Becoming a Gendered Body

In class we’ve learned that while raising a child it is effective to raise the child with in male and female characteristics, and that in so doing the child will have more confidence, better communication, a better ability to express him/herself, and be more comfortable talking about sexual topics. In the past I have read a few articles which I wanted to write upon concerning our society and how our children are being gendered. “Bodies are unfinished resources that must be trained, manipulated, coaxed, organized and in general disciplined (Becoming a Gendered Body ‘Practices of Preschools’).” Gender is something that is “done.” The general lack of confidence that women can frequently have about cognitive or leadership abilities is traceable in part to an original doubt of the body’s capacity. “Gendering of the body in childhood is the foundation on which further gendering of the body occurs throughout the life course. The gendering of children’s bodies makes gender differences feel and appear natural, which allows for such bodily differences to emerge throughout the life course. Some schools and teachers may see teaching children to behave like “young ladies” and young gentlemen” as an explicit part of their curriculums. Studies have been done in five preschools to show that schools impose disciplinary controls that regulate children’s bodies and prepare children for the larger social world. Not only teachers and schools, but parents too. Having a little girl make a dress can limit her ability to be more physically involved at recess and discourages athletic play. “Such management often puts girls’ bodies under the control of another and call girls’ attentions to their appearances and bodily adornments (Becoming a Gendered Body ‘Practices of Preschools’).” In these preschool studies boys and girls were observed crawling on the floors, yelling, lying down during teachers’ presentations, and running through the classrooms. Girls were discouraged from lying on the floor or talking without raising their hands. While boys were encouraged to lay on the ground and were told to keep their voices down less then girls. Clearly other institutions besides school are included in this gendering outcome. while it is important to imbrace biological differences, we, as parents, must allow more freedom to our children. Let the child play with whatever toys they wish, let them dress how they want, and don’t confine them into stereotypical gender roles. If we allow this freedom while yet structuring our children in love and discipline, they will have greater talents and abilities to thrive in the world and in interpersonal relationships. Communication and confidence will increase significantly as well.

-Jeffery Scott

Other articles to read that I personally think are wonderful:

a. Men are from earth, and so are women. (Rosalind C. Barnett and Caryl Rivers)
b. “Doing” gender in context. (Lynn Prince Cooke)
c. Testosterone rules. (Robert Sapolsky 1997)


~ by Jeffery Scott on November 30, 2009.

One Response to “Becoming a Gendered Body”

  1. Very interesting – thanks for the references!

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