I find Karin A. Martin’s Becoming a Gendered Body: Practices of Preschools to be very insightful and touching because in a way, it took me back to my preschool days and sort of made me rethink whether or not this curriculum that is often talked about in the reading was already implemented during my time. Yes, it was. But in a way, I violated those gendered norms by resisting to being gendered. My body moved differently from how a “normal” boy’s body was supposed to move. The reading touches up on gendered characteristics that basically identify the difference in body movements between a boy and girl. Boys are often associated with relaxed behavior: crawling on the floor, yelling, or even running around, and are encouraged/allowed to pursue that type of behavior while girls must be more formal. Boys are meant to be much noisier. They must be loud when expressing their fun or enthusiasm, while girls are forced and constrained to a much softer, quieter voice. When it comes to instructions, boys are less attentive to them compared to girls, and are often directed to stop doing something. In my case, I wasn’t that kind of boy. I was the boy that didn’t mind playing dress-up. I was the boy that preferred to read, color, or cut out pictures rather than play blocks or superhero with the other boys. I was the boy that often tagged along with the girls, since a young age, because my choice of activities resembled theirs most of the time. In a way, I blame this gendered construction on my mom and sister, since they definitely impacted my cognitive learning through socialization as most of my days were spent with them, until my dad arrived from work late at night. Despite that, I still identity as “male” and “man” because it’s what physically and socially defines me now.
Morris’ Tuck in That Shirt examined the relationship between race, gender, and class within the urban school system, specifically at Matthews Middle School. The concept of the dress code at Matthews Middle School reminded me so much of my own school experience. I attended a charter school with somewhat of a strict dress code policy. On Mondays, students were forced to wear a blue, long-sleeve, buttoned up shirt, referred to as the “professional” shirt that each and every single one of us hated wearing, especially at the beginning of a school week. Apart from that, we also had to wear a tucked in blue or gold collar shirt (if you were a middle school student) or a blue, gold or white collar shirt (if you were a high school student) with either khaki or navy blue pants, skirt, or shorts. On Fridays, they were more lenient of our dress code, allowing us to wear jeans and any college-gear, since my school was very big on college readiness. In a way, the interplay that Morris talks about in his article was not visible within my own experience. I wasn’t able to witness students receiving different treatment from teachers. We were all treated similarly, at most points. I guess because we were all from a low socio-economic status, 99% Hispanic or Latino, and basically conformed to this lifestyle that was implemented by the school, there was no need to be treated any differently. Yes we had our differences, but we were all working together to achieve the same goals, graduating from high school and getting accepted into college being the main goal.
Believing is Seeing by Judith Lorber is also an interesting read, especially because it provides the reader with reasoning on why gender is a social construction. When we think about gender or sex, people often associate it to this idea of existent categories: men and women or male and female. Plus, it’s always believed that the two are differentiated biologically when in fact, they are also noted differently through social institutions. Hormones, genes, and genitalia just point of the obvious as to what sex you are, but gender-wise, it takes more than the obvious to figure out what one is. I like how Lorber explains that labeling is based on many other things. One can’t be completely man or completely woman. The boundaries must always be justified. I dislike that when it comes to seeing who is better at this or that, women are generally referred to as inferior or subordinate. I generally think that men and women are able to do the same things if intended to, but unfortunately, society doesn’t think so, and therefore there’s this preconception that one category is better than the other.
As for this weekend, I thought it would be a great idea to attempt shaving my legs as a way to reverse gender norms, BUT when I mentioned the idea to my friends, I was given weird faces, some clearly depicting disgust and repugnance to such an idea. Shaving your legs is often associated with women, although there is no entirely practical need for such thing, other than it being an appearance issue to partake in beauty. Anyhow, I’m glad I didn’t shave my legs. I don’t think hairy legs define masculinity, but they sure do have some benefit to our lives. They help protect us from the cold.