Many might agree that society considers it more ‘acceptable’ and is more receptive to gender-transgressive behavior in women; it is not uncommon for women to don ‘masculine’ clothing, enter typically considered ‘masculine’ work fields, and compete in ‘masculine’ sports. While this is not to say that it is easy for women to transgress gender, I would assert that it is a more common occurrence than men’s transgression of gender. Most men are careful to avoid the use of feminine products and clothing, evade the appreciation of typical ‘feminine’ activities and occupations, and many even tease each other for displays of femininity. According to Karin Martin in “William Wants a Doll. Can He Have One?” when it comes to parents’ worry about their children transgressing gender, “These questions are much more frequently posed about boys” (Martin, 470). Many gendered behaviors are accumulated at an early age, and perhaps this reflects the anxiety parents feel, particularly, about instilling ‘appropriate’ gender in their boys at an early age. If parents created a more comfortable space for young boys to push the limits of gender, the occurrence of men transgressing gender might be more common. Ultimately, perhaps for women, the breaking down gender roles is simply a more comfortable exercise (with the rise of feminism). What do you think?
Karin Martin. “William Wants a Doll. Can He Have One? Feminists, Child Care Advisors, and Gender-Neutral Child Rearing.” Gender and Society, 19, (4), August 2005. 456-479.