From Toys To Alcoholic Beverages, Gender Shapes Our Lives

From Toys To Alcoholic Beverages, Gender Shapes Our Lives

Willamette University's Women Gender Studies professor Jade Aguilar presents "How Gender Shapes our Lives".

On Wednesday, Feb. 15th at 5:30 pm, 25 people gathered at the Springfield Public Library to listen to Willamette University Women Gender Studies professor, Jade Aguilar, present a talk on “How Gender Shapes our Lives,” presented by Oregon Humanities.

Aguilar started the evening by stating that from birth, boys and girls are treated differently. This separation of treatment influences how we grow and how we act.

“As kids, the way we are treated-an example being the kind of toys that we are given-influences us to form into stereotypical roles of gender,” Aguilar said. “A girl is given toys that resemble household duties, like a toy kitchen or a baby doll. Whereas a boy is given toys of activity, such as Legos, or toy cars.”

To further empathize her point, Aguilar showed pictures from JeongMee Yoon’s “The Pink and Blue Project.” Images compared two rooms cluttered with toys. One room was covered in pink toys with a girl sitting against a wall, and the other image showed a different room covered in blue toys with a boy sitting in the middle of the room. Aguilar then opened the floor to audience discussion, where audience members could share their own opinions on the subject and even ask questions as well.

“As a kid, we talk to girls more. We ask them to share their feelings more,” one audience member said. “Like we ask them: How does that make you feel? Does that hurt? Do you need help? But with boys we teach them to be brave and to ‘man-up.' When they grow up, women tend to share more and have a better vocabulary because that’s what we taught them. Whereas men keep more feelings and emotions to themselves, because they were taught as a kid to do so.”

After some discussion, Aguilar asked the audience to come up with a list of ways little girls and little boys are treated differently. The audience presented a list that included: clothing, toys, sports, how we talk to them, and how a parent polices their activity.

“What’s interesting is that parents of boys let their boys adventure out more and have a bigger radius of freedom outside the home,” Aguilar said. “They are allowed to stay out later and adventure out more than girls. That’s because as kids, we tell them to go out and adventure. We tend to keep the girls closer.”

Aguilar then connected her presentation into current society. She mentioned how in society, we gender everything from our drinks, to jobs. She further explained this with the example of how we even base alcohol drinks off of gender.

“There is a woman in a bar and she’s drinking a very masculine drink, let’s say a shot of whiskey,” Aguilar said. “There is also a man in a bar and he’s drinking a very feminine drink, let’s say an appletini. The way we would judge the woman drinking the whiskey is much more masculine than the man drinking the appletini. That’s because in society, we value masculine items over feminine items.”

Another example of how we gender items was illustrated through Legos. Aguilar brought up advertisements of both girl and boy Lego sets. The girl sets included town buildings like a salon, a vet, and a store. Whereas, the boy sets included fighting monsters, building cars, and even building castles. The advertisements for the girls promoted making relationships with friends, compared to the advertisements for the boys which promoted adventure and accomplishments.

“Through things like this, we are told that we are different,” Aguilar said. “We are shown that we live in a binary system.”

Aguilar concluded her presentation by commenting on today’s society and suggesting a possible solution to these gender issues. She sees these issues getting better, but also getting worse. She believes that in order to better solve these issues, we need to give kids new and broader messages about gender. We need to model priority behavior and set good examples that acting like a ‘girl’ or a ‘boy’ is okay for anyone.

“Presentations like these help to educate the public and make them more aware of such social implications.” Aguilar said. “It forces people to think differently and open up to new opinions.”

This was Aguilar’s 20th presentation with Oregon Humanities. She has visited many different cities within the state and even gone to numerous local businesses as well, to help further start productive conversation within the public.

“What I like about these presentations is that they help to educate the public and make them more aware of these social implications.” Aguilar said. “It forces people to think differently and open up to new opinions.”

