Monday, December 10, 2012

Roles, Gender, and Society


  You live in a modern age where society is still dictated by social roles that have been in effect since the Baby Boomers age and they passed them on to "Generation X".  So, here we are:  Living in the age of modern technological advances and yet, we still cannot advance as society, gender roles, and as humans.  We can put pig hearts in a chest to save a life, yet, we let roles in society that are based on an ideal state of living that dates back to our great grandparents youthful days.  Hopefully, we can learn that the society is dictated by these social standards and then overcome them.  We are a different age of human life.  We are the 21st Century.  Let’s live like it.
            Now, you may be thinking about how one can discourage such a fact that most social standards come from the beginning of human existence?  I do understand that when humans first surfaced to life. “Males” where the hunters and “Females” where the scavengers for berries and other foods that are gathered by hand and not murdered, also, “Females” raised the children and where used communally to breed children.  Also, the act of chivalry was first used by Knights as a code of honor on how to treat woman.  As, I have no qualms about the treatment of people. I do feel that we should treat both sexes by the act of Chivalry, I mean; I love when doors are opened for me, and I am sat at a table.  I think a “Man” would like it too.  It’s a way for compassion that should be felt by both genders.  These are what I am not going to discourage, as these are basic human nature.  What I am trying to bring to light is the ideal state of gender neutral existence.  As, I feel that in a modern age; our 19th and 20th century.  Most social standards I will bring to light will be those of a modern age, those that happened at the turn of the Industrial Revolution as well as those that took place in the “Cold War” era.  These, are the social standards that have influenced our Gender Roles and modern society that we see daily in our lives in the 20th century.
     Maybe just maybe you want to know why you live the way you do?  Why you see life as two roles? Those are: “Gender” and “What you do in that gender”.  Thus, what you do in that gender; is what is known as “Gender Roles”.  It was a standard in the 1950s, after public school became mandatory that “Men” would go to work every day of the week (excluding weekends) to be the “Bread Winner” whilst the "Woman" in society stayed home, tidied the house, and made sure to have food on the table by time the family returned home after work and school.  If a woman did work in the ‘Baby Boomer” era, she would find work seldom as anything that held value; and she would make far less than a man would at the time, because, of the single fact that she was a “She”.  “Men”, would mock woman that worked.  Thus, it was so rare for such an act.  Woman held jobs as secretaries, nurses, or seamstresses. A woman would never be an executive, political seat holder, or even a construction worker.  Do you see a form of regression in “Woman Gender Roles”?  Woman in the time of WWII would work as construction workers, factory workers, and even work as other jobs that “Men” would normally work but since “Men” where no longer on US soil, they had their wives work for them.  Yet, after “Men” returned home; “Woman” would live as “Home-Makers”.   Society slowly drifted in this phase of life. The “American Dream” as they coined it.  It moved to this phase, and yet, it was blindly accepted by the majority. It wasn’t until the late 60s and early 70s that “Woman” moved into a bigger mindset that “Woman” could be independent!  This came with a price of course.  “Woman” who would work in a “Man’s” world would be sexually harassed and make less money because even till this day no Federal legal document in the United States actually gives Woman equal rights as employees.  It actually is a social standard that equal wages are accepted.  In this age:  EOE (Equal Opportunity Employers) as they are known, are those that live to these standards. If they are not EOE, they actually can deny you the same fair wage.  Though, Federal Law gives a bigger tax break to EOE companies. So most companies are EOE certified. 
     “Men”, though, where known as working in office and coming home to eat and relax after a long day.  Most propaganda was fueled by “Father” coming home and relaxing with a scotch on the rocks while the woman still maintained the life at home.  “Men”, would actually do work in the house, that being maintenance and upkeep.  Fixing, patching, and working to keep the house up to par.  As well as working in the yard. It was very common for only the “Men” to tend the yard.  Having a good lawn in “White Bread” suburbia was sign of social achievement in the social Hierarchy of “Lower”, “Middle”, and “Upper” Classes.  The better and bigger the lawn, the more esteem you seemed to obtain in value and wealth.  Many movies, art, and propaganda fed this as “The American Dream”.  
     Nowadays, “Men” actually are bread winners in this day and age.  It’s still a higher percentile of more “Men” that are work while “Woman” stay home, though, the margins are closer than ever because of the idea of “Woman” working in the work force, is social allowed.  This actually became a big idealistic state of being in the Mid-1980s.  Now, in today’s society, we actually see several things that do differ from what once was.  You see, single Mothers who work to support her children, “Woman” who work while the husband stays at home, and you even see Woman who hold high ranking jobs (both civil and political).  It can be empowering. Do you see anything that still stands in society from that “Old Ways”?  You see “Woman” make far less than “Men” do.  Only a few exceptions can be thought of. Those are the lucky ones that actually worked the system. It’s very progressive that we can actually see that become a reality. Seeing, two Genders in society actually co-exist on the same planes. As equals, as it should be.
     You may notice that you understand the two aspects in which make up society: “Males” and “Females”.  Yet, why do they do this?  Why do I have to define them as “Male” and “Female”?  Gender plays a bigger role than just “Gender Roles”.  Key aspects in society are dictated by Gender.  Names, mannerisms, and even the clothes we should wear.  The only reason that is false policy exist is because we accept it.  Those who actually break from this path of acceptance and go their own ways with Gender and how it is perceived should be known as “Gender Pioneers”.  When you are growing up, you noticed two things about yourself and the world.  That would be your biological gender and what is meant for you biological gender.  You then learned that another gender opposite yours existed as well.  What does it mean to be “Male” or “Female”? You cannot honestly give me one definition that doesn’t stray from another definition I would get from another person. “Men” can be sensitive, compassionate, and understanding. Woman can be hard, solidary, and complex. People are gender.  Not the other way around. Gender is what you make it. Gender is the ideal state of being in which one feels that they belong to a certain category of gender.  Though, Gender can be more than two.  Gender is a very loose term that umbrellas a spectrum of many other existing terms used to describe ones existence.  Why do we have to label it?  It’s simply put, we label, because, in society if it isn’t labeled. It is part of the unknown and the unknown is scary.  When you have a term to describe something, you feel more accepting of it.            
