Afternoon Inquisition 1.17

Rebecca’s experience in a coffee shop last week has us talking about gender once again, and it got me thinking about societal norms and prescribed roles and all that good stuff.

To what extent do you meet society’s expectations for your gender? Do you feel this has had an effect on your life, socially or otherwise?

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  1. I’m fairly gender regular in most respects, but I’ve never had any interest in sports. This has rendered me clueless in many a conversation, and makes five minutes of every half-hour news program a total waste of my time.

  2. I go to a big sports college apparently. It’s not too hard to escape the sports stereotype for college guys, but it is definitely prevalent (I don’t really have in interest in sports). I definitely not a huge drinker which already puts me at odds, at least it feels that way, with 75% of the people at my school. I’m rather lucky in that I have found a girl who is like me in those respects and I pride my self in not being “that frat guy whose out to get laid” when it comes to our relationship.

  3. I think I rebelled against my gender and tomboy-ed out when I was younger. I had two brothers, no sisters, and hated my all-girl high school. I’ve reluctantly given into the “girl” things that I like in the past few years, like clothing, make-up, and SHOES. And now I know there’s nothing wrong with that.

  4. I try to fight against male/female stereotypes as much as possible. It’s just my nature. I detest watching sports, although this isn’t something I had to work on. I do most of the cooking and sewing in my household. I also do the vegetable garden.

    True to my male gender, however, I’m as bony as a turkey carcass after Thanksgiving, I believe puns are a valid form of humor, and farting, when done well, is full contact performance art.

  5. Which me do you want?

    I play sports. I love sports. I know sports VERY well. I’m in the gym lifting weights, or working out in same manner, 5 days a week or more if possible. In fact, I just came back from the gym and wrote this. I am a rabid Philadelphia sport’s fan whose best moment in 2008 was participating in the Phillies World Series championship by attending game three.

    I love film ( yes I said film ) and theater. I even have Broadway tunes on my iPod and that’s next to Led Zeppelin, which is next to Enya, which next to Tom Waits. I always dress casually, usually in jeans, at work, yet I have and love great clothes. I take acting lessons. I have done yoga. I wanted to be an artist growing up. When I was in Paris at the Musee’ D’Orsay I humbly stared at Van Gogh’s self portait for one half hour. I marveled at Monet’s serial study of a cathedral, painted at three different times of the day. I cried last night when I watching the movie Defiance because my family on my father’s side had roots in Russia and I thought one of my distant cousins could have been one of the forrested souls in the film.

    I’ve been called an honorary female by a nurse practioner who once worked with me – and I took that as a compliment.

    I once “won” a woman in a beer drinking contest ( ok … so SHE let ME win ). I scratch my testicles and I LIKE that. I like when I have a couple days of facial hair.

    My paternal instinct is stronger than any mother’s maternal instinct – and as a pediatrician I’ve met many good women. I am fearless in stressful or unitentionally embarressing situations, yet I get angry when someone INTENTIONALLY attempts to embarress me.

    So which me do you want?

    Hopefully, we are all diverse, complex and multifaceted, both in interests and personality traits. Though we all often look at ourselves through the eyes of others, through the eyes of society, we are all proud individuals desiring to be part of something bigger than ourselves if possible – and to paraphrase the summary statement from The Breakfast Club, we are all part intellectual, part jock, part geek, part bastard, part caregiver, part introvert, part extrovert, part slob, part fancy Dan. Now … some of those parts are teeny and some are rarely expressed and the how and when they are expressed may differ, but they are part of us all. I personally hate being labeled. I am an independent soul amidst a society of those similar to myself and dissimilar. Though I understand and respect society’s expectations for me, I have never let it define me.

  6. “Though I understand and respect society’s expectations for me, I have never let it define me.”

    This also comes with age and experience, I think. It makes me recall the poem about the “old lady that wears purple with a red hat,” etc. I can relate to halincoh’s answer.

    Some people don’t quite know how to handle others that don’t meet their expectations of how they should behave. This is where friction sometimes comes in, because some people have (or think that they have) the authority to “make you behave.” Think of how religions and ideologies handle non-conformists, for example. (I non-conform just to piss off people like that. :-D)

    I also, like some others above, get no pleasure from sports. Maybe it’s because I know I suck at them. I’d rather talk about science or books than the latest ball scores. A car, for me, is a means of getting somewhere in reasonable safety, speed, efficiency and comfort. So we have a old Chrysler van for cargo hauling/groceries and a Honda Hybrid for commuting. :-D

    And I rescue dogs…traditionally a “girly” thing. :-p (Hint: single guys, it’s a great place to meet women, if you don’t mind getting dirty. :-D)

  7. None.

    I don’t even know how to play football, basket ball, baseball or any of that.

    I’ve found that, even if you’re only remotely known as a local boxer/trainer, you get a “pass” on most of that sort of thing.

    I do find myself a popular guest when the big fights roll around though.

    If it wasn’t for that, I’ll bet I’d be considered a “Nancy boy” for sure.


  8. I love watching sports!

    Naked chicks wrestling in jell-o is a sport, right?

    I don’t drink beer at all. I much prefer wine.

    I love my cat more than anything.

    I’m completely useless when it comes to fixing or building things.

    I don’t feel any of those things have affected my social life though. Being generally awkward has. Being more handy would be nifty, but i don’t think it would make that much of an impact on my life if i were.

    I keep wanting to put a number on what percentage stereotypical male I am. But i’m having a hard time coming up with something that feels right.

    I guess…..somewhere between 65 and 70%

  9. I probably do OK in terms outward conformity to gender norms – I look pretty girly, have long hair, and wear makeup (sometimes). I’m not much good at sports either, and go nuts over cute puppies and babies…

    …but as for the whole “girls aren’t supposed to be smart” or “girls shouldn’t argue with men” or “girls can’t really understand (X)”, I’ve never gone for that. Probably because I’m an insufferable know-it-all.

    The gender-norm stuff that I do, I do because I enjoy it and it suits me. The other stuff – well, we’re all weird in some way or another. Why worry about it?

