When your mere existence is constantly used as an insult, what does that do for your self esteem?

20 05 2009

I was walking in the Village in New York City the other day and I walked by a woman walking with a young boy and holding his hand. He was visibly upset about something and started shrieking really loudly. The woman kept trying to shush him but he just got more agitated and shrieked even louder. Finally she said, “Stop screaming so loudly! You’re acting like a girl!”

That seemed to do it. The boy quieted down but still looked disgruntled and upset. It is saddening that for many young boys (and men too), being called a girl is an insult. They equate being a girl with something bad, something you definitely don’t want to be. Girls are constantly taught that there is something inherently wrong with them, just by virtue of having a vagina and being female. Boys know from early on that being called a girl is the ultimate insult. What does this do for the self esteem of girls who later become women?

With all this in mind, I read Why I didn’t want a girl and kept cringing at the internalized misogyny the author, Amy Wilson, harbors. At the time she authored the story, Wilson is pregnant with her third child. So far she has two sons and hopes that the third child is a boy as well (it ends up being a girl, to her disappointment) because she “likes boys better”. Ahh, so she seriously likes people better solely based on gender without knowing anything about their personalities or who they are? Way to be superficial and make a broad generalization.

Wilson writes:

…when I say I am the mother of two boys less than two years apart, I get a respectful nod or even a big thumbs-up for having that much testosterone in my daily life.

Daily life is already infused with testosterone. Hello, we live in a patriarchal society! What’s sad about her comment is that across the globe, many people value boys over girls because boys are more “useful” or “strong” or whatever bullshit justification they come up with.

When the receptionist at Wilson’s doctor’s office accidentally blurts out on the phone that the baby is a girl, Wilson is extremely dismayed and disappointed. She writes:

Even before I had sons, I worried about having a daughter. I could handle boys, with their cut-and-dried needs, but girls were so much more complicated. Girls have elaborate hairstyling requirements. They whine and mope, manipulate and triangulate. How was I going to deal with that?

Wait, what? “Girls have elaborate hairstyling requirements”?! Maybe if you choose to elaborately style your baby girl’s hair. As far as I’m concerned, baby boys and girls have really short hair that don’t require elaborate styling. Besides, babies (regardless of whether they are boys or girls) “whine and mope, manipulate and triangulate”. It’s not a girl specific thing to do.

I was ashamed of feeling apprehension about my unborn daughter. But I couldn’t shake it. What if I weren’t able to embrace what she loves? What if I couldn’t stomach daily viewings of “The Little Mermaid?”

My sons sneer at all things princess, and so do I. We love to pore over the Birthday Express catalog so the boys can plan the themes of their parties through 2013. My role in this is to gasp, “Oh, I think you should have a pink-poodle party!” “YUCK!! That’s for GIRLS!!” they shriek, and I laugh along with them. What will I do when I have someone who wants a pink-poodle party?

Sexist and misogynist much? She is raising the next generation of sexist, misogynist male pigs. I feel bad for her daughter who will be raised with two boys who so thoroughly despise girls. And then she goes on to say:

One of my friends who knows the secret thinks a girl will be great for me. “You deserve a girl!” she said, after watching me separate my two fighting boys. “Just think, she’ll be quiet. Calm. Easy.” It’s true: Even inside me, she’s different. When my boys would kick, I’d press against their little feet, and they’d kick back, harder. This baby? If she kicks and I press back, she goes completely still.

Uh-huh. In utero gender essentialism? Right, girls are passive, submissive and obedient. Beginning in the womb.

I sure hope that Wilson’s daughter never reads this. Reading this made me feel horrible for her daughter (who is now 16 months old), being so hated before she was even born.  Women like Wilson are reasons we need more feminist mothers, and feminists in general, who don’t buy into this gender essentialist, sexist and misogynist bullshit and patriarchal gender roles/norms.


