Gender Awakening

First of all, thank you to those that contributed to my poll in the previous post.  (Please continue to do so if you haven’t had the opportunity yet.) Now, on to the fun stuff.

Looking back over the course of my life, I have grown to notice certain stages, stepping stones, milestones, and factors that have contributed to who I am today.  I’m in the point in my life where I am on the cusp of full-on, frighteningly-exciting adulthood.  Because of this, I have a firm grasp on who I believe myself to be, as well as what/who it took to get me here.  The one and only conclusion that I keep bringing myself to, is the fact that there isn’t one simple conclusion.  If I were to write down a list of these factors, the list would reach all the way to Tatooine; for now, I’ll focus on a few of the bullets on my list.

When I attempt to sum up who I am in just a handful of labeled terms, the list is as follows: Female, Woman, Daughter, Loyal, Musician, Inquisitive, Passionate, Driven, Stubborn, Etc.

The first few terms on my list deal with my gender; in my own eyes, I find power, prestige and worth in the fact that I am a female, and therefore always find myself placing those terms first.  Because of this, I constantly question the first thing that pops up in my mind when I consider my gender.  You should try it for yourself, right now.  Consider your gender identity, and then realize the first image that pops up in your mind.  Ready, set, GO!

The image that first pops up in my mind is that of my parents; my Mom and Dad standing side by side, both equally represented.

I was fortunate enough to grow up in a household with both my Mom and Dad, who are now happily married for 30 years.  Although I was always a Daddy’s girl growing up, my Mom has been a wonderful role model for me my entire life.  She is a very proud and loving woman, who has lived a life dedicated to teaching, and has changed the lives of many people.  She is a fantastic mentor and finds every opportunity to teach, whether it be about diversity when I’m watching cartoons, or carving a path for a scared, young teacher at her school.  Why wouldn’t I want to mirror that image in my own life?

I would, and I have.  Not only have I had a strong mother in my life, I have had other strong women throughout my family…from my grandmothers, to aunts, to cousins, to my big sister.  Better yet, I have had compassionate men in my life.  My Dad is the strong, silent type, who will always be there to catch me when I fall.  He has been supportive of everything my Mom has ever done, and has continuously pushed me to new limits, knowing my full potential.  Although he sometimes jokes with me and calls me the son he never had, I know he is proud to have me as a daughter and was never judgmental of my non-Barbie ways.  He has taught me so much, from how to play the drums, how to play basketball and how to cook, to how to be a strong woman, how to never back down, how to be proud of who I am.  He was blessed with strong family of women, being the only son, and has kept that mentality throughout his life to date.  Other male figures in my family have been he exact same.  So much of what I have become stems from things that my late Grandpa taught me, without even knowing it.

Knowing that I have been fortunate enough to have a family experience like this, I look to others to see how they became who they are.  I certainly can’t deny that simple mediated images of girls and girly stuff helped me understand the difference in cultural views of boys and girls, though my family taught me to be me.  It is impossible to stray from the imagery and messages the media show on a daily basis.  Since the moment of birth, most people are tossed into either a pink or blue blanket.  From there, it’s a never-ending battle of Barbie vs. G.I. Joe and so on.

Unfortunately for most, these mediated messages are what dictates how they express their gender.  For boys, the masculine messages tend to be that of violence and force; this image only seems to be getting more and more out of hand.  For a simple example, consider how much bigger secret agent 007’s gun has become over the years; consider the suave and sophisticated Humphrey Bogart to the maniacal look of Rambo.  As far as girls are concerned, we have anything pink, glittery and foo-foo.  To be a sex symbol is to be adored and not much else.  That may seem a bit extreme, but when

Norman Rockwell

six-year-old girls are having body image issues, there’s a major problem.  What ever happened to the likes of independent Eliza Thornberry of the great 90’s cartoon?

In my future posts to come, I plan to delve deeper into these issues and many more.  In the meantime, let these thoughts percolate a bit and raise questions of your own.  One of my favorite paintings that depicts all of this, Girl at Mirror, was painted by the late, great Norman Rockwell.

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1 Comment

  1. “You throw like a girl! Really? And what is that supposed to mean?” « Battle of the Sexes

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