    Oh, and @Brian’s A Wild Downer: I personally prefer beer to wine, though I’m perfectly willing to drink either (or both). Is beer a guy thing? I think it’s just a carb-loving thing myself.

  10. To what extent do you meet society’s expectations for your gender?

    Very little.

    Do you feel this has had an effect on your life, socially or otherwise?

    Yes, both socially and otherwise. Some positive, but mostly negative.

    @halincoh said:

    Though I understand and respect society’s expectations for me, I have never let it define me.

    For me, I somewhat understand them, but certainly do not generally respect society’s expectations for me.

  11. Ways in which I am traditionally feminine:
    I cook well, and love to do so. I especially love to cook when I can share it with other people.
    I know how to sew, but view it as one of those useful things, and don’t enjoy doing it any more than I enjoy raking leaves or shovelling the driveway.
    I have long hair.
    I’m not a heavy drinker. I enjoy the odd pint, but prefer cider to beer. I like wine, but mostly from the perspective of pairing it with food (see above).
    I don’t really care all that much for sports. The ones that don’t bore the pants off me to participate in are the kind that aren’t very interesting to watch.
    My favourite movie is “Amelie” and I love going to the theatre.
    I’m a writer, which might not be so much traditionally feminine but more contemporarily feminine; certainly women are a majority in my creative writing classes.
    Ways in which I am not traditionally feminine:
    I’m an active cyclist, which includes tuning and maintaining my bike. I don’t really care much for cars, but then, I don’t really care much for men who care much for cars either.
    I’m a slob. My computer workstation and bedroom are complete disaster areas.
    Given my druthers, I would wear baggy jeans and a black t-shirt or hoodie with a witty saying on it everywhere I went. I hate shopping for clothes and shoes and have no interest in keeping up with fashion.
    I also do not wear makeup or style my hair except on special occasions. Waste of bloody time.
    I like sex. I like it a lot, and sometimes more than my male partners like it. Fortunately, I think the perception that “proper women” don’t enjoy it is gradually changing.
    I enjoy reading science fiction, graphic novels and popular science books, as well as philosophy (which is the other one of my majors). I don’t go for chick lit or romance novels. In terms of movies, I try not to reject anything on grounds of genre and appreciate anything well-made whether it be romantic comedy or action.
    On the whole, I think of myself as fairly androgynous, and find that a comfortable identity, though I’m also perfectly fine with identifying myself as a woman.

  12. @Indigo: “I’m a slob. My computer workstation and bedroom are complete disaster areas.”

    Here, here, sister!

    “I like sex. I like it a lot, and sometimes more than my male partners like it. Fortunately, I think the perception that “proper women” don’t enjoy it is gradually changing.”

    And double for that one, too! Yeah, it’s kind of weird when your guy friends are shier about sex talk than you are. It seems “against the norm” but really, it’s just each person acting on their own personality, and being okay with it.

  13. On the conformity side:
    – I pay for dinner
    – I can fix things
    – I’m a bit of a slob
    – Easily distracted by attractive women
    – Also distracted by gadgets

    On the non-conformity side:
    – I watch way too many chick flicks
    – I’m not interested in team sports, not even hockey (and I’m Canadian)
    – I’m OK with her driving and me navigating
    – I can cook and bake
    – I can pump gas, put air in the tires and boost a dead battery. Anything beyond that, I pull out the credit card.

  14. I hate sports.
    I love to cook.
    I can’t tell the difference between a BMW and a…(insert some other car brand here).
    My son plays with his little sister’s kitchen set and I couldn’t care less.
    My daughter wants to be a princess when she grows up and I keep trying to talk her into being a doctor or an astronaut.

  15. @@mxracer652:

    I would extend this question further – _which_ society’s “rules”? Saudi Arabia has different rules than the continental US which is different than the UK, which is different than Oz, which is different than….

    And even which _region_ of a specific societies rules? City slickers have differing “rules” than their country counterparts and vice versa.

    Skepchick by its very nature tends to view others through a urban US perspective (with the ocassional UK one from TK), which on the odd ocassion drives me nuts when US social mories are projected down here.

  16. See, the part of me that likes dry humor laughed at Detroitus’ use of the word “perdy”, the part of me that likes irony loved that carr2d2 used the word “amen” on a skeptical site, the inquistive part of me was intrigued by how SicPreFix responded to my post and the testicle scratching part of me said, “Wahhhhh” when Bug_girl said she has “giant boobs.” I love being eclectic and undefined!

  17. @ Indigo

    Maybe the guys you are dating have issues regarding sex … or life in general. One should never be intimated by one’s partner -sexually or in any other way – or they simply shouldn’t be that person’s partner. I wish you well in finding someone truly compatable … or at least compatable for a damn night!

  18. I don’t often initiate conversations or relationships with women, that would be a failing by the normal male standard, as I understand it (then again, I don’t walk up to women and make dumb assed comments in coffee shops, either). Though I might steal the “you know, in my day young ladies dropped handkerchiefs” line.

    Generally I fall in the normal range for guys, but I like to screw with people’s assumptions, so it’s always nice to play up the guy thing for awhile then casually mention that I knit.

    I notice my personality shifting a bit as I age, usually more toward the stereotypical male end of things. Most notably, I find myself smiling and nodding after awhile when someone’s talking, I feel like I used to listen longer, and had an easier time seeing things from another person’s perspective.

  19. Wow…skeptical geek guys who aren’t into sports. Unheard of.

    I actually like sports but all the wrong ones. I like cycling, soccer, and skiing but could not be more bored by football, basketball, or baseball.

    To be honest (and I know this is something that’s easier for a man would say), I’m not really sure what these proscribed societal gender roles are. I know what the stereotype of the macho man and Barbie doll are, but how many people do you actually know that fit them? I sure don’t meet many of those people. I suppose that means I’m hanging out with the right crowd.

