By Fatima Nda-Isaiah
The phrase doing gender refers to the connotation that gender is a social construct. This is where Judith Lorber’s article, “Night to His Day: The Social Construction of Gender,” written in the mid-90s comes into play. It highlights ways in which people do gender every day. From the jobs people work at to the colours people wear, to what colour is revealed at a gender reveal party, my belief is that people have been brainwashed by society to believe that from the day you were born you have been put into a box – a box of believing that wearing a certain piece of clothing or applying for a certain job may make you seem more masculine than feminine and vice versa.
In different parts of the globe, doing gender may be demonstrated in different ways. In Saudi Arabia women were only recently allowed to drive. That was a crime that was punishable with years in prison. It wasn’t till 2018 that women were finally allowed the same privilege as men to operate a vehicle. This is a more extreme example of doing gender.
To the Saudi Arabian government driving was seen as a more masculine activity and because the people in power were doing gender the rest of the country were forced to do the same. People don’t know how much doing gender can really impact society. “Gender boundaries are breachable and individual and socially organised shifts from one gender to another call attention to ‘cultural, social, or aesthetic dissonances. These odd or deviant or third genders show us what we ordinarily take for granted that people have to learn to be women and men”, Lorber states.
Now, what I love about this quote from “Night to His Day’: The Social Construction of Gender” is the area where it is stated that we take for granted that we need to learn to be women and men. People don’t know how they do gender in their everyday lives. In this article, the author gives an example of a time she was on a subway and watched as a man who was taking care of a child was given the odd look of approval.
People really saw this man as some kind of hero for doing something that women do every day. Now I started to think more in depth about the situation of a man raising a child in general. Let’s say the baby in which the man is raising grows up and ends up in prison. I ask myself: will people assume it is the man’s fault for not raising his child right or will the blame go back to the mother for not being at home enough?
I came to the conclusion that even if the blame doesn’t rest entirely on the mother it will always go back to her involvement in the child’s life. This is an excellent example of doing gender. We have been made to believe that no matter the situation how the child turns out must always go back to the woman’s involvement.
There is so much to be said about the dangers of doing gender and the strain it puts on women and their self-esteem in this generation. I wonder what the world would look like if doing gender didn’t exist.