Gender Expectations

Fitting into the societal expectations of what is masculine and feminine is something that many people are constantly trying to do. In some point or another in someone’s life, some type of interest, hobby, or activity will challenge someones perception of masculine or feminine and have to question if a particular gendered practice is accepted by society.

Countless examples exist whereas men should’t dance, and women can’t have any interest in cars. Halberstein’s work, Female Masculinity addresses the fact that masculinity and femininity are not so black and white. A girl which possesses or acts on masculine traits is considered to be employing Female Masculinity. For example, an interesting analysis on tomboys is made in this work. Any masculine traits that pass beyond the stages of puberty for girls pushes into the territory of Tomboys. Personally, I didn’t encounter too many tomboys, but I did know boys that would be more effeminate as we aged. I’m not sure if there’s really a name for these types of boys that is similar to Tomboy, but I feel like this is a prime example of how society is more accepting of masculinity. A Tomboy is a pretty well-regarded term, that doesn’t have too much of a negative implication, but when female traits are shown in a young boy, it’s more common for offensive and crude words to be used (I’m sure many example can come to mind.) I remember growing up, singing karaoke was a big family activity. Some of my favorite songs were Aladdin‘s “A Whole New World” and the classic “Dancing Queen” by ABBA. When I was maybe 7 or 8 I was singing one of these songs when one of my uncles taunted me about how girly the act was. I remember being upset and not wanting to sing around my family much thereafter. So it makes me wonder about the flip side of Female Masculinity, where a young boy could be more feminine than society expects. Fitting into the expectations of masculinity and femininity is fairly hindering.

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5 thoughts on “Gender Expectations

  1. Along with Lorde’s essay, I also really connected with Halberstein’s as well. When I read the tomboys piece I was just like “Yes!! True!!” It’s because masculinity is the ideal in our society, so of course a female would want to partake in some masculine activities. Masculinity is the norm whereas femininity is not. I like that you touched on the point if there is a term for men who show some feminine traits and there’s not. They’re deemed gay. But tomboys are (assumed) straight whereas being a dyke is being deemed lesbian. I have always thought and pondered the idea that some men were homophobic is because they don’t want to be associated with being feminine. Being thought of, as a woman is that bad. But yes, overall, I think Halbestein just wanted to really showcase the theory of masculine being the norm in our society.

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  2. This was another work I enjoyed this semester because it is something everyone can relate to, and so many examples that go against the cookie cutter example of what is “masculine” and “feminine”. Personally when I was growing up, I played soccer and did dance as a child. But as my schedule got more and more busy I was encouraged to just pick activity to continue and I chose soccer while most of my friends stayed with dance. Some of my friends asked why I chose soccer over dance when I was a girl, and why I would want to do a “boys sports”. Although I was young, I was questioning my decision based off what people were saying, and what they were saying was due to the influence of the stereotypical girl and boy. As I grew up I got close with the girls on my team and didn’t feel any less of a girl because of the sport I chose to play throughout my life.
    Another thing that I think of during our class discussions of feminism and masculinity is how my younger brother has our older sister and me and would constantly play with us when we were younger. He would play with us when we acted out our dolls and would always color and paint with us. He thought nothing of it but as we all grew a little older he would slowly stop playing with us and would play with his trucks or go ride his bike. He went from wanting to act out the dolls with us to “not being a girl and dolls are for girls only”. He fell into the stereotype that there is a black and white to being a girl or boy. There is not set in stone distinguishing for activities and aspects of being a girl or boy, yet there is a fluid spectrum that anyone person can land on for many things

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  3. I think the issue brought about how feminization often has a more negative connoataion is a really important point to address. Often in order media and film you see people feminized to show weakness or naivety. The issue with this, besides the fact that it perpetuates stereotypical representations of femininity, is that it creates this need for men to prove their masculinity and strength. This is often also connected to gender violence. Violence in our society is often valued and seen as a part of strength and violence and therefore part of the visual representation of masculinity. I think the fact that this binary idea of gender is strong enough to influence violence and even in a way promote it, is why this is such an important issue. No one should have to prove their gender idenitiy or feel the need to identity with one or the other. Gender is a spectrum and gender stereotypes can have really negative impacts on people, especially those who don’t fall at one end or the other, but instead closer to the middle.

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  4. I will forever stay hating societal expectations due to the fact that no matter what one does or how they act, someone will always disagree. Trying to change yourself to “fit in” is one of the worst things to do in my eyes because being the same is absolutely boring. Like you said, masculinity and femininity are not just black and white. It is always more accepting for a female to act more masculine because masculinity is always favored by society. When I was younger my mom never discouraged me from playing sports or doing anything tomboyish but at appropriate times she would yell at me to “act like a lady.”

    Like you said, on the other hand for a male to act a little feminine is almost ALWAYS frowned upon. Growing up I would play with my neighbors, being a mix of females and males. One boy always said his favorite color was pink and he absolutely loved playing with barbies whenever we did. The other boy would always yell at him saying pink is a girls color, but never yelled at me when I said blue was my favorite color. This just continues to prove that masculinity is always favored and it is not acceptable for a male to act feminine, which I completely disagree with.

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  5. Both you and Halberstein make salient points about how we police gender and gender expression, specifically the gender of children. Your post and its replies highlight how intrusive individuals can be when it comes to children expressing themselves. I love pop culture and often I’m privy to checking sites like ‘PEOPLE’ or ‘E!’ for my celebrity news and gossip. I recently remember reading about Angelina, Brad, and Shiloh – their child. I kept seeing headlines speculating about Shiloh’s gender and expression, going as far as too criticize Angelina for allowing her kid to wear what they felt most comfortable in and denounced her as a bad parent. It is probably difficult enough growing up in the spotlight, but even worse going through puberty and facing critical questions about identity. You blog post kind of brought me back to thinking how often this occurs in our personal lives and how this is related to the personal lives of other people.

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