Gender roles hurt all children.

Usually I reject the whole “gender hurts everyone” rhetoric because it’s clear that gender is meant to first and foremost subordinate women, and men shouldn’t get brownie points just because they can’t do everything they want. But in the case of children, I think it’s clear that gender does hurt all children, and we do need to state that up front.

Pereira observed both boys and girls regulating their behavior in potentially harmful ways in order to adhere to gender norms. For instance, even girls who enjoyed sports often avoided physical activity at school because they assumed it wouldn’t be a feminine thing to do, they worried they might look unattractive while running, or they were mocked by their male peers for not being good enough. The girls also put themselves on diets because they believed desirable women have to be skinny.

“All of the girls were within very healthy weights, but they were all restricting their intake of food in some way. So what we’re really talking about here is 14-year-old girls, whose bodies are changing and developing, depriving themselves at every meal,” Pereira said. “In the extreme, that can lead to things like eating disorders. But even for the women who don’t reach the extreme, it can be very unhealthy for them.”

Meanwhile, the male participants in the study all faced intense pressure to demonstrate the extent of their manliness, which led to what Pereira calls “everyday low-level violence”: slapping and hitting each other, as well as inflicting pain on other boys’ genitals. They were encouraged to physically fight each other if they were ever mocked or offended. They felt like they had to drink unhealthy amounts of alcohol because that’s what a man would do. And they were under certain mental health strains, too; struggling with anxiety about proving themselves and suppressing their feelings, all while lacking a strong emotional support system.

8 thoughts on “Gender roles hurt all children.

  1. oopster74 April 3, 2015 at 22:13 Reply

    Reblogged this on oopster74 and commented:
    Put like this, I agree, but I’d refer to it as “gender roles” or “gender expectations”, with the understanding that in this context, gender and sex are the same thing ie you are male / female so you’re meant to do a, b or c etc. and anyone who doesn’t fit into these neat little boxes of what society expects is somehow “abnormal”. Life isn’t that black and white though. Some take to these expected ideals more “naturally” than others, some don’t, and some “prefer” the colour of the grass on the other side of the fence, and none of the options chosen are either right or wrong, they’re just what appear to be right or wrong to us as individuals at the time.

  2. stchauvinism April 3, 2015 at 23:46 Reply

    Reblogged this on Stop Trans Chauvinism.

  3. Independent Radical April 4, 2015 at 03:21 Reply

    I have no problem with the idea that masculinity hurts men. The important thing to note is that masculinity is about gaining power (while femininity is about not having or surrendering power) and thus results in male dominance (this really should be an obvious point, yet most university professors fail to grasp it.) Men may suffer negative consequences as a result of or in the pursuit of this dominance, but that does not change the fact that they are the dominant group in relation to women.

    • Francois Tremblay April 4, 2015 at 14:52 Reply

      Not sure what happened, but this comment was in the spam folder.

  4. m2here August 10, 2015 at 22:09 Reply

    I wonder, how do you (we, I’m still weighing it all up) reconcile an ideology of complete gender eradication/disbelieving with the prevalence of “two-spirit” people in pretty much every “traditional” culture across the world? http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0014/001465/146514e.pdf
    I’m thinking the answer is simply that these cultures still forced sex/gender roles which alienated men and women from each other very early on. Creating a feeling of “I’m different” cough”I’maspecialsnowflake”cough in what is actually a completely gender neutral (average) person?
    I hate to sound like a cultural relativist, respecting their whatever is not my point. My point is that it was so common and universal. Smoke without fire?

    • Francois Tremblay August 11, 2015 at 00:50 Reply

      It’s not my place to comment on concepts that are not part of Western culture, but I would be willing to listen to what feminists from those cultures have to say about it.

      • m2here August 12, 2015 at 17:31 Reply

        It’s not your place to wonder how the thousands of years of feminine males puts a bit of a stumbling block before the deconstruction of gender? I could respect these peoples’ now almost entirely westernized cultures but I don’t even respect my own, actually I despise it. Cultural relativism is a bit reactionary. I suppose it has it’s uses when it comes to value judgements, like when someone wants to say that we are free and the North Koreans are not. But in terms of deciding how a society could possibly produce transgender people, for the purpose of determining whether the prevalence of transgenderism is evidence that gender is real and innate or not, I don’t see what cultural relativism has to do with it.
        Also I don’t think I’m a feminist, though I know of course such things are in the eyes of the beholder, so I don’t think gender criticism should be allowed only to the feminists. In the Western world this can be forgiven because gender has benefited western men for so long. However in the cultures the west has imposed it’s own values on, gender hurts men as well as women.

        • Francois Tremblay August 12, 2015 at 17:44 Reply

          I am definitely not a cultural relativist. I have my own opinions about what people do in other cultures. And I also think that if those things happen in Western countries, that we should definitely speak up against them if they are wrong.

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