The next time you walk down the street, take the time to observe the people around you. How they walk, how they dress, how they act and ask yourself if their behavior and outside characteristics match up with whether they are male or female.
I assume, most of the time it will. This is because gender has been drilled into us ever since we were born (Lorber 2000). Gender refers to the way we are suppose to dress, act, and talk based on our sex. It is a socially constructed mechanism used to differentiate between male and female (Lorber 2000). To give you a better understanding, if you saw a baby with earrings in both ears, most people would conclude that it was a girl. But if you were told that your friends named their child Jacob you would most likely assume that it was a boy.
The assumptions people make to determine one’s gender is based on what society deems feminine or masculine. If a world existed where there was no gender, girls would be able to play football and boys could wear colors such as pink without being questioned or judged. But the reality is that because gender does exist people are expected to follow the norm, and “any possible alternatives are virtually unthinkable” (pg 207).
Gender is a rather prevalent issue in the t.v. show Glee and several characters are showcased defying the gender norms. Coach Sue Sylvester and Coach Bieste both have what society would call “masculine traits.” They do not wear make-up, or dress in “girly” clothes such as skirts and dresses. Instead they wear track suits and have loud opinionated personalities–traits society would deem unacceptable to have as a woman. Coach Bieste unlike Sue (most likely because Sue is rather scary) is picked on, yes even as an adult, and treated differently because the students and staff do not see her as a woman. As Lorber (2000) would say, she is “missing” her “gender signs” and that is why people feel the need to bully her; they are “uncomfortable” that she does not fit into their view of her gender (pg 204).
But Glee works to show that no matter how Coach Bieste acts or appears she is still a woman and has feelings and desires just as other women do. For example, when Bieste gets asked out on a date, she cries over being treated so kindly. Crying is typically seen as a feminine quality.
It is not only the woman in Glee who challenge gender norms. Finn is the high school quarterback who enjoys singing and performing in the school musicals. He is pushed around by some of his fellow teammates for participating in such a “feminine activity.” But Finn does not let that stop him.
Lastly, in a more recent episode of Glee, Brittany decides to run for school president. At McKinley High School the student body president has yet to be a girl. Brittany decides that it is time to show the power within being female and performs this song…breaking her gender “norm” of lacking the traits needed to be a leader (Sadker and Zittleman 2010).
Lorber, J. (2000). ‘Night to his day’: The social construction of gender. In Adams et al. (Eds.), Readings for diversity and social justice. New York: Routledge Press.
Sadker, D. & Zittleman, K. (2010). Gender bias: From colonial America to today’s classroom. . In Banks J. , Banks C. A. McGee, (Eds.) Multicultural education: Issues and perspectives. 7th ed. (pp. 137-153). New York: John Wiley.
Mediavine Inc. (n.d.). Quinn Fabray quotes. In TV fanatic. Retrieved November 12, 2011, from http://www.tvfanatic.com/quotes/characters/quinn-fabray/