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Jessica Dominguez
Professor Corri Ditch
English 113A-8AM
30 September 2014
Gender Discrimination (Essay 1)
Before a child is born, a parent can find out the sex of the baby through an ultrasound.
Most of the time, the parents want to know the sex of the baby to be prepared for its arrival.
What most parents do not realize is that they are already socially constructing their child based
on their gender. If the parents are having a baby girl, the immediate thought is pink; or if it is a
boy, it would be blue. As the child gets older, they already can distinguish what gender they
belong to-female or male. Although people do not put much thought into gender, once there
seems to be something out of the ordinary it makes others feel uncomfortable. If a girl does
something a boy does or vice versa with a boy, they get immediately judged by it. Aaron
Devors article, Becoming Members of Society: The Social Meanings of Gender, and Emily
W. Kanes article, No Way My Boys Are Going To Be Like That: Parents Responses to
Childrens Gender Nonconformity, discuss about discrimination. In Devors and Kanes article,
it describes how gender discrimination has affected men and women to meet the standards
society has constructed their gender roles to be. One of my personal experiences can be
connected to gender discrimination.
In Aaron Devors article, Becoming Members of Society: The Social Meanings of
Gender, he discusses about gender identity. In order for a person to be accepted into society,
they need to identify their gender-categorized under female or male. What is gender identity?

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According to Devor, gender identity is devices guiding people to attend to and learn gender role
behaviors appropriate to their statuses (35). Society has constructed on how gender is supposed
to be performed. The article states that society demands different gender performances from
us and rewards, tolerates, or punishes us differently for conformity to, or digression from, social
norms (35). Although one may not recognize gender, once there is something out of the norm it
makes a person feel uncomfortable. If a boy does something a girl does or vice versa with a boy,
it is seen as being wrong. Society has implanted this fear on people that if they do not act their
gender role, they will be shamed for it (gender discrimination). This concept of gender being
socially constructed has made many to be alert with their gender role to avoid gender
discrimination. To recognize someones gender, one notices how a persons characteristics are.
Does it represent masculinity or femininity?
Devor divided the gender role into two categories-masculinity and femininity.
Masculinity is to identify males; and femininity is to identify females. Throughout the article,
Devor recognized these gender roles by identifying is through speech, body postures, clothing,
etc. Society has given the perspective for a male to be masculine by demonstrating a thirst for
power, which can, but need not, lead to aggression (39). A word to describe masculinity would
be dominance. Why? This view of man shows that it is mostly about power and leadership.
Men are to demonstrate these characteristics to be seen as masculine. For femininity, society has
given the perspective for women to be a quest for harmony and communal well-being, which
can, but need not, result in passivity and dependence (39). A word to describe femininity is
dependence. Why? Because society has given this view of women to be weak and to depend on
others for support. But what happens if a man has some attributes of a female; or if a woman has
some attributes of a male? (This is called androgyny which means having attributes from both

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genders). Society would see it as out of the norm for each gender to act the opposite. The
person would be shamed and judged (gender discrimination) for being this way. Devor stated:
It seems most likely that gender roles are the result of systematic power imbalances based on
gender discrimination (43). Devor points out how society wants to define the gender identity
through these characteristics of masculinity and femininity. Society have this image of how men
and women should behave and act. If they dont follow the gender role, others can label them
differently (even though that isnt who they are).
My experience can relate to Devors article and the entire essay. I wouldnt have
recognized my personal experience as gender discrimination at first. I remember being in 5th
grade, and out of nowhere my teacher calls me out for sitting a certain posture. She would say to
me, Dont sit like that because that is how boys sit, and you are not a boy. This embarrassed
me in front of the entire class. She pointed it out maybe two more times after that. I remember
feeling embarrassed and ashamed for the way I sat. I started to sit in the proper way a girl
should sit; so that my teacher wouldnt point it out again. At the time, I saw it as an
embarrassment; but while reading these articles it made me realize it was gender discrimination.
This relates to Devors article in identifying gender through body posture. Devor identified a
womens body posture as keeping their arms closer to their bodies, their legs closer together,
and their torsos and head less vertical than do masculine-looking individuals (41). She was
shaming me for sitting in a boy posture rather than a girl posture. It made me realize how
society has so much expectation, even if its the smallest detail one does.
In Emily W. Kanes article, No Way My Boys Are Going To Be Like That: Parents
Responses to Childrens Gender Nonconformity, is a compilation of parents comments
discussing how they feel about their sons curiosity towards feminine attributes. At the start of

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the article, parents saw this curiosity as positive because it impacted a desire to encourage
domestic competence, nurturance, emotional openness, empathy, and nonviolence as attributes
they considered nontraditional but positive for boy (91). These positive attributes made parents
encourage their sons to apply these feminine characteristics since they would be able to apply
in in the future (for example: being a father). Yet, even though it had a positive attitude, parets
still discouraged it. Kane stated: Parents are carefully balancing an openness to some crossing
of gender boundaries but only with limits (94). Many parents agreed upon this limit on how
fare their sons curiosity can go.
As I stated before about the discouragement, parents also noticed that their sons were
becoming more passive than aggressive. It started to worry the parents. Whats wrong with
being passive? Well according to parents, they would much rather see their sons act like a
tough little be boy rather than crying like a girl (95). They would scold their sons for acting
like a girl than acting like a son (gender discrimination). This point of view has made parents
become more aware to guide their sons to the right gender role-masculine. In the article, a father
commented: If [he] were to be gay, it would not make me happy at all. I would probably see
that as a failure as a dad, as a failure because Im raising him to be a boy, a man (96). This
perspective has brought fear to parents because they dont want their sons to be questioned of
their gender identity. The irony, though, is that parents did not have much concern if their
daughters were to incorporate masculine characters. Could it be that a girl is just considered a
tomboy for having masculine characteristics? Parents are socially constructing their sons to
become this male image that society has marked as normal; yet having a limit on feminine

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Both these articles had the connection of gender discrimination. Society has given an
expectation for men and women to act a certain way. In Devors article, the gender was
recognized through masculine and feminine characteristics. In Kanes article, it discussed how
parents were worried that their sons would be seen differently for combining feminine and
masculine characteristics. These concerns of gender discrimination has led people to become
ashamed for sharing both gender characteristics. Devor explained that if men were to have
feminine attributes or if a women were to have masculine attributes; it would be looked down
upon. The person would be ostracized and judged for having both gender qualities. Kane
explained that the parents are already socially constructing their sons gender role. The sons are
being raised to be these tough little boys and to be scolded for crying like a girl (95). Yet,
parents still encourage a bit of femininity, as long as there is a limit. Society has given
expectations that people become afraid for acting differently to avoid gender discrimination.
Boy or girl? Masculine or feminine? How would one identify their gender? Gender roles
have been socially constructed to demonstrate how men and women should act and behave. The
combination of both gender roles is down upon for not being normal; leading many to be
discriminated by their gender. Gender discrimination has made people believe that they would
be judged, shamed, or ostracized for not going by societys standards. Devor and Kane revealed
gender discrimination through their articles. Even though many do not put much thought about
gender, but once something is out of the norm it is viewed differently. People follow these social
standards in order to avoid gender discrimination.

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Works Cited
Devor, Aaron H. ""Becoming Members of Society: Learning the Social meanings of Gender"."
Gender Blending: Confronting the Limits of Duality by Holly Devor 1989.
Kane, Emily W. ""Now Way My Boys Are Going to Be Like That! Parents' Responses to
Children's Gender Nonconformity." Gender & Society April 2006.
O'Hara, Rachel Groner and John F. Composing Genders. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin"s, 2014.