I’ll Believe it When I see it… That You Have Tucked in Your Shirt…. Becoming a Gendered Body?

Haris Kuljancic


           I have personally grown up around sports during my entire life. I played Soccer, Basketball, Volleyball, and threw javelin in Track and Field. I listened to countless speeches about taking care of your body and making sure you are healthy throughout the season. However, one lecture that stood out to me was during track season. My coach, who was also an amazing science teacher at the school, talked about women and men athletes. He was referring to the long distance runners when he said something along the lines of, “Men’s bodies allow them to grow and improve at a steady incline, while women’s bodies hit a plateau at a certain point where it doesn’t matter how hard a girl trains, she will be getting the same result”. He gave us this speech to make sure that the girls didn’t get discouraged because they didn’t see improvement for a season or lengthy period of time. I thought that Judith Lorber’s article, “Believing is Seeing”, was very interesting because of the many comparisons that were made between men and women. I thought it was very interesting that she brought up how a man and a woman was defined, “men are not always sperm-producers, and in fact, not all sperm-producers are men” (570). However, I feel like Women and Men can’t ever be compared or put in the same category because of the immense biological differences each have. Nobody can ever truly say, “If Michael Jordan was a women he would average x number of points, rebounds, and assists; And nobody can ever really say, if Mia Hamm was a man she would have scored this many number of goals, had this many assists and would have won this many trophies. The genetic make up of a man and a woman is completely different. Men are capable of building bulky muscle, while women tend to get toned while doing the same amount of work. Overall, the biological make up of a male and female would make it very difficult to compare the athletes. I also think that it is very unfair in regards to the amount of testing that is being done to females in the Olympics. This however, would bring up the issue of defining a male and female once again. I think it’s very unfair that society allows men to shower for fifteen minutes after a hard workout and then hit the door, while a women has to spend another 30 minutes getting ready because of the amount of make-up and different outfits she has to try on.


            Karin Martin’s article is a perfect transition because she talks about the early stages of development and how society, even in a protected preschool can effect the actions and behaviors of males and females. Martin provided examples of teachers enforcing gendered stereotypes by promoting the color pink for girls, advising girls to wear dresses, and allowing boys to rough house while minimizing the physical activities for girls. I spoke with someone about this while I was reading it and emphasized how much I would hate to send my son or daughter to a preschool or daycare like this. Why should a three or four year old girl be scrutinized if she wasn’t “sitting like a lady”, or be reprimanded for being too loud? I would make sure adult’s didn’t focus on what a student wore, or what their hair looked like. Rather, I would hope that the people that were in charge of taking care of my 3 year old for 8 hours of the day would focus on my child’s health and well-being. That includes their state of mind and their freedom as a three year old. It is very important not to forget that young boys should be held to the same expectations as young girls. Although people say it might be easier to raise boys I feel like it is just as challenging if not even more challenging. Kimmel’s “Guyland”, discussed the culture of guys in college life. When a student was asked what it meant to be a guy, his answer was, “not to have any feelings”. That was one of many answers that guys gave. However, these ideals weren’t built just in a day.


            Edward Morris conducted a study in a middle school in Texas where Latinos, Blacks made up the majority of the student population. Over the two years in which he conducted his study, Morris interviewed faculty as well as observed students from random backgrounds. I thought it was very important to note the distinction between dressing poorly and not caring about school. Morris writes, “Carla’s dress, while normative in her neighborhood, acquired the connotation of opposition within the school’s walls, causing educators there to assume she did not care about school” (Morris 27). This brought up a very important and reoccurring theme in the school. The school had enforced uniforms, but students were opposing them involuntarily because of their social backgrounds and the definition of priorities. The students’ homes were primarily in poor communities and their parents were (hopefully) working as hard as they could in order to get out of these difficult situations; Sometimes working two or more jobs. However, it is very difficult for these individual families to do so because of their surrounding society. Even though they work two or more jobs, these parents make minimum wage and can barely pay the bills. After coming home, they are too tired to cook and spend quality time with their families, so they grab fast food. This triggers more unhealthy customs. The children don’t have the most promising opportunities at home. They are required to the strenuous chores or even take care of other loved ones. While student’s are at school, why should they be ridiculed and reprimanded for the way they dress? School is the one part of their day where they can express creativity. Like Derek said, uniforms are expensive and feel like prison outfits on kids who did nothing wrong. These kids came to school to learn and interact with kids in similar situations as themselves.


            I did not get as much feed back as I wanted for doing things the opposite gender would this week. But, I did find this video very interesting and I wanted to share it.




5 thoughts on “I’ll Believe it When I see it… That You Have Tucked in Your Shirt…. Becoming a Gendered Body?

  1. Patrick G. Landes

    You bring up good points for why you wouldn’t want your children to attend a school which disciplines them for gender deviance, but what I think is more important here is the long-term effects of gender and genderizing. Masculinity forms a facade of strength around men who are encouraged to be violent and direct this violence towards anything that threatens their masculine identities. Femininity, as described by Lorber (and the MacKinnon article she quotes), is radically changed by physical strength because it indicates that the woman with this can resist rape. So femininity is, disturbingly, largely defined as being rape-able.

  2. Sarah Wills

    I agree with Haris that I wouldn’t want to send my child to a school where the most important thing they focused on was how the children act and behave according to their gender. However, what I gathered from this article is that the teachers aren’t even actively promoting ideas of gender, but rather, it is just so inherent in our culture that people don’t even realize when they are promoting gender roles. It is easy to blame the teachers for “corrupting” young children and forcing them into a gender role right at the age of three. However, it is not just teachers that are the promotors of gender, everyone is a victim of gender promotion. It is sad that children are being treated differently in school based on their gender, but it is just the result of teachers subconsciously reprimanding the students.

  3. I really enjoyed the video Haris posted, if only because while it attempted to flip gender roles, it only used the more stereo-typically gendered actors possible. All of the women were slender, beautiful, wearing makeup, and had rather quiet roles, while the men were in jeans and tee-shirts, speaking loudly and taking up much more of the physical screen space. This shows how ingrained in society our view of gender is, that even in order to question our gender roles, we must still utilize them.
    Olivia Rabbitt

  4. Karen Dayanna Cardona

    I really enjoyed the example of the speech given by your coach. This idea of how different bodies work depending on gender. This brought me back to my high school days and the way my coach used to train the girls team different than the boys team. One of the girls once asked him why he made the boys have harder work outs than the girls , he answered by saying that girls are not capable to train as hard as men were and that that’s how things simply were. This lowered our self esteem a lot and made us feel that men were always going to be superior to us. Comments like these are clearly comments that can affect and destroy the motivation of an athlete, gender should not determine one’s success in the athletic field.

  5. Bianca Scofield

    The example you gave about your coach’s speech is a perfect example of society’s strict interpretation of both sex and gender. As Lorber states in “Believing is Seeing”, sex is even an ambiguous category. Sex is defined by one’s genitalia, however, there are many cases of ambiguous genitalia that cannot be classified into a sex but society forces that child to. Women’s and Men’s bodies are really not all that different, after all we are the same species. Men are more upper strength, while women have more lower strength. However, the way society has morphed our perception of strength, one would always assume men are more capable.

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