Sunday, 4 May 2014

Gender Discourse

Every culture is filled with many stereotypes. In America especially, it’s a very common stereotype that men work while women stay at home with the children or take care of the house. People argue that it’s just the way it is. It does not start there. Before a child is even born into this world, these stereotypes are being fulfilled. Friends and family immediately want to know if this baby is going to be a boy or a girl, in order to pick out the right colored clothing or toys. Girl? Pink room. Boy? Blue room. Often times, in the hospital, they even give the new born a pink hat or blue hat. One automatically has to become this gender because of the culture surrounding them. These stereotypes are not engrained into life. It is not an absolute must that these stereotypes and discourse is followed, but time after time, it is being followed because that is all people know. What they don’t realize is, this could not be the case without the discourse surrounding it. Because of the way our society discusses the gender roles of females and males, the actions follow. Women feel pressured from society to be good mothers, while males feel pressured to be good workers, and this all starts from the gender discourse surrounding them as babies. This is just a way of talking! There is nothing wrong with being a stay-at-home dad and there is nothing wrong with a mother working a corporate job. There is nothing wrong with a little girl wearing a blue hat and there is nothing wrong with a little boy in pink. Or a girl playing with a truck or a boy playing with a kitchen set. We find ourselves falling into these stereotypes, surrounded by the constant discourse, that it literally defines the lives we live.

With social constructionism, anyone has the opportunity to be part of a different discourse. Realists cannot see past the lives and beliefs they are already part of. If you believe that all women should stay home and take care of the children, then any other option is already wrong in your mind. But as a constructionist, you can see other truths. Realize that these ‘beliefs’ are simply stereotypes created by discourse in our community. In other places in the world, these stereotypes do not exist at all. It is Americanized for girls to be in pink and boys to be in blue. With a different conversation, there are
so many different opportunities to be had. If a girl was not raised surrounded by kitchen toys and raising babies, maybe she would not feel so pressured to be a stay-at-home mom. This video we attached is defining everything we just argued. These moms in the Halloween store are listing off ‘appropriate’ costumes for a boy to wear; cop; army; fireman; Spiderman. But princess? No, that is a girl’s costume ONLY. These moms go on to say “don’t worry, it’s just a phase!” because if it was not just a phase, well that is suggesting that your son is gay. And then a girl is not ‘pretty’ enough in her boy’s costume. The discourse around gender literally strips little girls of wanting to be strong and boys wanting to be sensitive. That’s what this discourse does? It defines people because of their actions.

This is the case with so many different aspects of our lives today. We live in certain ways because we think that is our only option. We cry when we know we are supposed to, we get angry when there is a ‘necessary’ reason to fight, we wear certain things; the list goes on and on. Create a different conversation, break the stereotypes. If people could start doing this, there would be far more opportunities for change.

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