Breaking Gender Norms

This project requires you to perform some stereotypical behaviors and gestures of a different gender for approximately 1-2 hours. For example, if you typically act “feminine”, act “masculine” by taking up more space with your body—sit with your legs wide open, spit, swear, make work and leisure a priority, etc. If you typically act “masculine”, you could take up less space—sit with your legs crossed, wear makeup, talk about intimate relationship details, drink pink drinks, wear tight fitting clothes, talk about your relationships, apologize regularly, etc. If you employ both masculine and feminine aspects of gender performance try going to one extreme end of the spectrum. You can also perform gender neutral by using no gender cues or language.

The paper (4 pages, double-spaced, include 4 terms, two academic sources with ASA citation style)
Why do you think people reacted the way they did? How did you respond to their reactions? Do you think people react differently when men behave as women than when women behave as men? Why or why not? In light of all course material, examine your example for how it produces gender. Also, think about how we all produce “the taken-for-granted.” Be detailed and specific with your analysis. Give examples from your “experiment” in gender and how the examples apply to terms discussed so far. Conclude your final paper with a discussion of the implications that constructions of gender have on men and women’s lives, including the implications in your own life. Include a specific example from your life with this discussion.

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Some helpful suggestions:
Remember you are altering gender, NOT sexuality. If this is confusing to you, please talk with me. Gender is a performance. We are all “doing gender”(West and Zimmerman).
Pay close attention to how you feel while behaving this way and to how others respond
You can do this around friends or family, or in public if you are particularly daring.
If those who are observing you do not respond after awhile, you may want to ask them if they noticed anything different. You can tell them about the experiment after you have finished.

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