    I love beer but also art and modern dance. I am organized, neat, and clean, but I also have a bad habit of swearing like a sailor. I’ve never been unfaithful to my wife in 15 years of marriage, but I sneak a glance at every woman I ever encounter and my libido is every bit as active at 40 as it was at 17. I like people with manners, but I think tattoos are sexy. (Not that people with tattoos can’t have good manners.)

    A more dangerous AI might be: What sex differences (beyond the basic biological ones) do you think are innate, rather than cultural. I can’t imagine that that would be controversial, right?

  20. Lyc:

    I would extend this question further – _which_ society’s “rules”? Saudi Arabia has different rules than the continental US which is different than the UK, which is different than Oz, which is different than….

    Excellent point, typical expectations do vary across countries. For example, sports fandom is far more common among women in New Zealand than it is in the US (based on the comments above) so my lack of interest in sports doesn’t mark me so much as an atypical male as it marks me as an atypical New Zealander.

    Plus on the whole, I think New Zealanders (or urban middle-class New Zealanders) tend not to be up tight about this sort of stuff (either that or I lack the social intelligence to notice subtle disapproval). I haven’t gotten any flack for my eccentricities and general nerdishness since I left high school.

  21. On the manly side, I own every tool that has ever been invented. It’s not enough. Also, I was once near an _extremely_ large natural-gas explosion accident that destroyed numerous buildings and propelled debris more than two miles from the blast. My opinion of the explosion? Would have been even more entertaining if it had been larger.

    And don’t get me started on the whole boob thing.

    But I also took ballet, and as a result had a couple of grad students rudely shun me when I was an undergrad physics major. You’d think any grad student in science could pick apart the logical flaws in an argument that that says “ballet necessarily implies gay, and gay necessarily implies disgusting and inferior in _every_ way.” But no.

  22. @ JamesK
    In terms of sports, yup, definitely. I’m a Kiwi too, and the whole sports thing isn’t really a male/female thing. There are more men who are into it, but I know women who are just as into their sport as men I know (I’m one of those women, although mainly only when it comes to netball). Also, none of the stuff that I can think of about me that makes me atypically female are things that have ever been pointed out by other people, and I know loads of other girls who they apply to as well.

    Things about me that are seen as typically feminine:
    I have long hair
    I’m good at English and languages
    I like babies and other small animals
    I cry at everything (even ads on tv)
    I watch soapies (but not the really awful daytime ones)
    I can bake and cook quite well
    I like wearing dresses and skirts
    I like pink things, and sparkly things
    I like boys
    I’m not very good at sport

    Things about me that aren’t seen as typically feminine:
    I own only one pair of high heels
    I love thunderstorms and powercuts
    I’m good at science and maths
    I love mud
    I cannot sing, paint, or sew
    I really dislike wearing makeup other than mascara and lipgloss
    I like girls
    I can change a tyre, and I like to try to fix things, even when I know nothing about the thing I’m trying to fix

  23. @James K:

    I know the feeling -both sexes of Australians are meant to be rabid about cricket and rugby whereas I find it dull and pointless. To quote “The Chaser”, I must be so un-Australian I’m Ugandan.

    But the reason I brought up the point was something I saw on a TV documentray the other night about country doctors.

    A visiting US doctor was in an outback town and asked a 90 year old woman what she did – the woman replied she had been a “Jillaroo”. A Jillaroo is the roughly word for a female cattle drover, Jackaroo being the male version. The doctor kept trying to call her all manner of versions – drover, stockgrower, and any number of other terms which were ‘politically correct’ while the 90 year old kept stating flatly she was a Jillaroo and was obviously getting irritated.

    Did this woman act as if she had been forced into a non traditional “gender role”? One so ‘inferior’ to the male Jackaroo it had its own term? Hardly – at 90 she looked like she could still flip a calf with one hand and was proud of the term. Yet the doctor seemed to be doing her level best to put her own spin on it.

    Views from the ‘outside’ can be a very good at times and can give a neutral view of what the situatiuon really is which the locals cant see, but other times the external viewer are just projecting the viewers own beliefs, hangups and social concerns on others.

  24. There were 2 things I said I would never do 1)stay at home with my kids and 2)own a mini-van. Guess what? I do both. I rebelled against this because it was strongly encouraged in the Mormon faith and I hated the thought of being Molly Mormon baking bread all day. I ended up quitting my job and staying home because my son born very early and we were concerned about his health. So I guess I fit into that gender role. I really love raising my kids.

    Things about me that are considered less feminine: I’m atheist, a scientist, love sci fi, I don’t wear make up often, I don’t wear heels, and I like to watch college football. Assuming no line in the ladies’ room, I can get in and out faster than my husband can go and get out of the men’s room. He tells me this is one reason why he married me.

  25. I do what I do and like what I like. From a distance I suppose it could look stereotypically male but frankly I just don’t care. I have a lot of respect for all the many women I admire and recognize the wonderful difference men and women can bring to the table. I think that gender stereotypes are often a product of what our upbringing offers us with regard to opportunities and some stereotypes are and perceptions of gender norms are not accurate or only reflect our own particular narrow experience.

    My wife is a very good leader, is quite independent and enjoys back country horse trekking which is often seen as a guy kind of thing. After putting my way through college as a chef I’ve done nearly all the cooking in 22 years of marriage. I like building things and would nearly always rather be the driver instead of a passenger and I never get lost. (I like maps and planning trips ahead of time too) And as for sports I’ve been an avid golfer my whole life and I enjoy football and a little college basketball; not much beyond that. I’m not much for chick flicks but I enjoy opera and romantic classical music. And I like my tools, compressor, nail gun and pick up truck but generally drive a Honda mini van while having my almost middle age sports car fantasies.

  26. Perhaps I am being too optimistic and a tad naive, but nowadays in western societies, one can do what they like in actuality (there may be some objections, but no real barrier to acting and doing what you want to do and be despite your gender).