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10 responses

20 05 2009
feministfeera

My grandmother thought I was going to be a boy because of how much I kicked. It’s probably because I was a feminist in the womb or something.

OH WAIT, it’s because a lot of babies kick. DUH.

21 05 2009
bigdumbweirdo

I hate to sound like the voice of conservatism, but I can understand the child’s reaction in your anecdote. Most women I know would be offended if told they somehow resembled a man, as in having “man hands” or a man’s chin, and there’s nothing wrong with that. I similarly don’t think there’s anything wrong with a man being offended at being compared to a woman, so long as that offense doesn’t run too deep. These sorts of things run even deeper with children, to whom the slightest insult can cause extreme distress in the short term.
I think it’s healthy for a person to identify positively with their own gender, be it the gender they were born with or the one they chose to adopt (or even their gender identity, if surgery is not an option), and when you elevate one gender, you naturally lower the other in some regards. It’s all about personal preference, and as long as a parent makes it clear that girls are not worth less than boys, it seems perfectly acceptable to be that a boy can prefer to act like a boy.
As for the mother’s action? Ehhhh…. I can’t say it would piss me off, but I certainly don’t think she’s helping her son develop an appreciation for women.

Now, as for Wilson, I agree to a great extent with you there. Writing a book about how much you wanted a boy isn’t going to accomplish anything but lining your own pockets at the expense of your daughter’s self-esteem, and exposing yourself as being possessed of an outdated belief system.

I hope getting a comment from a heterosexual, macho (but still sensitive) male doesn’t piss you off. I just love discussing social issues so much I couldn’t resist.

27 05 2009
Michael

I thought that boys shying from “pink-poodle parties” was a natural part of elementary school, like cooties. The boys aren’t disparaging girls by saying this any more than girls disparage boys about boy-things at this age (and I don’t think there’s much, if any, true “disparaging” of all girls going on in this simple action).

However, the op-ed author seems not to realize that if she turned out anti-all things princess, her daughter very well might (imagine there being more than one woman in America who doesn’t behave like the stereotype the mom fears!).

27 05 2009
feminist2

From what I remember of my childhood, cooties was a mutual thing – boys thought girls had cooties and girls thought boys had cooties. However the “YUCK! [Pink-poodle parties are] for girls!” response reaffirms gender stereotypes: that boys are not supposed to be “feminine” (and like pink, and other such things) and that all girls like pink. By laughing along and encouraging this response, the mother is reinforcing the patriarchal gender binary and maintaining sexist gender stereotypes.

28 05 2009
bigdumbweirdo

However the “YUCK! [Pink-poodle parties are] for girls!” response reaffirms gender stereotypes: that boys are not supposed to be “feminine” (and like pink, and other such things) and that all girls like pink.

What’s wrong with a gender stereotype if it doesn’t cause any harm? I mean “women can’t handle the stresses of the office” is a stereotype that deserves to go the way of the dodo, because it helps keep male employers from hiring female employees for a fallacious reason, but “girls like fashion and makeup” doesn’t seem to be doing any harm, especially when the vast majority of women in America like fashion and makeup.
All stereotypes exist for a reason, sometimes it’s because it makes those doing the stereotyping feel better, but just as often, it’s because there’s a grain of truth to it. After all, I’m male and I hate asking for directions and love guns and muscle cars. But it’s important to remember that just because a stereotype describes us in some way doesn’t mean it defines us. I’m a big, macho guy, but I am also a stay-at-home dad who thinks those who oppose gay rights in any way (including the right to marry) are disgusting bigots who should be beaten, so even though I have a hell of a lot in common with the “stereotypical macho male,” it would be completely wrong to say I am a “stereotypically macho male.”
In the same way, just because “girls like fashion and makeup,” doesn’t mean every female out there is an expert and enthusiast in fashion and makeup, and even when you find one who is, that doesn’t mean that other female stereotypes apply to her.

