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comment by mk
mk  ·  1852 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Vi Hart: On Gender

    My conclusion on this is that I don't believe this woman would've behaved in this way if she'd been perceived as a female her entire life. Women are socialized in a different way than men. This makes me even more certain that a great deal of the behaviours associated with women and men have little to do with genetics, and more to do with culture (or maybe it says nothing on the subject, as I guess this woman is genetically a man?).

Having a kid altered my own view here somewhat. I have always felt it was part nature, part nurture, and I still do. However, watching my daughter, it seems that her baseline gender propensity was largely something that was out of anyone's hands. Most people would see her as a girly girl. She likes dresses and shoes, she loves dolls, and she loves to change her own clothes and that of her dolls. Currently, one of the first things she does when I get home is explain to me what a doll or stuffed animal's name is, and who is its momma. Personally, I was excited about the prospect of raising a girl, partially because as I consider myself to be conscious of gender normalization, I thought I could raise my daughter without the undo influence of these expectations. I am not a very masculine-acting guy, and I know that for a time, some members of my family were not sure whether I was hetero or homosexual. As I mentioned here before, I often change the sex of storybook protagonists to female to reduce the imbalance. That said, before she could even walk, my daughter would crawl into our entry room, and pass the time trying on different shoes. She still loves it, and is always looking for an excuse to change what she is wearing, or to put on bunny ears or fairy wings.

That's not to say that I haven't been able to influence her to a degree. She loves insects and toads, and I have worked to foster that interest. We turn over rocks and pick up worms and bugs, often at her request. In fact, my wife was recently worried about her accidentally picking up stinging caterpillars, and I realize that my insistence that we don't dissuade her from picking up bugs was in part due to the fact that I don't want her to lose that very gender independent interest when doing so would mimic a classic gender behavior.

If anything, the extent to which my daughter's innate behavior aligns with a classic gender role strengthens my belief that people that do not feel comfortable in one of those roles are naturally not aligned with them independent of conditioning. At the same time, I have to accept that there is nothing wrong with someone that is naturally aligned with a classic gender role. IMO the problem isn't the existence of certain behaviors, how common they might be, or even our ability to identify commonalities between them. The problem is if there is pressure applied to people to assume or mimic a role that they don't feel comfortable with.