Gender and Family

By Sophie Furman

 My family consists of five females and one male; my father is quite outnumbered by his four daughters and wife. My ideas on gender from an early age relied just on how I was raised and how I saw the only prominent male in my day-to-day life behave. After reading “Guyland”, “Boy + Men In Families” and “The Male Consumer as Loser: Beer and Liquor Ads in Mega Sports Media Events” I see ideas that I have seen throughout my life but also concepts that are completely new to me. 

 

Growing up my parents raised my sisters and I to be well rounded people. They did not just view it as raising four girls that had to grow up to be the ideal woman. Instead, their main concern was that we were around good people no matter what stereotypical gender mold they could fit in to. “Passive” “weak” and
“powerless” were not words used in my household or words used to describe any of the females in my house. However, there were inevitably things I viewed as male and female because of watching the differences between my mom and dad. The two most prominent ones I remember were driving and drinking. Whenever my whole family got into a car, my dad was the driver. I thought my mom and others only drove when their husbands weren’t in the car. One day, in a car with my friends family, her mom got into the drivers seat and not her father which surprised me. Because I was so used to seeing a different division of responsibility, to this day I still have to second glance when I see a female driving a male around.

 

My father was the only one drinking beer in our household and I thought that was because he was a dad and it was what dads could do while watching sports games. I thought my mom didn’t drink beer because there were no sports games for her to sit and watch. Little did I know at that young age that it was just my mom that didn’t like to drink beer, but many other moms did. As a result of what I’ve seen growing up though, to this day I still see beer as a “manly” drink.  In “The Male Consumer as Loser: Beer and Liquor Ads in Mega Sports Media Events,” its interesting how beer is portrayed almost as a safety blanket. When in a social situation with your friends it’s much more easier to be confident in your own skin because you have your beer that reminds you that you’re a part of the crowd. The idea that men have to have this drink in their hands in order to feel this way (according to these ads) is disappointing.

 

In Kimmels, “Guyland” he mentions the idea that no one can tell a woman what it means to be a woman anymore, but the question of what it means to be a man is still very powerful. As a society we teach young boys to hide all different forms of emotion, to be a man is to “not cry,” “never give up,” “be strong” etc. Cover your true emotions with a veil to society is the ultimate desire we’ve created for men according to the society structure we’ve created.  There are consequences with that disclosure from expressing yourself. According to the research done in “Boys + Men in Families,” from a very young age boys are much more likely to be sent to psychiatrist than girls and twice as likely to have emotional issues. I’d like to think that if my parents raised a boy they would raise him with the same love and understanding that my sisters and I were raised on. One without limits and control, to form the type of person a family would love and not the type of person society thinks they need. 

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6 thoughts on “Gender and Family

  1. Cassie Walter

    I thought your post brought up a great point in the way that we have been unknowingly socialized to think of different things in society as either “male” or “female”. There is no written rule out there that states men are better drivers (in fact, I believe in “Guyland” it states that teenage boys are far more likely to get in accidents than teenage girls are because they are more reckless drivers) yet it is true that it is far more likely that the man in the family will drive when everyone is together in the car. Growing up I would have never given a second thought to that. Of course it would be my dad that drove if we were all going together somewhere as a family. These articles point out subtle misconceptions in society that need to be changed because they serve no purpose or benefit.

  2. Haris Kuljancic
    I could defiantly relate to your post because of the examples you provided about males driving and drinking beer during sports games! I grew up in a culture where women didn’t really drink any alcoholic beverages or operate a vehicle if a guy was present. I took these instances to be normal. I didn’t really question any of this until I took intro to Soc last semester. Not only did woman seem more inferior because of this, but they were also ridiculed and put down. Women are considered worse drivers and unfairly so, because they are never given the opportunity to improve.

  3. Carly Ozarowski

    It’s interesting how, when we were all younger, everyone sees everything differently just based on what their parents did. Just like how you talk about your mom not drinking beer, when I was younger I had no idea that sports where so gendered. My entire family are avid sports fans, including my mom. I did not realize, until I was older that far less women like professional sports; it’s so dependent on the household someone grew up in. I really appreciate your post because it almost points out the obvious that many of us may have missed when we were younger.

  4. I grew up with a similar view in terms of adults driving and drinking. My dad would always drive whenever he was present and even to this day I associate men with beer and women with wine. It seems that overall women tend to prefer wine while men enjoy beer. I have always assumed and do still think that this is just a natural inclination and that while there is the minority for each group, it so happens that men are bigger beer drinkers than women and women enjoy wine more. However now I question whether men like beer because they are supposed to and women force themselves into wine to fit into their gender. I’d like to think that adults can decide what they drink based on their preference rather than pressure.

  5. Emma Weisberg

    Sophie, I love when you mentioned men using beer as a security blanket. It’s so true that once a man has a beer in his hand at a party, he definitely gains more acceptance and respect from his peers. I was trying to think about if there are any equivalent “security blankets,” for women and I wanted to know what you thought.

    Coffee. I joke all the time that coffee is the main thing I spend my money on here. Whenever I’ve said that to a female friend, 9 times out of 10 she’ll laugh and join in. However, I think this caffeine craze goes beyond the need to re-energize. Last semester for Sociology of Inequality, my group project was about the inequality of clothing on a college campus. I was looking at an article in the New York Times, and it had attached a link of college students across the country photographed in high end fashion. After glancing at only a few photos, I noticed a trend: the woman was holding a coffee cup in hand. I think that a starbucks coffee has become a symbol of wealth and status for the modern woman. She supposedly can afford her daily latte and carry it around as she dashes from place to place. She can meet her friends for a drink between class. I find it interesting that this drink is most often consumed during the day while men’s is at night. Does that have any greater significance? Let me know what you think!

    http://www.nytimes.com/slideshow/2011/10/13/fashion/20111013-COLLEGE.html?ref=fashion

    1. Sophie Furman

      Emma, I think you’re right I think our society has made it seem as though being alone is an “awkward” or “uncomfortable” thing. So even if someone isn’t holding a drink when they’re alone they’re trying to hold something. Whether it’s a phone, book, etc. so they don’t get judged for being alone. At a party it turns into a beer for guys (according the ad’s and personal experiences) because it’s harder for them to sit there without a drink and still be considered a “cool guy” and not a “loser.” While a girl doesn’t necessarily get the same response if she doesn’t have a drink in hand…

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