By laughing along and encouraging this response, the mother is reinforcing the patriarchal gender binary and maintaining sexist gender stereotypes.

I don’t see what’s sexist about it… Where is the implication that pink-poodle parties are evidence of some inferiority? Acknowledging a difference and being sexist (or racist, or classist, or any other -ist) are not the same thing.

28 05 2009
feminist2

“What’s wrong with a gender stereotype if it doesn’t cause any harm?”

The thing though, is that stereotypes (gender stereotypes, racial stereotypes, etc.) are in fact harmful. They often mask as harmless and nonthreatening because they are so normalized in our society. Stereotypes are used to maintain the status quo. They are about power and control and function to reaffirm the patriarchal reality and to get other people to affirm it without question and to accept it as the norm. While stereotypes like “girls like fashion and makeup” may seem harmless, they continue to limit and box in femininity according to patriarchal, socioculturally constructed definitions of femininity. They continue to perpetuate the patriarchal gender binary and oppressive gender norms which create controlling expectations that govern how people are supposed to behave according to their gender.

Stereotypes exist for a reason – yes, it all goes back to power and control. I would hesitate to say that stereotypes exist because there’s a grain of truth to them. Just like you say, while certain stereotypes may hold true for some people they don’t hold true for all people of that group. However they continue to affect the group as a whole. There have been many studies done on the negative effects of stereotyping (a simple google search should bring up plenty of academic research/journals on this).

29 05 2009
bigdumbweirdo

Stereotypes are used to maintain the status quo. They are about power and control and function to reaffirm the patriarchal reality and to get other people to affirm it without question and to accept it as the norm

“Women are powerful and in control thanks to negative male stereotypes, and constantly reaffirming their matriarchal reality and getting other people to affirm it without question and to accept it as the norm through the use of such male stereotypes, like ‘macho men are homophobic,’ ‘men hate making less money than their wives,’ ‘men hate asking for directions,’ ‘redneck men like drinking beer,’ and so on and so forth.”
That doesn’t make any sense, and it’s obviously not true, but it is completely in keeping with what you’re claiming here.
Stereotypes can be used for the purpose of justifying the existence of a social elite, such as; men during the mid 1900’s in America, the nobility during much of European history, but that’s not their primary purpose, or even their primary effect. Their primary purpose is to categorize, something which we do instinctively, and is an integral part of how our brains operate. For instance, it is easier to think of me as “stereotypical macho man except for the following short list of characteristics; makes an effort not to be sexist or racist, is a stay-at-home dad, supports gay rights, etc.,” than it is to think of me as “The following extremely long list of characteristics: Like guns, likes muscle cars, is a stay-at-home dad, likes expensive cigars, likes single-malt scotch, supports gay rights, etc, etc, etc….” The first is easy to remember, the second requires memorization. Additionally, the first allows for predictions to be made about me behavior, likes and interests. If you were shopping for a birthday present for me, using the first method allows you to predict that I would enjoy getting a new hammer drill without ever having seen me use one or hearing me express a desire for a new one, while the second method would require you to know beforehand whether or not I would enjoy owning a new hammer drill.
If stereotypes existed for the primary purpose of (or their primary effect was) maintaining the power of an elite, then there would be almost no positive stereotypes about those who are not part of the elite, and almost no negative stereotypes about the elite. For instance, in midevil European music, many folk songs poke fun at the arrogance, stupidity and sense of entitlement of the nobility. Many other sings the praises of the hardworking, simple and world-wise peasantry. How do those stereotypes serve to reinforce the social order? They don’t, they actually fly in the face of the social order.

I have a question for you… How many times have you experienced some sexist behavior on the part of a man and said, or thought to yourself, “Typical chauvinist (insert expletive here)!” ?
Every time you do that, you are yourself engaging in stereotyping that person. The fact remains that most such stereotypes hold true. If your boss refuses to give you a promotion because he says you can’t handle the stress, yet gives it to a male coworker who has years less experience than you, then he probably does expect his wife to do all the housework, raise the kids and cook for him every night.

