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In relation to psychology, there is the concept of “gender identity” and this involves “only one aspect of the person- her or his involvement in gender relations or sexual practice” (SIG 106). This shows that defining someone simply by gender is wrong. In psychology, we learned that there are three main characteristics of an individual- the id, the ego, and the superego. As a whole, they create a personality for the individual, and explain the behaviors of the person, as there is conflict between personal desires and morality. If someone was to be defined solely by the id, they would be considered irrational and selfish. However, it is clear that many individuals do not behave in such a way, and therefore should not be condemned for that single aspect.
Straying from the topic of psychology, another part of this text that struck me was the fact that the aforementioned quote was worded as “her or his.” I did not completely grasp how gender could be so commonly in language until this caused me to actually re-read the line where this was present. It just sounded odd to me. I re-read it: “her or his” and then realized it stood out because it is backwards from the typical “his or hers”, “he or she”, “Mr. and Mrs.” Even in language, the male figure is placed before the female.
This chapter also has many significant ideas concerning how gender develops. Barrie Thorne’s observations of elementary school children confirmed one of my beliefs expressed in my past essay. Thorne notes that “the boys and girls are not lying back and letting gender norms wash over them. They are constantly active in the matter. They take up gender divisions supplied by adults, sometimes accept them, and sometimes don’t” (SIG 96). I strongly believe that the main source of gender differences come from what we are given, what we are told, and what we see. Thorne is clearly in agreement, and further, this introduces the idea of “gender as an activity.” Part of growing up is learning how to ‘do gender.’ Page 101 explains the process of personal development of gender patterns. In the model, gender is the activity, and the individual is the learner of this activity. The ultimate result of improvising, copying, and creating strategies for dealing with situations in which gender is prevalent, is the emergence of femininity or masculinity in a person.
A final important point made in this chapter was that the pressures of society to meet gender expectations can have very negative physical impacts, in addition to emotional traumas. An example provided in the text was that men often die in car accidents in the process of trying to express their masculinity, and women have had a history of struggling with life-threatening anorexia in attempts to get their ‘ideal’ figure. There are countless examples outside of those given, however, it is important to note that gender can affect an individual on multiple levels.
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