For myself to follow and adhere to the social norms of gender and sexism is immediately telling me to act much like everyone else in society just through my own body. To do so, because I’m a male, white I might add, means that I must play the role of masculinity through that of sports, careers choices, income, and hobbies. All things that may look easy but play a different part in each person’s life. Easy in a way that you would think any male or female could convincingly enough follow the “rules” of their gender, I mean how hard is it to play with a Tonka Truck, right? If you’re anything like me, you have no interest in playing with Tonka Trucks and would much rather grab your older sister’s Barbie or a set of Legos which would occupy you for the majority of the day. Now falling back on the comment about being a white male, I mentioned this because of videos where I’ve seen the treatment of communities with different colored skins such as African American’s. Much like the video of the father telling his daughter to say that she isn’t carrying a weapon on her that we viewed in class, black communities have different and to me more harsh realities and expectation when it comes to gender roles. For example, black males are supposed to be willing to fight for certain reasons or for no reason at all and to be willing to take a hit. Now the things I have just mentioned are closely related to that of stereotypical roles that movies and/or television series have portrayed them as, which is very true. But I have watched documentaries in other classes back in high school that shared stories of young boys acting in the ways that media has presented them. Viscous, constantly fighting or trying to fight, not giving a shit about anyone except their posy’s and maybe some of their family, all stemming from groups of people that they watched growing up. Now in saying all of this, I think that most young males between the ages of 4-15 are expected to act in a way that represents masculinity, no matter the color of their skin and it all ranges in cultural differences. From personal experience, I can inform you that boys are not supposed to play with barbies or makeup or dress up in dresses for that matter because it either states the facts of they’re growing up to become gay or that they’re slowly turning into a woman and have to be dealt with in a physical manner. In cases like mine, I was just told that I wasn’t allowed to play with such things that associated myself to being a girl such as babies and dollhouses because that would be an embarrassment on my parents part for not raising a “proper boy.” To this day I understand that I am different from most male figures around me and lots of people question that of my sexuality and I have been called and or asked to my face or through others if I am gay because of the way I act, dress and talk. This doesn’t bother until people start to question whether I am lying or not and then I can only justify with the number of women I have been with, but this is beside the point. Basically, what I am trying to say is that growing up with no male figures in my life seeing as how my dad was always on the road working, didn’t help my situation of becoming a proper man and to this day still doesn’t.
To associate similarities within my classmates’ stories was something I thought would be impossible until I read Noah’s story called Barbie Boy, which immediately caught my attention. As I read and interpreted what Noah was explaining throughout his blog, I could make the connection as another male dealt with the same problems of gender confusion that I had grown up playing with barbies. He states “No! Boys do not get toys like that. Those are toys for girls.”
The emotion that was triggered when Noah’s grandfather told him to pick a different toy was to me a flashback in which I was able to relive a piece of my childhood through someone else because we shared this similarity of being disheartened from not getting something we truly wanted. Now the difference between the two of us is that Noah got his toy barbie and I did not. My mother was very protective of me as a child and knew the consequences of bringing a girly toy home that belonged to me and not my older sister. My dad was also protective in a way with me and I knew how he acted so that if I had ever been given the chance to choose my own toy, I would grab a box of Lego which to me as I see it now was almost an escape from being discouraged about not getting a baby or horse or anything else girly. Lego was an escape in which I used and got used to as if I almost trained myself as a child to never go into the girl’s section and go straight for Lego and ask for Lego on any occasion where I was gifted something which sounds sad but doesn’t truly bother me anymore as an adult. I can easily relate to Noah’s story not because of what happened but how we were both raised to fit the normative narrative of our gender as males and how easy it was to step out of the box when asking for simple things like toys
In relation to Zoë’s blog on gender and sexism, I was able to understand where she began to understand and notice the reality of what most women lived by, being expected to do womanly chores. These included dishes, cleaning up after everyone, cleaning the house while the men went out and did yard work, and stayed at home as it was considered the male to be the only one that works outside of the house. Much like Zoë I only started to notice this around the age of 10-12 because I had started hanging out with more guys than girls and was being brought up conversations of discussion within my school system about topics associated to gender roles. In a way I can compare my life to Zoë’s as she probably didn’t want to have to clean up after people other than herself and that goes the same for me being that I didn’t want to have the expectation of being the only one working to provide for my family as I know that being a teacher, my salary wouldn’t be enough to provide me with my dreams of having a big home on an acreage, two kids, to travel often and much more. Zoë states “As I get older I realize how I fall into the rolls laid out to me my whole life…I follow the patterns that have been there before and will likely be there after.”
