The Bright Line

Even in the murky area of gender identity, good to see the line’s “clear” for researchers about where to channel their attention:

“Girls with gender-variant behavior, who have been studied less…” (my emphasis)


You know, some of this might have helped when I was cruising around in the 80s in a grey Nike windbreaker, trying to do wheelies on my dark blue Huffy, no hair in my eyes given my sensible “boys regular” cut.   


4 Responses to “The Bright Line”

  1. December 3, 2006 at 10:48 pm

    Having a number of transsexual friends (in one state of transformation or another), I’m all for making it easier for them; the prejudices they face are simply unimaginable. But I’ll be even happier if we just try less hard to force a lot of stupid preconceived gender notions on people, mostly having to do with reinforcing the patriarchy. That’s the feminism in me talking – the same feminism that led me to challenge my junior high school on being able to take Home Ec instead of Shop classes in 8th grade (leading to a lifetime of people yelling “fag” at me). I have absolutely no regrets over doing it – I learned to cook and to sew (which I do much more than woodworking) (and, some to think of it, I also learned the basics of interior decorating and color matching), I realized that boys call out “fag” because the worst thing a boy can do is seem girly, and I helped push the County to revise its requirements to make both boys and girls take both Home Ec and Shop. I’ll be happiest if we can just let people be who they are and not have to cry over it – though the tears certainly made me stronger.

  2. December 3, 2006 at 11:23 pm

    You know, at the M.A.S.’s high school they could elect home ec v. shop, which unsurprisingly led to extremely gendered class compositions. In my public school system, all 7th graders had to take woodworking and sewing, and all 8th graders had to take metalworking and cooking. I excelled in none of these classes (though was in metalworking when the principal announced over the P.A. system that I’d won some contest where the prize was either a stereo or remote controlled car – can I get 24 hours for that tough decision?), but never considered until recently the equity behind making every student take all four.

    I have a much deeper post rattling around in my head than this cut and paste job on gender and society, after attending a completely overwhelming baby shower this afternoon. I appreciate your comment, as a means to keep this conversation going. It’s absolutely mind-blowing to me the way gender roles get carved out so early and so fiercely, as anyone who has ever tried to shop for baby clothes (I was one of two women who did not give pink this afternoon) understands. I actually found the Bloomingdale’s clothing department more restrictive than Baby Gap. For upwards of $100 per item in a good portion of the former’s department, you’d think you’d have the freedom to go with purple, red or blue for little Mavis, rather than blue, pink and the conciliatory yellow and green. Don’t even get me started on what the idealized look of little Buffy must be to pull off the rainbow of pink lording over us; a best friend in an interracial relationship really opened my eyes to the difficulty in finding attractively-toned clothes for her infant daughter. We should probably take a clue from the fact that the gender of infants is so indistinguishable to begin with (excepting that a good percentage of them look like Jackie Gleason)instead of relying on these pat and stifling color cues to introduce people to little Alex, Leigh or Jaime.

    I personally just keep a running score of how many people default to addressing me as “Mr.” in initial e-mail correspondences.

  3. December 3, 2006 at 11:33 pm

    On the baby clothing front – it’s hardest for infants, I think; once they get into the whole “mini-me” outfits for toddlers, there’s a fairly wide range now – I went with green for The Most Adorable Nephew in the World. 🙂 Also, try Barneys if you’re in New york – as you might guess, they are far less conventional (and of course, pricier). Bergdorf’s carries the renewed Best & Co. line – but I remeber them being just as four-color as the others… but their toddler and up clothes are to die for.

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