I would hesitate to say that stereotypes exist because there’s a grain of truth to them.

Would you then disagree with the statement “most women in America have an interest in fashion and makeup?” If so, I’d like you to look up some marketing demographics on makeup and fashion, and then look up some quarterly reports from the makeup and fashion industry, I believe you’ll be shocked.
Also, have you ever seen the marketing demographics for Popeye’s Chicken & Biscuits, or for Kentucky Fried Chicken? A disproportionate amount of their business is comprised of African-Americans. Stores that open in predominantly African-American neighborhoods tend to do better than stores that open in predominantly Caucasian, Hispanic or Asian neighborhoods.
And sure enough, there exists a stereotype which brings this information to the masses in the form of “Black people like fried chicken.”
I agree with you that there are many harmful and insulting stereotypes out there. “White people can’t dance,” “black people are lazy,” “Women are emotionally fragile,” “Men are ego-driven,” and so on. But I disagree that all stereotypes are like that. There are just as many which function as valid rules-of-thumb.
If a black man dressed in drooping designer jeans, a white tank top, a hat turned sideways and with a prominently displayed red bandanna thrust in his back pocket were to approach you with a gun in his hand at night in a bad neighborhood, would you then assume nothing about his intentions, because you don’t know him? I bet you’d assume he meant you harm. What about if a guy with walking-dead-man eyes pulled over while you were walking down the road by yourself late at night and offered you a ride in his van, which smelled like blood and sweat? Would you assume he was a butcher who was stoned, or would you assume he meant you harm? I bet on the latter.
When you walk into a room for a job interview, do you assume the man sitting at the front desk in a security uniform is the person interviewing you, or do you assume it’s the man in the suit, waiting by a door to the office? The guy in the suit, of course, because “HR employees don’t dress like security guards.” One more that comes to mind is whether or not the soldier in Iraq is going to assume the indigenous person with an AK-47 is an enemy combatant, or whether he’s just going hunting with his buddies. Would you reccomend this soldier not shoot until he’s shot at, or would you want him to protect his life as best he can, by exercising his own judgement as to what constitutes an enemy combatant? “If he’s got a gun, he’s an enemy,” is a stereotype, too.

The tricky part is determining the level of validity of a stereotype. Are all young black men from the ghetto gang bangers, are most gang bangers, or is a significant portion of them gang bangers? Are all white men unable to dance, are most unable to dance, or are a significant portion of them unable to dance? Do all women in America like fashion and makeup, do most like fashion and makeup, or do a significant portion of them like fashion and makeup? You have to use your own experience to determine the level of validity any given stereotype has.
For instance, in the examples given above, the first two gentlemen almost certainly mean you harm, but there’s a small chance that the first is an undercover police officer coming to warn you to keep your head down during an impending drug raid, and there’s a small chance that the second really is a butcher who smokes pot. There’s a slightly-better-than-in-the-previous-examples chance that the guy in the suit is a visitor from another business, and that the security guard does the interviewing in that office, and there’s a reasonable-but-not-significant chance that the indig with the AK is going hunting, so it might be good to watch him for a few seconds, although waiting for him to shoot first, or letting him get set up behind some cover is still ridiculously stupid. So long as people don’t consider stereotypes to be absolute (and very very few people do that, most people consider those they believe to be only generally true), they don’t do anything harmful.

I can come up with thousands of examples of stereotyping being an incredibly useful tool in anyone’s day to day life. I would be impossible for an average person to go their entire life, or even an entire day without basing some decisions on stereotypes. To dismiss them completely is to dismiss something which every human being does, with good reason and to good effect the vast majority of times.