With all these dreams I would need more than just myself to provide for especially when that doesn’t account for bills, schooling, groceries, autobody’s, and/or other things like sports. For this, I also had to take into account if I was following my roles as a male. Was I dressing accordingly? Acting like a male? Talking with a deep tone in my voice whether I chose to or not? Or even was I looking for the same things in life that people thought all males wanted? Sex? Money? Cars or trucks? Some of these things, yes, but others no. Does that make me any less male than the next guy over? I didn’t think so but people around me and the society that I’ve grown to understand and be disgusted with thinks so. Is it because of these judgments that I feel like I’m walking on eggshells every day because my body doesn’t fit the criteria of masculine and that my voice isn’t deep enough, probably. And I know this is where I can connect with people like Zoë and Noah and probably 10,000 other people because of that something that is continually affecting people, all differently but surely having the same effect. I know that for a fact that Zoë probably doesn’t want to have to make herself presentable to male figures all the time and that there are problems in her life that associate to something society has told her she has to follow with the gender that she is, much like the roles I have to follow being a male. In closing, I could probably compare and find similarities with anyone I wanted, but I won’t based on the fact that it’s an uncomfortable topic and it can get dangerous if you bring it up with the wrong people.
For someone to go against normative narratives is asking someone to swim against the current in situations that might make others uncomfortable as well as themselves. At times it changes the way we act and how others see ourselves which can become uncooperative and daunting in a way that we misunderstand the value of being who we truly are. To be raised in a family that cherishes the value of life because of past events is calming in a way that everything happens for a reason and that life will play itself out without the help of anything. In saying this, when life plays with gender and sexism, it’s instantly taken out of proportion based on the facts that you are to play out the roles in which your gender is supposed to portray. Based on this, Samara mentions in her blog about gender, how that looking back on birthday parties she never considered the difference in gendered things for girls and never considered that some girls might not have the same interests as her. She says “As I look back and analyze my past birthday parties, it has made me more aware for my future as a parent. I now realize that I never had the other sex at my birthday parties and that I never had other options for girls that didn’t enjoy the same things as me.” She realizes that for everyone to enjoy themselves, you must consider every aspect of the female gender knowing that not each person is the same and holds differences within themselves. I think that Samara portrays the idea of challenging normative narratives because she understands from experiences as a child and wants to keep the realization in mind when it comes to her kids’ birthday parties and gatherings, to include both sexes and keep in mind what everyone may enjoy.
Working to unsettle the idea of normative narratives is at times challenging based on the opinion of other people taken into account by others. This is challenging in terms of not wanting to disrupt biases others hold and beliefs they may have. Certain stories such as Samara’s go head to head in a rivalry as to how people should act and illustrate themselves with the gender they are born with. I chose Samara’s as an example of contradictory towards gender norms because she was able to realize the difference between her parent’s views and her own view on the idea of gender through personal experiences such as her birthday parties. Samara’s story silences these narratives based on her understanding of her knowledge on the topic and attaining more throughout her growth into adulthood.
Lastly, within the textbook Is everyone really equal? it discusses why sometimes sexism is difficult to see and this is based on “dominant culture” (Sensoy and DiAngelo 106) over exhausting how each sex should perform as either male or female. The novel touches back on my life and relates back to my life as well as others because our parents don’t notice that they are pressuring us to perform our gender. I think that this is important to notice as a parent is that you want the best for your child, much like Samara wants as a parent. Although this might seem like the only way in which a parent can contribute to making sure that their child isn’t pressured by the gender they are born into, there is more idea such as spreading the word through schools and community gatherings. In closing, being able to express yourself and go against normative narratives shouldn’t make people anxious and fearful to speak about the issues of gender and sexism.
Sensoy, Ö, & DiAngelo, R. J. (2017). Is everyone really equal?: An introduction to key concepts in social justice education. New York: Teachers College Press.
Sargent, Zoey. “Writing the Self 3: Gender .” Writing the Self 3: Gender, 23 Oct. 2018, ecs110.ca.
Suchorab, Noah; “Barbie Boy” https://nsuchorab.wordpress.com October 23, 2018
Stenson, Samara. (2018) Life before I was born. https://samarastenson.wordpress.com/October 23, 2018