Justine Hilden Assignment #2 GES 451P Your Gender Role I took the Bem Sex Inventory and at first I was shocked when it said I scored high on the masculine side but then I figured out that I had just made a calculation error. Then I had it figured out and it made much more sense so now thankfully I figured that out and am not going to write about the wrong thing. My score on the inventory is a -1.86 which scores higher on the feminine side. This does not surprise me. I do agree with the conclusion that I am more feminine. If I were to place myself on the scale without having taken the inventory, I would have placed myself around that same area. I consider myself more feminine than masculine considering some of my qualities that I rated high such as understanding, helpful, nurturing, cordial, tender, moody, warm, compassionate and reliable. On the Bem Sex inventory I rated those high with numbers such as four and five. I think that those qualities are ones that I have always had and they make me who I am. Many of these qualities I get from my mom. Growing up, my mom was always nurturing, giving hugs, kisses, a shoulder to cry on, a lap to sit on. She was and is a nurturing person, whenever we need her in times of happiness like getting an A on a test or in times of sadness like when I found my fish had died and I was devastated, she was there to flush him in the toilet. Yes, I am a very sensitive person and I love all of my animals even a fish. She also is very understanding and I think I get that from her. You are able to talk to her and she can relate to it or try to understand by asking questions but not being too pushy. When I told her about my eating disorder, she was very willing to learn more about it. Even though it was very difficult for her, she was able to ask me questions, the staff I was working with, read books, etc., and that was something I really needed was someone to just try and understand. I consider myself feminine in other aspects too. I like to dress up, wear makeup, talk about guys, cry in movies, and gossip with friends etc. Of course there are some qualities that I have that I would say are more masculine such as I like to get dirty like when I go four wheeling. I grew up playing in the mud in my front yard; I like to dress down more than I like to dress up. I would much rather wear jeans then a skirt. I would much rather where a sweatshirt than a nice blouse or something. I tend to be more vocal when I express my opinions and I would say that I can have an aggressive attitude. Sometimes when I get mad or say things, she tells me, “You are just like your dad.” My dad has a very bad temper and he can say some mean things. He is the person that flicks people off when he is driving down the road or tailgating when someone is going to slow. He is the one that swears at people in a store if they don’t know what they are doing etc. I get my temper and aggressive attitude from him which I think is more of a masculine quality. Before this paper, gender role was not something that I thought about as much. Our culture and society seem to do a lot of shaping in this area. As much as I like to think that my parents didn’t push the roles of gender on us, I think it was natural for them to. I was the first born, three years before my brother. When my mom bought me things, she bought pink. Pink is just known to be a color for girls in our society. When you have a baby shower, it’s pink or blue depending on the sex of the baby. They bought me dolls which I loved. I carried one of my dolls absolutely everywhere and it was always in my mouth with my thumb for many years. It was a pink doll and I wouldn’t have anything to do with any other dolls, it wasn’t the same as my baby. When I got a little bit older, I had many Barbies as well and they were my absolute favorite. I played with Barbie’s probably every day, I had the Barbie house with the Barbie cars and clothes and everything in between. My neighbor friends and I would get together and play Barbies after school, we could play for hours. When my brother came along, they purchased him blue things and trucks and cars and when he got a little bit older, sports equipment like a baseball and a baseball bat or a basketball hoop. Being my brother and I were sort of close in age, we would play together. I would play with his Tonka Trucks and he would play with my Barbies. It always involved the two of us playing them together. I would never just go grab my brother’s trucks and play with them without him. Also I played sports games with my brother and the other neighbor children growing up. We would play basketball on teams or kickball. My mom and dad never told us that we couldn’t play with one or the other. That was never the case. I don’t ever remember them choosing what we could and couldn’t play with but they did encourage us by what they bought for us whether they knew that or not. Sometimes when my mom would do my hair and put in a headband, my brother would want one in his hair and put one in and my mom has pictures. She didn’t tell him he couldn’t wear one, but he wanted to be just like his big sister. My dad is a builder and he wanted my brother to enjoy that as well. He would bring my brother to work at job sites; he would buy my brother tools and a tool belt for when he was at work with him. He always encouraged my brother to enjoy construction and building like he did. Also my dad loves sports, he is a huge sports addict, so he wanted my brother to play in everything. Jake