1 06 2009
feminist2

Stereotypes do serve to categorize, but they lump groups of people together to fit a homogeneous, oversimplified, narrow label which may not always be accurate. They may oversimplify people and paint them in a positive light or a negative light. Because stereotypes are so pervasive, many of us often use them or apply them in our daily lives whether consciously or subconsciously. I’ll admit that I do this myself sometimes, but I try to be more cautious and conscious of it now because whether people perceive them to be true/accurate, they are still limiting and oversimplified ways to classify people.

I do not dispute you on the the statement “most women in America have an interest in fashion and makeup”, but it is important to consider why this is so. The numbers are revealing and startling, and show the sad reality that that the beauty/cosmetics industry is one of the most thriving and flourishing industries. Why is this so? We live in a society that upholds such an unrealistic beauty/body ideal that many women strive to fulfill. We live in a society where women are told that what matters most about them is their bodies or their looks.

As for the stereotype that black people like fried chicken, while the numbers may show that African Americans comprise of a significant amount of customer-ship for KFC and Popeye’s, it is important to remember again why this may be so: fast food tends to be a cheaper (but obviously unhealthier) option. Furthermore it is pretty well known now that fast food chains tend to target poor people of color in their marketing and in choosing locations.

Basically, what I am trying to say that stereotypes are overgeneralizations that may or may not appear to be true. I agree with you that there are some that are just absurd and ridiculous and no one (or at least intelligent people who know better) don’t buy into, and there are also some that may appear more valid or true because there is research that demonstrate similar outcomes. The harm in stereotyping is that it’s just a very limiting way to think about or perceive people.

2 06 2009
bigdumbweirdo

I do not dispute you on the the statement “most women in America have an interest in fashion and makeup”, but it is important to consider why this is so. The numbers are revealing and startling, and show the sad reality that that the beauty/cosmetics industry is one of the most thriving and flourishing industries. Why is this so? We live in a society that upholds such an unrealistic beauty/body ideal that many women strive to fulfill. We live in a society where women are told that what matters most about them is their bodies or their looks.

I’ve seen this claim many times before, and I understand the reasoning behind it, but I’ve never seen any evidence whatsoever that it’s accurate. Looking at the economies of developing nations suggest that an equally likely causative factor is the sheer availability of makeup and fashion. When it’s cheap and easy to procure, why wouldn’t people use it in large numbers? I might be wrong, but as I’ve said, I’ve never seen any evidence supporting this position.
Even if this is true and I am wrong about the reasons behind the success of the fashion and cosmetics industries, again I ask, what’s the overall harm?
When society demonstrates a preference for beauty, those who are not beautiful are viewed as worth less, and I can see how that’s not fair, but society also demonstrates a preference for intelligence and talent, two other highly uncontrollable characteristics which I’ve never heard any such derision for. Should we then lower our standards for judging art and good ideas? Should people with high levels of intelligence or a lot of talent be prevented from using their full potential, so as to present a more balanced expectation among the general public?

And as far as the realistic level of the ideal, I beg to differ. I see women on a daily basis who are every bit as attractive as those on television, in advertisements, in the movies, in fashion and even in magazines. There are many more women out there who don’t appear particularly attractive by the mass media’s standards, but in the right outfit and the right lighting (as all the mass media’s portrayal of beautiful women are), they’re simply stunning.

I always find complaints about recent developments in society to be ironic and interesting. The same society that presents this “unrealistic beauty/body ideal” is also responsible for producing (and to a great degree, glorifying) those who argue against it, such as yourself. You would be hard-pressed to find a hundred examples of feminists being portrayed in a negative light in the mass media of the last few decades, while finding a hundred examples of feminists being portrayed in a positive light in that same mass media is easy. Similarly, you would be hard pressed to find even ten examples of chauvinists being portrayed in a positive light, while hundreds of examples of chauvinists being portrayed in a negative light can be found with little effort.
The mass media that presents this image you fight against is the same mass media that presented an interracial kiss during the civil rights movement, that produced movies, talk shows, sitcoms and dramatic television series which helped bring the lifestyles of, and sympathies for homosexual characters into the public awareness. The society that this mass media represents is the one that has fought for over half a century for equality for all people, and has shown a slow, but unrelenting shift towards more and more humanitarian politics, ideologies, ethics and public perceptions. This is the same society that demonizes the perpetrators of hate crimes, and idolizes the victims. This is the same society that not only tolerates, but actively encourages such self-criticism as you’re engaged in.
Now, I’m not trying to convince you or anyone else not to criticize our society, that’s not my point. I enjoy this argument, and I find you much more well-spoken than many with whom I’ve had similar debates. I just find it ironic and interesting that the very aspect of this society which I find so appealing, and which gives me such hope for the future, is the very aspect which produces all the criticisms and attacks against this society.

