This is a short essay I wrote for my WST 313 class on gender policing. Since I am discussing how gender is taught by family and in society, I thought it could also be applied to social media. The media, in many ways, influences how we think of ourselves. Women must always seek to be more beautiful. Men must always be attractive and have a wide selection of ladies. We see it all over the advertisements in magazines. Therefore, I think social media also highly influences gender policing. Anyway, here is a little autobiography in how gender policing has influenced my life as a child and as an adult.
As a child I used to be absolutely fascinated with fairy tales. I believed that one day a prince would come to me and take me far away from my small town. I’d live in a castle and live happily ever after. This is because I was conditioned through Disney movies and children’s books that this is what I had to look forward to in my adulthood. I would live a life that would expect me to be ladylike, loyal to men, and nurturing to children. My twin brother, however, dreamed of being a cop, a race car driver, or a firefighter. He was taught to have goals and a career. I was taught to be pretty and find a good man.
Things are very different to this day. I certainly did not follow those policed rules my family and society imposed on me. I found out that I don’t need to be heterosexual to find love and that I could connect with both men and women on romantic or sexual levels. I embellished body with art and in ways that I found beautiful. My parents, to this day, will call my body art ‘manly.’ My brother has also gotten tattoos without any of the comments I received. You are ruining your skin. No man will ever like the way you look now. You had such beautiful skin. What an absolute shame… I could go on and on.
As I got older I knew I had to break away from this hypocritical life of gender policing and conformity. I wanted to identify as my own unique being. I wanted to have ambitions far past finding someone who would love me. I deserved to look how I waned to look without the fear of not appearing ladylike. I deserve to 'do’ my own unique gender without harassment or shame. The only way, however, we can have a society that is truly non-judgmental is to stop teaching that gender is equal to sex. Your child can have a vagina but can still dream of being a doctor or prefer to play with toy cars more than Barbie dolls. Vice versa applies to children with penises. We must halt imposing gender or 'gender policing’ on our children and allow them to find it and 'do’ it themselves. They deserve to have a say and a choice in what they like and in what ways they will identify themselves.