Journal Entry 1
One incidence of gender stereotyping that I witnessed took place last year on the way home from the beach. My sister, her boyfriend, two other friends, and I were loading up the car to head home from the beach. The question, “Who is driving home?” was tossed around for a few minutes as everyone was feeling similarly; nobody wanted to drive home. Then, one of our friends said to my sister’s boyfriend, “Hey Charlie, you should drive home. You’re the only boy here. You should take the initiative to drive.” I did not even really notice what she had said, but before I knew it, Charlie and Tara were arguing about the comment that she made. Charlie said, “Are you kidding me? That is the most sexist thing I have ever heard!” Tara proceeded to defend her comment by saying, “Well, my dad always drove everyone growing up and dropped the girls at the front of our destination. So I just assumed you would step up, be a man, and do what is right.” That is when I realized that Charlie was right about the sexism. Why was he expected to “take the initiative” and drive all of us home? I ended up breaking up the conversation by offering to drive back, because at that point, I just wanted to go home. The entire ride home I thought about their argument. Although my dad did usually drive the family around (never my mom), I was left wondering why both genders assume male figures are expected to drive. I thought about the pressure men must feel in driving situations. Charlie is one of the few that actually stood up and addressed the sexism. I just feel sad that some men feel they cannot be vulnerable and stand up for what they are feeling. For instance, I am sure my dad does not want to be the designated driver each time he goes somewhere with a group, but he would never stand up and say, “I do not want to drive this time. I am tired.”
Journal Entry 2
I was sitting in an Italian restaurant at the end of a dinner date with a guy that I had been dating on and off. When the waitress came to our table, she asked, “This is all one check?” Actually, she really didn’t even ask; she pretty much assumed that he was paying for my dinner, because she looked straight at him. Before I even could think twice, my date said, “You got it.” I know from past experiences that my dates have always picked up the checks, but that is not because I want them to. I’ve always wanted to contribute, but I’ve always been told that it would make the man feel emasculated. This has made me scared to speak up after dinner, so I usually just let the guy pay for me. I think this could eventually change if more women began to speak up and actually vocalize their feelings. I guess the problem to this solution would be that most women think that a man should pay for their dates! I do admit that I am a little awkward and passive when it comes to confrontation, but I have started making an effort to speak up at the end of dates to let the guy know that I can pay for my own meal (maybe even his too!!).
Journal Entry 3
My younger brother had some developmental delays growing up including: heading loss, eye tracking problems, coordination and balance problems, and some learning disabilities. My brother was my parents last hope at having a boy, as he was their last child born after two girls. My dad having played sports throughout his entire life really wanted Chase to become an athlete, just like him. I was young, so I was not fully aware of everything going on in our household, but my dad put Chase in baseball, football, soccer, swimming, and golf. He soon realized that Chase was not interested in any of the contact, fast-paced sports that my dad had always excelled in. I could feel the disappointment my dad felt that he was not going to have a real tough, athletic son. Now that I am older, I cannot help but think, “If I could feel his sense of disappointment in Chase, I can’t imagine how Chase must have felt through all of that.” I hate that he was ever pressured to do anything that he was not interested in. Now that he is older, he is still not a real “manly-man” like my dad. He is very sensitive, loves music and writing, and he does still enjoy playing golf! My dad has come a long way since we were young; he is slowly evolving with the more open-minded world. However, he still makes comments to Chase pressuring him to act more “like a man.” I hope I can learn more about gender, so that I can share my knowledge with my unknowingly sexist father.
Journal Entry 4
My mom took me to get my hair highlighted in THIRD grade, because I was going to be the flower girl in a wedding. Since that very first time, my mom has always taken me to an expensive hair salon to get my hair highlighted. She encourages it by saying, “You are so much prettier as a blonde! I love your blonde hair.” Naturally, my hair darkened as I grew older losing the baby white curls that my mom adored. In high school, my parents divorced, and my mom could not pay for any of my siblings’ expenses; my dad paid for everything. That is when I became very stressed about my appearance, because my dad refused to financially support expensive hair products, shampoos, makeup, and especially ritzy hair salon visits, and those are all things my previous life had revolved around. That is when I realized that my mom was caught up in the whole world of vanity, which means absolutely nothing to me. I always hated how my hair tangled easier due to the bleach and how my roots would grow out darker than the fake blonde ends. Slowly, but surely, I began to take hold of my own life and realize what I was really about. That is when I stopped putting all of that senseless effort into making myself look good for my mother. I thought I looked better without the hair dye and makeup anyway!!
Journal Entry 5
Watching the show “Woman Zambia: Child Brides” really gave me some perspective about gender inequality in other places of the world. This fourteen-year-old girl is required to stay in a small hut for thirty days for a marriage preparation course before she gets married to a 48-year-old man. She is not allowed to come out of the hut until she is done with the preparation ritual. Inside the hut, women from the village teach this young girl all about how to become a wife. They teach her that pleasing her husband is the most important job she will have for the rest of her life. She was forced to quit school, and as soon as she marries, her whole life will revolve around being a domestic servant to her husband. I felt so sad for this little girl as I watched her life change from a curious, motivated student to a scared, confused piece of property. I cannot imagine living that way. It makes me think about my own life and how privileged I am just by being born into a white, upper-middle-class, American family. It makes me want to help end gender inequality in Africa. It motivates me to influence change.
Looking back on my personal experiences, I notice a lot of my understandings of gender roles and stereotypes stemmed from always being surrounded by my parents. I was very easily impressionable growing up (as most kids are), and I learned directly from their examples. Sometimes I forget that every adult is a baby to somebody and grew up differently than I did. My parents only taught me what they thought was true and acceptable; however, much of what they think is “right” and “wrong” is much different from modern-day standards of what is acceptable and what is not. I sometimes forget that the world is quickly evolving, and I am lucky to be born into such an open-minded, accepting generation (compared to others in the past).
Since I was a bit brainwashed as a child and going through my parents’ nasty divorce, I was definitely distracted up until I came to college. I probably realized that I was a privileged, white American girl from the upper-middle-class in high school, but unfortunately, I somewhat played up that part acting like the spoiled and entitled brat I was. It wasn’t until coming to college that my intersectionality and privileged lifestyle began to bother me. After taking my first sociology class sophomore year, I was hooked. I was shocked and outraged to learn about all of the inequalities people of different classes, races, backgrounds, and ethnicities face each day in our society. I would say it wasn’t until this point that I really began to understand just how privileged I grew up and how society organizes the world to be easier, more accessible for people like me.
Even just this week alone has taught me more about gender than I ever knew prior. Although this week has forced me to think about gender more than I ever have before, I still have countless gendered experiences from my past that I can consider when learning. I forget that people like my dad, who never took any kind of women or gender class, think about gender as a “black or white” kind of topic. Like Justin Hubbell’s comic strip, “The Great Divide,” my dad struggles to place individuals in rigid, unyielding, stereotypical boxes of boys or girls. He grew up not knowing any different, and I honestly don’t think he has ever been challenged or educated any further about gender. Looking back at his upbringing and life experiences, I can begin to understand why and how I grew up the way that I did. Parents teach their kids what they know and what they think is right and best. My dad was being a good parent by teaching what he thought he knew. However, it is my job now to keep him up-to-date with the evolution of gender, so that he can become enlightened and informed for the rest of his life. Then, once he is properly informed, he can spread the new knowledge, instead of unintentionally misinforming the naïve with outdated, made-up information.
Hubbell, Justin. “The Ultimate Break Down of the Gender Binary—Why It Hurts Us All.” Everyday Feminism. 24 Feb. 2016. Web. 05 June 2016.