Chapter 2—Various social constructions of gender

Source: Refinery29

Labels and meanings come from specific sources that society creates and pertains. There are negative and positive connotations that come with these labels, which people use to judge when they meet someone new. In Kasandra Brabaw’s article, “Please Stop Calling Sam Smith “Gender Non—Binary,”” she delves deep into a label that stemmed from miscommunication. Sam Smith stated that he feels, “just as much woman as I am man.” He was able to communicate expressively that he was comfortable in his own skin, while “dressing in women’s clothing and shoes.” Although he does identify as gender non-binary and explicitly states the characteristics, he doesn’t flat out state, “I identify as gender non-binary.” Even though he doesn’t state his preferred gender, he does explicity express his uncertainty of his label. Just like how people interpret things to be the way they want it to seem, Sam Smith in their eyes is considered gender non-binary. The problem with this is that there are these interpretations and concepts attached to gender non-binary. We now know that he enjoys dressing up in women’s clothing and shoes, but don’t know anything else as to how he feels as gender non-binary, specifically. Sam Smith is an example of how labels stem from perceptions that then lead to misinterpretations. Just like Sam Smith, there are others in this world who feel the same way. Gender should not be an assumption made from what society perceives, but a safe and personal self expression.

Brabaw, Kasandra. (2017). Please Stop Calling Sam Smith “Gender Non—Binary.” Refinery29.

Source: Refinery29

Women’s bodies at times are conceptualized, labeled, and gendered to what society wants it to be. Labels can hurt a person’s self esteem and worth, all while also helping one realize something—self love is more important. In Sarah Van Cleve’s article, “Women Destroy Their Labels In This Empowering Photoshoot,” seven women were photographed with mean labels, that were then covered with glitter, paint, and photos. Society’s horrifying standards of women include spandex, weight loss pills, and tummy trimmers that are used to cover insecurities and imperfections. Cleve’s article includes one of the women, McKyla Crowder, who grew up with vitiligo. Vitiligo causes the skin to lose its color, thus why there are patches of different colors. She was labeled words such as, “spots” or even “cheetah.” The social construction of being a women means being physically, mentally, and emotionally balanced. Characteristics that stray away from the ideal women mold, are judged harshly by society and can even be neglected. If women were not given labels, and instead were praised for their internal personality traits or able to see the negatives as unique. Women’s gender roles are standarized by advertising campaigns that have an underlying meaning besides selling a product to women. In the advertising campaign, there are unrealistic qualities a women must uphold in order to achieve something; one of the many reasons why everyday women have negative labels.

Van Cleve, Sarah. (2017). Women Destroy Their Labels In This Empowering Photoshoot. Refinery29.


While walking into Target, you have one item to purchase, but upon leaving you can sporadically be found with bags filled with the “essentials.” Toys in particular are taking in turn in gender. Instead of categorizing toys for boys and girls, Target instead will just be selling toys for kids. In Kate Schweitzer’s article, “The Bold Reason Target Is No Longer Selling Toys For Boys and Girls,” she discovered that a tweet cause Target to change its policy for using gendered terms for toys. For example, they will get rid of using girl colors such as pink, blue, yellow, and green in order to differentiate toy shelves based on gender. Using gendered words and colors in order to separate girls and boys toys always confused me. Growing up, even when there were distinctive colors used to differentiate one gender from the other, I was still able to purchase boy toys without any judgment or labels from the cashier at Target or my own parents. But, it is meaningless to add gendered labels to toys, when kids should have the freedom and imagination to play with what they want. Limiting girls to toys that have a certain color such as pink, and an activity such as cooking, can hinder their learning and ability to be openminded. In reality, times have changed and the color pink and yellow are not restricted for girls anymore. Girls and boys now have the ability to choose what they want, while recreating the meaning of their gender through toys.

Schweitzer, Kate. (2015). The Bold Reason Target Is No Longer Selling Toys For Boys and Girls. POPSUGAR.