Becoming a Gendered Body

Looking back at how I grew up, I can remember many ways in which I was socially gendered, especially in school. I remember my mother picking out what I was to wear for school pictures, always covered in pink and flowers of course, and getting in trouble when I decided on a navy blue t-shirt instead. Girls were always in the “art area” drawing and painting while the boys were taken over to the “building area” where they were allowed to build and destroy whatever they could imagine with blocks. In Kindergarten the girls got to turn the eggs when we hatched chickens and the boy got to clean up after the baby chicks. I believe these early age gender socializations make are opposing masculine and feminine actions feel more ordinary and expected. As open minded as I like to believe I am, I can see that perhaps my feminine traits were not biological but instead are socially constructed by the adults in my life.

When looking back at how I was gendered I became especially interested in “Icons of Femininity” aka toys like Barbie. Growing up with an only slightly older brother and sister I specifically remember my brother playing Barbies with both my sister and I. However, my brother’s version of playing with Barbie usually consisted of Barbie base jumping off of the second floor banister, riding the KNex roller coaster, and bungee jumping from counters. My brother only wanted Barbie to be a daredevil. Much like the article describes the boy who only wants to play with Ken, it was acceptable for him to play with us as long has Barbie wasn’t having a tea party or going shopping with her girlfriends. Barbie needed to be defying the odds of gravity and participating in tasks that are perceived as more masculine. Yet, my sister and I were allowed to participate in all activities both masculine and feminine. Little girls seem to be able to get away with acting more masculine more often than little boys who act in feminine manner. I believe that most parents respond negatively to little boys participating in feminine or “girly” activities. It seems to be harder for parents to allow their boys to act like a girl more than it is for girls to act like a boy.

Katie Hasiak

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~ by knhasiak on November 15, 2009.

One Response to “Becoming a Gendered Body”

  1. I agree Barbie is totally a gendered toy and made the sterotype that Barbie should only be associated with girls. Society has control of who plays with what.

    Lisa Tamburrino

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