Homosexual Individuals And Gender Norms Essay

1169 words - 5 pages

“Beni, I have something to tell you,” my friend Marie said to me one year ago. “I am a lesbian.” At that moment all my views and beliefs about homosexual individuals were shattered. Marie has been in my life for about 13 years now, and is a very good friend of mine from the church. Growing up, she has been a tomboy that expressed herself in ways that deviated from the female gender norms, or ciswoman (Wood, 2013, p. 26). “Sex is a designation based on biology,” therefore, Marie’s sex is female (Wood, 2013, p. 19). Gender, on the other hand, is “socially constructed and expressed” (Wood, 2013, p. 19). Marie’s personal view of her own sex is female, also know as her gender identity, but the way she displays her gender through clothing and actions coincides with a masculine gender expression (Wood, 2013, p. 21). For example, while most of the girls and women at our church were dressed in nice skirts, dresses, and blouses with heels, jewelry, and makeup, Marie would be wearing baggy shorts or jeans, loose t-shirts, and sneakers. She never put on makeup and even chose to wear clothing from the men’s department in stores because that is how she felt comfortable.
Marie hasn’t always been this way, however. In her house, her mother has multiple baby photos of Marie dressed in floral, pastel colored dresses with bows in her hair. I have also seen some of her old toys that include several baby dolls, tea sets, and fashion games. These artifacts express female gendered nonverbal communication. “An artifact is a personal object that can both express identity and influence how we see ourselves, …[and] personal objects for children define them as feminine or masculine” (Wood, 2013, p. 126). Parents send artifactual messages to their children from birth, just like Marie’s mom. In hopes of teaching her baby girl how to be feminine, she would dress her in female specific clothing, and give her “toys that encourage nurturing, domestic activities, and attention to appearance” (Wood, 2013, p. 126). In addition, “parents tend to touch daughters more often and more gently than do sons, which teaches girls to expect touching from others and to view touching as an affiliative behavior” (Wood, 2013, p. 130). Maries mother used Haptics, or touch, to teach her daughter the proper way of greeting others, such as with a kiss on the cheek or a soft hug. However, as she got older Marie began to reject these ideas. As soon as she could make her own decisions and choose her own possessions, she expressed herself with masculine communication. Her attire and behavior was considered “unladylike” while the mothers at the church watched her skateboard around the parking lot in baggy clothing, talk in a loud voice, and greet others with a forceful punch on the shoulder rather than with a gentle hug.
Although Marie exhibits many masculine qualities, not once did I suspect her to have a homosexual orientation. “Sexual orientation refers to a person’s preferences for romantic...

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