The Gender Bin(d)ary and Norms

Today in class, we talked in depth about some of the key ideas in queer theory and one of those key ideas revolved around the enforcement of normativity using the binary. Not too long ago Target decided to remove gendered toy aisles, this caused quite a bit of controversy within several public spheres. Gendered toys would remain, however the aisles separating “boy” toys and “girl’ toys would be combined and less binary. This made me reflect on why as a culture we find even the slightest blurring of gender as a threat. Something as simple as removing gendered colors from a children’s toy aisle led to threats of boycotts and vitriolic language being hurled at target customer service representatives.

Even though adults meet the blurring of the gender binary with much resistance, children are much less strict about the policing of gender. Recently a school in Australia allowed for their students to dress however they like within the appropriate parameters of the uniform code. Meaning, males can wear what they see fit out of the options of pants or a skirt and females are also given that choice. The students embraced this wholeheartedly and seemingly quite joyously. You see this same growth of eschewing fashion norms among young artists (Young Thug, Janelle Monae) and athletes (Cam Newton). For me this serves as an indicator that gender norms and the enforcement of them through the binary is becoming, in some instances, a little less strict.


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