Gender Neutral Toys Gender Resistance and Gender Norm Violation Essay

You will do two writing assignments in this class. You must choose one from Group A and one from Group B.

I am less concerned with page length for these assignments than I am with quality and depth of analysis. I usually expect the papers will be roughly 4-6 pages. You will not be graded down if your paper is fewer pages than that, however know that fewer than 4 pages probably means you have not done enough to earn an A for the paper. It is possible to write an excellent paper that analyzes the topic at hand and includes all parts assigned in fewer than 4 pages, it’s just not common.

Make sure you read the directions carefully, and do everything that is asked of you. Students mostly lose points on these papers by simply not following the directions or leaving out parts.

Group A

Options 1, 2, and 3—You must complete ONE of these – choose the one you would like to complete.

Group A papers are due on: 10/3 by 11:59pm

Writing Assignment Option #1: Gender Resistance – Gender Norm Violation

[Note, if you choose to complete this assignment, you must clear your norm violation with Dr. Loftus or the TA prior to engaging in it; You cannot receive credit for this assignment if you do not clear your violation with Dr. Loftus or the TA in advance.]

For this assignment, you will break a gender norm and write about your experience. When choosing a norm to violate be sure that your norm is a relatively minor one or what sociologists refer to as a “folkway.” You must violate the norm in a public place but this may not be a campus location. In your writing assignment address all of the following: 1) the gender norm (What is it?), 2) how you violated it (What exactly did you do? Where did you do it? Who were witnesses to your violation?), 3) witnesses reactions (How did people respond? Did they stare? Try to avoid you? etc.) and 4) your own reaction (How did you feel? Why did you feel that way? What does this tell us about the internalization of gender norms?).

Writing Assignment Option #2:Visualizing Doing Gender – Photo Essay Assignment*

*Adapted from Sargent and Corse (2013) and Bamford (2013)

For this assignment you will create a digital photo essay/Powerpoint presentation of doing gender. You will take photographs and write an essay response for each photograph. The essay response should use course material (readings, lecture, etc.) on doing gender. Make sure to use citations when referencing course materials.

The assignment must include a minimum of 6 pictures. You may take pictures of yourself, your friends, and/or your family. You may use pictures you find on the internet as well if you choose.

Each picture should include:
1. A title for each photo.

2. What you intended to capture in each picture.

3. How the photo relates to doing gender and to course materials relating to doing gender. This is the most important. How are people in the slides doing gender?

**These responses should be in paragraph format, not bullet points.

What you will turn in: You will create a Powerpoint presentation of your photos. You should copy the photos onto the slide and include your response in the notes section (see below for an example – though I have dropped a few things to discuss in your slides, so just cover 1-3 above). Make sure to include a title slide that includes your name, course number, and section. Give your presentation a title such as, “Doing Gender: A Review in Photos.”


Writing Assignment Option #3: Gender Socialization

*Adapted from Jennings and Barton (2010)

Visit a toy store or the toy section of a major retailer (like Target, Walmart, Macy’s, etc.). Use your observational skills to determine how, or whether, the layout of the toy store encourages gender differences in toy preferences.

Draw on your observations to think about the following questions:

  • Are there types of toys that are clearly aimed at boys or girls (e.g., as determined by their use of colors, pictures of boys or girls on the packaging, or other means)? If so, what are the differences between these types of toys?
  • Do the toy names and descriptions of toys on their packaging tell you anything about the assumed differences in what boys and girls are attracted to?
  • How might a child feel going into the area of the store that is not aimed toward his/her gender? Do you think s/he would feel comfortable purchasing a toy there?
  • What are some of the toys that do not appear to be targeted specifically at boys or girls? Are there more of these “gender neutral” toys for one age range of children compared to others?
  • Where are the “gender neutral” toys located in the store? Are they hard to find? What strategies are used to attract children to these toys?
  • Based on what we discussed in class, what might all of this mean? How might this affect boys and girls differently? What types of lessons and skills might kids be learning by playing with the toys targeted at their gender?

Write a paper that addresses the issues raised above. The paper must be in essay format, not just as answers to each of these questions. If you feel comfortable doing so, take pictures in the store to illustrate your observations and include them in your paper.

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