Tag Archives: gender essentialism

Misogyny in action.

I apologize for not getting a blog post up yesterday.  Extra hours at work and the mental exhaustion caused by a major deadline and other factors prevailed, and I chose to spend much of the last forty-eight hours taking care of myself rather than blogging.  I hope to make time and conserve mental energy tonight to meet my blogging schedule for the rest of this week.

In the meantime, I wanted to bring attention to a week-old story from the Huffington Post. Kristen Wolfe relates a story in which two boys come in to the store she works so the older boy can buy the other one, his younger brother, a game and game controller.  The younger brother selects a game with a female character and a purple controller, specifically referring to purple as a “girl color.”  All is well and everyone is happy until the boys’ father gets involved.  Kristen describes his reaction:

He saw the game, and the controller, and started in on the youngest about how he needs to pick something different. Something more manly. Something with guns and fighting, and certainly not a purple controller. He tried to convince him to get the new Zombie game “Dead Island” and the little boy just stood there repeating, “Dad, this is what I want, OK?” Eventually it turned into a full-blown argument complete with Dad threatening to whoop his son if he didn’t choose different items.

Kristen goes on to tell how the older brother stood up for his sibling until his father backed won and then reassured the boy.  Kristen herself spoke to the younger brother, pointing out that he should go on liking whatever it is he likes, regardless of what other people think.  It’s a great story that challenges gender stereotypes and vindicates those who choose not to be limited by the narrowly defined gender roles.

I think it’s equally important to note, however, that this story is also about misogyny.  The father in the story’s whole problem with his younger son’s choices is that, in his mind at least, they’re not sufficiently “manly” choices.  That’s code word for “his son is being too much like a girl.”  This suggests that there’s something wrong with a boy being “too much like a girl,”[1] which suggests that there’s probably something wrong with being a girl.

This is my problem with ideas like “manning up” and “being a man.”  They are based in the idea that “being a man” really means “not being a girl/woman.”  It reinforces the idea that women are second-class humans, even if unintentionally.  And I’m not at all convinced it’s unintentional.

  Which means we’re almost certainly in transphobic territory too.