than how can one ever get a glimpse of patterns in life, which actually exist in this world.

      WHen you have an opportunity, I think you should read this. From his opinion on policy, I have a feeling he is a Liberal, but it is an incredible piece on the fallacy of feminist thinking to the differences between male and females which is the foundation to the argument of gender roles.

      http://www.psy.fsu.edu/~baumeistertice/goodaboutmen.htm/

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    6. You still missed my whole point. You may be right 90% of the time. That still does not make it a rule. A man should not feel like less a man because he wants to do something that is considered "girly" and he should not feel like he has to do something just because it is considered "manly". Same in reverse for women.

      If a woman wants her boy friend, husband, partner, whatever to protect her and he wants to protect her, great. I really don't care. But, if for whatever reason they want to reverse those traditional roles, he is no less a man and she is no less a woman.

      That was my point. If you do not work exactly as social gender roles say you should, it doesn't change your gender and it doesn't mean your less of a man or woman.

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    7. HH:

      If children are spontaneously acting a certain way, then that is not a gender role - it's a characteristic of those particular kids.

      Sure, I can point to examples of how my son plays differently than my daughters do and claim that this proves that this must be The Natural Order of Things that all people should follow. That would ignore, however, the facts that he ALSO enjoys activities that some may consider feminine (he's already a great cook at the age of 8, and makes a mean matzo ball soup). It also ignores the fact that even children can identify peers who don't conform to gender stereotypes - my son will also say, "I don't really play with girls, but X is a tomboy and she likes to play sports with the boys."

      I will agree that pressuring children to act in a way that goes against a traditional gender stereotype isn't right either. Coercion either way doesn't respect the individuality of the child. I'll also say that there can and should be a recognition that traditional gender patterns exist, when it comes to providing services that meet the needs of both genders. For example, a kindergarten should meet the needs of girls who may like quieter activities and boys who want to be more active, but they should also respond to girls who may be more active and boys who may be quieter.

      Ami is right (fortunately) that opportunities to save someone's life don't come up on a regular basis. I think you'll find, though, that it's a matter of opportunity and devotion and ability, more than a matter of gender. When my grandfather collapsed, my grandmother and I gave him CPR - that's what was needed in that moment. Not all examples of valor involve brute strength.

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    8. You are dealing with particulars, rather than generalities. Ya, my girls play with toy guns and prevent sometimes to shoot me. Ok. So? Did i say girls don't do that, or that boys wouldn't enjoy helping their moms play back some cookies. These things, would be characteristic of those particular kids, but in GENERAL, there are certain characteristics that you can see in particular genders. It's like you can tell me that you will find a number of men that are motherly and nurturing. Ok, so? Did I say there weren't any. But clearly, that characteristic is something in general that is a trait we find in females. If I understand you, you are basically stating one cannot glimpse any patterns to the way boys are, vs girls are.

      >Not all examples of valor involve brute strength.

      Did I say it was? Please compare apples to apples, not apples to windmills.

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    9. Well put JRK.

      HH, you did say you expect men to be protectors and that if they are not you would think less of them. If people naturally fit into traditional gender roles, that is more than fine. However, people that do not fit into those roles should be seen as less of men or women.

      I was just told tonight that a female friend of mine was told by her ass hole boy friend that he would not go watch her track competition because he did not want to see her being unfeminine. Putting this jack ass's insensitivity aside, how is she any less a woman for running track?

      People should be able to live how they want without being told they aren't living up to some idea that in the end simply is not that important.

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  6. >HH, you did say you expect men to be protectors and that if they are not you would think less of them.

    I am a person that believes men should be men. It doesn't mean that I expect every guy to be the same in every instance. But IF something particular happened that would have required him to step up to the plate, I would expect him to, before expecting his girlfriend to. Oh, and she would most likely agree with me. It's about responsibility. So does this guy enjoy cooking? Sure. Why not? But cooking is something between one and oneself. There is also the responsibility to others. Expectation, is not a bad thing in my opinion.

