Thursday, June 16, 2011


By: Sandra Feliciano

Gender is defined as socially learned expectations and behaviors associated with members of each sex. Society uses this definition to determine the gender of someone and to judge people on how they act.

Even before a child is born, people set up expectations for that child based on its gender. We teach girls and boys how to act according to gender and what toys to play with and what clothes to wear. We look negatively on boys that want to wear girl’s clothes or play with girls toys. But girls who may be tomboys are not scrutinized. Society drills in us these gender norms all throughout our lives and it makes anyone who doesn’t follow those to be excluded and made to feel as if they are wrong and/or bad.
So how do we change these gender norms and stereotypes to allow people to feel free and comfortable to be themselves when most of us in some ways believe these norms to be appropriate? There is a family in Canada that is breaking the gender roles with their children by withholding the sex of their newborn. They are choosing to raise their children “gender neutral”. They are choosing to allow their children to discover who they are themselves and not by the labels given to them by society. Their other sons are allowed to pick their own clothes in either the girls or boys section, play with whatever toys they chooses, and wear their hair the way they want.  The children are encouraged to express themselves and discover who they are while being aware that people might not be so accepting of their choices.
Are there any consequences to allowing gender lines to be blurred? Yes. Society has been so accustomed to the “normal” roles of men and women that change will not always be looked at positively. Society will initially reject those who are different until more education and awareness is brought to them. So even though these parents in Canada are allowing their children to make their own choices about who they are, they are also setting their kids up to be hurt by others treatment.
So which is better? To instill in your child the norms and roles of a person of their sex despite what they may feel? Or to allow your child to choose who they will be despite the sex they were born? I think that there should be limits to what we teach our children and a certain amount of freedom we should give them to make their own decisions. But until people become more open minded, we have to protect our child and make them aware that people may be hurtful. We should also teach our children to be happy with whom they are and for ourselves to be happy and accepting of whom are children are.

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