    Decades ago when a young woman, I would run around my city block, I got harassed with oh look at that girl, she’s exercising!!! Or when I would heft a pre-made door at the local lumber yard, oh look, that little girl is carrying wood!!! Or when I learned how to drive, Oh look, your girlfriend is clever!!! Or when my brother took his knitting to the baseball game, oh, look at that faggot!!! Times have happily changed. We are less forced to be stereotypical based on gender. Right?

  27. No idea if the willingness to experiment in problem solving is a male trait or they have just been in the position to exercise it more, but I have learned from my husband how to do that more frequently than I once did. My husband also has shown me how to worry less; males are great role models for that–they work, when they are not, they just go blank, while women are more prone to keep their minds/emotions running.

    The only activities that males are known to do that I would not even tryout once is punching someone in the face in a bar brawl or rape someone or kill someone as a soldier (though I would certainly kill in certain situations).

    My husband still needs to learn from me that psychology and emotions do matter in understanding people.

  28. I watch sports, I play video games, I like sci-fi, I didn’t wear a bra until mom forced me into one (same thing for a dress), I used to play Ninja Turtles and Ghostbusters with my boy cousin on a weekly basis, I burp – loud, I don’t generally wear makeup and am clueless on what to do with most of it when I go out, I have long hair, stupid things on tv make me cry when I’m on my period (episode 2×13 of Dr Who for example), I despise a messy bathroom, I don’t read magazines because they are generally sexist and vapid, I love science – particularly astronomy… Whatever that all makes me, that’s what I am. I think that’s called “an individual”.

  29. Oh, and to what extent has this affected my life? Greatly I’m sure. I do find it hard to talk to most women because they are into things I’m not and not into things that I am. So I guess my likes, dislikes, personality etc affects my friend choices and ability to form relationships. But I’m not sure that’s due to gender roles so much as I have specific interests that not many people necessarily share. Especially being an atheist in atlantic canada. I have to stop my eyes rolling so much, my anti-eye-rolling muscles are worn out.

  30. I think the expectations are class/gender. It seems to bother my co-workers more that I drive 14 year old economy car then that I use bath&body works flavored lip balm.

    Is it weirder for Betty Blue Collar to knock back a Malt Liquor, or Wendy White Collar? See, not just gender, class.

  31. This is surprisingly tough, lets see.

    I am a certified car nut, and watch Top Gear religiously. I have even been caught on several occasions ignoring very attractive women to go check out cars.

    I also like guns, although I have never been and have no real interest in hunting, except for watermelon. Sneaky creatures watermelon watch your back.

    I follow sports and will watch, but would rather be outdoors, hiking and backpacking are 2 of my favorite activities. However in 67 days and for several months after I will spend my early Sunday morning hours watching Formula 1 Racing.

    I will watch almost any movie, except Horror. I have yet to watch a single Horror movie that I enjoyed. I am a huge fan of Audrey Hepburn movies and Star Trek.

    I enjoy cooking, but only when I can do it for other people.

    I love going to nice restaurants as long as the food is good. But I have a hard time getting dressed up for those occasions. I am never quite comfortable wearing dress clothes.

    As far as looking the part, I stopped growing when I was 14. Still wear all the same size clothes I did when I as 14. People are almost always shocked to find out that I will be 40 this year. This is sometimes a good thing, but it has had it’s downside too.

    I think sometimes people are surprised because of my looks to find out that I do share a lot of the “guy” traits. Then again it can be frustrating when my “guy” friends question why I would want to go to a museum, or see certain movies. I have found that I have 2 groups of friends. I will tell each about plans with the other group. But I have yet to meet anyone who shares both. I am sure there are others, but I wonder sometimes how many people out there wont try or admit some things in order to maintain their personal “guy’ or “girl” label.

  32. @Lyc: I firmly believe in calling a person what they want to be called. Forget the PC stuff, unless that’s what the person wants. Ex: If someone wants to be called an “African-American,” that’s fine with me. You have that right. (I’d be fascinated to talk to a Jilleroo, anyway. ) :-D

    I think the “sex talk” thing is a generational gap. It’s relatively new for large numbers of the population to be open about sex. My generation (late “Boomer”) may have started some of this in the 1960’s, but it seems that we turned into our parents as we aged. I’m a bit reticent to talk about sex myself. I mostly ascribe it to my former religious upbringing. My wife is almost totally unable to talk about sex with anyone (even me), and she’s an RN. Go figure. And, yes, it causes stress in our marriage, but that’s another subject.

    I told my wife before we married not to expect me to ‘write off’ the other half of the human race just because I married her. I have many close friends that happen to be women, and I actually find it easier to talk to and make friends with women than I do with other men. No idea why. And, yes, it bothers her sometimes, though I have been faithful for almost 30 years.

    I despise the “Girls shouldn’t like/be good at (fill in the blank)” mentality. I call that blatant prejudice. By the same token, I hate the media’s take that “Men are idiots,” Women really run the house,” and “The kids are always smarter than their parents.” That’s just more blatant prejudice- and coming from the media, it’s dangerous because some will believe it and act as if it were true.

    Guy stuff I DO like:
    * Explosions

    * Watching programs like MasterBlasters (How cool is it to build shit and then blow it to smithereens!?!? And learn about engineering and science at the same time!?!?) , Junkyard Wars, Monty Python, Benny Hill, etc.

    *Fix/build stuff (within strict limits)

    *Gross jokes

    *Major storms

    *Science-fiction (though this seems to have become more gender-neutral since I was a kid

    *Boobs, “admiring the female form”

    * T-shirts, flannel shirts, jeans and sneakers are my preferred clothing

    * My computer area and hobby area look like garbage dumps

    Non-guy stuff:

    * I can cry at movies (like Marley & Me)

    *I can cook very well, bur I don’t care to much

    * Animal rescue (I’m a sucker for small, helpless animals)

    * I have no problem being navigator or driver

    * I still watch and enjoy good cartoons/animation

    * I ignore sports for the most part. (I do hope the Packers get to the Super Bowl every year, but that’s because we used to live there)

    * I still build models (lots of us out here, too)

    * Good at languages

    *Suck at math

    *I’m too introspective for my own good. My mind does NOT shut off when I’m away from work or have a personal problem. Sometimes, I have to bludgeon it into submission so I can get some rest.

