Archive for March, 2010

22
Mar
10

Carly says it all.

07
Mar
10

Vajazzled

Offered by unfrozencaveman.

04
Mar
10

Gendered Borders

            The term “border” has become synonymous with the edging of a main area or group, generally referring to property or geographical region.  Many think of borders as physical markers such as a fence or wall, but most geographical borders are open, allowing people to cross unhindered.  While many (or even most) geographic borders are crossed with a measure of ease, social borders are not so easily traversed. 

            Social borders present a different sort of bind from physical borders, though they are often intertwined.  An individual may be outside of the majority in both race and class, thus also placing them within a geographic placement associated with both class and race.  Difficult as race and class borders are, perhaps one of the most dominate borders in both the US and globally is that of gender identity.

            For some, the duality of gender is a given.  Man and woman, male and female, and the masculine and the feminine are simple fact.  Reality shows us this is simply not so.  The biological dualism of man and woman blurs as we examine the variants of genetics, the general appearance of genital development, and the surgical advances that allow for both sex assignment and reassignment (Wiegman, 49).  Male and female blend as culture drifts from the once rigid gender roles to a more fluid representation of the definitive male or female (though it is important to note that the female drift is more extreme).  Masculinity and femininity change as certainly as the man/woman and the male/female.  But despite these blurs, drifts, and shifts, the borders remain.  There are simply many areas in which the female is not allowed to tread or where the male is forbidden.

            This border of gender disallows people, in particular men, from expressing their individualism, their true nature, and often their identity (Kimmel & Kaufman, 17).  The constraints placed on men to define their masculinity, their manhood, and their maleness, prevents the expression of emotion, nurturance, and weaknesses based solely on the borders defining gender.  Men must be strong (both emotionally and physically) in order to maintain the privilege associated with patriarchy.  Men must not show that they are capable of the same emotions and capabilities associated with “the feminine”.  To show these qualities is to show weakness, allowing for social and often physical sanctions that are potentially dangerous at best.

            For women, the gender borders are less constraining to a point, however they still exist.  Women run the risk of appearing too pushy, too opinionated, and too abrasive.  Women who cross the gendered borders are labeled “whores”, “dykes”, and “bitches” (Frances, 216).  Social sanctions for women are lesser than those for men, however the physical sanctions are just as damaging.  For a woman to cross too far into the domain of men places her at risk for physical harm, just as crossing for a man does for him.

            While gender borders are often unreasonable to the individual and the group as a whole, they find their basis not only in social constructionism but also in biological necessity.  Whether or not third wave feminism or masculinity theorists want to recognize the importance of biological contributions, they still exist.  Women alone give birth.  Women alone have the unique ability of nutritionally sustaining infants without the aid of modern technology.  Because of these factors, women (and men) must recognize that some borders are just not possible to cross at this time.  There are, however things that can be changed to eliminate many areas of the gender border.

            In many nations, men are granted paternity leave after the birth of a child.  This allows for a more inclusive role for fathers in the child rearing process.  In addition to increasing the presence of fathers in early infancy, many nations also acknowledge the financial contributions women make to the home, understanding the cost associated with the need for childcare, meal preparation, and household management.  These acknowledgements allow for a greater level of nurturance from men and recognition of the support given by women.

            Encouraging the breakdown of gender borders in early childhood works to allow the breakdown in adulthood.  In young boys, supporting the development of emotional response, discouraging violence as a solution to conflict, and encouraging bonding with other males based on love (as opposed to modeling) holds the potential to reverse the punishing sanctions that currently exist.  For girls, allowing greater development of skills outside of the home, such as offering toys that do not center around childcare, house work, or subservience, would exemplify the potential for a greater number of choices in adulthood.

            While it is important to acknowledge the origins, functionality, and problems with gender borders, it is most important to understand and recognize that gender borders (like physical borders) can be changed.  But, it is also important to note that, as is also the case with physical borders, with change comes initial (and sometimes long term) opposition to the redefinition of borders.

04
Mar
10

Random non femininst post…

Wow, I’m not sure I can handle March Madness this year! I’m running out of nails to bite.