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What is gender policing? Review Jade and Ferree's discussion and write about how you may have participated in policing the gender display of others. (Discussion is from "How to Do Gender" by Jade and Ferree, Rereading America, 11th edition.)

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Gender policing is the act of enforcing normative expressions of gender on those who do not perform them. We live in a society that has constructed certain expectations for men and women. For example, women are typically expected to appear and act feminine by doing things like wearing dresses and taking care of domestic tasks. Meanwhile, men are expected do act masculine by doing things like wearing their hair short, being strong and unemotional, and financially providing for women.

When people do not conform to these gender expectations, others tend to “police” them. For example, consider how many private schools in the United States do not allow boys to wear skirts or dresses. In enforcing this rule, these schools are policing gender. However, gender policing does not always involve strict rules. It can also be as simple as judging or condemning a person for deviating from gender norms. For instance, the word slut is often used to describe sexually active women. This is a form of gender policing because it delineates boundaries to girls’ sexuality that are based solely on their gender.

To reflect on how you may have participated in policing gender, consider how you have thought about other people’s appearances or behaviors. For example, perhaps you have used homophobic language or agreed with others who used such language. Or perhaps you have shamed a woman for not shaving her legs or wearing her hair long. Even if you have not participated in such direct examples of policing, you can still consider how you might have participated in it on a more subtle level. For instance, maybe you have been shopping for a male child and only looked at toys typically associated with masculinity, like trucks and cars.

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