Gender Similarities

June 6, 2010
By
I am a girl, but that does not mean I am obsessed with my appearance, with boys or with drama. I reject the color pink, and I would much rather be doing something physical than painting my nails. I do well in school because I want to attend a good college; I have never felt discouraged from pursuing my education because I have two X chromosomes instead of just one. I realize that gender inequalities continue to persist in our society; women are often paid less than men, men continue to hold higher status jobs, and women constantly have to suffer sexual harassment in the work place; but compared to earlier generations, I think women have much greater potential to be successful. Even though I recognize there are differences between men and women, I wish everyone could just be treated the same since we are all human beings. While visiting the bedrooms of the members of my group, I realized that despite obvious gender differences, our rooms only slightly reflected our opposite sexes, indicating our similarities.

My room is simple; the walls are pale green, and besides my bed, I have a big comfy chair, a cabinet with some of my important things, two dressers, my desk and a bookshelf. My room is a pretty gender-neutral space; although it does not look like a boys room, it does not appear overly girly either. Other than my clothes and various subtle flower patterns, the most feminine thing in my room is probably my bulletin board. I think that it is the object in my room that most accurately expresses my personality. Tacked onto it I have tickets, photos, postcards and drawings, and various other vestiges that represent fun times I have had with friends and family. Evidently, some men are resistant to express themselves openly, however, I don’t view my board as evidence of my femininity, it is more a representation of my creativity.

Unlike a stereotypical teenage girl, I do not have a vanity in my room. I have my own bathroom, except I use it primarily for its simplest features: shower, sink and toilet. I do not spend hours in front of the mirror every morning applying make up and/or straightening or curling my hair, partly because I do not have time, but mostly because I am more comfortable with my natural appearance. However, because I do not apply loads of chemicals everyday, I do not consider myself any less feminine. According to Mary Pipher, author of “Reviving Ophelia,” she claims that teenage girls sacrifice their true selves for conformity and beauty. I disagree. I do not try any harder now, than I did when I was ten to look nice for school; I have always gotten dressed how I felt like. Even though some of my friends may wear a lot of makeup, I have never felt pressured into using it. Although I try to fit in with those around me, I never have lost my true self. I try hard to act the same way around everybody; if someone doesn’t like who I truly am, then we should not be friends. Because of this, the friends I have are all very close. Few teenage girls actually meet the beauty-obsessed stereotype; and for those that do, they come across as extremely fake and therefore lack true and caring friends.

I have never considered myself a feminist. I think the word has received a negative reputation as someone who is obnoxiously pro-women and anti-men; however, that does not mean that I do not support gender equality. In, Marilyn Frye’s book, Defining “Sexism” and “Racism”, she compares the gender inequality problem to a birdcage. She writes, “It is perfectly obvious that the bird is surrounded by a network of systematically related barriers, no one of which would be the least hindrance to its flight, but which, by their relations to each other, are as confining as the solid walls of a dungeon.” Each bar on the cage represents oppression; not until the viewer steps back to see the whole picture, can they understand the intensity of the oppression. I realize that women continue to face gender discrimination, and I think the best way to end the harassment is to eliminate gender stereotypes. Although I am a female, my room only subtly indicates my gender.
More emphasis must be placed on gender similarities and on equality in order for the patriarchic standard in our society to be eliminated. When Hillary Clinton ran for president, it was exciting to watch a women run for the highest office in America; she proved that women have just as much potential that men do. Hillary showed that men and women have the exact same capabilities, despite biological differences.
I am aware about persisting gender inequalities and I realize that there is a patriarchic standard in society; however, I am happy being a girl in my environment. Since an early age, I was told that I have the potential to be whatever I want regardless of my gender. Obviously there are some exceptions, but I have never been bothered by the fact I am not allowed in the NFL. Since I have never been discouraged from pursuing my interests because I am a girl, I have become fairly blind to gender inequalities. I have always thought that men and women possess the same potentials despite physical differences. Although I support women’s rights, I have always been more concerned with other global issues including, hunger, education, health care, the environment and poverty; because in my experience, I view men and women at the same level.
When I visited Sintayehu’s room, I was shocked by the scarce space. I think I almost expected pictures of athletes to hang upon his walls; however, the only thing tacked to the white surfaces was a medal. Like my bulletin board, Sintayehu’s medal represents an accomplishment, which he would like to display; it does not indicate his masculinity. When I entered his room, although I knew it was a boy’s room, the space’s gender neutrality struck me. The room was simple; Sintayehu sleeps on a futon, and other than his desk and dressers, he has a heavy dumbbell and two large speakers. Although most adolescent girls do not have free weights lying in their bedrooms, many girls are just as athletic as their male counterparts. The dumbbell was probably the most masculine object in his room only because our patriarchic society associates men with strength. According to Allen Johnson, author of The Gender Knot, he believes that society immediately associates men with qualities including, “control, strength, efficiency, competitiveness, toughness, coolness under pressure…” However, I value physicality, control and efficiency as much as many boys do; guys and girls share more in common than society admits.

After visiting our different rooms, gender stereotypes I had previously believed were not confirmed. Teenage boys evidently do not have large posters of professional athletes lining their bedroom walls. Instead, Walter and Sintayehu’s rooms were plain and relatively simple. Although I like the design of my room, it is also a basic space. Our bedrooms share the same common functions, to sleep, study and keep our clothes; beyond that, none of our rooms obviously reflected our gender.





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