played basketball, bowling, baseball and golf. My dad would get frustrated when Jake didn’t display the same interest in these things and that is probably one of the main reasons to this day that they are not very close, they don’t’ have the same interests and I can see that really bothers my dad. He wishes my brother was more into sports and construction and that’s not the case. With me, he never ever tried to get me interested in anything related with construction. My parents never encouraged me to play sports and I didn’t have an interest towards it either, I didn’t like the competiveness of it all. My brother always was pushed to do the outside work such as mowing the lawn etc. I never have mowed the lawn in my twenty two years, I have never even been asked too and still to this day that is something my brother and dad do. Growing up both of my parents both always worked but I seemed to notice more that my dad did. My first words were, “Daddy at work.” My dad was never around because of his drug and gambling addiction, but at that young age I didn’t know that so I always learned that dad works and my mom stays home with us. Looking back, my mom worked nights so that’s why I don’t think I saw that she worked as well. Years later both my parents worked days while my brother and I went to school. My dad is the one that has always supported though because his job happened to bring in a lot more money. I was able to grow up seeing that both parents can work. My mom has always done the household chores such as laundry, cooking and cleaning. I have never seen my dad do laundry and I have rarely seen him cook or clean. That is something I have only seen my mom do growing up. When my parents purchased me a play kitchen, it was my favorite, growing up I loved to help my mom in the kitchen because she did all of the cooking and baking. I played with it all the time. My mom cooked all the time and I never saw my dad cook so when I received my kitchen I cooked just like my mom did. It most likely gave me the stereotype that women cook; it’s all that I knew and grew up with. I still live at home and my mom still always cooks. I have a lot of video of me pretending to cook, pretending to talk on the phone and taking orders. The toys they purchased me became the beginning of my gender identity and gender role. When I think of role models besides my family, I think of what society and culture puts out there that also gives us our gender role and identity. Barbies are a role model even if they are just a plastic dolls. I played with them at a young age. Barbie is pretty, dresses nice, has the perfect body, and has nice hair and last but not least Barbie is a girl. She gives a high expectation for what women and girls should look like it. A lot of times I always wished I could be like that. Even Disney movies give young girls high expectations for how they should look and if they do they can get that prince charming. My favorite was “The Little Mermaid.” I thought Ariel was so pretty and I loved that she was a mermaid. I loved to swim too and I used to pretend in my pool that I was Ariel. As I got a little older, my role models were the Spice Girls, Britney Spears, and Mary Kate and Ashley. I owned all of the Spice Girl dolls, listened to their music all the time. They were pretty, skinny and stylish girls and they were so popular. Some friends in my neighborhood and I used to pretend we were the Spice Girl, we were each a different one and we would try and play the role. We even put on shows for our parents and sang their songs. Mary Kate and Ashley were just about every girls favorite. I owned just about all of their movies and as they were older, their movies were about gossiping with girls and having crushes on these good looking boys. I learned a lot about gender roles from these role models whether good or bad it’s what I grew up with and it’s what I liked at the time. Right before we were assigned this assignment, I had read a book to my Kindergartners in my class I was student teaching for called, “William’s Doll.” The book was about a young boy named William who wanted a doll. William’s dad continues to buy him things like a train track so he would get his mind of getting a doll. In the end, he gets the doll from his grandma and the grandma explains to the dad that how else will he learn to nurture and love etc for when he has a child when he grows up. Throughout reading the book, the children laughed especially the boys at the idea of this young boy, William wanting a doll. It made me realize the impact that children have on each other even more. There is probably a boy or two in my class who might like to play with dolls but now that everyone laughed, that will no longer be the case. There are also the ones that were never encouraged to play with dolls and taught that dolls are for girls. When I was in preschool and kindergarten I remember playing in the kitchen and playing house with other girls. You see the other girls playing kitchen and house and you follow along. The boys play with the cars and the trucks or the blocks and legos, I don’t ever remember building things in elementary school. I talked to my cooperating teacher that I have been working with this semester and she said that when students come to Kindergarten they already have their idea of what girls and boys play with and what they enjoy playing with. I was able to see this when I observed. I was there the first seven weeks of the school year this fall and the girls