After working through this course’s reading I gave much thought to gender identity and was questioning myself a lot as for the nature of my own gender identity. It is hard, however, to be honest with one’s own self, it is, probably, nearly impossible to openly and readily give answers to the questions. It is probably even easier to make conclusions regarding other people, regarding whether or not their gender identity mainly roots in their biological sex. For me it is, basically, the most important question since I personally tend to believe that even though all the other theories described by Wood (2011) do give us another perspective on gender identity and its manifestations and formation, still, everything builds up on the basis, which is biological sex of an individual. It is harder to make observations on one’s own self, and this is why I was excited about the opportunity of observation, and particularly in the public domain. Public domain appeared to be much more interesting to me simply because in public people on the one hand try to appear to approach their ideal view of themselves, try, so to speak, be ideal in all their personal manifestations, and thus, men will attempt to play the ideal men, as they understand this concept, and women will make attempts to be ideally female. This allows us to understand, what ideals for these people are. And this “ideal” gender identity, the one, which we seek to approach in public, the one, we wish to resemble, is the socially caused part of our gender identity. At least this was what I thought when thinking on the nature of gender. Thus, as if said, for me gender is mainly a biologically determined category. On the other hand, our expression of our gender, our sexuality, and particularly such in presence of unfamiliar, strange people, is the social component of our gender identity. The latter is harder to understand, and thus I was happy to
When thinking over the opportunities for my future observation, I recollected that I am a volunteer at an NGO, and as an activist of the organization I may very well benefit from attending a seminar. Thus I found a good fund rising seminar and thus decided to watch the people in such a formal situation express their gender identity. When summarizing my impressions of the seminar, I first of all thought of Debora Tannen (2001) and her immortal “You just don’t understand me”. “This is where the misunderstandings begin” I thought to myself. I had an impression that the tension of the play was very significant. Nobody wanted to be natural, but, in attempt to be appreciated, or, rather, in order to have their gender identity properly appreciated by the opposite sex representatives, people were playing as if they were at the theatre. Playing somebody whom they actually were not. Women oftentimes attempted to address men for clarifications of things, which were, first of all, of little importance to them, and at the same time were obviously clear to them. Some special, somewhat childish language suddenly appeared in the conversations of representatives of different genders. Men tried their best in order to express their interest to the personal affairs of the women. One bright example I would like to describe in details. There was an occasion when after a break somebody dropped something very heavy on the floor. And one of the women, whom I personally know, and who under normal circumstances would only make a funny comment on such an event, suddenly screamed as if she was frightened out of her feelings. To me it appeared to be an attempt to appear womanish, not to express her own female nature, but instead to show other people what she thought they were expecting to see. Such cases were numerous, and thus I called the entire event for my own self “a festival of pretended sexuality”.
- Tannen, Deborah. (2001). You Just Don’t Understand: Women and Men in Conversation, Harper Trade Publishers
- Wood, Julia T. (2011). Gendered Lives: Communication, Gender and Culture, 9th ed. Thomson/Cengage.