    I find people that don’t adhere to gender stereotypes fascinating. I respect a woman that can fix a car better than I can. I respect a man that can cook better than I can.

    My wife tends to jump into personal situations a bit faster than I do, which can sometimes make it look as if she is the leader. However, I am actually sitting back for a few seconds to evaluate the situation.

    @Kimbo, Bug_Girl, Indigo: I have a daughter that sounds a lot like you gals…

  33. On the “feminine” side, I have long hair, I love to sew and crochet, I must bake something sweet when friends come over, sparkly things make me drool, and I cry at almost everything.

    On the “non-feminine” side, clothes are just fabric, I never wear makeup or heels, I play D&D, I’m not interested in having children, and explosions make me mysteriously happy.

    I find that I have more male friends than female friends, partly because I’m more comfortable talking about video games than fashion. Who cares what the “new black” is? Tell me when Diablo 3 is coming out!

  34. DNAmom:

    Learning to accept things that I’m inclined to fight against is hardest for me too. I used to think that “stay at home mom” was a trap for women. Over a period of years though it became very apparent to my wife and me that should we acquire a baby having a stay at home mom was the best plan. The baby never worked out so now I have a stay at home writer. I think babies might be less trouble.

  35. Growing up with one older brother and one younger brother made me a bit tomboy-ish; I played soccer in a boys team, climbed trees, with dressing up I wanted to be the red Power Ranger (or the princess) and once I kicked my brother in the stomach. Not very ladylike (they would have scratched him or something)…

    Now I’m attending at Fashion School and I want to become a fashion designer. I love shoes, skirts and dresses.

    My room loks awful; dust everywhere and a huge mess (hasn’t really been cleaned in two years)
    And the things that really annoys me is that guys don’t want to talk about soccer with me.
    I don’t know ’bout the whole gender expectations. I agree with halincoh.

  36. /* To what extent do you meet society’s expectations for your gender? Do you feel this has had an effect on your life, socially or otherwise?*/

    First let me say what a great question, I’ve learned so much about all of you. As I get older I think I have becaome more like James Fox’s comment “I do what I do and like what I like. From a distance I suppose it could look stereotypically male but frankly I just don’t care.”
    I less and less care whether I fit into anyone elses idea of a man. I am 45 now and just doing what I can to enjoy as much life as I can. So answering the second question I don’t really feel an affect on my life.
    Of course this can be because I fit more into the man sterotype.

    Sports – Yes, played football and basketball when I was younger. I backpacked extensively. Of course injuries have made me give up football in my early thirties and basketball and backpacking a couple years ago.
    Still I get out an play disc golf regularly and hope to get my back in better shape so I can backpack again.
    I know and love watching sports and have run a football pool for 26 years.

    Can’t fix anything that is not a computer. Just never learned about cars growing up in the city, I didn’t even drive until I was in my mid twenties. Tools I sort of can use, ratchet, screw driver and hammer.

    Like movies (call them films if you like) and see mostly genre pics, horror, action but mix my fair share of serious drama and comedies.
    Boston Sci-Fi Marathon on Presidents Day weekend is a can’t miss event for me. I will be attending my 20th this year

    Mostly just work my ass off trying to save money so I won’t have to work until I am 75.

    I do have a wonderful 17 year old daughter (Joy) who although I tried to limit her access loves the fashion and designer cloths and lives to spend my money on shoes and handbags. Still she plays rugby and knows more about current sports than I do. No small feat.

    My wife – Therapist, Storyteller and so much more organized than me. I am in awe of her every day. Now if I could just get her to stop with the homeopathy. Of course than her chakra will be out of sync.

  37. @Lyc: @mxracer652: when i wrote the question, i had in mind western society, because that is where my experience (and that of most of the readers of this blog) lies. having said that, the question does not define any specific society, so you could be free to read and answer according to your own cultural experience.
    the impetus behind my asking it had more to do with how people feel they fit or don’t fit their particular culture’s expectations than what those particular expectations are or are not.

  38. @wet_bread: oooh…gender differences…now you’re getting into my favorite topic…i think it’s safe to say you’ll be seeing something on that from me in the coming months. probably not an a.i., though.

  39. The social transformations of modern societies have eroded societal expectations about genders. However, even in traditional societies there were more than two gender roles (e.g. the role of priests or nuns in Catholic countries). Now we have multiple gender roles… and multiple expectations. This is good but even more open-minded people try to classify other people in gender-sex schemes.

  40. I almost cried when I stumbled upon an injured squirrel the other day (I have a weakness for cut little furry animals), but I would kill Robert Mugabe if I had a clean shot at the SOB (nobody should be able to cause that much misery and get away with it).

    Of course my immediate family pretty much disintegrated due to alcoholism and mental illness, so there isn’t any pressure from “family” to behave any certain way. My sister is a fundamentalist, but we manage to respect each others positions and get along really well considering. Maybe because we are the only two in the immediate family who aren’t dead (gives you more incentive to get along).

    I haven’t seen him in a number of years, but I have a very macho friend who has more guns than rooms in his house to keep them. We are talking AR-15, 0.44 desert eagle pistol, beretta 92F, pump shotgun, high-powered rifle, etc (he even had an Uzi for a while). He always drives big 4×4 trucks wears a long beard and has a grim reaper tatooed on his shoulder. If you say this guy you’d probably be intimidated and figure he would have a have a pit bull or a rotweiler for a dog, but instead he used to have a little pomeranian named “Snuggles”. Once he almost shot snuggles accidently while cleaning his beretta. He told me that he would have turned the gun on himself had he killed her and I believe that he was at least partially serious :-) :-)


  41. I went to an all-girls secondary school and actually revelled in it. I found that when there are no guys around, there’s room for people to fit into whichever niche they want. The idea that an all-girls school means more bitching and general back-stabbing follows in the stereotype as well.

