In the following three stories, including my own, ill be writing how the girls featured in them were thought of as inadequate or lesser than by males. “As gender socialization influences every aspect of our perceptions both of ourselves and others” (DiAngelo & Sensoy, 2012, Pg. 60) we’ll see how these women’s acts brought on discrimination and oppression. The girls in these stories were not performing their genders as society would deem appropriate, and were chastised for doing so. These stories all portray the normative narrative that women are the weaker sex.
In my own story I was put down for being one of two girls in a male dominated hockey game. My skill set and physical ability were made to feel inadequate compared to my male counterparts. In Dylan’s story the same normal narrative as my own showed in that the girl on his football team was made to feel weaker than her male team mates when the opposing teams coached vocalized that “they didn’t want to play against her because they felt they weren’t allowed to play as hard.” (Dylan). This infuriated me as Dylan had said earlier “It was because of her our running back already had ninety yards rushing by the end of the first half.” (Dylan). She was obviously outperforming her male opposition yet was still made to feel as if her gender was a limiting factor, in that her skill level was not the reason for her success but that the boys were afraid to hurt her. I related to this girl as I too know from my own experience how it feels to have an opposing team question your ability and make assumptions about you because of your gender. h In Drew’s story her and her friends where made to feel weaker when she didn’t make a hockey team despite being a better play than others who did because the coach didn’t think she could handle basketball and hockey at the same time. However, many of the boys who made it were playing basketball too. Drews story reminded me of my own story in that she felt anger at the unfairness of the decision. She expressed “The sadness I felt from not making the team turned into anger.” (Drew). I believe this anger was triggered by the same issue for both of us in that the unfairness in both situations was caused because of our gender and the falsehood that we were they weaker gender.
The following stories prove that we live in a patriarchal society or a society that acts on “The belief in the inherent superiority of men and male norms and the organization of society based on this belief” (DiAngelo & Sensoy, 2012, Pg. 103). This is where the normal narrative of women being the weaker sex grows from. The following stories prove that women are indeed not weaker than man but oppressed in a society that believes this to be true. This normal narrative is kept alive by many people looking at the anecdotal evidence rather than examining patterns as anecdotal evidence is “superficial, limited to interpretation, and not generalizable” (DiAngelo & Sensoy, 2012, Pg. 11). In all three of the stories even though intense emotion was felt no one spoke out against the unfairness. This is most likely due to the common rebuttals we knew we would most likely face from our male opposition. A common rebuttal heard when standing up for women is invalidating claims of oppression as oversensitivity. As each of us where the minorities in the situation we hesitated to show our emotion in fear of being told something a long the lines of “girls are so sensitive, I was joking”.
A story that stood out to me in how disruptive it was to the normative narrative of females being the weaker sex was Amber’s story. She wrote about her powerful experience with her new born son. The story was set in the hospital just after Amber had given birth to her son, focusing on a powerful moment where she described the joy and pride she felt for her new born. One part of her story that highlighted this emotion was where she wrote “Being a mother and raising a child of my own; such a stereotypical role as a female, but one I was beyond proud to fulfill in every aspect.” (Amber). The normative narrative is disrupted as Amber had arguably just done the most powerful thing a human body can perform; birth. There’s no arguing that there is any sort of weakness in giving birth. No one, unlike in the other stories made Amber feel less than for her role of being female; in fact they seemed to make her feel more prideful. Her husband showed much of the same Joy and pride that she felt too as she wrote “His pride and love for his son showed very clearly in his eyes. I watched the two of them together, they both seemed so comfortable.” (Amber). He did not make Amber feel inadequate for her role in their child’s birth but seemed to show nothing but happiness for their new child.
I chose to interrupt this normative narrative because its one, as a woman I experience almost everyday and have a strong reaction to. I have recently learned “Rather than allow these emotions to block our growth, we can use them as entry points into greater self knowledge and content knowledge.” (DiAngelo & Sensoy, 2012, Pg. 14). This has helped me to understand that “How we think about groups of people determines how we act toward them; discrimination occurs when we act on our prejudices.” (DiAngelo & Sensoy, 2012, Pg. 54). The action of these prejudices is where the discrimination placed on women about being the weaker sex comes from, not that their actually weaker.
Often stories faced with this type of gender discrimination have a way of silencing and disrupting the normative narrative. When we examine the patterns of women’s success, we see there’s no less weak than man. However, females are the oppressed genders and “to oppress is to hold down – to press- and deny a social group full access and potential in a given society” (DiAngelo & Sensoy, 2012, Pg. 61). When information is presented though such as a women giving birth or a women being an excellent running back its undeniable that this upsets the normative narrative that women are weaker than men.