Gender stereotypes are a straight line that separate boys from girls; this has been engrained in our society at a young age. An example of a gender stereotype would be if a person had to choose between a doll or a matchbox car, the gender stereotype for the girl would be to choose a doll and the boy to chose the car. Gender stereotypes don’t give people a choice to pick the toy that they would want to play with. A boy would have to play with the matchbox car because playing with the doll is a sign of weakness, and is something that a girl would do, not a boy, because girls are “mommies” and take care of babies. Compared to the past, gender stereotypes have changed, and the mindset of our society is different as well.
In the book “Things they Carried” by Tim O'Brien, Mary Ann comes from America to Vietnam as a sweet seventeen year old girly girl. After living in Vietnam and being around guys with no female role model, she starts to act more like the boys. This is because she is trying to conform to society’s rules about being social and fitting in with her peers. Since her peers are males, she gradually begins to act more masculine. She also may be acting more this way so the guys don’t perceive her as being weak. Yet, society also makes us conform to gender roles that shape us in the way that other people perceive others. Mary ann doesn’t have a female role model that helped her so she found a male role model to look up to and it changed her behavior from feminine to more masculine.
In Tim O’Brian’s book, the era was different than it is today. This can be seen from this quote on page 90 where the male soldiers say this about Mary Ann:
“I swear to God, man, she's got on culottes. White culottes and this sexy pink sweater. There she is." "No lie," he muttered. "Culottes."”
During that time, the guys were surprised to see a girl wearing “pants”, as most women only wore skirts and dresses, because that was the stereotype of how females should look and dress.. A girl wearing “culottes” was seen as dressing like a man, and she was noticed and judged for that. But since she didn’t have any female role models and was trying to protect herself, Mary Ann dressed more like the males and broke out of the stereotype. Another description of Mary Ann’s changing gender stereotypes appears on pg.98, which describes more changes that Mary Ann began to experience: “Other things, too. The way she quickly fell into the habits of the bush. No cosmetics, no fingernail filing. She stopped wearing jewelry, cut her hair short and wrapped it in a dark green bandanna. Hygiene became a matter of small consequence.” Mary Ann’s environment started changing her right in the beginning because she is adapting to her environment .She is leaving behind all the things that used to be important to her as a girl, and burying it.
Mary Ann is breaking society’s rules. and this is highlighting that at that time, there really was an issue with the way men thought of woman and how gender roles are applied. The example from Pg “You got these blinders on about women. How gentle and peaceful they are. All that crap about how if we had a (GIRL) for president there wouldn't be no more wars. Pure garbage. You got to get rid of that sexist attitude." Men in that era stereotyped woman, thinking that they can’t be stronger than a man. Basically, women were considered weak and unable to act like a man or do what men do in any way. This quote shows that there was a changing mindset about women, showing that maybe they could not be emotional about problems like war, and maybe behave the same as men. This shows that the stereotypes about gender roles were changing and that women may be looked at as leaders.
In an interview that Tim O'brien talked about the book.
“ “DB: It's interesting that in "Sweetheart of the Song Tra Bong" a woman actually comes from America to Vietnam.
O'Brien: Right, that story is an example of a woman's presence, but this is striking only because women are so rare. The story's also one of the few cases in the book that is based on reality. A woman did in fact come to Vietnam, an ex-cheerleader, just out of high school, pretty much as I described it. But the rest of the story I invented. I had fun doing it.”
The interview stated that the story about Mary Ann was made up, except for coming into the war. This is just proving that the world is changing and that the mindsets are changing as well. --- NEED MORE..
In conclusion, as shown in Tim O’Brien’s book, the concept of gender roles is a complex issue. and can be influenced by environment, culture, and change. But every day the issue gets smaller and smaller. as the world is becoming more lenient and the gender stereotypes are not as strong as they used to be. That line is becoming more fluid between men and women.
Works Cited for Analytical Essay:
O'Brien, Tim' The Things They Carried. New York: H, 1990. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Web.
"The Things They Carried." Google Books. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Jan. 2015.
Up in the trees, I could see the world. I was in my own world, nothing else mattered. My mother came out the door and started yelling at me to get out of the tree.
“You are going to ruin your new dress, Carolyn! Get down NOW!” she yelled.
“ But mom… I don’t even like wearing dresses why do I have to wear them?” I said.
I jumped out of the 10 foot tree. My mother yelled at me after because what I did was reckless and I could have broken something. But I wasn’t scared of anything. My mother is a very nice woman but she didn’t like to be buying new dresses because I get stains she can’t get out. At the ripe old age of 7, I was an adventurous child, I still am!
I was not a typical girl like all my friends from school. I didn’t like to wear dresses and I didn’t like to paint my nails and get all dolled up. I loved to be outside, in the trees and go into the field that was behind my garage and play baseball with the guys. I was a tomboy and I loved being one. My best friend was a guy, his name was Sean. We would do all the stuff that girls shouldn’t do like. have a mud fight in the backyard and ruin the grass that my father worked hard on.
I really couldn’t get along with the girls at my school because they were so boring - all they talked about was clothes and their American Girl dolls. One day at school, I went to talk to the girls. They were talking about how one of the girls likes to play fetch with her puppy. “Ew that’s so gross! All that dirt!”, one of the girls said.
“I play baseball and my best friend Sean and I had a giant mud fight in my backyard! It was so fun! So a little dirt never hurt anyone! “ I said.
“Girls don’t like to play in the mud or play baseball.. That’s what boys do,
one of the girls said.
“Why?” I said.
“I don’t know, that’s just what my mom said,” the girl said.
At the age of 10. I started to become a more “girly girl” because I wanted to fit in now that I was in my double digits. I had to act more adult! One day my mother was putting on makeup. I asked her “Why do you draw on your face, Mom?” She responded in a calm voice, “I’m just putting on makeup. It’s what women do!” Now of course, I wanted to be more of a grownup woman, and I did hear the girls talk about how they weren't aloud to wear makeup to school. The next morning, I raided my mother’s makeup stash. I had no idea what to do or how to even apply it. I saw the blush and since I saw my mother putting some on the previous day. I knew it went on cheeks, so I put some on mine. Correction, I put a lot on mine! My mom walked into the bathroom and saw my face.
“ What are you doing, Carolyn?” She said in a stern voice.
“I want to show how cool to the other kids that I’m wearing makeup!” I said.
“Here, take this off, you put on way too much red blush! I’ll do your makeup.” She said.
I walked into school feeling all cool, by having makeup on. All the girls were talking in the reading corner and I walked up to them.
“ Omg, are you wearing makeup?” one of the girls said.
“Yes.” I said, all confident.
“That’s so cool. My mom won’t let me wear any.” she said.
“My mom actually gave me some - would you girls like to try it?” I said.
From that day forward, I fit more into that group. I also got some of the girls to play baseball with me even if It is a boy thing! So I learned that I can still like both guy and girl things, and that was fine.
As I got older, I learned that gender roles are more about who you are, what you like, who is in your environment and how you adapt to that. Yet, who says we have to adapt? I am still that adventurous girl who loves the outdoors! I also like all the girly stuff too, like wearing dresses and painting my nails. Society expects us to be a certain way and I say who cares! Who cares what people think of you because in the end, it’s what you think of yourself.