DE Option 1

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Bernstein's reading stirred up many thoughts for me. It made me question parenting and the advice that parents take, which Martin helped me zoom in on. Bernstein's daughter, Nora, made me curious about what it would be like if all parents parented the way Bernstein does. The reading made me question the psychological effects on children from opening them up to the idea of exploring genders. Society is so heavily influenced by gender roles and vice versa. I wondered what Nora's gender curiosity did psychologically to her. I wondered how hard it would be to be a young child exploring genders when all of the other kids were fitting the gender normatives. I also wondered how Bernstein held up all that time since she claims "adult tolerance for transchildren is low." How sensitive the issue is altogether made me curious. The issue that both Bernstein and Martin raise, though, is that gender is tied to assumptions about sexuality which is problematic and may be associated with homophobia. This especially made me think deeper into gender identity and the difficulties that go along with it. Gender identity and sexuality have been assumed by many for a long time. With sexuality, it is now known that there are shades of gray. I feel that gender identity on the other hand has been generally black and white to many people. This is also problematic because it ties us down to gender roles without their being shades of gray. I like that Bernstein allowed her daughter to explore and although I find it to be a bit risky, I feel that she has successfully done gender neutral child rearing. I also had some curiosity about socialization being a part of children defining their gender. If there were to be more gender neutral child rearing, what , other than gender norms, could gender neutral children identify with? Something outside of male roles and female roles? Almost everything is linked to a gender, whether it be a job, a color, a type of house, a shoe design...masculine and feminine. What would it be like without those labels and stereotypes and gender normative rules and roles?

3 Comments

I totally agree with the fact that the issue on gender identity and sexually is incorporated in gender roles. Thinking about Nora’s final gender status, I wondered if her decision to finally become a girl was not actually reconstructed due to her need to fit in the society.
Personally, I saw Nora's story to be a very great case study of gender identity development. Research has identified adolescence as a stage to exploring identities that which I saw in Nora's case (Check out the Journal I found on “Influences and challenges of Male construct”: http://bit.ly/dVwfUg ). I saw her need to exploring identities and as the same time experimenting what it means to fit into her own world.
Referring to your last question, I would say that I actually like your intuition of viewing the world without stereotypes and gender normative rules and roles in the sense that it got me thinking about the issue of “free- will”. A world without gender normative rules and roles would probably be without hatred and stereotype. Everybody will be left with a sense of free-will. But my question is that do you think a world of FREE-WILL would hold a feminist family values.
I coincidently ran into this funny video named: free will a free world (http://bit.ly/g6o3Lq)(not related to the class!!) and a philosophical definition of free will (http://bit.ly/hZA0Dm).

I though the same thing as I read through Bernstein’s reading about how difficult it might have been for her exploring gender roles instead of fitting the social “norm.” I feel that this was very successful of her and really challenges people to think about gender roles through her method of raising her daughter Nora. I like the last few questions you asked as well which really got me thinking about gender roles. Everything in this society seems as if it used to or is tied to a specific gender whether it be male or female. Even something so simple as a newborn baby, girls are pink while boys are blue. It used to be that specific jobs were linked to genders but through the labor unit in this class there has been an increasing change in these stereotypes. These links seem to be fading but in a way they will always be around. There are different things expected of guys versus girls and I think Bernstein presented this in a very original and like you said “risky” way that I truly respect.

I wonder how realistic gender neutral parenting is, not because I don't think that it's useful, but because it is something that's hard to implement. The way that we react to people of different genders is very innate in our society. I'm sure that many well meaning parents intend to raise their children 'gender neutral' but in fact subtly influence their children to behave in gender normative ways. I remember my aunt at Christmas this past year telling her child "act like a lady", and I thought, what does that even mean? I'm sure that she just meant that she wanted her daughter to behave, but isn't that something that should be expected of both genders? It's interesting that these types of things are still around. You asked what children raised as gender neutral would identify with, other than gender, and I think that they would have many other things to identify with, such as shared interests.

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