GENDERING

fullsizeoutput_623Men and Women – —Power and Equality — Sex Roles — Work Roles — Stereotyping  What does it mean to be a man or woman —  to be fluid or gender neutral?

My daughter is having a baby – finally! Well, she is only 32, it was me waiting till I was 39 to have her that really put us on the late bloomer’s path. As we began the process of dreaming of the new baby, we did, as countless mothers and daughters have done, shopped. Or at least started looking on line at baby clothes and things. Did you know that most stores and websites categorize clothing as “baby girl” or “baby boy”?

Of course at an early age, or for that matter any age really, there is no real difference in clothing needs. Who declared it is pink for girls and blue for boys? And, why does this silliness persist? Trucks for boys; princesses for girls? The list could go on.

The point is that finding gender neutral clothing for babies and kids is difficult. Even the nursery decor follows this pattern. And why? Society seems to want to be sure to give all kinds of appropriate clues about what it is to be male or female. Most people don’t even stop to question these norms.

If you speak a romance language you have another form of sexual identity thrust on you constantly. Every noun is classified male or female — La Rose, El Corazon, La Luz. And the pronouns are even more “classified” than in English. So many clues to one’s sexual identity.

And so much worry about those who do not follow the “norms”. Gender neutral? Gender fluid? Equal rights for same sex couples? Equal pay and advancement for women. These ideas scare the traditionalists and conservatives. How will they know how to behave?

Truly what does it mean to be a man or a woman?

Listening to NPR this morning — men complaining about being molested by other men when teens. Is this the same power struggle? Does anything having to do with sexual force come under the same heading of abuse? Abuse. With all the various attitudes towards sexual idenity and sexual freedom, aren’t we all abused? Anyone is fair game to accuse. A witch hunt atmosphere. On a scale of 1-10 how abusive was Dustin Hoffman to a 17 year old he saw backstage? Does anyone with only 2 or 3 incidents get a pass? As with so many of these culture wars — only the Lawyers will win.

Because of our gender, women have been held back. We have not and we do not have equal rights in the workplace or in many relationships. There is a power dynamic surrounding sexual differences that plays out every day in the classroom the office, the street and any place where men and women are together. Through recorded history roles have been prescribed for men and women; it is a rare society that is matricarical.

Women are to wait to be courted and women wait to be selected and chosen by men. Maybe the game is rigged from the beginning. Fix yourself up to be beautiful so you will attract men. But don’t attract the “wrong” attention or you might be “asking for it”.

And now we go from never believing a female accuser to believing every female
accuser. The pendulum swings too far. If people’s livelihoods are at stake, where is Due Process? Where does rude cross into abuse?

We are All too obscessed about gender and gender norms and roles. We must learn to be kind to one another regardless of race, GENDER, or ethnic origin — or class or religious belief or length of hair or prominence of tatoos or whatever. In a world where physical strength counts for less and less, any biological differences are not important. We will all have the robots and other AI to do the heavy lifting.

What does it mean to be a woman trapped in a man’s body or the opposite? How do you know what it is to be a woman or man when our social constructs or biological givens are only part of the equation. If a boy wants to wear a dress or play with dolls does this make him transgendered? Is my identity determined by who or what I am attracted to?

I hope that we are, as some have suggested, moving towards open ideas of sexuality and fluid gender identity. I admit that I am overloaded and somewhat confused by all of these messages. But I am hopeful that real change is coming and real acceptance of people for what and who they really are will be the new norm.

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