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Katherine Gutierrez
Professor Ditch
30 September 2015
Parenting: Questioning Gender and Tryanny
One of the most common mistakes people often make is the misconception that the terms
sex and gender mean the same thing, but they do not. Sex and Gender are the complete
opposite of each other. This mistake is often seen in photo I.D.s and filling out questionnaires
and surveys. They often have the person fill out if they are male or female. These questionnaires
and surveys will either use the terms sex or gender. The correct term they should use is
sex. Sex refers to biological and physiological traits. Gender refers to behaviors, roles, and
actions. Sex refers to male and female, while gender refers to masculinity and femininity. Sex
difference is due to nature, while gender difference is due to nurture. A persons sex is
determined by biology, however it does not correspond with their gender.
Unfortunately, American society tries really hard to separate men and women based on
their gender and sex. They construct roles that men and women are supposed to do. In the article,
Becoming Members of Society: The Social Meanings of Gender, Aaron Devor states, As we
move through our lives, society demands different gender performances from us and rewards,
tolerates, or punishes us differently for conformity to, or digression from, social norms. (35)
Men and women were taught since birth that they have to act and behave a certain way. Men are
portrayed as dominant, tough, and the provider. Women, on the other hand, are portrayed as
subordinate, weak, and dependent on others. If any one does not follow these roles, then they are
considered a nonconformist. Nonconformists often risk being ridiculed or judged. Those who

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oppose nonconformity see as a bad thing. But it should not be seen as a bad thing. To be a
nonconformist means for the person to discover whatever works for them personally.
In the article, Night to His Day: The Social Construction of Gender, Judith Lorber
points out how everyone performs a routine without even realizing it. She explains that gender,
for most people is the equivalent of fish talking about water. Gender is so much the routine
ground of everyday activities that questioning its taken-for-granted assumptions and
presuppositions is like wondering about whether the sun will come up. (19) Lorber talks about
her experience in a subway where she sees a father carrying his baby. Like she mentioned before,
everyone does gender- the men who are changing the roles of fathers and the other passengers
reacting. But there was more gendering going on that fewer people noticed. The baby the father
was holding onto was a girl wearing a white baseball cap, frilly socks, and earrings. Normally, it
would be the mother taking care of the baby, dressing it, feeding it, etc. But now it is increasingly
common for the fathers to take on these roles that are considered feminine.
Parents are in complete control with their children when they are babies like picking out
their outfits or fixing his or her hair. Even though American parents do not express a strong sex
preference, research shows that parents do have different expectations of their babies and treat
them differently, simply on the basis of sex. (Renzetti 76) It is easier for parents to make
decisions for their babies since they are not familiar with their surroundings. Shortly after birth,
parents frequently use gender stereotypes to describe their newborn. Infant boys are described as
athletic, tall, large, and having wide broad hands. Infant girls are described as pretty and having
fine delicate features. It is difficult to identify a baby whether it is a boy or a girl, so the parents
choose their clothes for them, blue for boys and pink for girls.

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In American society, traditional boy toys represent hyper masculinity. In commericals,
boys are seen playing with toy guns, cars, and action figures. Traditional girl toys are domestic as
the girls pretend to be a housewife and prepare dinner, clean after the children, and so forth. In
the article, No Way My Boys Are Going to Be Like That: Parents Responses to Childrens
Nonconformity, Emily W. Kane did a study based off parents opinions with their sons playing
with toys that are traditionally for boys. 21 of the 25 parents of sons offer positive/neutral
responses by encouraging domestic competence, nurturance, emotional openness, empathy,
and nonviolence (91) through traditional girl toys such as dolls, doll houses, kitchen and tea
While most parents are becoming more open-minded and encouraging gender differently,
there are still parents are who are not fully supportive of this topic. Of 31 parents of sons, 23 of
them had negative responses to items, activities, or attributes that were considered feminine. A
white, low-income mother talked about how she felt with her son wanting to wearing girls
clothes, I try not to encourage him to like pink just because, you know, hes not a girl
Theres not many toys I wouldnt get him, except Barbie, I would try not to encourage that. (93)
One comment that I felt crossed the line came from a white, low-income, heterosexual mother,
If he was acting feminine, I would ask and get concerned on whether or not, you know, I would
try to get involved and make sure hes not gay. (95) The problem is not the children; it is the
parents not listening to their children. They do things they feel is best for their children instead of
thinking about what their children feel.
Growing up, I struggled fitting in with the girls. In school, there were the girly girls and
there were the tomboys. For me, I was stuck in the middle. Before, I thought I was always a
tomboy because I felt uncomfortable wearing dresses, I watched professional wrestling, and I

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played basketball. But, I also have a girly side. My favorite color is pink, I wear nail polish, and
every year on Halloween I was a Disney princess. My father and brother never judged me. My
mother, on the other hand, questioned why I performed in a masculine manner. My mother grew
up in a village in Oaxaca, Mexico, where she had very little education and was always put to
work in her familys ranch. She was taught to be obedient, polite, and delicate. I was always
frustrated with her antics, but she assured me that she is raising me to act more lady-like. I
knew it was for good intentions, but I felt she did not accept me. Sometimes I felt like I
disappointed her because I was not being the ideal daughter she had in mind.
Throughout elementary and middle school, I tried to get rid of the real me. I was willing
to do anything in order to fit in. I decided to change my ways and start acting like a girl. Or at
least what I thought a girl should be. Although the girls accepted me, I did not accept myself. I
was pretending to be someone that I was not. Sometimes I wished I would be easier to stick with
just one side, so I would not feel stuck in the middle. But I am neither one. I am not a girly girl,
but I am not a tomboy. And I have come to accept that. As I have gotten older, I learned that I
should not have to categorize myself. I tried so hard to get rid of the real me in order to please
people. I thought if I started acting more like a girl, then I would be accepted. But I was wrong. I
did not need to change in order to get people to like me. I just needed to be myself and not care
what others think.
In conclusion, everyone is in a spectrum. There are people who are more masculine and
there are those who are more feminine. And there are some in the middle. Everyone has both a
masculine side and a feminine side. It is about keeping a balance. Everyone has the right to live
their life, yet they are faced with limited options. Judging people is never an okay thing to do.

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Nobody should be in control of another persons life; only that person can determine what they

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Works Cited
Devor, Aaron. Becoming Members of Society: The Social Meanings of Gender Composing Gender.
Ed. Rachael Groner and John F. OHara. Boston: Bedford, 2014. 68-71. Print.
Kane, Emily W., No Way My Boys Are Going to Be Like That: Parents Responses to Childrens
Gender Nonconformity: The Social Construction of Gender. Composing Gender. Ed.
Rachael Groner and John F. OHara. Boston: Bedford, 2014. 91-97. Print.
Lorber, Judith. Night to His Day: The Social Construction of Gender. Composing Gender. Ed.
Rachael Groner and John F. OHara. Boston: Bedford, 2014. 19-30. Print.
Renzetti, Charlie and Daniel Curran. From Women, Men, and Society: The Social Construction of
Gender. Composing Gender. Ed.
Rachael Groner and John F. OHara. Boston: Bedford, 2014. 76-84. Print.