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  7. HH - read Ami's original post. It's not about whether or not some broad patterns of gendered behavior may exist. It's about gender roles being applied in a coercive way - parents being concerned about a toddler, a girl being shunned for wanting to play hockey, men feeling that their masculinity is under attack if they have any stereotypical female preferences at all.

    Sure, some broad patterns can be seen...but you can also see tons of exceptions within even a relatively small sample size. If you make the leap from saying "we notice a pattern where more girls are likely to want to do X, while more boys are likely to want to do Y", to saying "X is a female thing, Y is a male thing, so boys shouldn't do X and girls shouldn't do Y", then you are treating all of the boys that wants to do X and all the girls that want to do Y as freaks and having them go against their natural preferences.

    Expectation can be a bad thing when there is pressure to behave in a way that doesn't work for an individual or that person's family. For example, 13 years ago my husband got a slew of ignorant comments when he announced that he intended to take parental leave (which he was legally entitled to do), along the lines of "why would you want to do that?" and even "are you a man or woman?" Just prior to that, when I had my first miscarriage, we had some family members give ME the condolences, while telling him that he could still travel to a conference the next day. His grief and loss were not acknowledged. [We set them straight, he stayed with me, he took the leave with our daughter and has been an awesome father ever since.]

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    1. >men feeling that their masculinity is under attack if they have any stereotypical female preferences at all.

      Well, this is interesting. The very idea of a word like "masculinity" existing is because we acknowledge there are certain "masculine" traits. Perhaps you can't relate, but men in general are concerned with masculinity at certain points here and there. So at what point would you even acknowledge a man has been de-masculinized? Or is all behavior (or lack thereof) still qualify as masculine?

      Also, I totally understand his point, but like I said, I believe true discussion of gender role is not so much about a toy that a girl plays with a toy gun and a boy enjoying baking, but much more about responsibilities and obligations. So sure, expectations can sometimes not work in certain cases, but in general, expectations are a good thing for a society. Expectation was that invisible force that propelled those boyfriends to protect their girlfriends. That is my point.

      >If you make the leap from saying "we notice a pattern where more girls are likely to want to do X, while more boys are likely to want to do Y", to saying "X is a female thing,

      So you want to tell me that playing with Barbies; friends doing each others' makeup is not a "female thing?" Meaning, if you have a son, and you noticed that behavior, you would be upset by your husband if he decided to slightly steer him towards more masculine modes of playing? I'm just asking. Obviously, if you keep trying and trying and you see that your son still prefers doing makeup and combing a barbie doll's hair, then you will stop, but would you even be upset at your husband initially attempting a change?

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  8. All 3 of my kids had different styles of play. As long as it wasn't dangerous, I saw no need to interfere (although I'm not a fan of Barbies or Bratz, so they tended to be re-gifted).

    I happen to love just standing back and watching my kids when they are engrossed in play, esp. at the younger ages when they get caught up in an imaginary world. I never wanted to step in and break the spell. All to soon, they outgrow that stage and focus on peers and are too concerned about how they come across to others to really allow their imaginations to run wild. I have a vivid memory of my son when he was two, being obsessed with the Moshe Belanga character from Ushpizin to the point that he would go to the toy kitchen, and make kiddush dressed in a little black suit...and my pink hat.

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    1. Ok. But you didn't answer the question.

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    2. I thought I did, but I'll clarify it for you.

      None of my kids played with Barbies, and I limited access to makeup after my daughter got red lipstick all over a white carpet. That said, my son did engage in imaginative play - some of which was stereotypically male, and some of which (like wearing my pink hat) was not. I would have been annoyed if my husband had interrupted his play.

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    4. So had your son being playing with more explicit female toys like dolls and makeup (like I am sure some do) and your husband would have brought in more masculine games like construction tools, cowboy dolls, toy gun in an obvious (subtle) way of introducing to more masculine toys, that would upset you?

