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Deconstructing Society’s Rules

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  1. Introduction
  2. Examples of how the mainstream feminist movement is conforming to the standards of a racist patriarchy
  3. Forty years after the decline of second wave feminism
  4. The link between the ignorance of white feminists regarding minority women and the ignorance of men
  5. Conclusion

Before children are even born, their gender is already being regulated. With the advent of technology, such as the sonogram, parents can learn the sex of their child before its birth. When it is time for the baby shower, if parents choose not to find out the sex of their child, guests must buy gender neutral colors like yellow, so that the baby will be appropriately clothed. This ambiguity often causes some discomfort because people do not know what to expect. If the parents do announce the sex of the child, the gifts will follow the requisite color scheme: blue for boys and pink for girls. Once the baby is born, the first question people ask is often not, ?Is the baby healthy??, but ?Is it a boy or a girl??. People seem to need to know the sex of the child, so that they can determine how they will interact with the infant. These examples illustrate some explicit ways in which gender is regulated from very early in life. However, these examples do not even begin to scrape the surface of the complicated ways in which gender and sexuality are implicitly and explicitly regulated by our society, by our peers, by our families, and by ourselves. We are taught to behave in certain ways, to dress in certain colors, and to play with certain toys in order to be considered ?normal?; however, after a while, we no longer need external regulation because we internalize gender roles and accepted expressions of sexuality.

[...] Not to mention the fact that accurate representations of gays and lesbians in media are few and far between. Therefore, if all people see are images of heterosexual couples, any other type of relationship seems abnormal. Another way that society explicitly regulates sexuality is through marriage laws. The current administration is proposing a Constitutional amendment that would outlaw gay marriage, and as it stands right now, gay marriage is only legal in Massachusetts and Hawaii. Other states allow for different types of unions: ?civil unions (with the same state-level benefits as civil marriage but without the portability from state to state or federal recognition), domestic partnership (with fewer benefits than civil marriage) and reciprocal beneficiaries (which carries the fewest benefits)?(?The Nation?, Duggan, 2). [...]

[...] Thus our patriarchal society shapes the way Rochelle views sexual relations between men and women. Furthermore, Rochelle does not talk about sex as something enjoyable; instead she describes it as something dangerous. She often says that she scared? of being perceived as promiscuous and of getting pregnant. Therefore, once again, a patriarchal society restricts female sexuality: women are not supposed to sleep with men outside of marriage, and if they do, they are often seen as and the use of birth control gives people the impression that a woman is ?sexually insatiable?, and this stereotype deters women from seeking necessary health care to prevent unwanted pregnancy (Tolman, 316). [...]

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