Feminist Consciousness: Are You “Woke”?

18 Jan

We have had such an intriguing beginning to our journey this semester. Considering the bell hooks reading, share with us how you became aware of gender differences beyond the obvious. In other words, can you remember when you were aware that being male, or female, had meaning for your life?

I’ll start: I think I was about 7 when one afternoon after school I climbed to the top of the tree in our front yard. I was quite proud of that, so when my parents returned from a meeting, I yelled at them from the top of the tree. I saw my father’s face and thought, “Oh, he thinks I might fall.” He did not. They told me to come down “immediately.” I did, and my father said, “Andrea, you can’t climb like that with a dress on.” I said, “Why not? I have on panties.” Well, in the ensuing exchange, this was my introduction to the concept that for girls to allow anything under their dresses to be seen was wrong.

9 Replies to “Feminist Consciousness: Are You “Woke”?

  1. I think when I became aware of gender differences I was in my fourth-grade class at Stanley Elementary School. During health class, our teacher split us up into boy groups and girl groups to watch the puberty documentaries; at this moment, I remember not even knowing what puberty entailed for both sexes, so I was so confused as to why we had to split up by gender. I didn’t understand why we had to watch the videos separately, but I then realized it was because society inflicts a gender binary upon us.

    • We did something similar at my elementary school, too. The part that confused me the most was that while the girls were inside learning about our “girl problems” and puberty, the boys got to go outside for extra recess time. All the female teachers stayed in to answer questions, while the male teachers went outside with the boys. I remember thinking how unfair that felt, almost as if the boys were being rewarded for not being girls. The boys got their puberty talk the following year because they were considered too immature at the time when we were given ours.

  2. At the moment, I can’t think of any specific memories that most definitely made me aware of the significance of gender differences. However, I can recall becoming generally aware of the expectations that went along with being female around when I was in second or third grade. I began to realize that as a young woman, there was a certain way I was supposed to behave. The most salient gender norms I remember realizing were not being too loud or too bossy. Reflecting back on these gender norms, I now realize that these are the ones I was most attuned to likely because I was also trying to avoid being racially stereotyped as the “loud ghetto black girl.” I think that subconsciously, I was trying to act in accordance with these gender norms not only to conform to society’s expectations of me as a young woman, but also in order to avoid being reduced to a racial stereotype.

    • I relate to your experience because I also felt expected to have a soft voice as a young woman. Growing up, I noticed that women with loud voices were often considered “annoying”, while men with loud voices tend to be considered “leaders”. It’s hard to empower young women to speak up when their role models are often criticized for being too loud. Men are often rewarded with leadership roles because when they are loud it is not considered abrasive or overbearing.

  3. In elementary school, there was a boy in my class named Mackenzie with really long hair. Because he had a unisex name and “feminine” hair, substitute teachers would often refer to him as she or her. Whenever this happened, the whole class would burst into laughter. This was one of the first times I realized how deeply gender is tied to physical appearance. At the time, witnessing the ridicule that came with misgendering this person made me feel thankful that I had a name and appearance that matched my gender. Even today, it’s interesting how something as simple as your haircut can still imply so much about your gender identity.

  4. I have a younger brother who is only one year younger than I am, so I have always been aware of stereotypical differences placed on each gender. When my brother and I played sports together in our backyard, he was always expected to beat me because boys are supposed to be stronger, faster, and more athletic. If I ever beat him doing anything athletic, adults would comment saying something along the lines of, “how did you let your sister beat you?!” Even today, my parents make fun of my brother because he often cares more about his appearance than I do. Whereas I don’t usually wear makeup or do my hair, my brother takes time to pick out his outfit and style his hair, which means he usually takes more time to get ready than I do. The gender stereotype that women care more about their appearance and, therefore, take longer to get ready is the source of constant jokes among my family members to this day.

  5. I have been aware of gender differences since I was just beginning high school, but I never really payed to much attention to it until my sister graduated college. I noticed she was really struggling yo find a job in the field she studied in college. There we times I over heard her talking to my parents about how a man got the job over her and he was no where near as qualified as her. she really felt some interviews she walked in she already knew she had o chance because she was an African American women. I noticed how frustrated she was because she worked extremely hard and it was hard for her to just live with knowing some places are judging her off her gender and race.

  6. I have never taken a class like this, and I am very intrigued to learn and become more knowledgable of our topic. I have always been aware of gender differences, but one of the main things I am interested in learning and discussing is gender differences in sports. I understand that all individuals have different opinions and this topic is very controversial. As a female athlete myself, I have always been aware of the stereotypes that come along with a male athlete and a female athlete. Women have a stereotype of not being as physically strong or able to perform in sports as well as men. I am excited to learn about ways to break these stereotypes, and the history of why these stereotypes have existed.

  7. I remember becoming aware that I was a male fairly late in my life. I mean I always knew that there was that background acknowledgment. I’m a guy, according to society I should do this, that and “guy things” but I never paid much attention to that voice. I do what I want regardless of what the social norms were for men. For example, a lot of Black men stand around at parties waiting to “dance” with a girl. I prefer to actually dance with everyone rather than wait around, and to be frank it’s not grinding its just a regular two-step or something. Additionally, I’m still waiting to get my nails done–anyone tryin’ to go? In college, I realized that by being male that I had privileges of not being catcalled by walking down the street or in public places. Realizing that had a huge impact on my life because I began to think for myself and notice all of the privileges that I have as a man that women do not. For example, peace of mind when going out and not have to worry/think about getting assaulted. My focus was constantly on my disadvantages of being Black that I forgot about my advantages of being male.

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