Is One Rodman Enough?In todays world everybody has his or her own view of what makes a male masculine and a female feminine. If a male were to possess some traits that would be known as feminine, he would be seen as a homosexual. Likewise, if a female were to possess some traits that would be known as masculine, she would be looked upon as being butch. Present day television shows and films mold most peoples views on gender identity. A persons job helps to define their gender identity in other peoples eyes. Television and films portray certain professions to be very feminine. For example, have you ever seen a macho, male hair stylist in a movie or on television? A persons choice of clothing also molds their gender identity in other peoples eyes. If a man were to wear tight, pink spandex all the time he would be looked upon as being a homosexual because spandex was made for females to wear. However, knowing all of this, there are some people who are considered exceptions to these concepts. Dennis Rodman is one of these exceptions. Rodman is a professional basketball player who is known for his aggressive style of play on the court. This aggressive style gives him a very masculine image. Nonetheless, he portrays himself as having many feminine characteristics when he is not playing basketball. Knowing this, are people like Dennis Rodman redefining the gender identities? Persons who display success and high status in their social group, who exhibit a manly air of toughness, confidence, and self-reliance and the aura of aggression, violence, and daring, and who conscientiously avoid anything associated with femininity are seen as exuding masculinity (Pleck 139). If nothing of Rodmans lifestyle were known, other than his professional basketball career, according to Pleck, he would be seen as exuding masculinity. However, more of his lifestyle is known and seen by a lot of people. Three years ago Rodman wrote an autobiography of his life. After the release of his book, he held book-signing sessions. At most of these sessions Rodman wore a white wedding gown with his face was covered in makeup. The appearances in that outfit helped to lessen the shock of some of the things that he wrote in his book. Rodman, who up to this point was considered a man who was too aggressive at times, states in his book that has had many fantasies of having a sexual relationship with another male. He also writes that he is bisexual. Rodmans forthcomings in his book shocked the entire world. This man who seemed to epitomize masculinity had come forward and told everyone that he had many tendencies that would be considered feminine. Despite the fact that Rodman has these feminine and bisexual tendencies, he is still accepted in society as a very masculine individual. Rodman is in an extremely unique situation. Dennis Rodman is in the media spotlight all the time. Because of that, he is effecting how people perceive males who do not possess all the characteristics of one who exudes masculinity. However, for every scenario like that of Rodmans, there are thousands of other scenarios of other highly publicized individuals who do not show any characteristics of the opposite sex. This is why the ideas of masculinity and femininity, which have been so firmly implanted in societys mind, will not be changing anytime soon. Just as Pleck defined the qualities of masculinity, femininity, according to Meyer and Hookes, would result in warm and continued relationships with men, a sense of maternity, interest in caring for children, and the capacity to work productively and continuously in female occupations (444). A warm and continued relation with men and interest in maternity requires that females be heterosexually oriented. Many activities and modes of expression are recognized by most members of society as feminine. Any of those can be, and often are, displayed by persons of either gender. In some cases, cross gender behaviors are ignored by observers, and therefore do not compromise the integrity of a persons gender display. In other cases, they are labeled as inappropriate gender role behaviors (Devor 425-426). Homosexuality is considered by a lot of people to be inappropriate behavior. This is another reason why societys view on gender roles and identities will not change anywhere in the near future. In an analogy, Dennis Rodman is like the one orange stuck in an apple tree. He is definitely different than most people that appear in the medias spotlight as much as he does. However, as much as Rodman makes his lifestyle known and as much as he is accepted in society for who and what he is, there is not much he can do to change the views of all of society. Gender identities will remain as they are as long as television and movies portray certain types of people as being different. Once the stereotypes are removed from societys views, then maybe the gender identities will be revised in peoples mind.
Works Sited Elizabeth Hafkin Pleck, Domestic Tyranny: The making of Social Policy Against Family Violence from Colonial Times to Present (Cambridge: Oxford University Press, 1989), 139. Jon K. Meyer, John E. Hoopes, The Gender Dysphoria Syndromes: A position Statement on So-Called Transexualism, Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery 54 (October 1974), 444 Holly Devor, Becoming Members of Society, Rereading America (Boston: St. Martins Press, 1998), 425-426