Defying Gender Constructs


Hello lovelies! Hope life is treating you all well.

So… last semester I took a course called Communications and the Sexes, which focused on gender constructs in media and advertising. To say the least, it was incredibly enlightening. By the end of the course, I realized that certain gender constructs are true and worth embracing, while some are complete nonsense and are meant to be broken.

Take for instance the following:

Men paying for drinks and dinner (and opening doors for women): This is one of my favorite gender constructs to defy. Now, before I dive in I will say this, it is always nice to get a free drink. However, I find it insanely sexy when a girl pays. If you really want to impress a guy give their wallet a break. Also, who is to say that women can’t hold the door for a man, regardless if it is a date or not? At the end of the day, is it not common curtesy for either gender to open the door for the person beside/behind you…?

Only men barbecue and only women eat salads: Now it is true that this particular gender construct is being defied as we speak. Whether it’s from personal experience or from watching the Food Network, we have all seen both genders barbecue food on the grill and eat salads.  Nevertheless, during one of the first group activities during my Communication and the Sexes course, we gathered together and collectively put certain characteristics and activities under each gender. While doing so, many of the students unfortunately put barbecuing under the male gender construct and eating salads under the female. The fact that that still sticks and we still associate a certain kind of food with the particular gender is slightly ludicrous. That said, to all my ladies, go and barbecue your man’s chicken and men, eat that salad hard 😎👅💯

Boys don’t cry: There is an incredible film called Tough Guise that analyzes the way in which boys are raised and how men act and appear in film. “Dust it off!” “Don’t be a pussy!” “Act like a man!” These are the various sorts of constructs that fathers often preach to their sons as they grow up. However, what really makes a man strong? One that never responds to sadness with tears and is allowed to feel, “like a girl,” or one who sucks it up and represses it because his father told him to?

Shaving: This one REALLY bothers me. Gender constructs say that one thing that makes a woman a woman is that she has no hair. Pressure from certain influencers convey the message that a woman is sexy and desirable if she is not covered in hair. In fact, I have friends who get laser hair removal on their forearms. SERIOUSLY?! In recent years, however, there has been a trend going on in Europe where people dye their armpit hair. It is also worth noting that the more you shave your bikini line the more susceptible you are to getting an STD. That said if you are going to shave do it for yourself and no one else.


Men act and women appear: Of all the gender constructs that were discussed in my Communications and the Sexes class, the one that we always came back to was that men act and women appear. This construct is very much apparent in advertisements. Take for instance the following illustration for silk pantyhose from 1915.

Of all the problems I have with this gender construct, the one that concerns me the most is that it continues to objectify women. Take for instance the following photo from the Robin Thicke music video for Blurred Lines.

This song and video were quite controversial for multiple reasons, one being that the female models were representing objects and animals. For instance, the above model is on all fours, like a dog, and has a car on her back, like a road. With her red lips, an open mouth, and limited wardrobe, this image seems to give the female one purpose, to be looked at with very little respect.

NOW, I will admit that there is nothing better than when your man looks at you wearing nothing but a t-shirt and tube socks on. In fact, moments like those are incredibly reassuring that you are sexy and desirable. However, I find myself constantly turning my head when I see a guy with a beard, badass jawline, toned arms, or great style. I love to look. I mean I REALLY love to look! The only time in film when we have ever seen men appear and women act was in the 2012 film Magic Mike. Even then, women never got a close-up shot of Channing Tatum’s ass twerking for more than a couple of seconds. These moments in the film have a lot of wide shots with quick editing going back and forth from the audience to the guys dancing. That said, I leave you with some words of wisdom, go buy a guy a drink, look at a man the way Robin Thicke looks at that model, and most of all, if you have son tell him that boys really do cry.