The Oregon Humanities Conversation Project helped to support Aguilar’s visit to the Springfield Public Library. The Oregon Humanities Conversation Project brings facilitators to different cities all over the state to help to share ideas and promote change. To apply to host a facilitator, a local community group can apply on the organization's website:

“My favorite part of these community presentations is the fact that you get to see a wide variety of different experiences,” Audience member and Oregon Humanities subscriber Devan Ashbridge said. “It shows different awareness’s of the public.”

Cover Image Credit: JeongMee Yoon's official website

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To the guy that shot my brother...


To the guy that shot my brother,

On January 9, 2019 my families entire life changed with one phone call. The phone call that my little brother had been shot in the face, no other details. We didn't need any other details. The woman on the phone who called us in full panic told us where he was so we went, as soon as possible. I don't think it helped that not even 10 min prior I talked to Zach on the phone.. kind of irritated with him, and the ONE TIME I didn't say 'I love you' as we hung up. Could've been the last time we ever spoke.. I remember pulling up to the hospital thinking 'this can't be real' 'it's not our Zach' 'this is just a dream Sarah, WAKE UP' I'd close my eyes really tight just to open them, I was still in the hospital emergency parking lot. I could still hear the ambulance sirens coming. It was all real.

The day our life's changed was definitely a test of faith. A test of how strong we were, as a family. I sat in that waiting room ready to see the damage that has been done to my sweet baby brother. Because at that point we had no idea how lucky he got. That glimpse of seeing Zach will haunt me forever. How helpless I felt in that exact moment frequently wakes me up from these horrific dreams I've been having ever since that day. That is a moment burned into my me and families brain forever.

You always hear about these things in the movies or on the news, a house being shot up, someone shooting another innocent person, not to care if they died on your watch. But we found ourselves on the news.. We have been confined to the hospital since that day. Running on barely any sleep, taking shifts of sleep so we don't make ourselves sick taking care of Zach. Watching him suffer. Undergoing surgeries, to repair the damage you did.

Before I proceed let me tell you a little something about the man you shot.

Zachary Keith Wright. A blonde hair blue eyed boy. Who could potentially be the most annoying human on the planet (possibly coming from his sister). A man who loves his God first, loves his family second. Perfect by no means, but almost perfect to me. A 19 year old who was to graduate high school this month. After graduation he was prepping to leave for Marine boot camp in the summer.. being in the military has been Zach's dream since he could talk. Literally. Running around, playing war with underwear on our heads, and finger guns. Some would say we looked like natural born assassins.. growing up he has been a country boy. Let me tell ya country to the core. He loves this country like he loves his family. He believes in helping people, taking charge in what's right, and never leaving a brother behind. He's lived by that his whole life. Until now....

The day you shot him. The day not only did you change my brothers life, you changed his families life too. The day you almost ripped my brother out of this world... for what? A misunderstanding? Because you've let something take ahold of your life that you can't let go you're willing to kill someone innocent over? Luckily for him, his guardian angels were protecting him in your time of cowardice. There were 3 times that day he should've died, the time you shot him, the time you tried to shoot him again as he stared you directly in the face, (even tho he couldn't talk I know you could read his eyes, and he still intimidated you. That's why you tried to pull the trigger again) and the time he was running out of the house. But he lived. A man who was shot in the face, didn't lay there helpless, didn't scream in agony. That MAN walked to the neighbors to get help. Why? Because he's a MAN, and because he's on this earth for a reason.

It's gonna sound a little strange not only to you, but the audience who is reading this. I must say thank you. Even in this situation, this was the best outcome we could get. He gets to live. He will make a full recovery. He will graduate. And he will go off into the Marines. You united my family together. Closer than ever. Thank you. You tested our faith and brought us closer to our God. Thank you. Because of your moment of weakness, you showed us what prayer could do. Heal anything. Thank you. This was a bump in the road, and a helluva way to kick off our year of 2019. But here we are.. all laying in the hospital. I'm looking around as mom is sleeping in her recliner chair exhasted but still here, Zach his awake playing his xbox all hooked up to machines, fighting to heal and get better. And of course I'm writing this letter to you.

See you in trial,

From the girl whose brother you shot.

'Fight the good fight' - 1 Tim 6:12 🤟🏼💙

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