Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Gendered Language in Modern Society

It was not surprising to me, as a female student at a co-ed school, that males and females had gendered tendencies in their writing. After all, most males and females typically approach literature and writing with different points of view. I believe all students are influenced by the environment in which they grew up. The surprising aspect of gendered language is the encouragement and enforcement of it during the development of youth-- without the awareness of children themselves.

Being the youngest of three children, with one brother and one sister, I have noticed gendered language implemented into rules about behavior. My brother, the eldest, was always given a free ride in cases where my sister and I were not. An "inappropriate" word was only shocking when it was uttered by one of their daughters. Bold and aggressive behavior was normal for a fearless young boy. From Brendan, vulgar language was expected and tolerated. I had not realized it then, but my parents had groomed me to be polite and feminine, and I was just that.

In elementary school I can remember my parents bringing my sister and me to an exclusive club on Beacon Hill. My great aunt was a secondary member there, a relationship only permitted through her deceased husband, who was allowed to hold a membership as a male. Nonsense was forbidden, as well as children, with the only exceptions to the rule being my sister and me. We would often send my brother to a friend's house if we dined at the club for lunch. My sister and I were well-mannered and well behaved, attributes that my brother never acquired. Although some would argue my mother was doing her daughters a disservice by dressing us in white stockings and pastel dresses, I would say my "ladylike" appearance was significant in my development of proper behavior. The reprimands I received as a young girl for intolerable language served me better than my brother. My mother never discouraged me from having mannerisms or interests that seemed boyish, but she did expect a level of maturity from me that my brother was incapable of at the time. Although it may be of some surprise, I do not blame my mother for enforcing the manners and typical behavior expected of a young girl. 

As evident in our discussion with Mr. Robertson, gendered language between young boys and girls creates rigid roles in society that are often hard to venture from. The gentleness and softness expected of women does not always serve them well in the workplace, and because of their brazen behavior, men often assert themselves more. With this in mind, I don't believe children must conform to one gender norm or the other. As boys and girls develop they should be given guidelines of appropriate behavior with flexibility. However, as a young girl who grew up with firm expectations, I would never look upon my "ladylike" etiquette with resentment.

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