My point is (again) not that you or anyone else shouldn’t criticize aspects of human nature or our society, but that excessive reactions to the perceived problems of society can produce the opposite effect of what is desired.
For instance, in the main blog entry, the admonition against the boy not to act like a girl is perceived as sexist and oppressive to women. This sort of criticism thus reasons (consciously or otherwise) that it’s not okay for a boy to have pride in being a boy. This same reasoning thus requires the assumption that it’s not okay to be a boy.
I would never be one to suggest that being proud of being a woman is a bad thing, but when that pride extends to criticisms of masculine pride, it crosses the line from activism to sexism. To suggest that the mother acknowledging the boy’s pride in being male is somehow unethical is to suggest that the pride itself is unethical, which directly puts the boy’s gender in the inferior role.

Consider an oppressive patriarchal society where anything perceived as sexism against women is criticized, demonized and marginalized. Anti-feminine stereotypes and sentiments are the first to go (and good riddance, so far), but soon you see situations like this, only someone on the street actually stops and berates the woman for encouraging her son’s pride in his gender. Well, this suggests to the child that he should not be proud of his gender, and suggests the same to any bystanders. This boy then grows up in a society where it’s okay to be proud of being a woman, but it’s not okay to be proud of being a man. Since one person cannot change society, this boy must find either some logical justification for this being the case, and must therefore conclude that the reason it’s not okay to be proud of being a man is because being a man makes him inferior, or he can fight against it and get himself marginalized and demonized. Later, decidedly masculine activities and behaviors become marginalized and demonized as more and more children grow up ashamed of being born male, and before a few generations have gone past, you have an oppressive matriarchal society. Nothing was accomplished, except for a very brief period of time during the transition.
The danger is not in the presence of activism against society’s failings, but in activism goes that too far in the pursuit of it’s goals. You cannot achieve equality of the sexes by working against that which is pro-male, but only by limiting yourself to working against that which is anti-female. In this case, I can see how the comments of the mother could be interpreted as being anti-female in a certain light, but the only way in which that interpretation holds true is if the boy could not be reasonably expected to have any pro-male sentiments.

3 06 2009
feminist2

Actually, there is a lot of feminist and scholarly work out there demonstrating that society upholds unrealistic (and unhealthy) standards of beauty that many women strive to fulfill AND that a woman’s worth is primarily associated with her looks and conformance to the dominant standard of beauty. You can find a few articles on Lexis Nexis, or for starters you can check out NOW’s “The ABCs and Ds of Commercial Images of Women”. (http://loveyourbody.nowfoundation.org/presentations/SexStereotypesBeauty/index.html)

You argue that it may be sheer availability of makeup and fashion that causes the excessive consumption of makeup and fashion related products. But logically, thinking about supply and demand, there would not be such a great supply if there was no demand for it. Western standards of beauty are persistent and pervasive throughout the world. They have been exported to non-western countries as well and women of color from those countries strive to embody and fulfill Western standards of beauty. Increasing capitalism and consumerism as well as the surfacing prominence of “developing nations” in the global economy all (re)shape and (re)create new representations of the ideal female self. Consider the pervasiveness of fairness creams and various forms of plastic surgery (like eyelid surgery and leg lengthening surgery) in Asian countries, which exist to help women conform to a more western standard of beauty.

