Gender Policing: Acceptable or Detrimental?
Gender Studies: Semester 1 Field Work
As my gender studies experiment in semester one, I chose to go an entire day without using gender specific pronouns. This means that for a whole day I wasn't allowed to use words like he/she, him/her, his/hers and Mr/Ms/Mrs. Admittedly, no one that I spoke to noticed that I wasn't using gender specific pronouns. However, this task was far more difficult for me. Through this experiment I learned just how hard it is to neglect gender in everyday life. Moreover, I realized just how much gender governs the world we live in; from the things we watch on TV to the ways in which we communicate with each other gender is always at the center of it all.
Gender policing is trying to regulate how an individual expresses their gender. The concept of gender policing is present in practically every aspect of our lives from the clothes we choose to wear to the hobbies we choose to take part in. Gender policing even affects the way we walk and sit.
Though there is no official rule book for how to be a man or a woman, these unwritten rules are upheld through messages in the media. In practically every show, movie, newspaper, and radio station, we are taught how to "do" gender. Even Disney films implicitly tell little girls that they must be docile and patiently wait to be saved by a man.
According to the media, women are passive beings that must filter themselves sexually, emotionally, and intellectually so that they do not threaten the masculinity of men. On the other hand, masculinity that is portrayed through superhero franchises and video games conveys violent, macho, and aggressive masculinity that is dependent on the subservience of women. Altogether, from a very young age, children are taught how to fit the normative criteria for how to "do" their gender.
Gender Policing at PHA
There is also an invisible gender rule book for how to be a girl or a boy at Prospect Hill Academy's high school. Girls should wear fitted khakis, always have their hair together, speak their mind (but never too much because then they'll be considered b*tch), and refrain from sexual activity in order to avoid being slut-shamed. Boys at PHA should always wear the nicest sneakers with pants that aren't too tight. They should listen to rap and hip hop and refrain from getting emotional so that they are not called gay. While these are examples of how males and females are policed at PHA, many of these norms are also based on race, ethnicity, and class.
In my own life, I am also often confined by my gender as a woman. Though not detrimental to who I am, I do realize that from my fashion, to wearing make up, doing my eyebrows regularly, and shaving my legs, I have inadvertently internalized gender norms. Through my explanatory essay about masculinity in the media and my journal entry, I have captured some of my ideas about gender policing and how it is damaging to both men and women.