played in the kitchen and with the dolls or with games such as “Pretty Pretty Princess.” The boys always play with the things that they can build with such as blocks. In elementary school you tend to just want to make friends and want to fit in so you follow what the others are doing. I would see girls playing with things like dolls and I would join in and do the same, I grew up playing with dolls before I went to school and then I continued to do it in school. When it came to middle school, it was the time that I and all of the other girls began to develop physically. I began to have my first real crush on a boy named Tyler. It also was a time when girls were becoming mean. It was a competition to be the prettiest, the best dressed. I started wanting to wear makeup and dress in the name brand clothes like American Eagle or Abercrombie so that I could fit in with the popular crowd. In high school it was very much the same as middle school but now people had their groups that they were in since middle school such as the popular crowd and the jocks. I didn’t make it into any of those groups. I just had friends from different groups which I think is great but back then I wanted to be like the popular girls with the blonde hair, the blue eyes, the girls that all the guys liked, the ones that looked like Barbie. There were times that I got teased because I wasn’t the perfect girl. I got teased because I had curly and frizzy hair and I wasn’t that skinny. All of these things identified my gender role as a female. Sometimes I think that it makes me crazy that I have not been in a long or serious relationship because just about all of my friends are in relationships or engaged or now even married. I used to be very interested in the idea of being a relationship. I tried to be a girly girl and wear name brand clothes, straighten my hair, and workout but it just has never happened throughout high school. Then my sophomore year of college I dated a guy for just about three months, it was nothing serious by any means, we never kissed, he tried but I was just hesitant. The hesitancy in the relationship I think really was my lack of self esteem and confidence. I just didn’t think that someone could possibly like me. Don’t get me wrong, I felt good about myself having someone of the opposite sex like me and find me attractive but I still didn’t feel that myself at all. Things didn’t work out and I think that’s when I started to feel awful about myself. I have always had low self esteem in general and for this first chance of a relationship didn’t go well I began to feel awful and that lead to a spiral of my eating disorder. I just felt ashamed and unwanted when this first possible relationship didn’t go well. Like I said, it was not serious by any means but it still upset me and I began to feel unwanted and couldn’t fathom that anyone would ever want me. Currently, I think that now I am not in a good place to be in a relationship until I get my self esteem and eating disorder taken care of. Usually I tell myself and everyone that I am fine with the fact that I have never been in a serious relationship but I think it takes away from my femininity and affects it. When a guy likes you, you tend to feel good about yourself and express your femininity and gender role. You begin to want to look good, and express your “girly” features. I think that I am not pretty and not perfect enough on the outside for any guy to like me. I think that body image is such a huge part of being a female. Of course males want to look good but I think it’s very much less acceptable for a female to be overweight. I think never having had a serious relationship with a guy, I tend to think that I am not deserving and I don’t try to look good anymore. With all of my weight gain, I tend to just wear comfy clothes rather than dress up and try to look nice. It takes away from my femininity once again. I don’t want to feel that I have to have a man in my life to make myself better but I think since I have not had that in my life, I tend to go to the extreme of thinking less of myself and it lessens my femininity and gender role. In friends of the same sex, I tend to be friends with other girls that have the same qualities as I do. I tend to look for friends that have the qualities that I value such as being understanding, caring, sensitive, and easy to talk to. I value the idea of having a girl friend that I can talk to about anything. My best friend since 6th grade, Carrie, has a lot of the qualities that I value in someone of the same sex that I listed above. She is someone that I talk to about everything from guys that I like, to when I got my period, how to use a tampon. She is understanding and never judges me. We both have dealt with eating disorders at very different times in our lives and we just listen to each other, we don’t judge, we are there for each other and I value that. In someone of the opposite sex, I value the qualities that they are decisive, independent minded, laid back, and they don’t over analyze and think about everything. I value that and it’s nice to hang out with someone that has opposite qualities that I have. I like to be around people that can be relaxed, laid back and not over think things or think at all. I rarely am laid back, relaxed and unable to think about things. I have two very good guy friends that I love to be around because they are opposite of me in many ways. I need someone that can be relaxed and laid back. I am always very stressed