Gender Equity Response
The article “Using Queer Theory to Rethink Gender Equity in Early Childhood Education” attempts to underline the applicability of the queer theory in not only understanding and challenging persistent gender stereotypes, but also in questioning the supposition that there is any “normal” expression of gender. The authors of this article demonstrate a fair attempt to provide a review of research studies that utilize the queer theoretical framework to rethink gender in early childhood education, particularly in terms of correlating the creation of children’s gender identities and predisposition with the powerful influence of heterosexual normative values. Indeed, the article provides a balanced and well thought out analysis of how children make sense of gender and how they construct gendered roles in early childhood education through the use of the queer perspective to negotiate their own gender identities.
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The first section of the article attempts to explicate how feminist post-structuralist theoretical perspectives have changed the deliberation on early gender identity from a nature-or-nurture construction to a more comprehensive understanding of how children’s gender is developed and how children make sense of gender. Here, the concepts of active participation in the development of gender, discourse, and power are used appropriately to demonstrate to readers how children identify with their gender. Gender discourses, in particular, are seminal in regulating the children’s gender behaviors by not only ascertaining what might be considered as “normal” or “appropriate” in the community setting but also making a determination of what is desirable and hence acceptable according to the dominant gender discourses. This way, it becomes easy for readers to understand how children in early education setups make sense of gender by using popular gender discourses at the community level and school level as a motivating mechanism that catapults them to get their gender “right” and also to develop a deep sense of satisfaction in internalizing the specific gender characteristics enshrined in the dominant gender discourses.
The other sections of the article underscore how gender equity can be achieved in early childhood education through the use of the queer perspective to negotiate the gender identities of children. Previous experiences with children in early childhood settings reinforce the assertion made by the authors to the effect that it is difficult to think about gender without concurrently thinking about sexuality. Children have been known to engage in play within the framework of heterosexuality, whereby it is common for boys to follow the overarching heterosexual discourses of masculinity to assume male-related roles and for girls to follow the dominant heterosexual discourses of feminity to assume female-related roles. Although the terminologies used by the authors to describe these relationships are rather confusing and inadequately described, it is evident that the queer theory is applicable in demonstrating how children use their heterosexual orientations to not only actively negotiate their gender identities but also to embolden the gender power relations associated with them. Personal experiences with children underscore the fact that they use traditional heterosexualized gender stereotypes that illuminate female subordination to males to engage in romantic play; however, it is quite challenging to use these experiences and the insights provided by the authors to discuss the exact relationship between queer theory and gender equity. This research gap needs to be explored in the future.
Overall, this paper has used the reviewed article to demonstrate how children make sense of gender and how they construct gendered roles in early childhood education through the use of the queer perspective to negotiate their own gender identities. Although these components have been comprehensively presented in the article, it is difficult to establish the relationship between the queer theoretical perspective and gender equity.