Two semesters ago, in my Culture & Intimacy in South Asia class, I wrote a paper on the role of globalization and economic development on reconfiguring and transforming ideals of femininity and standards of beauty for Indian women. For more reading on this I recommend “Obsessions with Fair Skin: Color Discourses in Indian Advertising” by Kavita Karan and “All’s Fair in Love and Cream: A Cultural Case Study of Fair and Lovely in India” by Natasha Shevde for starters.

You say, “society also demonstrates a preference for intelligence and talent”. While intelligence and talent are desirable qualities, women are routinely reminded that what’s most valued or important about them is the way they look. Furthermore, women in power are hardly well received – look at the media’s treatment of Sotomayor. Furthermore, in a perfect meritocracy those with the most intelligence and talent would be occupying the positions they occupy. We know that this is not the case. In an ideal world, people with intelligence and talent should be able to succeed. But there are many structural things that prevent this from occurring (racism, classism, sexism, ableism, heterosexism, fatism, etc).

In your statements about “mass media” I think it’s important to be mindful of not only who the power-holders are and who occupies the gaze, but also the targeted audience. Clearly mass media does not accurately and wholly represent the diversity of society because it is generally dominated by upper class, (cissexual, heterosexual) white men. This affects both media coverage and readership. There are issues that do not get sufficiently covered (such as the recent shooting of trans woman Kelvin Denton in Memphis, or Delara Darabi’s execution) because the mainstream media does not deem them fit or worthy enough to be covered.

Regarding how the mass media “helped bring the lifestyles of, and sympathies for homosexual characters into the public awareness” – well, it’s important to be very critical of mainstream media representations of homosexual characters. Look at Will from Will and Grace, or Stanford from Sex and the City. There’s also the Queer Eye series. How are these characters portrayed? They are upper-class, white men who are very much consumerist. The mainstream media has a tendency of equating gay with consumerism, thus feeding into queer neoliberalism. Queer neoliberalist narratives as evident in mainstream media portrayals of homosexuals tames LGBTQ politics and instead reduces gay (male) identities to (OMG!) shopping. So…yes, the mass media has helped improve the visibility of gay men into the mainstream, but at what cost? And is it more important to have any media coverage at any cost, or is it more important to sacrifice the mainstream coverage but instead have more diverse and political representations of LGBTQ existences?

Back to the original blog entry, my points about the “Stop screaming so loudly! You’re acting like a girl!” admonition are that:
1. It reinforces a patriarchal gender binary system in which there are only two genders that are supposed to be complimentary (males are supposed to like females, and females are supposed to like males)
2. It suggests that being a girl is an insult, that boys don’t want to be girls – thus it perpetuates patriarchal constructions of masculinity in which boys/men are supposed to defend their masculinity because the biggest insult would be to have their masculinity challenged or questioned. Think about all the insults directed to women: bitch, slut, whore, cunt etc. Now think about the insults people direct to men: fag, gay, queer, sissy, pussy, wuss, etc. The worst thing that you can call a woman is a woman. The worst thing you can call a man is also a woman.
3. The boy was yelling and screaming loudly, and by being told to stop doing so because it was girly insinuates that yelling and screaming loudly is something that only girls do and therefore boys shouldn’t do. Also since that behavior was “girly”, by acting “girly” the boy was upsetting the guardian he was with.

I was not and am not criticizing masculine pride. Nor was I suggesting that it’s wrong to be proud of being a boy. This is not about masculine pride, and I am slightly offended that you are trying to make it about that. Please read https://thegenderblenderblog.wordpress.com/2009/03/14/if-your-first-response-is-what-about-me-there-is-clearly-something-that-you-are-missing/ and https://thegenderblenderblog.wordpress.com/2009/04/02/what-about-me-well-what-about-you/.

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