out so it’s nice when they can rub off these qualities on me if even for a little while! Gender identity and gender role seems to be passed on very subconsciously. I don’t think that it’s something one things about, it’s just natural and what our society has created. As a parent, I am sure that I will purchase my daughter dolls, and my son trucks. I just want to also make sure that I am encouraging them to be what they want. I think a lot of times parents are afraid that if they encourage their child to play with dolls or allow them to it might make them gay and lead them towards more feminine or masculine qualities. I don’t want that to be something I even consider. If my son wants to play with dolls and that’s his interest, then so be it and same with my daughter playing with trucks. I want to encourage them to be open to anything and be all around children. I am hoping that my future husband and I will both have successful jobs and that my children grow up knowing that both parents can be successful and work. I also hope that my husband will help with cooking, and chores around the house so the children can see that it can be done by both male and females. I also do not like cooking at all so hopefully my future husband does! Hopefully I can lead them away from the stereotypes like only women are in the kitchen and men are the bread winners. I only can do so much as a future parent because society does a lot of it and they will see everything with or without me. I just hope in my marriage as well that we can balance each other out in our gender roles. I like that I am nurturing and caring and understanding. I hope that my husband can balance me out with being decisive, independent minded, strong and assertive. I also hope that we can share success with our careers, cook together, share the chore of doing laundry, work together on yard work and everything else that comes with raising a family and keeping up a home. To be honest, I don’t often envy men, only usually about the fact that they don’t have to menstruate. If I had to choose though, one thing that makes me very jealous of men though is that they don’t think and worry about things. I am sure some do, but the general population does not. I wish I could shut my brain off and just take a break once in awhile. I have had extreme anxiety since I was a child. At my one year check up, I cried because the blocks I couldn’t get the blocks just perfect and color coded. I cried almost all through school because I was afraid I might not understand something and that was not okay in my book. Every night before school starts even up through college I cry, because I can’t handle the stress of starting a new school year, new changes and the possibility that something might be too hard for me and I could fail. My brother who is nineteen, my dad, and my guy friends are so laid back. They rarely think about things and starting another school year is, “just another year.” My brother always tells me, “What is there to worry about?” when I ask them why he isn’t worried about starting a new job or starting another year of school. I tell him, “Everything!” I worry about absolutely everything. I worry about graduation, the future in terms of growing up, people dying, getting my masters, the possibility of not getting married and everything in between! I also am very jealous of the fact that it takes them less than two seconds to get ready in the morning; they go to bed and wake up looking the same. I have this curly fro that I cannot stand. I have never been confident enough to just wake up and let it go, I always make sure to style it and straighten it! It’s such a process, I cannot even imagine the luxury of waking up and my hair looks the same as when I went to bed. I also value the fact that their body image isn’t as important in society as it is for women. You rarely see them say that a male celebrity has gained a few pounds on the front page of People magazine but when a female actress gains a few pounds, it’s on the front page and top story everywhere. I feel that society gives women such high expectations to when it comes to looks and body image. Males are accepted if they have a few extra pounds and are losing hair. Females losing hair or gaining some weight is not acceptable. Body image is a large problem in my life right now which is why I am currently struggling with an eating disorder. I would love to not have body image be as big as a thing as it is for women. I also am jealous that males can usually lose weight much faster. They can cut back from like drinking pop everyday and they lose a lot of weight. Women have to cut back on everything and work out so much more to lose something. Gender roles are something that I don’t think about on a regular basis and this paper allowed me to really think about what impacts my gender role such as my parents, school and role models in my life. I think that since I plan on being a teacher, I really need to consider and encourage students to express themselves whether it’s more of a masculine or feminine quality. I think that teachers tend to not realize the impact they have on gender role whether it’s positive or negative. Some teachers may not allow the boys to play with the dolls or the girls to play with the blocks. I think in society, it’s important as a teacher to be careful of this. I enjoyed being able to explore my gender role and look back to what impacted it, positive or negative.
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