      I'm not saying obsess too much. Like I said above, if you see a pattern in which he would rather makeup and dolls, than it is probably healthier to leave the boy alone, but I am talking about just trying initially....would that upset you?

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    5. No toy guns allowed in my house.

      Otherwise, we see what the kids like. I'm not going to have a playroom full of junk that the kids don't want.

      I was never into girly-girl stuff, but my oldest went through a phase of wanting dolls and fairy wings and plastic purses, so we bought those things.

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    6. Ok.

      So I will simply take that as that your husband would upset you

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  9. Has anyone here ever read "X: A Fabulous Child's Story"? It's about a child raised completely without gender. Eventually, because X is allowed to be X's self, X turns out to be the most well-adjusted child of all.

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    1. I have not read it. It sounds interesting. I have heard of some parents raising their kids as gender neutral and to be honest, I think that is kinda quirky. However, I just don't think one should pressure their kids to fit a certain mold.

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  10. ...and now for some biochemistry:

    Hormones have an impact on mood and behavior, in both males and females.

    For that reason, I don't think that it is reasonable to expect that males and females will always have identical behavior and reactions. One challenge for educators is making sure that the program doesn't subtly discriminate against either girls or boys. Another challenge is not labelling either "typical male" or "typical female" behaviors as bad.

    At the same time, while hormone levels differ between males and females, females still have hormomes like testosterone, and males still have hormones like prolactin. Naturally, humans will have a range of behaviors, and there isn't a purely black-and-white separation between male and female.

    It's also foolish to obsess over imposing sex roles on children, because hormone levels will surge later on. So no, I didn't need to worry about my gentle, mellow little guy with the pink hat and sister who loved to dress him up, because when his testosterone surge hit, he was literally bouncing off the walls and wrestling with his friends.

    If something is truly "natural", it does not need to be forced. It merely needs to be allowed, not shamed, and channeled in a useful direction (eg. energy for sports is good, destroying the basement is not).

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  11. Are you a moron? Who said straight guys can't like musicals? Guys can't like Grease, West Side Story, Evita, Chicago, and Les Miserables? etc.

    Girls who cheerlead football and go with significant others to games can never like football?

    You are a moron. That's not what gender roles are.

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    1. No I am not a moron. But that is what many people take into account when thinking about gender roles. I brought a few cases from my life in my post and HH's comments above show that he feels the same way in certain cases. Also, the number of other comments that I received here on on Facebook where people say they have had similar experiences.

      I'm not sure why I am responding to your comment since your rush to insult and your obvious lack of understanding of what I wrote. Obviously everyone else that read this post understands. I am sorry that it was lost on you.

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    2. >I brought a few cases from my life in my post and HH's comments above show that he feels the same way in certain cases.

      I feel the same way about what? :-)

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    3. Noooooooooooo I understood perfectly what you wrote and it's idiotic. Your suggestion of a gender role is simply not as black and white as it is in reality.

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    4. HH, I mean that you agree wit certain social gender roles. You said you would prefer your son play with "manly" toys and not "girly" ones.

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    5. And SJ, no you did not understand what I wrote. I wrote that people should not feel pressured to like or not life something because society says one thing is "manly" and the other is "girly".
      Try and follow. Apparently it is not easy for you.

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  12. The pink thing is especially ridiculous, because up until the ‘30s or so, blue was considered the color for girls, while pink was thought of as a softer form of red, which was a strong masculine color. If you look at department store catalogs from ‘30s, you see it start to change over, and within a few years the color palette had switched. Obviously there is no natural association of color with gender.

    Then there’s the dresses little boys used to wear…

    I was watching a sitcom this evening, and one of the (female) characters said that if you go to guy’s apartment and it’s neat, he’s either married (implying that his wife cleaned up) or gay. Which was surprising to me, since I’m much neater than my wife, and therefore responsible for all the cleaning in our house.

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    1. Interesting. I did not know about the social change pink and blue have gone through.
      You should recommend that sitcom to SJ above who thinks I made up this whole issue.

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