Reading-Response 3: Gender

Gender binaries affect everyone in our everyday lives especially in the media. From a young age we are taught that we are a girl or we are a boy and must fit into the boxes of what it means to be these genders. These binaries are socially constructed ways of saying how we should behave, act, and present ourselves in relation to our gender. They are shown in the media with oversexualization of women and hypermasculine representation of men which children are exposed to at a young age.  

Women are represented in the media as sexual beings for men to enjoy. In Is Everyone Really Equal they say that, “The message conveyed to girls are that their value depends solely on how attractive they are to men and how well they can please them.” (p 113) This view teaches young girls to try to become an idea of a “perfect woman” which leads to high rates of low self-esteem. This sexist view does not just include women, men are also affected by it. The media reinforces the idea of men having to be tough, strong, and independent. “Iconic ad campaigns are heavily geared toward men, often depicting very tough and masculine men riding horses or driving pickup truck” (Sensoy & DiAngelo p 111) This view is supporting the idea of hypermasculinity or that all men need to be strong and tough which often leads to aggression and hidden depression in teenage boys. 

Without these binaries everyone is free to express who they really are without the societal judgement from gender norms. Without these gender binaries everyone could not feel the need to have to conform to a specific idea of what it means to be a gender. Jacob Tobia uses a great analogy with computers in this article. He says, “People don’t work like computers. Our identities, our thoughts, and our beliefs can’t always be sorted easily into two categories. In the world we live in, we set up two distinct categories — man and woman — that everyone must choose between. But that doesn’t actually reflect the full diversity of the human experience.”  


Lopez. “A Genderqueer Activist Explains What It Means to Be Nonbinary on the Gender Spectrum.” Vox, Vox, 15 June 2016,, Özlem, and Robin J. DiAngelo. Is Everyone Really Equal?: an Introduction to Key Concepts in Social Justice Education. Teachers College Press, 2017.

3 thoughts on “Reading-Response 3: Gender

  1. lochlinw says:

    I think you really hit the nail on the head with this. You explain the complexities of gender and identity so well in such a short time. You say “gender binaries affect everyone” and I really believe they do. I don’t personally think much of them from day to day because I am straight, but perspective is important in these situations. The prompt suggests “undoing gender” and I am just curious, and would like to hear some of your ideas or strategies to begin undoing these gender norms.


  2. Katie Philip says:

    Great post, Karly. I loved your inclusion of the Lopez quote about categorizing our identities. For so long, people have been influenced by these gender binaries, ignoring the range and diversity of our existence. I think the key to challenging gender norms is to begin at an early age. Gender is constructed at birth and continually reinforced throughout our entire lives.

    Some ways I can think of to undo gender binary would involve:
    – altering mainstream media to include diversity and portraying a more accurate sample of people, identities, beliefs and roles so that as adults we can be more accepting
    – removing the emphasis on gender assignment at birth, pink does not equate to girl
    – getting rid of gendered toys for children, and allowing kids to follow their interests
    – embracing people for their uniqueness

    I think the freedom to express yourself should be the focus in our society. We have been really restricted, thinking about diversity through a deficit lens whereas we should be embracing it.


  3. minseokimm says:

    I really enjoyed reading your response. I totally agree that people are exposed to gender binaries at such a young age and it remains in their life. Gender binaries limit each individual to express themselves in a way that they want and therefore causes lack of diversity in the human experience. I believe the society needs to be more supportive and encourage people to express themselves. I would have liked to see your ideas on the ways that gender binary myth can be interrupted in order to improve our current situation.


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