Gender Socialization vs. Gender Indoctrination

I am currently reading, “Where the Girls Are: Growing Up Female with the Mass Media” by Susan J. Douglas.

She is talking about the cultural sea of influences that shape how one looks at being female or for that matter male.  When she mentions the influence of certain obscure movies like “A Summer Place” or “Susan Slade” I remember going to these movies, which were the “chick flicks” of their day and how they shaped my world view of what it meant to be female.

When she writes about singing along to the hits of the Angels, Shangri-las, Ronettes, etc I remember singing along to those songs.  I was after all an obvious transkid who sort of learned that being called a sissy and queer didn’t hurt as much once I admitted to myself that I was transsexual and yes I did want to be a girl.

Right on the heels of having my ideas of teenage girlhood influenced from these sources and others like reading Glamor Magazine, Mademoiselle, Cosmopolitan and Seventeen came the Folk Book.  I wanted to be like Mary Travers or Joan Baez.

I tend to see the general cultural influences as the socialization that anyone can learn or be influenced by.

There is something else at play that I call gender indoctrination. This is the forced indoctrination that sticks a blue blanket on boy babies or more likely now days a camo blanket and football t-top, or a pink princess blanket and “born to shop t-top on baby girls.  Heaven forbid that some one might confuse the sex of the baby prior to the development of enough encouraged gender differences. Why that could turn a child gay/lesbian or even trans.

Never mind that gay/lesbian/trans etc are just something people are born just like the majority are born heterosexual.

You see gender has very little to do with sex or sexuality it is about the indoctrination in to the proper role expected of people who are a certain sex.  All males, gay included are supposed to be masculine/all females including lesbians are supposed to be feminine.  And both sexes are supposed to reify the idea of male supremacy.  Girls and women are indoctrinated to accept their proper place.  Their proper role is generally determined by such things as religion and its fuck buddy, psychiatry, which is just religion dressed in pseudo scientific drag.

Lately I have been witnessing the disapproving tizzy directed towards Angelina Jolie and her life partner Brad Pitt for their permitting their daughter Shiloh to dress and act any way she pleases.  It seems to me a very 1970s attitude on the part of the parents, like they might have actually read Marlo Thomas’ material from the “Free to be You, Free to be Me” school of child rearing instead of the bullshit of the closeted homosexual George Rekers and his fuck buddies over at NARTH.

I see a difference between the indoctrination part which so often fails with transkids and even with many gay/lesbian kids and socialization which I place in a different category.

Julia Serano in “Whipping Girl” avoids the confusing of gender as social role with gender as answer to the question, “What sex am I?” by the usage of “core sex identity” rather than “core gender identity”.

Having a core sex identity that is counter to the assigned sex offers an explanation as to why the gender indoctrination is such a failure while at the same time many transkids (particularly those who come out young) are socialized into the gender role to the point that there is no gender transition.

When people talk about having to learn these things many who came out young are surprised because so often our transition of presentation was more a matter of changing clothes and the way we wore our hair.  Our peers looked at us and said things like “You are the same person, only a girl now.”  It took a while for me to wrap my mind around the idea that the same thing happened with people who came out in middle age.

They weren’t so much changing their gender as their presentation and their physical being.  Actually it was probably more obvious. Although many who come out in middle age seem faced with a steeper learning curve when it comes to internalizing the socialized gender part.  Probably due to learning to shun the girl socialization as part of the development of the mask while trying to embrace the often counter intuitive (for them) boy socialization.

One Response to “Gender Socialization vs. Gender Indoctrination”

  1. Véronique Says:

    I’ve probably been luckier than most who transitioned at my age or even younger. As a kid, I was not beaten for being a sissy, and as I grew up, I was never pressured to be manly. I fought my nature for a while, being a pleaser and one who craved acceptance, but through most of my adult life I was more or less myself, if not as much myself as I am now. A lot of people thought I was gay. That was fine with me.

    It took me so long to really know what was up with me, but the process hasn’t been as difficult as it probably is for some. I’m mostly still me, just a woman.

    I have nothing but admiration — OK, envy too — for people like you who saw yourselves clearly when you were young and also had the courage to follow your heart, even at a time when that meant being a pioneer. I wish I had been like that.

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