A Study of Gender in Our Rooms

June 6, 2010
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Gender can be hard to confront. When I think about defining my gender role, I go blank because I do not think I fit into the status quo of men. I play the piano, I very much enjoy expressing my self, and I hardly ever act “macho”. When I looked at my room and the rooms of the other people in my group, I realized that it is not effective to label the things in my room as one gender or the other, but to explore the idea of why an object is in my room. By doing that, it was easier to find contradictions to my gender rather than trying to put myself into the category of men or women. This created a way for me to see what aspects of my life define me.
One of the central items in my room is my piano. In our gender packet, in the piece titled “Teaching to the Testosterone”, there is a paragraph about the adjusted curriculum for the separate gendered classes. The beginning of the paragraph is about how the boys were reading “Hatchet” which is a story about hunting, and then talking more in depth about hunting. The next line says, “Meanwhile, in Michelle Gay’s fourth- grade class, the girls sang a vigorous rendition of “Always Sisters”… (83).” In this article, music is automatically related with the girls’ class. It may have been possible that the boys took part in musical activities as well, but the person who wrote the article decided to associate the music with the girls. When I think about why I like to play the piano, it is because I love music and how it makes me feel. I never considered that a feminine quality of mine, but according to this stereotype, I go against the grain.
Though I do believe that I mainly go against the stereotypical qualities of a man, there are some that I have embraced. For example, my bed is a very simple bed. There is no bed stand, just a box spring and two mattresses. I have purple sheets that often times do not stay in place, and a blue comforter. All of this is under the loft that I now use for storage. This is all relevant because my bed does not accent my room in any way. The colors do not match and it is often very messy and unmade. On the implicit tests that we took online, all forms of art were identified as female. This is relevant because some parts of my room do not represent my artistic qualities. Contrary to most of the packets ideas, I have qualities from both sides of the gender spectrum.
In my group member, Milo’s room, there are many more objects that gravitate towards the male stereotype. Some objects that represent the male stereotype are the mini basket ball hoop and all of the Cubs memorabilia. In the packet, in the article called “Taking off the Gender Straight Jacket”, many of the boys who wrote something mentioned that sports were things that could be identified as male past times. One boy was mentioning that he did not feel comfortable in his gym class because he was not into sports, but he wanted to be accepted by his peers. He writes “…I feel unconfident in my gym class when I’m not as good as everybody else… It’s hard because you want to be accepted, but you don’t know if they’re going to accept you. (45)” In short, sports are male identified, at least with men. This does not mean that all men like sports, but that all men can recognize the stereotype that men like sports. In Milo’s room, one can depict that all of the Cubs memorabilia and the basket ball hoop shows that he likes sports. In that sense he fits into the stereotype, but he also told me that he has a painting that he made hanging above his bed. When we took the implicit tests online, it identified the liberal arts as feminine, yet Milo keeps that picture in his room. This is also similar to how I have the piano in my room. We are both males who enjoy art, yet we also have qualities that are more male identified.
One object in my room that I think has a lot to do with my role as a young man is a picture that is hanging on my wall. The picture was taken at my cousins wedding, where I was dancing with my mom’s cousin’s daughter Sarah. I realized that it had to do with my identity as a man because of what I feel when I look at it. When I see the picture I think about how many parents have told me what a “nice young man” I am, and how I am “so great with kids” (paraphrasing of course). I think of these compliments as acknowledgements of my entrance into manhood. When people mention that I am good with kids, it makes me think about parent hood. It is not always specifically about me being a parent, but it is more of a subconscious thought.
In the packet article “The Secret Emotional Life of America’s Boys”, there are many statements about the pressure that boys are put under to perform well and be strong and powerful. Contrary to the packet, I think that some pressure to perform is effective for growing boys. For example there is pressure on me to do well in school. It started out coming from my parents, but now it comes from me. I do think there are some cases where men are put under too much pressure, but when too much is taken away, it can be more destructive that constructive. This all relates to the picture because the image makes me think about how I like the fact that people expect great things from me. If they did not, then I probably would feel as respected and powerful as I do. I think this idea is something that could be added to the curriculum for feminism because if women were able to find a way to bring out the best in men- and vise versa- then there wouldn’t be as much of the defensiveness that was mentioned in the final article in our packet. “The Gender Knot” (Ch. 10) says that, “Even the mildest criticism of men or mention of patriarchy is enough to elicit angry- and worried- charges of “male bashing”.” If there was a way that men could receive the same gentle pressure to perform as I do, then I think both men and women would benefit.

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Babie said...
Jun. 13, 2010 at 2:55 am
i loved it you are so right on
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