Together Yet Separate Essay Research Paper You

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Together, Yet Separate Essay, Research Paper ?You can?t play with He-man, he?s not for girls!? This phrase still echoes in my mind as I reminisce about my childhood playtime. As I reached for a He-man action figure from the toy box, I was handed a Barbie doll or a My Little Pony figurine. At that time, I was too young to realize the great chasm that gender had created for such a simple task as playing with toys. However, looking back, it becomes clear that gender, itself, plays a key role in the everyday lives of boys and girls. In Barrie Thorne?s book, Gender Play, this role is depicted in various ways through participant observation, or ethnography. By researching the ways that children play an active role in ?doing? gender, analyzing the neutralization of this socialized

role, and displaying the effects that education, primarily those with a classroom setting, has on gender, Thorne provides ample support of the notion that gender is a social construction. From my experiences with the He-man doll, one can deduce a certain boundary line for activities between girls and boys. Barrie Thorne provides explanations of these boundaries by analyzing the ways that children play an active role in creating them. By having shared interests, or ?behavioral compatibility?, girls and boys contribute to the ?act of gender?. Although there is not overwhelming support, ?boys find it more rewarding to interact and play with boys, and girls to interact and play with girls?girls more often gravitate to housekeeping corners and doll-play, and boys to the area with

large blocks and toy cars??(Thorne 57). This example explains the division between boys and girls as one of shared interests. Because girls enjoy the same activities as other girls, and boys enjoy the same activities as other boys, a boundary for gender is marked. In choosing to play with a He-man doll, I crossed this boundary. However, in defining why children create such boundaries, an origin such as behavioral compatibility does not provide for the deviation from this norm. Therefore, Thorne uses the theory of psychoanalytic processes to further explain this gender phenomenon. As we learned in lecture, various sociologists have hypothesized the reason for gender, such as Freud?s penis envy, or Chodorow?s maternal rejection theories. In Gender Play, Thorne uses Chodorow?s

explanation that ?boys are motivated to separate from and to devalue ?things feminine? in order to gain separation from their mothers. Because mothers do the bulk of primary parenting, both boys and girls initially identify with and are strongly attached to a woman? (59). Therefore, Thorne suggests the reason for boys to identify with other boys is due to their ?acute awareness of being a different gender than the mother? (59). This then creates a separation between girls and boys, as boys ?seek to consolidate their somewhat shaky gender identities? (59). This psychoanalytic process, which is inherently developed, can explicate the tendency for boys to interact with boys and girls to interact with other girls. Finally, Thorne states that the acts of gender labeling and identity

can produce the gender division as well. Being labeled a boy or a girl creates an awareness for a child, which ?consolidates around age two? (60). In learning these gender categories, such as male/female, boy/girl, or man/woman, children are able to apply them in relation to others. Thorne proposes that this act ?may set processes of gender separation into motion? (60). Gender identity, or the ?deep sense of self as either male or female?, can produce this separation as well. As a girl realizes the similar characteristics she shares with other girls, and a boy realizes the similar characteristics he shares with other boys, ?that awareness, in itself,? may lead boys to want to interact with boys and girls to want to be with other girls. (60). As boys and girls avoid those of ?the