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Performance Task GWS 3500-Honors Psychological Perspectives on Gender Dr. Joetta Carr August 8, 2012
Gender-Neutral Parenting? • Is it advantageous for children academically, socially, psychologically? • Is it possible? • Is it worth the extra effort by parents? • Can it be harmful to children? • Is there evidence to support it?
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Scenario • You are a family therapist working with a young family. The wife and husband are very conflicted about how to raise their boy & girl, ages 1 and 3. The husband wants to raise them in traditional gender roles, but the wife wants to raise them in a more gender-neutral, non-stereotypical manner, avoiding gender binaries. These conflicts have come to a head and the couple is considering divorce.
Role of Family Therapist • Your role is to guide the parents in their childrearing decisions by: * introducing them to “best practices” * weighing the evidence for and against * drawing conclusions based on evidence * facilitating their communications * identifying their gender stereotypes * facilitating their negotiations on this issue
Product • A Written Report to the Parents reviewing the pros and cons of gender-neutral parenting based on available evidence and making a professional recommendation to them
Skills Needed by Students • Information Literacy Evaluation • Media Literacy Evaluation • Weighing Evidence • Drawing Conclusions Based on Evidence • Detecting Flaws in Logic or Research • Identifying “Holes” in Research • Critical Thinking
Unifying Themes and Theories • Gender Performance & Accomplishment • Gender Norms and Nonconformity • Heteronormativity • Homophobia • Patterns of Parental Gender Typing • Hegemonic Masculinity • Enforcing Gender Boundaries
How process replicates real world process • Making decisions about parenting using evidence-based practices in the best interests of the child and the culture
Dimensions of Gender-Neutral Parenting • Clothing • Toys and Play • TV/Videos • Books • Peers • Education • Sports • Activities • Emotionality • Passivity • Gender Awareness • Parental Verbal & Nonverbal Behaviors
Document A • “NO WAY MY BOYS ARE GOING TO BE LIKE THAT!” Parents’ Responses to Children’s Gender Nonconformity by Emily Kane • Drawing on qualitative interviews with parents of preschool children, the author addresses parental responses to children’s gender nonconformity. The author’s analyses indicate that parents welcome what they perceive as gender nonconformity among their young daughters, while their responses in relation to sons are more complex. Many parents across racial and class backgrounds accept or encourage some tendencies they consider atypical for boys. But this acceptance is balanced by efforts to approximate hegemonic ideals of masculinity. The author considers these patterns in the context of gender as an interactional accomplishment, demonstrating that parents are often consciously aware of their own role in accomplishing gender with and for their sons. Heterosexual fathers are especially likely to be motivated in that accomplishment work by their own personal endorsement of hegemonic masculinity, while heterosexual mothers and gay parents are more likely to be motivated by accountability to others in relation to those ideals.
Exhibit B • Tomboy Video Animated short film by Barb Taylor
Document C • The American Academy of Pediatrics (1999, 143) includes this advice under the section heading “When Gender Identity Becomes Confused” • Some families try hard to treat all their children similarly, regardless of sex. But this type of childrearing can deny inherent differences among youngsters. Also, even when gender-neutral childrearing is attempted, it is very difficult to accomplish. . . . Gender-neutral childrearing has the advantage of helping parents and youngsters identify universally desirable human traits and values they would like to adopt and promote. It also might enhance relationships between boys and girls (and men and women). However, keep in mind that boys and girls are sometimes inclined toward different interests and behaviors. If you ignore biological differences, you can deny children the opportunities to build on their innate strengths.
Document D • WILLIAM WANTS A DOLL. CAN HE HAVE ONE? Feminists, Child Care Advisors, and Gender-Neutral Child Rearing • KARIN A. MARTIN University of Michigan, Ann Arbor • Using an analysis of child care books and parenting Web sites, this article asks if second-wave femi- nism’s vision of gender-neutral child rearing has been incorporated into contemporary advice on child rearing. The data suggest that while feminist understandings of gender have made significant inroads into popular advice, especially with regard to the social construction of gender, something akin to “a stalled revolution” has taken place. Children’s gender nonconformity is still viewed as problematic because it is linked implicitly and explicitly to homosexuality.
Document E Should the World of Toys Be Gender-Free? By PEGGY ORENSTEIN (New York Times, Dec 29, 2011) • Hamleys, which is London’s 251-year-old version of F.A.O. Schwarz, recently dismantled its pink “girls” and blue “boys” sections in favor of a gender-neutral store with red-and-white signage. Rather than floors dedicated to Barbie dolls and action figures, merchandise is now organized by types. • That free-to-be gesture was offset by Lego, whose Friends collection, aimed at girls, will hit stores this month with the goal of becoming a holiday must-have by the fall. Set in fictive Heartlake City (and supported by a $40 million marketing campaign), the line features new, pastel-colored blocks
Document F It’s A Boy! Couple Reveal the Sex of Their ‘Gender Neutral” Kid After Five Years (Newspaper article: The Sun UK, video) A couple who concealed the sex of their child and raised it as ‘gender neutral’ for FIVE YEARS have finally revealed - it’s a BOY. Beck Laxton, 46, and partner Kieran Cooper, 44, decided not to reveal baby Sasha’s gender in the hope it would let its ’real’ personality shine through. They referred to it as “The Infant” and only allowed their child to play with ’gender-neutral toys’ in their television-free home. During the first five years of his life, Sasha has alternated between girls’ and boys’ outfits, leaving friends, playmates and relatives guessing.
Document G • feminist debates: spring 2011 • Sign In • Home • Blog • Syllabus • Assignments • Reading Schedule • DE 04/11: Gender-Neutral Parenting
Document H • LouannBrizendine. 2007. The Female Brain. London: Bantam Press. “One of my patients gave her 3 ½ year old daughter many unisex toys, including a bright red fire truck instead of a doll. She walked into her daughter’s room…to find her cuddling the truck in a baby blanket, rocking it back and forth saying, “Don’t worry, little truckie, everything will be all right.”
Document I • 10 Myths About Gender Neutral Parenting—ABlog by Arwyn Arising. Raising My Boychick, 2011.
Classroom Application • Students work on parts of performance tasks over time • Do I divide class into for and against or have them choose? • Do they work in groups or individually? • Shall I orchestrate a formal debate? • Students do additional research to obtain research • Task coincides with reading memoir on gender-neutral parenting experiment