I am a bit hesitant at approaching this topic. I used to discuss it quite a bit when I studied Sociology. In actual effect, I gave up studying social issues to make myself feel happier in the world, and to approach topics which I was more interested in before I came across this subject. Sociology, the study of society, has a way of opening up one’s eyes to the world, but at what expense? It is a great subject to allow you to learn about your own life and to position yourself in the world. However, in this case too much knowledge leads to harsh realities. Gender is one such topic. In essence the concept should not even exist because I learnt that humans are way too diverse to categorize them like this. Human beings are shaped by their own experiences, ideas, and values and they bring these to every situation.
Sociology says we are ‘socialized’ into gender. If one believes in gender socialization that is, as for many years it was believed that gender was based on biology. Men were meant to be strong and powerful; the carers and bread winners of a family’s household. This was or is masculinity. On the other hand, women are fair, loving, and as such weak; leading them to become carers and to keep the household, look after the children. It is hard for me to believe such distinctions exist, but it is also hard for me to believe that human beings can be so easily labelled. I have learned that the pink/blue dichotomy is whatever one makes it to be. I will not allow myself to be a high and mighty speaker over something so trivial. The child will decide for itself. A girl will play with hot wheels if she so wishes, and a boy will play with dolls if he so wishes. Action Man is a doll in itself anyway. The line is blurred. Strong women exist everywhere, and men can be just as loving as any woman. I am not saying that society does not play a part in this ‘socialization’. I am just saying that there is more to life than allowing oneself to worry about these things. Society changes so much that, what we think as masculine/feminine, is getting more and more blurred.
I wrote an essay once which stated that primary education is a form of socialization and leads to homophobic bullying in secondary education. It is a scary reality to believe something such as this takes place, but it would be too general a statement anyway. It is true that distinctions are made in some schools as to what subjects are to be studied by girls or boys, or what sports are to be played in P.E. This is changing however, as schools are becoming more flexible and aware of diversity. Gender is breaking down.
Gender is something not mentioned in general society, but we know it exists and we see it every day. Savage Garden believed that ‘Beauty magazines promote low self-esteem’. Also, men can be seen as emotionless. Advertising is a way to get people to buy a product, and may play their own part in socialization, but humans, I would like to believe are not so naive. People are also becoming more aware of what it is to be transgender, and while sexuality is a completely separate issue, marriage equality paves a path to the lessening of gender norms.
Some people believe in heteronormativity, while others appreciate the distinctions gender norms have within society. I am not one to say which is right or which is wrong. I believe we are all different, entitled to our opinions, and should be allowed believe what we wish without being told otherwise by someone who thinks they have all the answers. The diversity of opinion is growing, and it is that which I respect. There is a lot more that I could have said here, but I shall leave it at that. I know people will agree and disagree with what I have said, but that is the nature of my belief in diversity. In the end, we are all human beings and categories are only society deep, based on some grand sociologist trying to become famous from developing a theory, or on some power shaping of the self/other in society. Society is too diverse, and life is what we make it to be. The excitement over a girl being born is important, as we recall the old days of wanting a boy to be born to continue the line. A child entering this world is a joy. Trivialities of blue/pink and dolls/cars is something that will change in its own time. We just need to enjoy life for what it is, in both its brilliance and its harshness. I think the song above explains it all. I am still growing up.
We are born with a sex, and society develops our gender. Sex is between your legs and gender is between your ears. Whatever way you wish to take gender as, it is what it is, and may as of yet be too diverse for the dichotomies of masculine/feminine.
Myself? I am a feminist, and believe in gender equality. I have been lucky enough to know really strong women, but also really kind-hearted men.
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