    Technically, I do fit in with society’s expectations of me as a girl. I wear make-up, I’m studying for an arts’ degree, I wear feminine clothes, have a boyfriend, dissolve into tears during Titanic and the like, adore chocolate and love to chat on the phone! But I’ve never been conscious of any pressure on me to become like this. And alongside those characteristics I’m not afraid of getting muddy, I’ll go camping, swimming in the sea in March etc. I’ll be the one picking up a spider to take it outside when everyone else is screaming. And I’ll play Age of Empires and Dungeons & Dragons with my brothers. Actually, I don’t know if that’s meant for guys or just simply termed as ‘nerdy’.

    The only circumstance I can think of where I have been consciously aware of the chauvinistic environment which surrounded me, was at my place of work. Now, before you all condemn me for working where I do, note that the scarce number of jobs that there were in my area when I first got this job has since decreased in this crunch, and a degree doesn’t pay for itself. So yes, I work in McDonald’s. And I can honestly say I’ve never encountered a more sexist environment. My boyfriend was one of the last guys to be trained on front counter (i.e. working tills/drive-thru rather than in the kitchen), because the new manager will only allow girls there now, in order to lower customer complaints – apparently he thinks the vulnerability/attractiveness of girls lowers the rate of formal complaints. He has also had cameras set up on front counter to benefit from this arrangement himself. (*this is a well-based assumption, not proven fact*)

    But the worst thing is, and I admit that I’ve done this myself, that the only way you can get help from almost all of my make co-workers, is through flirtation. You simply cannot work with them on an equal level. Unless they consider you a potential sexual object they will have nothing to do with you. This results in the amount of make-up the girls wear increasing, the buttons of their shirts undone, and the number of times I have had my bum squeezed by the guys is ridiculous, because they have been led to believe it is acceptable.

    So yeah, overall I would agree with the last part of halincoh’s comment, I attempt to be whatever I want to be in most situations, but I do find that, as a girl, I am forced to conform in certain situations, but once I leave that part-time job I aim to never be put in that situation again.

  42. Oh, I am absolutely the definition of Male Guy Dude.

    I am bristling with firearms. I don’t walk into a dark room without “softening it up” with something high caliber. If there’s still anything moving in there afterwards, I have sex with it.

    I build mechanical devices out of spare parts. And by spare parts, I mean “iron molecules.” I once build a Ford Focus out of a Volkswagon Jetta, using only a pipe wrench, wire coat hangers, and rampaging onanism. Then I had sex with it.

    When something breaks, I get a new one. Repairing things are for sisssies. I would no more replace a AA battery than I would give chemotherapy to a woodchuck, unless I needed to have sex with it.

    And sports! I love sports. I don’t actually play any, but I don’t need to what with my big-ass TV. I know who won the 1961 Belmont Stakes (Sherluck, owned by Jacob Sher, won 8 goals to 4 in sudden death). I own the bleacher seat four rows up from where Goose Goslin hit a home run in Game 2 of the 1933 World Series between the NY Giants and Washington Senators. (I have had it relaquered and sometimes I have sex on it.)

    I cried once, for eight seconds. When Joe Montana retired. I did NOT have sex with him.

    I left home in 1994, and I will get back there soon. I know a shortcut. No, I don’t need directions.

    Glad we got that settled. Who wants some sex?

  43. Someone mentioned class differences in gender identity but I’ve noticed regional differences. Where I live now, if you’re not able to discuss the pros and cons of the cover-2 defense, many will look at you as if your missing a pair of attachments.
    I may have manly traits, but they are of my own design. Beer? Sure, but not anything you’ve seen advertised on TV. I enjoy crafting a meal as much as I enjoy crafting some piece of furniture.
    I loath big budget movies, especially ones where the plot is BLOW UP EVERYTHING. I have a habit of spontaneous song or dance.
    When I find myself in a conversation with someone who has rigidly defined stereotypes I can see their discomfort. Often I’ll see how far I can push them simply for my own entertainment. Those who survive, often become a close friend.

  44. My parents tried to raise me in a very traditional way. Heck, I’m old enough that it wasn’t until 5th grade that girls were allowed to wear pants to school!

    When I was a teenager MS magazine published a short story called “Baby X” It had a huge impact on woman of my generation. I raised both my daughters according to “Baby X” (now ofcourse gender differences are accepted, but I still think the theory behind baby X was sound… worked well for my daughters). I had to endure a lot of stuff for dressing my girls in blue, and buying sturdy clothes with trucks on them (along with cute dresses , Baby X theory was to mix it up). I found both girls were more willing to get dirty and have some fun when dressed in boys clothing! So I actually ended up shopping more and more in the boys section.

    I was more concerned with how they felt rather than how they looked.

    I had a great husband that would say stuff like “let her shake it off” when either girl would fall down…. he refused to allow me to treat them like they were fragile little “girls” in any way.

    My own life, both my parents wanted me to learn to type so I would “always have a job”. I was forced to take typing every year in high school. The best I ever got was a “C”. Becuase no way was I going to learn to type becaues I would never ever be a secretary. That’s as rebelious as I became as a kid.

  45. I’m not a stereotype. Other people’s expectations of how I should think/feel/react/talk has nothing to do with me, and I make no apologies for who I am. Despite my rather bushy beard, I won’t hesitate to tell someone, “Hey, I gotta go. Gilmore Girls is on.” I like guns but I don’t hunt (you can *buy* meat) which seems to throw a lot of people off-balance during deer season. So society’s expectations, whatever those may be, don’t affect me at all.

  46. I’ve been the leader of a hard rock band for years, I get so sick of press interviews when I am asked: “what it is like to be a woman leading a rock band?” It is exactly the same as a man leading a rock band only I’m a bit shorter. So I wear heels. Sheesh. There’s one journalist in my town that gets it, thankfully, the rest kind of irritate me with this subject. When can we move on with this? Other folks above have suggested this might be generational, and I believe it. The young guys in my group don’t blink an eye at my gender, or even the fact I’m much older than them. They don’t care at all because we are in it together for the music, it is other people that seem to find it curious.

