Girl Does NOT Equal Girl

June 6, 2010
By acklesy BRONZE, Oak Park, Illinois
acklesy BRONZE, Oak Park, Illinois
2 articles 0 photos 0 comments

If rooms were to be gendered, a girl’s room would look, according to Oppression by Marilyn Fryne, ‘sensitive.’ She describes women by saying “sensitivity is one of the few virtues that have been assigned to [women]. If we are found insensitive, we may fear… [we] are not real women.” Sensitivity means soft, outspoken colors and traits, like pale colors such as pink, lighter or washed out shades of blues and yellows and purples. In order not to be loud the room must be clean and organized and everything should be put in a place. There should also be very feminine qualities to the room, such as jewelry boxes, shelves upon shelves of knickknacks, stuffed animals, pillows, and books. Walls are usually bare unless pictures of hunks from Hollywood adorn them, and even then those can be seen as improper and distasteful, because the contradicting view of women claims that “neither sexual activity nor sexual inactivity is all right.”According to this, women are supposed to exude to innocence that they, at the same time, aren’t supposed to have, by either hanging these half-naked pictures on their walls while the rest of their room is warm and childish or having a wardrobe of clothing that boarders between modest and skimpy. According to the article Reviving Ophelia, “Girls have long been trained to be feminine at considerable costs to their humanity. Girls are trained to be less than who they really are.” That is why you will often find the rooms of girls who have accepted the gendered role of feminism having most, if not all, of the traits of a girl’s room. Guy’s room, however, are supposed to be the complete opposite of girls. According to Junot Diaz’ portrayal of a teenage boy in his piece, their rooms are supposed to be bland, dark, messy, and have sports paraphernalia and pictures of naked women covering every inch of the walls. Evidence or part of this description can be found when Junot Diaz describes the place the main character sleeps as dark and well worn, but with little personality. The Secret Emotional Lives of America’s Boys reveals things that also fit into this category, where one seventeen-year-old boy said “if you like reading and don’t like wrestling […] that means you’re gay.” This is why, in a gendered boy’s room, the only books you will find are magazines of cars, sports, and women and posters usually hang of all three. The pictures of naked or, rather, barely clothed, women are because “teenage men see sex as a race, the first one to the finish line wins […] it’s the single most important thing that determines your social status…” So, with the view that one is sexually active, one can advance his placement on the social latter. With these two gendered specific idea’s of rooms in mind, the rooms I am analyzing, mine and Eli’s, both follow and contradict the traditional idea’s of gendered rooms and therefore break free of the thought that men and women have to follow a specific stereotype.

My room is pink, but not hot pink. It’s washed out pink. I have pictures of guys I find attractive hanging up, as well as an ad for weight loss. I also have stuffed animals scattered around, a closet and two dressers filled with clothing, and scarves hanging from a hook. Along with the pink comforter on my bed and pink pillows and lava lamp, my room fits the gender role described by Marilyn Fryne in Oppression; it’s soft and dainty and feminine, alludes to my body and sexuality. That is where the similarities end. While my walls are pink and have posters up, it is also spray-painted with dark red and silver and has loud, rebellious bumper stickers stuck to parts of it. There is a bulletin board filled with lyrics, poems, pictures I have drawn, and cards from friends and old guitar strings. It is overflowing and some pictures have spilt onto the floor. My desk is cluttered with miscellaneous papers and action figures and lotions I can’t find a place for, folders that have no home and magazines filled with make-up, workout, and hair tips piling up from months ago that I still haven’t read. My laundry is often overflowing, most of my wardrobe is black, and I have a nightstand dedicated to over 100 CD’s which trophies and metals are overflowing from. Along with a giant stereo system and Xbox, I have a TV and many journals that take over my bookshelf. It is not quiet in any means and it happens to be very messy. I refused to fit into the stereotype of female that Reviving Ophelia warns against; I don’t want to sell myself short and therefore, my room oversteps boundaries, dipping into the typical male formation of a dorm room. I am constantly changing, and that is what my room represents. I could become the stereotype of a woman and I could also change the stereotype.

Along the same thread, when looking at Eli’s room, I will admit I was surprised by the…ordinary presentation of it. I was expecting just what I described when looking at boys rooms, because they have the most pressure to fit into the male stereotype and therefore are most likely to conform to what society would like. Eli’s room does have typical male things, such blue walls, dresser, and bed sheets. He also has banners for his favorite sports teams and pictures of his favorite basketball players along with other sport representatives like Cubs bobble heads. He also has a computer sitting atop his dark brown desk. The shocking thing, however, is that his room is clean, open, and bright. The teenage boy in Junot Diaz’ piece had a dark room that was messy and dirty. Eli’s room has everything neat and organized and lined up, and there are no pictures of scantily clad women adorning his walls, going against how the sixteen-year-old boys in The Secret Emotional Lives of America’s Boys viewed being a true teenage man. Seemingly out of place are his red piggy bank and his turtle bank, along with his pet turtle held up on its own personal space. He also has an empty gumball machine and lots of books, most of them childhood books, and instead of a big, powerful computer, he has a small, light macbook. His room is by no means loud and instead is a nice compliment between femininity and masculinity. He isn’t overcompensating as a man by having various car and sports magazines and pictures and he isn’t completely abandoning the male stereotype by having tons of things that have been reserved for female relating.

As one can gather by the passages I have included and the descriptions of gendered rooms, it is easy to fall into the stereotype created by both the media and peers on how a boy and girl are supposed to act, dress, and live. What isn’t easy, however, is to break out of that stereotype because all too prominently society has made the general public fear stepping out of ‘bounds’. It is not impossible, however, if one is ready to make a stand. I have given two examples of people who have broken out of the mold and have combined both of their rooms into something that disregards the gender circle and instead combines the gender circles. Boys shouldn’t be restricted to one persona, and neither should girls.

The author's comments:
This was a project required by my english class.

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