Breaking Gender Stereotypes
Psychology of Gender
Dr. M. Dudley
Breaking Gender Stereotypes
I would first like to point out that I did attempt to follow the directions. Unfortunately for me, the outcome was not all that successful and only further proved the notion that I could walk down the hall wearing a floppy bunny suit, and not a soul would care.
Men are depicted as wearing tailored suits, having short, slicked back hair and perfectly groomed beards, if they have facial hair at all. A sharp dressed man, to steal a phrase, is something everyone wants. Women are seen as having longer hair, wearing make-up and revealing clothing usually in a floral design. If they wear jeans they’re seen as being very tight, very form fitting and typically riding low on their waists. Should a woman choose to put on a pair of slacks and immolate the man’s style of dress they are supposedly called out for their style and condemned; I did not see this.
I took some time on Thursday the 2nd and dressed myself up. Seeing as I am incredibly uncomfortable dressing as a woman and do not even own a dress, skirt or anything revealing, I decided to dress as a male instead. I do this normally, but this time I was wearing something a more groomed just to see what, if anything, happened. I used a binder in order to cover my chest and put on a nice vest and a pair of slacks and proceeded to go about my day. I had a few stops to make before going to school and not once did someone appear to be taken aback by my appearance. More often than not, someone wanted to know where I got my vest. At each of the locations, I asked the person assisting me if they could determine my gender. Each one of them said female. This surprised me, though I continued on and asked; “What gave it away and does it bother you that I chose to dress this way?” In each case the answer was virtually the same: they didn’t seem to make any correlation to my clothes and my gender. The first woman had told me it was my eyes that gave away my gender, despite having a deep voice, broad shoulders and no defining characteristics towards either gender.
As I sat down to think about what this could mean, a sad fact came crawling into my head. While it appeared that women can dress the part of a man, there are little boys who are labeled confused because they would rather dress as a girl. More often than not, the child becomes immersed in a battle of the sexes. He’s a boy, he needs to dress like a boy. As I had experienced, there’s a double standard. Women can smoke, I’ve seen women spit and cuss like sailors but when a boy does anything that is not inherently manly, he’s thrown under the bus for it. I started thinking back to something I had seen in a Target that had stuck with me. A father of what had appeared to me to be a little girl, it wasn’t until I heard the father call him Anthony, were looking at toys. The little boy appeared to be around five or six years old, he had short hair, pink fingernails and a little flower clip in his hair. He was wearing a very cute, pinkish purple dress with leggings underneath. His shoes were even little Mary Jane’s and socks with frills. I stood in awe as the father was holding up two different dolls for his son to examine. While I was watching the interaction, another woman and her daughter came down the same aisle and stared at the two. The woman scoffed and said something I didn’t hear, though the father had. His response still sticks with me. “This is my son, and if he wants to play with Barbie’s and get his nails painted and wear dresses, then who am I to tell him he can’t do that? If he’s gay, then at least he grew up with a father who accepted him as he was. And if he’s not, that’s fine too.”
I almost fist pumped no one in particular, it was amazing to hear a man say something like that about his son. The woman seemed to have lost some of her fire and yanked her daughter away from a Thor display so fast the little girl yipped. And it was there I saw the slight stereotyping difference, the little girl had to have a Barbie, she couldn’t be Thor; someone should tell the woman that Thor is a woman now. I wanted to talk to them both for longer and ask them if there had been a lot of incidents like that before but judging by the father’s reaction, that kind of interaction was normal. I wanted to tell the father how proud it made me that a man had that opinion of his child. I believe, in watching Anthony and his father and looking at the way I interact with the world, that while there are external forces pressuring us into becoming certain people they appear more strongly focused on keeping a boy a boy.
I have already had mixed feelings about gender stereotypes, seeing as I was never really raised one way or another but I wish I could be around while that little boy is growing up, and see if he changes his mind because of the way people look over him. I hope that he doesn’t change his behavior because of someone’s judging what he or she does not understand. I don’t really believe that this activity had changed my views on the matter, perhaps if I had received any other kind of comments aside from those I did I would have more to base it off of. I will continue to dress and act in the way that has been the norm for me for the majority of my life. I just hope that the rest of the world can adapt to viewing little boys like Anthony better than they are at the moment. It’s the children I’m more concerned about.