Sociology: What’s my Role in Society and can I do better?

When I was younger, I wore my big brother’s old clothes to school. They were mostly baggy, they had more zippers and pockets than the girl’s clothes, and had some pretty cool graphics on them. I would always tell everyone that those clothes were so comfy. And they were–I was always itchy, uptight, and aggravated in most of my girly clothes. That’s the way I wanted to dress sometimes–and my parents let me.

When I was younger, I had a best friend named Josh. He was nice and liked to play with the same toys I did in kindergarten. We built things with blocks and once they were high enough–all the way over our heads–we’d knock them down like Godzilla with crowded cities. My other two closest friends were twin brothers, Nickolas and Cameron. I always hung out with these young boys and all my neighbors who were overwhelmingly boys–and my parents let me.

When I was younger, I wanted to go to football and lacrosse day camps. I turned out to be the only girl to participate in either, but that’s something that I didn’t notice at the time. I ran as fast as I could, stayed as alert as possible to never miss a pass, and always did all the exercises. I was put into karate classes at the age of four. There were only a couple other girls who practiced at that dojo and they were older than me. Everyday I went to karate, I never questioned that I was going to be one of the best students. My older brother and I did many of the same activities growing up–and my parents let me.upnorth

When I was younger, I spent my years growing up outside in the woods before dinner. My neighbors made sticks into weapons with my brother and I to fight off imaginary intruders and evildoers. We’d get spots of dirt on our clothes and spots of poison ivy on our skin. If we got hurt, we’d help each other to get back inside and clean up. I came in the house smelling of soil and grass–and my parents let me.

When I was younger, I started middle school, where I learned how to make new friends. I started realizing that I had a lot in common with many of the girls in my grade. I had  sleep overs with them and even had a best friend that was a girl from elementary school all the way up to sometime in high school. I started going shopping for clothes that fit me well and used purses instead of pockets. I used the makeup that I thought looked good on the other girls–and my parents let me.

When I was younger, I started to see that the little boys were growing up from punching-bag-play-mates to young men I’d daydream of holding hands with. I made more friends that were girls who tried to help me talk to boys nicely about things like feelings. I remain that same child that spars hard in karate and isn’t afraid to get dirty outdoors, but I have grown into a young woman that practices a more nurturing attitude and values softness and elegance–and my parents let me.

My parents taught me enough to let me make decisions as I grew up.

An issue that has resulted from large portions of the population’s actions in parenting, is that of their children starting to feel restricted by the norms of gender identity. If a child identifies as a girl, does that mean that they must only play with the toys sold in the pink packaging? Do they have to play house rather than learn how to throw a baseball? If a child identifies as a young boy, does that mean they automatically have to be athletic? Do they have to aspire to be a part of life-threatening careers at a young age? Of course they don’t. What seems to be the problem is that parents, caretakers, relatives, and friends alike automatically expect certain behaviors based off of one’s expressed identity.

It’s clear that we, as individuals, have the autonomy to decide how masculine and how feminine we behave every day. What isn’t clear is how society will treat a person for acting more feminine or more masculine than everyone else would expect. Sometimes the reactions of society are so extreme that no matter how autonomous we may or may not feel in our self-expression, the people around us can slowly push us to expressing and acting on feelings or urges we may not have within ourselves.

I am Kalie. I go to Central Michigan University to study communication, leadership, and psychology. I spend my free time practicing archery and martial arts, working out, hiking mountains, painting or writing, analyzing music, playing board games and video games, and dancing. I don’t always act the way people expect me to. I am lucky enough to have been raised to not allow many restrictions that come along with identifying as a woman affect me on a daily bases.

If you are interested in how some people or places plan to get rid of some of the negative effects of gender roles and expectations, or if you are curious about what might be right for raising a child in today’s society, you can visit these sources:

about Sweden’s Gender-neutral Preschool: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-14038419 

men and boys challenging the dynamics of personal and professional gender roles for equality: https://www.un.org/press/en/2015/wom2031.doc.htm

The Basics of Decency: PHL

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Philosophical thinking is easiest when we are alone, but is most challenging and rewarding when we have others who are willing to discuss it with us. (My pictured above is my dear friend, Morgan Thomas–someone who is ready and willing to have those deep talks with me at any time.)

To study philosophy is to study our own existence and our knowledge of it. It’s never exact, it’s never black and white, and it’s not something that can be studied through quantitative results or actions. As a social species, we have rules. They dictate how we behave and when certain behaviors are permissible. Our rules help us survive with some sort of order. These expectation can range anywhere from international law all the way down to how one might talk to their parents. Some rules are clear and other are more taboo or just unspoken while just as clearly understood. While we strive to have this order and mutual understanding of what is acceptable or not and how to fix things that go wrong, there is conflict.

Different populations can have different ideas of what to do or not to do based on knowledge, experience, or a combination of both. From entire nations down to a small family, there can be conflicting views on what is wrong, permissible, or obligatory. The Leadership Institute claims that we are becoming ethical leaders. In order to do so, a student in this program must study this idea of ethics and a great place to start is in PHL 118, Philosophy of Moral problems. In other words, this class revolved around the branch of philosophy that focuses on the argument of morality and ethics in communication, judgement, and values. Our class didn’t agree on the extent to which certain things were right or wrong which made for powerful conversations and challenging discussions.

Questioning what is right or wrong to an individual may be easy as they know their own morals and values. Once we consider what might be right or wrong to large numbers of people, it becomes ethics. One of the final papers that we wrote in PLH 118 was to be about something that was morally or ethically debatable and take a position on it. I chose to discuss when murder was permissible in the form of justifiable homicide. If this topic sounds interesting at all to you, this is the actual paper that I turned in- PHL118 justifiable homicide paper.

As leaders, it is important that we consider view points of all sorts. Being apart of this class and the talks that ensued proved to be a great place to become more aware of what may or may not be considered ethical. Doing the right thing isn’t always an easy path and to make matters more interesting, what one might have thought to be obligatory could turn out to be hardly permissible to others. These considerations and debates prepare our cohort to be those ethical leaders that the world seems to need.

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