In a recent blog entry titled, “Why Gender Typing is Positive,” Drizzle states that raising children to be gender aschematic is “unrealistic” because “there are too many other outlets that expose children to gender categorization.” Drizzle also states that the proposed benefits of raising your children to be gender aschematic are “only possibilities and not definite outcomes.” I do agree that once children leave the confines of the home they will be subjected to gender stereotypes, but to assume they will blindly accept these rigid ideas about gender is too simplistic. I am not asserting that by raising one's child in an environment relatively free of gender typing, the child is guaranteed to become socially androgynous. I do however believe that raising children in a gender aschematic environment will make them more open-minded about the full range of opportunities available to them and will encourage independent thinking. Children will be more likely to question the way in which gender is structured in society and will be more capable of critiquing gender stereotypes. I would also argue that a child who has lived in an environment relatively free of gender typing will be cognizant of the fact that a rigid gender binary does not reflect an inevitable reality. They will be able to understand that gender is not inherent and thus can be constructed in a variety of ways.
Drizzle later counters my argument about the beneficial aspects of raising children to be socially androgynous by asserting that children “who become socially androgynous will still face social issues with their peers which makes this style of living difficult.” Drizzle uses the example of Betsy Lucal and draws from her article “What it Means to be a Gendered Me” to support this claim. But Drizzle only applies a superficial reading of Lucal’s experiences. Betsy Lucal is a woman who has chosen not to "do" gender and as a result of her transgression of gender boundaries, Lucal is often mistaken for a man. Yes, Lucal did face adversity, but it is important to note that Lucal made this decision. At one point in the text, Lucal decided to grow her hair out and as a result was no longer mistaken for a man. To reduce Lucal's experiences of gender bending as experiences of victimization fails to acknowledge the activism she is trying to promote. Lucal seems to feel liberated by her experience because she feels she is helping to deconstruct a rigid and harmful gender binary.
While I appreciate Drizzle's arguments and concerns about Bem's proposal, I still believe it is a beneficial and achievable goal to raise one's children to be gender aschematic. I think it is a mistake for Drizzle to dismiss this argument on the grounds that these ideas are only possibilities and not definite outcomes. It is never guaranteed that individual efforts to create equality will result in immediate success, but rather, success may need to be measured in intervals. In order to restructure the rigid binary gender system, we must understand gender as a historical construct which can be changed and is subject to improvement. In order to make positive change, individuals must actively resist adhering to gender stereotypes, and we must raise our children to do the same.
~ Lady Lazarus
The Class Blog Project, or CBP, is a blog featuring undergraduate students forming a critical dialogue with each other around ideas related to the sociology of gender.