Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Blog Me Masculine

Here's the "Now" in reference to my previous "Then" blog "Color Me Feminine."
Colors, fonts, widgits, graphic designs, pictures, etc., all ascribe gender to a blog, the modern day forum for online communal bloggers to give a Tilbury Speech of their own. "How do I want my reader to read this?" is a question which should be asked by any blogger and their visual design should reflect the desired tone. Here's a good example I came across just one hour ago. Online, I've been exploring different university graduate programs. I went to BYU for such information, saw the page, thought little of it, went to UTD's page, and suddenly thought a LOT of BYU's. Look at the difference. While UTD's page is flashy and caught my eye, I didn't get a "professional" feel from it and quite honestly thought the design was tacky for a page introducing their graduate school programs. It looked more like a page off of Amazon, trying to sell you on their product by making it look better than it really is. "Pick me pick me because I'm a pretty color" works when I'm shopping (to the demise of my banking account [author tugs at collar and begins to shift uncomfortably in seat] and graduate school as well) but not when I'm shopping for graduate programs.
Ok Becca, but what about gender? Here's an example of design reflecting tone/gender. Say you saw these two sentences and were asked to give your first thoughts about which sentence was written by a girl and which a boy:
I love Terry = D!
I love Terry.
Gut reaction? Now tell me, what gave you the impression?
Referring to the Texas A&M study in my last post, color will dictate gender and the attention of specific genders. It begins in the hospital, "It's a girl, get a pink blanket" or "Blue blanket for this baby boy" and ends with us deciding whether or not to paint our nails when we're in our coffin. Look at the "emoticon" of the first sentence. A study showed "traditional gender roles define the female role as communal, embodying emotional expressiveness and a focus on the needs of others" Did you pick up on that? The emoticon "= D" and "!" might have made you think the author is more emotionally expressive and thus there's a greater likelihood it's a girl. Why is that? Why, when for hundreds of years, men such as Milton, Wordsworth, Tennyson, Donne, etc., could write some of the world's most famous, beautiful poetry, expressing inner thoughts in poetically metaphoric terms, do we now say men can't express emotion? Why does masculinity=little feeling and if a man is seen as tender or openly emotional we classify him as "effeminate" if we're feeling generous and giving him the benefit of the doubt about which team he's swinging for? Tell me what you think:


  1. Well, I think perception of the ideal masculinity varies a lot in our society. There's the stereotypical image of the hard-working, tough, emotionally restrained man, but I don't think that's really the standard. Depictions of this stereotype in media like TV shows and commercials is often comical or tongue-in-cheek. It's not taken too seriously. It could even be depicted as a character flaw. I think that what is portrayed as the ideal man is a little bit more well-rounded. People (women) seem to like a man who can be expressive and show empathy. What woman wouldn't like a man who could write her emotive poetry or songs? Am I right?

    So what is this implying? Maybe the ideal level of masculinity(or femininity) is closer to androgyny. We still have gender-based expectations, but there is an increasing spread on the spectrum of masculinity/femininity that society embraces.

  2. I think you make an interesting point about babies. My wife and I have recently decided to start dressing our 3-month old Addison in frilly, pink things with bows, despite our mutual dislike for such cliches (my wife's favorite color is brown). Why? Because she looks so much to us like a boy without them, and we actually have used masculine pronouns with her because she seems like a boy to us. We want to acknowledge the gender god gave her, so we're swallowing our pride and dressing her in frou-frou outfits - not because that's the way girls need to dress, but because we need a definite outward sign that will help us to to her as a daughter of God.

    At the end of this post on my wife's blog are a few pictures that (to me) make my daughter look like a boy:

    And here are a few that make us think of her as a girl:

    Also, I think it's interesting that you are asking for personal opinions to refute a study. Studies are not perfect, and can be used to support wildly different conclusions, and it might be interesting to make an argument that says your personal feelings about gender differences are more legitimate than all the studies out there.

  3. Also, here are some things you might want to consider researching:

    1. "relational aggression" is a form of aggression typically connected with girls, especially teenage girls in school. Boys hit, girls snipe, gossip, etc.


    2. Women (I get this from my wife, who is getting her masters in MFHD) are typically considered the "gatekeepers" of family relationships; that has been interpreted negatively in some studies - as in women barring others (husbands, grandparents, etc.) from participating in relationships the way they want. But there is also a more recent view that women as "gatekeepers facilitate emotional intimacy between family members. For instance, most husbands drift away from contact with their own family, but most wives are much closer to theirs.

    Both of these examples include a trend where women are more involved and invested in relationships, which is slightly different than saying they are simply more "emotional." Their investment in relationships can have negative outcomes (as in number 1.) or potential positive ones (as alluded to in number 2.). I can certainly see it in my own life. If my wife did not force me to have positive interactions with my family, I would probably figure it was easier to just drift away from them and not get involved in drama.

  4. First off, I totally agree with you about the doctorate/master's page presentations. I'd choose BYU, hun.

    That being said, my first response to your "I love Terry" was "Hm. Would a guy really ever write that anyway?" There I go, just proving your point that sometimes we think men can't express emotion! But, then, doing a little soul-searching, I know that I really don't think that. Men CAN express emotion, and I am totally aware of that. But my inherent expectation is that men will express emotion in a totally different way than a woman will. Maybe this goes along with what Neal was saying about the different ways that men and women interact with their family. A man might feel the same love for his family as the woman, but maybe he just doesn't feel like he has to express it as often. That would appear, then, that's he's "drifting away," when really he still cares, he just doesn't feel the urge to call his mom three times a week. I have no study to back this claim...I'm just trying to reason my way through through how I perceive men as being emotional.

  5. In contemporary culture, pink automatically signifies the feminine while blue is the masculine. But it's because we've been conditioned to think that way. My humanities professor once mentioned that pre-World War, pink used to be the baby boy color and blue the girl. In fact, Zeus is wearing a pink toga on the sistene chapel ceiling and Mary is always wearing the blue wimple.