by Gender Theories 101
The Story “X: a Fabulous child’s Story” is a story about a science experiment in which parents agree to raise their baby X without gender stereotypes. X was raised to boy’s and girl’s toys and clothes. X encountered problems when he first went off to school because other children did not know what to think when X did both boy and girl activities. Eventually the children decided to undo gender and play what they wanted, like X did. This upset the other parents; who demanded that the school test X. The psychologists at the school determined that X was the most well rounded child they had ever encountered. The conclusion of the story is that when it actually matters X’s sex will be revealed. This story exemplifies how gender is socially constructed by society and that in our society we are socialized to identify people by gender.
I was definitely raised with gender roles and stereotypes. Until I was one year old I was bald; my mom has told me stories of how she had to dress me in pink so that people would know I was a girl. We are socialized to associate being bald with being a boy and the color pink with being a girl. I got the impression that my mom would have offended if others guessed that I was a boy. It seems there is a lot of pressure from society to raise children with gender stereotypes; so much so that I don’t think parents even know that they are doing it to a certain degree. As a child my parents bought me gender specific toys such as Barbie’s, dolls and a kitchen set. They bought my brother dinosaurs, hot wheels and trains. I was never discouraged from playing with my brother’s toys and I did so quite often because I loved dinosaurs. It wasn’t often that my brother played with my toys. I think it is more acceptable for girls to play with boy’s toys more than it is for boys to play with girls toys. One thing my brother did when we were younger that challenged roles was paint his nails. When my mom would paint my nails, my brother would want his done as well. Of course I always wanted pink nail polish and my brother wanted blue. I guess to him blue was for boys so to him it was acceptable. I remember teasing and making fun of him for that and asking my mom why she would paint his nails as well when only girls are supposed to do that. It’s amazing that even as children we seem to accept and enforce gender stereotypes. As my brother and I got older the types of chores we were expected to do paralleled with gender roles; I was expected to do things like dishes, laundry and dust while my brother was expected to cut the lawn and take out the garbage. Just like in the Baby X story, gender roles and stereotypes were enforced by the schools I attended. The middle school I went to separated boys and girls into separate classrooms. The principal said this was because it helped students not be distracted by the opposite sex and therefore they were able to preform better in the classroom. In reality I don’t think this was a good thing because once we graduated into high school were back into co-ed classes which had become foreign; I was more nervous and shy.
It never occurred to me how much gender stereotypes are enforced even on young children. In my gender studies class we discussed real life example of parents who raised their children gender free. I don’t think I would go so far as to hide the sex of my child if I were to have one down the road but I would agree that a gender neutral environment is beneficial because it allows children decide on their own who they are and what they like because they are not forced into a role.