Brainwashed with gender role expectations, Americans subconsciously label everything in life – whether an animal or inanimate object – as manly or girly. During a swim lesson at the YMCA, a female swim instructor still in high school was attempting to teach about five small children how to do “bunny hops” (jumping up and down to get breaths of air) when they encounter water that is too deep in order to reach a wall, as opposed to just drowning. After practicing bunny hops with the four struggling little girls, the instructor then focused her attention on the only little boy. Bringing the resistant, timid boy out into the deeper water, the instructor playfully joked, “Okay. Let’s do bunny hops… Oh, wait! You’re a boy. Let’s do manly rabbit hops because you're too manly for girly bunny hops!” Although the instructor made her remark in order to brighten the mood of the frightened little boy, her joke enforces the idea that men and women are meant to be seen as separate and unequal. “Gender codes are socially, not naturally, constructed and usually reflect cultural values rather than natural facts” (561), and by enforcing these gender codes with children, we are discouraging social equity among men and women. On the other hand, American culture has engraved the idea of femininity and masculinity so heavily, that a manly bunny and girly rabbit do sound slightly off.
“Gender Codes in American Culture”. Signs of Life in the USA. Ed. Sonia Maasik and Jack Soloman. 6th ed. Boston: Bedford, 2009. 559-566. Print.