Gender Norms Reinforced in Modern Society

NC pastor irate after American Girl introduces boy doll

As many of you may know, the American Girl company recently introduced a male-gendered American Girl doll to their upcoming line. Fans are generally ecstatic, as they have been asking for a male doll for years now. I was fairly upset, however, after reading an article from the North Carolina news that stated a Christian pastor was infuriated at this new addition and explained that this would emasculate men and alter God’s “typical plan.” This article focuses on gender norms that have been engrained in societal ideologies for hundreds of years, noticeably elucidated in our in class texts involving Kirsten and her family; our keywords article on Gender, however, tests these traditional values and attempts to analyze the typical binary through emerging progressive assumptions. We can see evidence of the reinforcement of gender roles in Kirsten Learns A Lesson in that only the girl characters are portrayed playing with dolls and completing certain domestic chores, while boys—like Lars and her male classmates—are given guidance to play in a different way that is seen as more assertive and masculine in nature. The setting of the novel also exemplifies that this gender binary has been present for years; therefore, we can see that this modern pastor has taken traditional ideas about gender from history and religion in order to justify his sexist view on the introduction of the male doll. We do, however, see a more progressive viewpoint in “Gender” from Keywords for Children’s Literature in that the author of the essay recognizes the fluidity of gender and more modern and accepting views that include the difference between biological sex and gender confirmation and the critique of traditional gender structures. It’s important, therefore, to recognize that people in our society continue to base their staunch, and sometimes hateful, beliefs on traditional ideologies that emerge in history and children’s historical literature and, thus, use this awareness to create a future of gender fluidity, the absence of gender rules and binaries, and the acceptance of all regardless of deviance from historical norms and conservative beliefs.



1 thought on “Gender Norms Reinforced in Modern Society”

  1. I really liked how you compared today’s more progressive views to the traditional views that were present in our readings of Kirsten. I think it sheds a light on the ways in which people think and the reasoning behind them. I also liked your take on societal gender views.

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