I’ve been able to conclude that I am a product of mixed social inclinations. My mom’s side of the family are pragmatic people who accept life in terms of responsibilities. My dad’s side are generations of dreamers and artists, always interested in the most creative and exciting way to make a living. This created a problem for me because I became a mix of these two philosophies, a practical dreamer. As I grew older I noticed there are not a lot of people like me, either falling in the category of pragmatics or dreamers. This has created a split in my groups of friends, so when I’m around my socially “practical” friends, they identify me as “the artist”, but when I’m around my “dreamer” friends, they also see me as different from them. When I read Julia Serano’s “Intrinsic Inclinations: Explaining Gender and  Sexual Diversity”, I thought of my mixed social inclinations when she wrote, “Generally, we only ever notice our inclinations when they are exceptional–when they deviate from both biological and social norms” (Serano 98). In my case, the “norms” that were established were the similarities of my friends’ values and beliefs in life within each group, so I quickly realized my differences from both groups. My practical friends introduce me to others and say, “That’s Bailey. She paints”. My dreamer friends see me as a person with an interest in pop culture and someone who can quote Titanic. My inclinations are emphasized within each group because they are easy to spot or recognizable out of contrast to the norms of the particular group.

Serano applies this to the sex and gender norms to show that people’s inclinations are highlighted when they are surrounded by inclinations that are not their own. She explains that those who differ in sex and gender norms “generally continue to express such behavior into adulthood (despite the extreme amount of societal pressure that we place on individuals to reproduce gender expression appropriate for their assigned sex)” (Serano 98). This can be seen in many instances, for example my cousin was constantly criticized for being a girl who didn’t fit the mold of dresses and pink apparel. When my sister, my cousin, and I would play with Barbies, my cousin would be the Ken doll. When we’d play “house” or any other imaginative scenarios, she’d request to be a boy, and we didn’t think anything of it. It wasn’t until all of us entered the public school system where we were introduced to the idea of gender norms and what was “appropriate” for girls and boys to do. My cousin felt the pressure of her peers and adults, but this pressure could not repress her own inclinations. She continues to dress and act as she feels is herself. Her friends are for the most part very feminine girls, which she has sometimes confessed to my sister and I that she has trouble feeling included because of these differences. Though her friends don’t explicitly place pressure on her to be more like themselves, the pressure is still present because her disposition is so apparent when her surrounding environment is not similar to it.

Ephram, Dr. Andy Brown, Delia. From: http://www.listal.com/viewimage/732163

I also am reminded of an Everwood episode, but unfortunately I couldn’t find a good clip of it to share. It was of episode 6 of season 1, and Delia (Dr. Andy Brown’s daughter and Ephram’s little sister) makes friends with a boy named Magilla. Magilla and Delia start playing dress up and Magilla wants to dress up in dresses and heels, and this gets him and Delia into trouble by Magilla’s parents. They won’t let him play with Delia anymore and he is sent to a boys’ school. You then find out that Magilla was a hermaphrodite and his parents chose to raise him as a boy, and his parents freaked out the moment he wants to do “girl” things because they expect him to follow the norms for a boy. Serano writes, “there are a vast amount of naturally occurring sexual and gender variation in the world. The question becomes: how do we make sense of it all?” (Serano 101). Then Serano goes on to talk about the social constructs of “opposite sexes” (Serano 102-3). This is how Magilla’s parents viewed gender and sex, which was in opposites. The idea that you can either be one or the other and this was how nature meant it to be is a very limited perspective that gives people even more limited means of behavior in order to fit this theory. It was this reasoning that Magilla’s parents sent him to an all-boy school, in order to be immersed in acceptable masculinity and traits of the “typical” boy.

-Bailey Cook

 

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