Although it may be ideal for a child to be raised as gender aschematic, I believe deterring any gender stereotypes in our society is just not realistic. Even if parents do everything to resist acting in gendered ways, there are too many other outlets that expose children to gender categorization. I agree with Lady Lazarus in her recent remarks about Sandra Bem's gender schema theory: parents will not be able to censor the gender information their children receive at school. Besides school, children will experience gender categorization in other public places when they begin to realize all the commonalities that their peers of the same sex have with one another which are the result of a gender schema.
I do acknowledge that being gender aschematic can lead to being socially androgynous which does have positive aspects for the individual mentioned by Sandra Bem and Lady Lazarus. Some of these aspects mentioned were that men would have more egalitarian views of women and other men while women could essentially have fewer mental issues and higher levels of self esteem. Also, parents who are not strongly gendered may lead to the child eventually becoming less gender typed themselves which brings about individuality. The children will not be following the gendered norms because they have created their own identity and could possibly create their own categorization that could lead to societal benefits. Eventually, this may lead to the end of gender schemas if enough children were raised this way in an ideal world. However, these are only possibilities and not definite outcomes. I believe this would be nearly impossible because of the gender driven society that we live in. In addition, as experienced by Bem’s son, people who become socially androgynous will still face social issues with their peers which make this style of living difficult. This fact supports my argument that being raised as gender aschematic may actually be more detrimental to the individual. Our society follows these gender categories and acting out of the norm may be difficult for the individual.
An example of the negative responses that people face when they do not fit a gender schema is from “What It Means to be Gendered Me” by Betsy Lucal. Lucal discussed the consequences of her inappropriate “gender display.” Although she is a female, she was gendered as a man because of her physical appearance. One of the specific problems Lucal faced was when women did not want her in women-only spaces and she would have to deal with such discrimination. In this case, Lucal was not raised as gender aschematic, but her situation demonstrates the result of a person who may be socially androgynous in today’s society. Another issue with being raised as gender aschematic is that other people will still place that individual into one of the gender categories in which they seem most closely to fit anyways. As Lucal remarks, people “do” gender for us when we fail to do it. Again, this creates problems for a person raised to be gender aschematic because then they may begin to have issues with identity and interaction because he or she may not have the same values and norms as society.
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.