One of the Boys
Start writing a post

One of the Boys

Why can't girls spit on the sidewalk or join in on a basketball game?

One of the Boys

For my First Year Seminar class, I was given an assignment to transgress a gender norm by performing an action or series of actions that are typically considered characteristic of the opposite gender. As soon as a child is born, the public immediately associates the child’s gender with certain interests that the child will have. If the child is a boy, family and friends will often assume the child will grow up to play sports, like to play with trucks, or play video games, to name a few. As for girls, society tells us that she will be a dancer or a gymnast, for example, and she will love princesses and playing with dolls. Taking a few steps back, the public generally assumes children will be cisgender, identifying their personality and gender with their sex at birth. These stereotypes continuously affect how parents raise their children and can contribute to a child’s confusion if they do not feel they fit into these stereotypes. Similarly, fixed societal stereotypes based on gender can make it difficult for parents to accept if their children do not conform to these constructed ideas. “Tomboys” are frowned upon in society, as are boys who are more feminine.

Even in college, these stereotypes play a role in many students’ outlook on the world. The fact that we live in a largely patriarchal society doesn’t disappear when one enters college. Even as adults, boys are still expected to be athletic, strong, and powerful while girls are still seen as frivolous and weak, which led me to challenge this stereotypical phenomenon by performing a social experiment. During a retreat that I attended as part of the CHARGE (Wake Emerging Leaders) group on campus, I joined in on an all-boys basketball game while the girls of the group sat on the sidelines and watched. While I expected the guys to question my actions and exclude me from the game, after some confusion and resistance, they were much more inclusive and accepting than I had anticipated.

Though I was nervous and intimidated to perform an action that would transgress this gender norm, doing so ultimately instilled hope and positivity within me. When I walked up to the court, I could tell that the guys playing assumed I was just passing by to go to the bathroom or refill my water bottle. When I stopped in the middle of the court and asked if I could play, they each had a unique expression of confusion and bewilderment. It remains unknown if they agreed to let me play because others were watching, or if they genuinely wanted me to play in their game. Nevertheless, I started playing, and I could tell the guys were shocked by my basketball skills (even though I don’t have very many). They were pleasantly surprised that I could keep up with them in the game. The most fascinating aspect of this social experiment was that after a few minutes, other girls began to join in too. Many of them were far better players than I was but were most likely nervous to join in on a game with all boys. Soon, the girl to boy ratio was almost equal, and we were all having a blast playing with each other. This gave me hope that it is possible to transgress gender norms, because it only takes one brave action to start a positive reaction. Of course, there are many other factors that played into this situation such as the maturity levels of the boys and the fact that they may have felt pressure to include me because it would have been seen by others as far worse to exclude me. If a young girl had done a similar social experiment with younger boys and without an audience, so to speak, there may have been different results. However, because this situation occurred, I am confident that if I or another girl were to approach the same group of guys at a later time and ask them to play, there would be far less hesitation coming from their side after having a previous successful experience playing with us.

This social experiment helped me to adopt an optimistic attitude when considering gender norms and stereotypes, but also confirmed some of my suspicions regarding this topic. Unfortunately, even in college age students, gender stereotypes and expectations still exist on the surface. However, though it is an uphill battle, it is possible and more attainable than I initially expected to change these stereotypes. Due to the fact that these stereotypes have almost always existed in society, they will never completely disappear. Some boys will always “be boys” and feel the need to appear strong both physically and emotionally. Similarly, some girls will conform to the stereotype created for them and feel the need to dress or behave a certain way. Nevertheless, for boys and girls who do not wish to conform to the stereotypes that correspond to his or her gender, it takes real bravery for girls to join in on an all-boys sports game or for boys to sit with all girls at a lunch table.

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
Student Life

Top 10 Reasons My School Rocks!

Why I Chose a Small School Over a Big University.

man in black long sleeve shirt and black pants walking on white concrete pathway

I was asked so many times why I wanted to go to a small school when a big university is so much better. Don't get me wrong, I'm sure a big university is great but I absolutely love going to a small school. I know that I miss out on big sporting events and having people actually know where it is. I can't even count how many times I've been asked where it is and I know they won't know so I just say "somewhere in the middle of Wisconsin." But, I get to know most people at my school and I know my professors very well. Not to mention, being able to walk to the other side of campus in 5 minutes at a casual walking pace. I am so happy I made the decision to go to school where I did. I love my school and these are just a few reasons why.

Keep Reading...Show less
Lots of people sat on the cinema wearing 3D glasses

Ever wonder what your friend meant when they started babbling about you taking their stapler? Or how whenever you ask your friend for a favor they respond with "As You Wish?" Are you looking for new and creative ways to insult your friends?

Well, look no further. Here is a list of 70 of the most quotable movies of all time. Here you will find answers to your questions along with a multitude of other things such as; new insults for your friends, interesting characters, fantastic story lines, and of course quotes to log into your mind for future use.

Keep Reading...Show less
New Year Resolutions

It's 2024! You drank champagne, you wore funny glasses, and you watched the ball drop as you sang the night away with your best friends and family. What comes next you may ask? Sadly you will have to return to the real world full of work and school and paying bills. "Ah! But I have my New Year's Resolutions!"- you may say. But most of them are 100% complete cliches that you won't hold on to. Here is a list of those things you hear all around the world.

Keep Reading...Show less

The Ultimate Birthday: Unveiling the Perfect Day to Celebrate!

Let's be real, the day your birthday falls on could really make or break it.

​different color birthday candles on a cake
Blacksburg Children's Museum

You heard it here first: birthdays in college are some of the best days of your four years. For one day annually, you get to forget about your identity as a stressed, broke, and overworked student, and take the time to celebrate. You can throw your responsibilities for a day, use your one skip in that class you hate, receive kind cards and gifts from loved ones and just enjoy yourself.

Keep Reading...Show less

Unleash Inspiration: 15 Relatable Disney Lyrics!

Leave it to Disney to write lyrics that kids of all ages can relate to.

The 15 most inspiring Disney songs

Disney songs are some of the most relatable and inspiring songs not only because of the lovable characters who sing them, but also because of their well-written song lyrics. While some lyrics make more sense with knowledge of the movie's story line that they were written for, other Disney lyrics are very relatable and inspiring for any listener.

Keep Reading...Show less

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Facebook Comments