    Like some of the other people above, I also have a mixed bag of interests. I knit, crochet, love make-up but I also have my own recording studio. One of my dear friends that I love and have known for years, who is in a successful national band asked me “who helped you set up this studio?” I set it up myself. Why did he think I needed help? For some reason he immediately believed I knitted the scarf I gave his wife for her birthday without any help. He meant no harm, but this is coming from somewhere, and many of us have had to deal with these kinds of irritations in our work because these gender notions still exist.

  47. @ wet_bread: I think gender roles can typically be conceived of as archetypes or ideals (in the philosophical sense). We each fall under various different categories with varying degrees of compliance. Nobody ever perfectly matches an archetype and nobody fits only just one. So, the male role would be essentially what society conceives of as the ideal man. I think for the greater population this could almost be equated to the picture on the cover of Men’s Health or GQ, and I think this is what was initially referred to. However, I think this is a composite of at least two different components. Each individual (I’m speaking from a heteronormal position here simply for the sake of simplicity, it is not my intent to be discriminatory or to deny the complexity inherent in any discussion of gender roles) is inculturated in two gender roles: i) what is expected of them and thus what is expected from their gender, and ii) what they should expect from the other gender. If I’m right about this then it seems a gender role as an archetype must be some combination of both what our gender expects of us and what the other gender expects.

    Anecdotally, I find this to be true in my relationships. I have few guy friends because I find that one on one guys tend to play to a role that I don’t actually expect or appreciate, the notion of lockerroom talk sums up this role effectively.

    To speak personally I think I fit my own gender role fairly well, though must admit a lack of aggression and a penchant for romantic comedies and sappy love ballads. However, my expectations of the gender roles for women don’t match up quite so well. I find myself very attracted to strong, independent women. The typical (read Hollywood) archetypes of the damsel in distress, princess, or proper little housewife just don’t appeal to me.

  48. Pretty much fully. I’ve been described as being, “A cross between Niles Crane and Ray Meers” which I would say is correct.

    There’s no reason why you can’t love Rugby and Opera!

    I think men do have an easier time of it though. The range of things we are “allowed” to take an interest in is much wider than that for women. Hell, pretty much what takes your fancy, whereas it seem to me there aren’t as many female science/engineering enthuisasts as there ought to be.

    @sethmanapio: I’ve thought about this a lot and I think for all concerned it’d be better if no body talked about their feelings. Ever. Or if they must, say it once to those concerned in a clear manner such as “I am sad because my Parent/Wife/Child Died, I shall require a Day/Week/Month to compose myself and will not be working at optimum until DD/MM/YY”

    People like to ruminate on their emotions for some reason and “Share” thought they don’t thank you for any advice you might give.

    Example, a friend of a friend was dumped by her boyfriend and after not only ruining on our coffee time routine kept asking us why he would leave her for X and when I explained that usually the reasons are that the replacement is better looking, better company or better in bed or some combination of all three, she actually got even more upset!

  49. @kittynh: re typing. To be fair, I learn’t to touchtype when I was 17 at night classes (to a metronome and a record from the 1940’s) and, after reading and writing, given the frequency with I use it, it’s probably the most useful skill I’v ever learnt.

  50. I love purses!!! I’ve got tonnes of them but I always want more.
    OK they are more along the lines of backpacks and “outdoors shoulder bags” but let’s be honest, it’s no different than a womans love of purses.
    I’ve recognized it for a long time and only refer to my bag as a purse, not a man purse or European carry-all, it’s a purse and I refuse to invent a new term just to make people comfortable.

    Gender roles are something I don’t pay much attention too. My son loves his Star Wars action figures (and all the destruction that comes with that) but he also loves his musical theatre class. I support that.

    You gotta be who you gotta be, don’t let someone else’s label change that.

  51. @carr2d2: I think it’s pretty lame that most dismiss “cars/going fast” as machismo. Racing (anything) is super high end technology. Even with the very human limited motorsports (machine technology) to the track & field (physiology technology), there is inherent geekiness involved in every field.

    I think it’s kind of lame to try to pigenhole people into certain perspectives.

    Unless you’re into thinking the high end/tech stuff is male and the fluff stuff is female?

  52. @mxracer652: a big part of why i asked this question is because i also think it’s lame to pigeonhole people. we sell ourselves and everyone else short when we look at a stereotype rather than the person.
    i am loving reading what all of you have had to say, and how much you are all very much individuals. i think the more we talk about the ways that gender stereotypes just flat out don’t apply to most people most of the time (or at least are gross oversimplifications) the better.

    as far as the cars issue, i don’t think people are dismissing anything. you seem to be reading people’s descriptions of what they are not as what they somehow disapprove of in others, which i’m not sure is fair. looking at western culture, it’s pretty clear that interest in cars/racing is expected of males more than females. i’m not saying that’s right (i happen to like a good fast car myself), but that is our societal stereotype.

  53. VioletSerene: Hey there, nice to see another Kiwi around the place, as well as the odd Australian as well. We can’t let the Yanks and the Poms have all the fun, now can we?

    I also second the COTW nomination for Phlebas comment #48.

  54. @carr2d2:

    Indeed, I thought you would have had a “generic western culture” in mind, but without a common reference of some kind it is difficult to see how to compare them (thus my UK/US/Oz example) hence why I brought it up.

    For example – when my sister and I were growing up on the farm, we both drove tractors, put up fences, mustered cattle, shot rabbits, etc. “Gender roles” never came into it, as it was simply a task that needed to be done while living on a farm. But some urban circles see these tasks as typically “masculine roles”. So why my sister moved to the city, had her past suddenly turned into “being in male roles”?

    Later on, I learned to sew and iron properly when in the military, because basic uniform maintenance required it. Sewing and ironing are sometimes seen as “female roles”, whereas being a soldier is typically a “male role”. So what role was I in? Male? Female? Oscillating back and forth? Or living inside a box with Schrodingers cat waiting for something to collapse the “role waveform”?

