Tuesday, June 22, 2010

More On Social Construction

For those of you who haven't been following, Dance and I had a back and forth in the comments about the social construction of gender roles. I think I found a couple of sentences that are key to our disagreement:
I cannot eliminate the national belief that only females wear dresses, for example, but I can damn sure control what is said and marketed to my (hypothetical) kid. I can keep gender roles as confined as possible, because the smaller they are, the less damage they can do.

I asked about this already in the comments, but the issue, I think, is this: If Dance believes that the existence of gender roles, in and of themselves, is pernicious, then I can see why telling girls to take the pink toothbrush is detrimental.

I, however, don't see the existence of gender roles as concerning. I believe certain aspects of them are. Consequently, I believe that focusing on those aspects is what is important.

But then if Dance objects to gender roles, and again I'm hypothesizing here so I very well could be wrong, then I need a clarification as to whether men and women or boys and girls should always be treated the same. And also if they aren't to be treated the same always, then why isn't her description a gender role, albeit a different or more limited one?


dance said...

Keep in mind that I am a historian (although, I do not do either gender or women's history, just FYI).

Please offer up an example of a gender role for women that has not had pernicious effects, in practice.

In general, I'm against ALL roles that constrict what people can do and in favor of letting individuals follow their preferences--I try to apply this consistently, so I'm against "boys don't wear pink" "black people don't swim but must race track" "smart kids are only truly successful if they can get to the Ivy League", etc.

I am very unsure what you mean by this:And also if they aren't to be treated the same always, then why isn't her description a gender role, albeit a different or more limited one?

Anonymous said...

Dance's biggest problem here is that her kid is 'hypothetical'. I have an actual kid. Three of them, actually, two boys and a girl. We had a lot of overalls in stock, and truck toys, when our girl came to us. She wouldn't stand for them! She wanted sequins!

The girls and the boys in 3rd grade basically have no interest in one another. It's not hostile, just the greasy poles of social standing each sex is trying to clime are separate. Our friends: we have friends with boys in 7th and 6th grade, and friends with girls in 3rd grade. Lots of us started out with the kind of notions Dance espouses, no one is holding onto them now.

My lesbian Quaker sister and her partner tried desperately to keep their boys away from gun aggressive toys. The picked up sticks in the garden and went 'bang!' 'bang!'

You get what you get. You feed them and water them and do your best, and maybe you have some effect at the margin. It's all you can do. dave.s.

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