Origins: Physical differences

A/the privileged norm is a constellation that pervades multiple social domains and emerges from the belief that one particular physical form is the ideal one. Whether the constellation is around sexuality, gender, disability or ethnicity, there can be deviation from the norm. To study the concept of gender, the history and evolution of bodies and their meanings is extremely important.

The difference in bodies translates into social inequalities where you are assigned different social roles based on these physical differences. The physical difference between men and women created a division in the public and private spheres. The social system is constructed and social interests are defined based on this original biological difference.
If you identify yourself as a man, think for a moment about the women in your life. If you identify as a woman, think about the men in your life.
 
In what ways have your lives turned out differently? Think for a moment about the things you think would have turned out differently if you had been born with the opposite sex.

Pink and blue

Certain sports, such as soccer and ballet, and colors, such as pink and blue, are associated with a gender. Ideas about these associations are not stable, because they vary across cultures and throughout history. Soccer, for example, is posited in the US as a women’s sport. In Europe, it is more typically seen as a male sport.

Things that are attributed to a specific gender, such as clothing, sports, occupations and more, often differ from what was common (some) decades ago. 100 years ago, the color pink was not the typical color for baby girls, but vice versa. Gender norms change over the years and depend on culture and context.

In 2008, Jenna Kurvanidus decided to throw a party to announce the gender of her firstborn child to family and friends. She revealed the gender by cutting a cake with pink ice cream filling. With this pink color, she announced that she was expecting a girl. She wrote about the party on her blog and her idea went viral.

 

Years later, "gender reveal parties" are extremely popular. Kurvanidus now considers these parties as problematic, and regrets having started this trend. The parties are called "gender reveal parties", when in fact they only announce the sex of the baby. The message these parties send out is not innocent and creates huge social expectations linked to the gender of the child.

 

This gathering is a first step to creating an identity for the child even before it enters this world. A strong emphasis is put on one personality aspect of an (unborn) individual and when gender becomes such an obsession, it implies a limitation on the self-development of a child and others around them.

 

  • Why are we so fixated on finding out the gender of an unborn baby?
  • What purpose is behind organizing a gender reveal party?

About gender

The concept of gender should be clearly understood as a socio-cultural, transversal, and overarching variable. Gender is a mechanism that cannot be known merely by perceiving the observable.

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