“Proper” Gender Expression

There is a strong stereotype that males are supposed to be dominant figures expressing emotions that are brave, courageous, and anything else that is considered to fall under the broad term of “manly.” In the story Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak, Max fits the representation of the “proper” gender expression as a male. In the beginning Max rebels against his own mother’s commands and charges into this imaginary world (inside his bedroom) where he bravely rules over all of the monsters that he encounters:

“till max said ‘BE STILL!’ and tamed them with the magic trick of staring into all their yellow eyes without blinking once and they were frightened and called him the most wild thing of all and made him king of all wild things.” (Sendak)

Max expresses “manly” features by expressing characteristics of being assertive, brave, and demanding to be king in this new world he claims as his own. This literary example highlights that whether the individual is a man or a boy, he is expected to showcase “manly” characteristics. This can help us understand the TV series, Suits in episode 10 of season 5.  In this specific episode Mike Ross makes a major decision to step down from living his life in a lie (as a lawyer with no law degree). He decides to make a “manly” decision and take blame for everything that he has been lying about in order to live a serious life with his soon to be wife. This shows manly characteristics because of his courage, bravery and confidence to take charge of his own life.



“‘Suits’ Season 5 Episode 10 Recap: Mike Ross Arrested, Jack Soloff and Daniel Hardman’s Take Over Is Defeated in ‘Faith'” Latin Post RSS. N.p., 28 Aug. 2015. Web. 18 Dec. 2015. < http://www.latinpost.com/articles/75276/20150828/suits-season-5-episode-10-recap-mike-ross-arrested-jack-soloff-and-daniel-hardman-s-take-over-is-defeated-in-faith.htm>


The Adventures of Tom Sawyer vs. My Princess Boy

The protagonist Tom of “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer is your typical young boy.  He is cleverness an curiosity often led him to become involved in mischievousness.  He is dressed in tattered trousers and shoes and his use of bargaining allows for him to gain an assortment of “useless” treasure.  When one thinks of Tom Sawyer, knowledge of his character places him in the gender role as a boy who is a strong leader among st his peers.  Contrary to this, is the protagonist, Dyson of “My Princess Boy” in which Dyson is crossing gender roles: “Dyson loves pink, sparkly things. Sometimes he wears dresses. Sometimes he wears jeans. He likes to wear his princess tiara, even when climbing trees. He’s a Princess Boy.”  Here we find a character that is non-conforming to the gender role of what a “boy” is supposed to do and be.  This book goes on to state that whatever one chooses to be (gender wise) they will be accepted and loved regardless of societal norms.


Kilodavis, Cheryl, and Suzanne DeSimone. My Princess Boy: A Mom’s Story about a Young Boy Who Loves to Dress up. New York: Aladdin, 2011. Print.



Boys will be Girls….

Throughout the Harry Potter series, we see how Harry, Ron, and Hermione are always together and facing trials with each other.  However, something we don’t see a lot of is the stereotype that “girls group together and gossip”, especially with Hermione.  Throughout “The Prisoner of Azkaban”, unless she is with Ron and Harry, she tends to be studying alone.  In fact, it is the boys that group together and travel in cliques.  Ron, Harry, Neville, Dean, and Seamus share a room and get together outside of the dorms as well.  The same goes for Malfoy, Crabbe, and Goyle.  They never seem to leave each others’ sides.  They spread gossip and travel around together in cliques, which is usually a female stereotype.


Extra Credit: Boys will be girls…

In Rollo at Play,the  “Trouble in the Woods” depicts bad children as liars as if they are the only people that lie. One line in the section reads “Bad boys like Jim will always life when they have something to gain by it.” So it is saying they only lie for personal gain.

In comparison, the book Ella Enchanted touches on little girls and how they should behave. The main character Ella, cried a lot when she was born. Her fairy god mother decided to cast a spell of obediance on her. Her reasoning Ella cried too much and she’d be happier if she’s obediant. She also justified it saying, “little girls are supposed to obey their elders.”

“Forgotten Chapters of Boston’s Literary History.” JACOB ABBOTT, Rollo at Play, Or, Safe Amusements, Boston: Thomas H. Webb & Co., 1838. N.p., n.d. Web. 08 Dec. 2015.

“Ella Enchanted – Chapters 1-3 Summary & Analysis.” BookRags. BookRags, n.d. Web. 08 Dec. 2015.


Alice and Leslie Knope

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland depicts a female protagonist who is subservient and is very much in a patriarchal society. For example, when Alice confronts the caterpillar who tells her to eat the mushroom and also gives her the instruction that “one side will make you grow taller, and the other side will make you grow shorter” (73). This instruction is very ambiguous. She doesn’t know what the food will exactly do to her, but without hesitation or question, she does as she is told. This is the stereotype of the servile woman being fulfilled.

A contemporary depiction of gender expression would be best shown through Leslie Knope on the famous TV show Parks and Recreation. Never before has a woman been so defiantly and clearly been a leader on her own television show, which allows her to follow her own path and make her decisions. The contrast between Knope and Alice is extraordinary; Leslie Knope highlights the infantile and subservient nature of Alice in the book by being herself such a powerful and mature woman character. Alice demonstrates that Leslie is someone whom she could strive to be, but is not there yet. The hope is that Alice can morph into Leslie as soon as possible.




Carroll, Lewis. “Advice from a Caterpillar.” Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. New York: Knopf, 1988. 73. Print.

Parks and Recreation


E.C. “Girls Will Be Boys” – Tom Sawyer & Chandler Bing

In Mark Twain’s Adventures of Tom Sawyer, the titular character is a feisty young boy, “typical” of that time period. He follows the gender binary, as shown in chapter 3 when he becomes infatuated with Becky on sight. He takes one look at her and “pretend he did not know she was present, and began to ‘show off’ in all sorts of absurd boyish ways, in order to win her admiration” (Twain). This falls into the stereotype of boys having to go out and impress girls while still “looking cool”, assuming the girl will automatically fall head-over-heels for his obvious act.

In modern times, this is one of the most common gender binaries to be “messed with”. An example would be one of the most memorable episodes of “Friends”, when Chandler can’t propose to Monica because he’s crying too hard, so Monica kneels down to propose to him. They eventually end up doing it together, with Monica initiating the surprise and Chandler finishing the proposal, thus messing with the traditional “man proposes to woman” approach. I’m attaching the clip below for reference.

Crane, David, and Marta Kauffman. “The One with the Proposal: Part 2.” Friends. Dir. Kevin Bright. NBC. Los Angeles, California, 18 May 2000. Television.

Twain, Mark. Adventures of Tom Sawyer. N.p.: n.p., n.d. Project Gutenberg. Gutenberg Press, 20 Aug. 2006. Web. <http://www.gutenberg.org/files/74/74-h/74-h.htm>.