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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Gender Issues » Interesting Gender Question

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Author Topic: Interesting Gender Question
-Firefly-
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This is an exercise from one of my classes. I thought it was very interesting.

Read the following description, and then look at the instructions underneath it:

Chris got up and went to the bathroom. Leaving pyjamas on the floor and turning on the shower, Chris stepped into the water. It was not a hair-washing day, so after a quick rub with the soap it was time to get out and dry off. After towelling and applying hair putty to the new short haircut, Chris dabbed on some moisturising lotion and went to get dressed. Nothing special was happening today so jeans and a T-shirt would be fine. The only choice really to be made was between basketball boots or sandals (Holmes 2007: 1).

So, did you think Chris was a man or a woman? What made up your mind?

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Vero
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-Lauren-
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I'll be the first to give it a shot! My inclination is woman because:

- Women seem more likely to wear substantial clothing to bed, hence pajamas.

- "New" short haircut implies it was long before, which is "abnormal" for a guy.

- More likely to use moisturizer.

- Shirt and jeans on an "unspecial" day implies fancier clothing is worn, likely a dress.

It was really ambiguous.. I had to bust my noggin deciding which was more "likely", and why.

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September
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Well, the answers are all based on stereotypes either way, no? And I'm not entirely certain what the purpose would be of listing stereotypes of femininity/masculinity and judging based on them, as that's an exercise we already engage in way too much, anyway.

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Johanna
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-Lauren-
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I think the point is to get people thinking about gender roles and the subtle ways behavior influences their interpretation.

Many people would think only a girl would use lotion or wear jeans on a "regular" day, but this exercises challenges them to ask "Why?" and attempt to justify their assumption with evidence from a not-so-firm concept.

More than is asked of moms who automatically paint a baby girl's room pink!

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Heather
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I couldn't have told from any of these questions what the sex or gender of that person was, honestly.

I could just as easily apply that paragraph to myself (save that unless it's freezing cold, I don't do pajamas, ever, and half the time when something special IS happening, I'll still be in jeans and a t-shirt:P) as I could to a myriad of men, women or transgender folks I know.

Nice exercise!

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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-Firefly-
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I thought some of the answers that came out in class were really interesting. It was a good way to show some of the stereotypes we already have. The prof also brought up that for most of us, it's very hard not to classify people by their gender, which is very true. Not to mention the fact that a lot of people have a very binary notion of gender and sex.

These are some of the answers we got:

One girl said that she thought it was either a man, or a lesbian, because of the short hair. (She acknowledged that this was a stereotype though.)

Another said that she thought it was man because of the fact that they left their pjs on the floor. Someone else countered that most guys they know don't even wear pjs.

Someone said they thought it was a woman because Chris moisturizes. Personally, I know a lot of guys who moisturize, so that wasn't a deciding factor for me.

This may sound strange, but my first thought was that Chris was a man because of the name. I know a guy named Chris, so he came to mind. I don't know any women named Chris, so it wasn't my first thought. Otherwise, I think this description could really apply to anyone.

[ 01-16-2008, 11:19 AM: Message edited by: blysse_norwood ]

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Vero
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Narwhal
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I found it really, really hard to say, (which I get is the point of the exercise) but I thought Chris was a woman. None of the guys I know well enough to know about their personal habits use moisturizer, so I kind of automatically classify it something guys don't tend to do--though I'd think they'd be feeling awfully itchy in the winter! [Eek!]
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KittenGoddess
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Good exercise!

My first thought honestly was, "Does it matter/affect the outcome?" But then again, I design/use exercises like this in my class, so I think I may have a little bit of a warped view. [Smile] (In other words, I can't really play by the rules.)

I like to use exercises like this in the class I teach. I use gender-neutral names wherever possible (unless I'm asking a question where gender might be a factor) and I also try to make relationships as ambiguous as possible. The conversation is usually very interesting.

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Sarah Liz

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Light
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To be honest, Early on I decided that this passage might be descibing me, so I was thinking of Chris as androgenous.

That feels like cheating somehow.

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libertatissacra
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quote:
Originally posted by blysse_norwood:
This may sound strange, but my first thought was that Chris was a man because of the name. I know a guy named Chris, so he came to mind. I don't know any women named Chris, so it wasn't my first thought. Otherwise, I think this description could really apply to anyone.

Yeah, I sort of pictured Chris as male for the same reason. Though actually, I have known one woman named Chris, but I've known a lot more males named Chris, and have just sort of come to associate that name with being male.

It's definitely an interesting piece, though. Thanks for sharing it.

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"America is the only country that went from barbarism to decadence without civilization in between."
-Oscar Wilde

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Austere
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I thought it was a human being... >_>
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