Serendip is an independent site partnering with faculty at multiple colleges and universities around the world. Happy exploring!

incorporating gender into daily life

charlie's picture

The more time that I spend in this class, the more I realize how applicable what we talk about it. Although my sister did not appreciate my musings about gender inequalities and expectations of sexual favors when we went to see Footloose, I continue to connect what we learn in class to my life in the greater world. Most recently, I have been thinking about gender's relationship with death. I find it very interesting that death, assuming that a funeral is a closed-casket funeral, is gender-neutral. When born, one is immediately labeled "boy" or "girl", then swaddled appropriately in either a pink or a blue blanket. On the carpet in kindergarten, we are separated into "boys on the left", "girls on the right". Day camp groups are 3GB (3rd grade, boys, group B) or 3GB (3rd grade, girls, group B). There are all-boys high schools and all-girls high schools. And the list continues. Throughout life we are asked to separate ourselves into the appropriate blanket, side of the carpet, and camp group. In each stage of life, there is really only one group in which you can sort yourself. If you're a "pink blanket", you're fated for the 3GB group and the women's college. Unless, of course, you make a conscious decision to switch groups at some point. And yet, in death, none of these divisions and labels matter. Tomb stones are not decided by gender. Men don't get bigger tomb stones, women prettier tomb stones. A coffin is a coffin, whether the individual buried inside of it was a "blue blanket" or a "pink blanket". With a closed casket funeral, simply substituting "John" for "Jane" switches a funeral from that of a woman's to that of a man. For some reason, unclear to me, death appears to be the only stage or milestone in life that is untouched and unaffected by gender.