    Another example could be dolls. Playing with dolls is seen as a female role in a lot of quarters, but strip away the names (“action figures”) and a lot of boys play with dolls as well. Hence why I mentioned the Jillaroo on TV. The US doctor seemd to have the impression that a Jillaroo was a sort of a freak, a ‘lesser form’ of a Jackaroo because the person was female. Were as from the local perspective a Jackaroo and Jillaroo is exactly the same thing, the only differnce being the person in question has a different biological sex. And names and terms are slippery things.

    So basically how does one tell when on is in/outside a role when the “roles” themselves can change with the breeze, location and circumstamced?. And more to the point, why should anyone care if they are falling into a predefined role?

  55. Let’s see, I like playing many sports, but can’t be bothered to watch them. My room is a disaster. I don’t have much in the way of dress clothes, and really hate shopping for clothes, or getting them as gifts. My shoes are either work boots or walking shoes. I hike alone alot, in rough areas, and sometimes I fall down and hurt myself, and have to get my own idiot ass out. I get up point blank too rattlesnakes to take their picture. I’m fairly handy fixing things, even if I’m a bit inexperienced, and don’t always have the right tools. I hate cooking, but hate going hungry, and eat questionable food. I look at pretty ladies, though I try to be discrete about it. Signals from women tend to go right over my head. I hate shaving and haircuts. I’d rather grow my hair out (I have great wavy viking hair), but it’s very thick and too much bother to care for. I do Civil War re-enacting, and am right now working to join the real army.

    I watch chick flicks and kids movies, but don’t like the ones that make me cry. I cry too damm easily. I can’t stand the taste of alcohol (I’m Irish, Swedish, and Czech, and I can’t stand alcohol?). Most of my best friends are women. My best bosses have been women. I have a few friends who run to me to cry on my shoulder, but somehow would never consider dating me. I love photography. I have no problems with those of different sexual orientations (though I’d rather not hear the details). I like getting asked out (though it almost never happens). And I tend to talk to much :)

  56. I was born in Wyoming,
    In the middle of February,
    The first in my family,
    To Victor and Kathy.

    My interests are studying,
    Fine art, English, and astronomy,
    I’d rather not be a cowboy,
    It’s rather unhealthy.

    I listen to John,
    I listen to Burzum,
    They’re better than that twangy country hum,
    It’s Europe that they’re from.

    Steer means what my steering wheel does,
    Not the bovine in the field.
    Left and right I will yield,
    Getting bugs as big as cow pies in my windshield.

    These are not boots,
    Just sandals branded Teva.
    Not made in America,
    Just like those Wranglers that are on ya.

  57. I’m having a hard enough time trying to “live up to” society’s expectations of me as a human being. I’m not even getting into the whole “what it expects of me by gender.”

  58. @MathMike:

    I loath big budget movies…

    That sounds like someone who just assumes that if it has a big budget it must suck. I would never say that I “loathe big budget movies” because many times there are really, really great films made that have large budgets. There are certainly plenty of times where that is not the case, but then there are plenty of crappy low budget or small budget films out there as well. Personally I’d just say that I “loathe bad and stupid films, especially where the plot is blow everything up” (although with the corallary that there are situations where the “blow everything up” when done in an interesting or original way can be highly entertaining).

  59. @killyosaur42:
    How about the comparison between the 1st Rambo movie and the sequels? Or Sean Connery’s Bond (although very sexist) verses more recent versions? Perhaps I should have said, “Mega (BOOM) Explosions (BLAMM-O) Action Movies!!!(BOOM, BOOM, BOOOOOOOM)!”

  60. I do almost all of the home ec stuff in the house. I do all of the cooking, most of the cleaning and almost all of the typicaly maternal roles with the kids. I have custody of the kids and my ex is way, way behind on her child support. I read and enjoy arty films and foreign films, I like poetry. I don’t watch sports because they bore the piss out of me. I like to stay in shape and am working on getting back too it. I cry when I think about the fact that my youngest child will be an adult in 6 years. My life has centered around my children for the last 16 years and I don’t know what I will do when they are grown up and don’t need their dad to help them with everything. At the same time I am trying to teach them everything that they need to know to be functional adults. I’m a little teary right now just writing about it.

  61. I am a heterosexual male, I have a web page with ~2000 pictures of cute kittens with funny captions and I think David Bowie is hot. I also despise all “Chickflicks” I can think of right now.

    @MathMike: Extrapolating from 2 Movies? What happens if you put “Space Odyssey”, “Apocalyse Now” and “Plan 9 from outer space” in your equation?

  62. Um…

    Wears skirts, dresses and make up. Check.
    No kids.
    Makes double husband’s salary.
    Has husband. Check.
    Does all yard work.
    Does most construction/repair work.
    Caring, nurturing personality. Check.
    Punched out guy during last year as a nightclub bouncer.
    Has girlfriend.

    I don’t know. I’m pretty subversive in that I LOOK all girly and gender normative for being a woman. However, all it takes is about five minutes of conversation for me to blow that impression out of the water.

  63. @Brian’s a Wild Downer: At last, a kindred soul!

    @GeekGirl: After reading your post, I find myself wondering exactly what your husband does do? I think you’d be great to meet, too… :-D

  64. Hm…well…I like to play with my hair. I like make up. I like being told that I’m pretty. I like to flirt. I have a weakness for men who will hurt me and I never date the nice guys who I should. I hate math. I like fashion. I love cats.

    Then again…I argue too much for my own good. I have a tendency to be terribly vulgar. I’m fucking funny. I approach sex in a traditionally masculine way. I don’t express my feelings well. I’m violent. I think gory horror movies are hysterical, not scary. I don’t whimper or faint. I’m not shy, virtuous, neat, religious or easily controlled.

    So I don’t know…Depends on what stereotype you’re using. Stereotypes are constantly being redefined, don’t ya know. ;-)

  65. @ JamesK:
    Huh. I guess my brain was saturated with James K Baxter by my 5th form English teacher to the point where it’s the only thing I can think of when I see James and K together :-P

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