At the moment of conception, every individual is subjected to a life defined by quite plainly, their genitalia. Even before birth, many parents inadvertently contribute to socially-constructed concepts of gender with blue and pink-themed baby showers and gender reveal parties. Within the first few seconds of a child’s entry into the world, the gender assignment is further reinforced when the doctor makes the announcement of sex.
Gender stereotypes are heavily manipulated by industries that market toward two genders in order to double profit. Toys are distinctly separated by gender: race cars and robots for boys, dolls and baking sets for girls. Graphic tees reading “daddy’s girl” and “ladies’ man” are mass-produced. From an early age, individuals are forced to comply to binary concepts of gender and their standards. As a result, society continually sees generations of males who fear emasculation and females who embrace subordination.
In the classroom, gender classification thrives. The preconceived notion that boys excel in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) and physical education directly influences the male-dominated demographic of doctors, lawyers, and athletes. Girls are then encouraged to pursue humanities and the arts because “that’s what they do best”. But why should phallic anatomy or lack thereof be correlated with brain function?
Natali Lelieur, a freshman at Caltech says, “As a female in STEM, it’s difficult being one of the few girls in the classroom that are representing half of the world’s population. However, it’s exciting to see schools developing initiatives like Femineers, which is an engineering program for girls.”
Many people don’t know the difference between gender and sex. Sex constitutes one’s reproductive organs while gender is a spectrum of self-identity. Some individuals align with multiple genders or none at all.
In recent years, some parents have made the decision to raise their children as “theybies”- a colloquialism for kids who identify with gender-neutral pronouns. This results in children who do not associate gender with physical nor personality traits, but rather view gender as abstract. Although achievable in every household of an idealistic world, today’s society is still filtered in blue and pink. However, allowing new generations to become organically self-aware of their gender identity is a sure sign of the times.
Kate H. Lee, Grade 11
South Pasadena High School