I am from South Texas meaning the farthest anyone can go without actually crossing the border with Mexico. Growing up in this place was a balancing act because you are living in a clash of two cultures that did not, particularly, think highly of women, but our house was a blend of traditional ways and more liberal thoughts. My parents are permanent residents that originally came from Mexico to the United States to work in the fields. It is important to understand that my parents finished high school in a time where attending past the second grade, in Mexico, was a luxury.
For this reason, they are more open minded than other Mexican parents. Although they are more liberal, I did grow up surrounded by gender stereotypes imposed implicitly by my parents. As a child, I grew up with dresses, pigtails, french braids, dolls and the stereotypical pink theme clothing. In fact, my older brother pointed out when I was around ten years old that I always wore at least one pink item on me at all times. Being a girl who thought she was not “girly girl” this came as a shock to me. It made me question my identity in a way I never wanted to admit.
This denial lead me to stop thinking much about myself in general. Gender identity was never a concept | thought about since I saw myself as nothing more than a girl. A female through and through, I was a girl and I never questioned it. Mostly because I was constantly being reminded by my mother, my teachers and most importantly my peers. My mother always called me, “su nina”, her little girl. So if sex was gender, like they taught us in grade school, then I was a girl without a doubt. As a child, I believed everything the adults told me as did all of my peers and they never let me forget I was a girl.
There were always comments like “you can’t play with us, you’re a girl” or “you are such a girl”. Although I never questioned my gender, I did question my sexuality in middle school. This happened because one of my classmate pulled me aside asked me if I was a lesbian. How exactly she drew this conclusion was beyond me at the time. Now that I think about it, I was slightly different than the rest of the girls. I did not enjoy doing my make-up, dressing up nor did I engage in girl talk. The fact that I did not have the same habits as the majority made me conclude, that I was not a regular girl.
My classmate was so convinced that I was a homosexual that a part of me started to question it; after some inner conflict, though, I concluded I was not a lesbian. Unfortunately, I still did not dwell on the topic of gender until much later. Although I did not give gender much thought I was still performed my gender throughout my life. I still learned to sew, cook, clean and even how to care for a child. Not all at the same time, that would be dangerous. While I was learning all these domestic skills I never thought of them things females should learn, but as skills everyone should know in order to survive.
In my household everyone, even my brother, learned cook and helped clean. Not once did I think that it was not the norm to have everyone help with the chores or have my dad cook breakfast. I also never saw those teachings as a training for when I got married. It was not until my brother, again, pointed out that I would be a fantastic wife because I was happy to clean, and cook. I stopped and thought to myself “Is that what I really want to be? Somebody’s wife. ” It was a fleeting thought that I did not think about, and eventually forgot this incident for years.
Without realizing it, I started to fulfill my personality stereotyped gender-role as a women because I am a soft spoken, caring, emotional, and gentle. When I am introduced to a new individual I am polite and try to be as kind as possible. I tend to care for the people that surrounds me. I am also an individual that holds her tongue most of the time. In this manner, I play along with what society expects from me. This is in part of the way I was raised, my parents always told me to be kind and polite. On the other hand, I do tend to stray away from gender stereotypes since I am independent and seek to be educated.
I may be soft spoken in some situations but it does not mean I am okay with others speaking for me. Although | tend to not speak up and am not very opinionated, I dislike it when people assume they know what I am feeling or wanting to say. For this reason and the fact I do not trust others often, is that I work better when I am alone. Doing gender specific activities and fitting into the genderroles has not actually aided me with my gender identity. I talk like a girl, I act like a girl and dress like a girl but I also do not feel like am fully female. This started high school the reminders of me my sex stopped coming.
I did not notice it at I stop thinking of my gender, not until the start of my sophomore year. That year I got casted a Judy from the Night of the Living Dead our annual October production. This character had a kissing scene and I had spoken with the person protraining the person I was supposed to kiss. This guy made it clear he was uncomfortable with scene was going to ask the director to change the kiss scene to a hug instead since he “did not see me as a girl but as a big teddy bear. ”
The statement hurt me slightly, but it also got me thinking “What do other people see me as? What do I see myself as? I never quite full answered the second question. I now understand that gender really depends on what an individual feels more comfortable with therefore, I can only conclude that neither gender has a easier identity formation. Although the previous statement can be debated, the way I see it is if an individual feel comfortable living the with the gender and gender role that society is dictating then the development of gender should not difficult. This changes when an individual questions their gender, when this occurs they will have to solve both internal and external conflict make gender identity formation significantly more difficult.
It really depends of the individual and their specific situation. There is factors such as ethnicity and support individual has that affect an individual’s gender development. Since I come from the Mexican culture, which tends to be a very conservative one, I find it slightly difficult to voice my gender identity conflict even though I know my family would accept me. I know I have support no matter what because like my mother, who always says that she would love us no matter, I have many loved ones who think the same.
Still there is a small fear that they will not accept me if I can not meet their expectations. This fear has kept me from discussing my gender identity with, most of, my family members. In away, keeping these in has most likely hindered my ability to fully develop my identity. Surely this is not unique to me, there must be others like me struggling to develop their gender identity because of their cultural background and the lack of support and not because of their sex. I never really thought much of my gender, nor am I too sure about it, so, gender did not really affect my career choice.
I would like to think that no matter what I would still end up choosing psychology as my major and gender studies as my minor. It’s a fascinating subject as is gender and women’s studies. I love learning about the how the mind can affect an individual and how they can be helped. Since I choose my career path based on my passion, I do not see it as a decision influenced by my gender. On the other hand, Thave a vague feeling that my gender identity would change my relationships. My family would most likely not change at all but my friends might.
I do have moderate conservative friends who might end up feeling uncomfortable if I mention I am having troubles defining my gender identity. It is not that they are terrible people but it is the way they were raised and who they are. I do not have a significant other, but if I ever find someone I would hope they would understand and accept me for me. Tenrolled in this course purposely in order to gain more understanding of gender, what exactly it was and how was it developed. Gender development, with accordance to Bandura, can be learned through social interactions, personal and environmental factors (Eagly, Beall, Sternberg, 2004).
Whenever | thought about my gender identity it was always as a reaction to the events occurring within my environment, I am confident that I want my inner conflict was caused because the dissonance between what I learned through observation and what I am currently feeling. Being conflicted on gender, something that most people have figured out at this age is incredibly frustrating. As I reflect back on my past, I was never really worried about being labeled because I did not know there was there lables to be places. When the asked if I was lesbian it was the first time was introduced to a label.
As I learned that there was more labels out there, the less and less sure I feel about my identity. Nevertheless I do not intend this to affect my academic life or my career path. I want to move forward and succeed even if I do not have it all figured out. Parenthood has always been in my plans and after many considerations I would want to raise my child in an environment where gender roles would be imposed on them. After studying the Parent X Child modle, I have decided that when, and if, I have children I would want to raise them within an environment where sex and gender is irrelevant.
The Parent X Child model in dicacates that a child’s psychological development depends greatly on how their parents raise them (Eagly, Beall, Sternberg, 2004). If this is correct, treating girl different from boy might affect influence them into adapting into a gender role. I would much rather avoid any situation that might cause a child distress. I would not want to interfere with their gender development, whichever it might be. I, also, would want to refrain from imposing a gender identity on the child.