Genders Divided: A Culturally Created Stigma

Pat, let me be the first to extend a warm welcome back to our planet. Many years have passed since your last visit back when Aristotle was alive. The world as you knew it has changed and with its social and traditional norms. Since you are wondering about how the concept of gender identity looks like in America, I’ve chosen a specific book that will help show you about the concept of gender identity in today’s society. The book is called “Jacob’s New Dress” a children’s book written by Sarah and Ian Hoffman that was published in 2014.

It is important that you know this, for it will demonstrate the unacceptance of children who don’t identify with traditional gender roles and the difficulties face. The reason that non-binary gender is not considered a traditional gender, is because of the cultural influence that is forced upon the younger generation. According to the Meriam Webster dictionary, gender identity can be defined as “a person’s internal sense of being male, female, some combination of male and female, or neither male nor female”.

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(Webster par,1). Consequently pat, not everyone feels the necessity to agree with this perception of gender.

This book was chosen because it explores how the social interaction since childhood have been filled with a wildly range of gender expectations. The text uses typical stereotypes to construct the argument that non-binary gender is not accepted as a traditional gender. As most of us are personally familiar with, men and woman are constantly compared in sports, workplaces, and personal situations, merely based on biological/physiological aspects.

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According to the author these differences, cause society to separate genders into “social bodies” that would not exist without a culture that is seemingly hung up on categories, groupings and causing division. In the society we live in today, gender is decided as soon as a new born baby enters the vast world, and even before that in some cases. That is why I chose this piece of rhetoric because it demonstrates how today society tends to place ‘sex’ and ‘gender’ into the same category; how today’s society connects biology with gender.

“Jacob, why do you always wear the girl clothes? Put on the knight armor, that’s what the boy wears!” (Jacob’s New Dress pg.3) Sarah and Ian start their book by mentioning one of the typical stereotypes, that is generated by most Americans. Their position here is by far the most common view, that most people tend to focus on. In fact, Jacob’s situation is not something that would be accepted by most cultures, because most cultures tend to have their own beliefs on the spectrum of gender identity. Which in most cases, only relies on the scientific angle of this concept, which is that most cultures don’t believe in gender reassignments. In other words, there is no possibility that oneself gets to decide what gender they want to grow to be. Those who are most predisposed by the teachings of most cultures are the younger generation. The reason being is that, they are being educated that their certain rules that “boys” and “girls” need to follow. The author is advocating with Jacob’s situation, which is that boys can not wear what is considered to be “girls’ clothes” because it is not socially accepted. The authors then demonstrate that professionals such as teachers, also unintentionally portray that their students must act accordingly to what they think is accommodated to their belief of what the gender of the student is.

On page five of the book the authors add, “Jacob, you try it! What new thing could you imagine being? A firefighter? A policeman? (Jacob’s New Dress, 5). Here the teacher’s suggestions all dictate that what Jacob is wearing is not what a typical “boy” wears. Signifying that today’s society forces each other into a blue or a pink box, and that gender is identical to sex, where sex is taken to be determined by one’s reproductive features. This view proliferates on countless indirect statements, where one finds wildly distorted discussions of what it means to do things that are based upon the gender that society decides to contemplate. Nearly all accounts diction that nonbinary gender is a biological impossibility.

The authors then illustrate how parents also draw a border line when it come to what gender their child wants to portray. For example, on page nine of Jacob’s New Dress, Jacob’s mom was hesitant when he asked her, if he could wear is witch’s dress to school. She quickly came up with an excuse to not let him wear the dress to school. Insinuating that she is not comfortable with the fact that her son, wants to wear clothing that a typical “girl” would wear. Then when Jacob wanted to wear his towel dress that he created, his father frowned and said, “You can’t go to school like that.” (Jacob’s New Dress pg. 10). Here the author is implying the in most cases the predominately male figure of the household such as father, are the ones who are not as accepting to their child wanting to be different. Then the dad states “Put on some shorts and a shirt under that dress-thing.” (Jacob’s New Dress pg.10). By adding this, the authors want to establish that even in households’ children are to act what their parents want them to act like, which is according to the social view. Gender is unavoidably indexed to the sexed body, because society imposes social roles onto them on the basis of their biology. On this view, nonbinary gender cannot exist because it is assumed that everyone has either a male or a female body.

The authors then add the emotional appeal for this topic. Jacob’s towel dress got yanked away by Christopher, a boy who doesn’t accept the fact that Jacob wants to be nonbinary. That author then continues to the emotional distress that has been brought onto Jacob, from the unacceptance from his peer. The authors provide a sense that those who aren’t as accepting with the nonbinary gender, they cause an effect on those who don’t want to be classified as the traditional norm of gender. The authors provide an idea on what damages can be caused from degrading those who aren’t precise to what society expects their gender to be. Damages can be both emotionally and, in some cases, physically.

The authors created this piece of rhetoric in attempt to call attention to those who normally don’t consider nonbinary gender as a typical ordinary gender. It advocates that those who have this mentality, can genuinely create emotional and physical damages to that person. The book states examples of typical stereotypes that are used today to construct the main argument. Which is that nonbinary gender is not an option to most people, because they are not presented with that option. Most people tend to grow up believing that there is only two genders in this world, that there is no possibility to mix and match.

In today’s society there is somewhat of a difference, on the perspective on nonbinary gender however most people tend to still hold on to that culturally enhanced perception that it is not a traditional gender. The idea that a girl cannot do things that a boy can do, is still implanted on today’s society. Most of the time the setting hast do a lot with how a person’s character is displayed. For instance, when a man is surrounded by mostly men, to display traditional women behavior is frowned upon. The reason being is because when a man shows empathy or any sorts of qualities that considered “womanly”, the insults of being called “gay”, “woman” and among other things is expected. The same for women, if a woman is an all-female-space, showing characteristics that are considered “masculine”, for example not knowing how to cook, not knowing how to do laundry or dressing in a manly fashion, results in judgement and looked down upon.

That is why this book is perfect to illustrate some of the most common stereotypes that is perceived by most people. For the most part, boys will be mocked by other boys if they ever display “feminine” characteristics, and vise versa. A lot of this judgement that children learned is because of the things that are being implanted onto them by society. Society teaches children that gender is decided the minute that they are born because of what reproductive parts they have. That is why nonbinary identities are those who fall outside of the traditional binary “man” and woman” gender categories. “Jacob’s New Dress” transcends the idea that keeping and open-mind about the concept of nonbinary gender, is adequate for the situation.

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Genders Divided: A Culturally Created Stigma. (2022, Jul 25). Retrieved from

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