  • Gender: The state of which a person defines as a label existent by certain characteristics that fit their mental gender.            
  • “Male”: Masculine; A person who acts of the “Male” persona.            
  • “Female”: Feminine; A person who acts of the “Female” persona            
  • Transgender: A person who is transitioning from their biological Gender to an opposite state of their biological gender (This can include Gender Variant Folks).
  • Transsexual: A person who is transitioning from their biological sex to the opposite of their biological sex.            
  • Intersex: A person born with a gender birth defect that can classify them as both “Male” and “Female” at the same time.            
  • Sex: The biological genitalia one is born with.            
  • Third Sex: A person that exist between two genders and/or sex.
  • Genderqueer: A dual meaning term which means a person is switching from gender to gender at any time and doesn’t stick to one gender for very long or it means a person who is transitioning to their opposite gender of their biological gender and is going to be “queer” or “Homosexual” in the gender they are transitioning into.           
  • Genderfuck: People who disregard all Gender roles in society and fit to both gender and the roles it consist of at any given time (Make you question Gender and roles all together).              
  • CIS Gender: A person that exist at the gender they are born with and live inside the gender roles of their biological gender.            
  • Non-gender conforming: A person who does not relate to either gender defined in society.  
  • Transvestite: A person who appears as one gender but has the sex of the other gender that is opposite of the one they perceive, yet, they live as the gender their appearance dictates.
As you can see there are many terms that define how people identify in the spectrum. Above are not all the ones that exist, just a brief highlight to identities outside the spectrum of the two dominating genders. The thing about it all is that you can never really judge someone by looks or even just sex.  People really should just be themselves.  My name is “Tegan”.  I do not identify as either sex to be honest. I just exist.  I am “Tegan” that is who I am.  You are always a “Who” and never a “What”.  Remember that! Gender is just a term.  Gender is Mental. It’s about how you feel. It’s nothing less than a way you feel about yourself. If you feel that way, it’s perfectly fine. You have that right, because you have free will and because, you are human.             Gender really meddles in places it could better be left out of.  Think about it.  Why do you have to dress a certain way, just because you were born as a sex you cannot control.  Who you are biologically is not your choice. It’s unconscious decision made by genetic code, eggs, and sperm.  So, why should you be force to live a certain way? When you could not live the way you want to? Circumstances which exist out of your hands caused your biological gender.  It’s a forced lifestyle that hinders your potential.  I’m talking about clothes. It seems like a very small topic, but in society it’s frowned on and even can turn violent when “Men” decide to wear “Female” clothes.  Does that even make sense?  “Women” are forced to conform to a perfect standard of clothing.  Anything over Size 8 is considered “Large” for “Woman”.  Woman have to live to a standard of clothing “Rankings” that change yearly and even change based on what people in a collective group state it has to be.  This is a closed minded attempt to make the idealization of “Perfection” a closer realization. Yet, that makes no sense.  You are perfect the way you are.  If you do not like something, change it.  It’s that simple.  So why should close for “Females” do this?  When ““Men”” clothing has no standard?  It never changes.  It stays the same. “Women” are held to standards and “Men” are not.  Isn’t that just a form of social segregation?   That is just cruel to one Gender.  The interesting thing about clothing is simple. The standard is set by society.  We choose to blindly accept these standards to live up too.  It’s easily change when society changes it. We have that power, yet, we forget that.  If you make clothing Unisexual, you make it completely non-oppressive to either gender and you have one simple standard to make clothing too.  It’s like Metric and SI standards for Math.  Why is only one continent still using SI?             Here is another place that Gender meddles in life.  “Marriage”, why should only a “Man” and “Woman” be allowed to be married?  Why cannot “Janet” and “Harry” marry, “Bobby” and “Nick”, or even “Sarah” and “Joan”?  It’s just so cruel to hold the standard to only the opposite genders are able to marry.  It’s not fair that people cannot marry.  Just a “Man” and “Woman” are the standard we live up too.  As though, it would be an improper way of life to let two “People” who love each other marry.  Not two “People” who are the “Opposite” gender are the only people who can show the ultimate form of commitment.  Studies are even conducted and show that two persons of the same gender can in fact raise healthy, normal, well mannered, educated, and even productive members of society.  These children who grow up with two parents of the same gender even have a larger open mind than most people nowadays. These persons who are innovative, loving, homosexual and heterosexual people grew up with a family, because family is what you make it. Family is “People” you love, not “Gender” you love.  That’s it though, they are people.  No different than you or me.             What is something everyone has but can be both Gender Conforming and unique to your person only?  It’s simple; your name is the answer.  This is interesting, because in all of history the first name was a grunt.  That was it.  A grunt!  Now, you have names like “Shirley”, “Frank”, “Joan” and “Daniel”; what is the gender conformity of those names?  Can you tell me?  I can look at those names and tell you what Gender that name is given too.  Why should I be able to do that? I was conditioned growing up to learn what a name was, and what types of names suited which gender.  I feel that it is actually wrong to not let your children choose their name.  You cannot select your gender and now you are going to tell me that you name me from the get go?  What kind of control is that? I have to wait till I am 18 to choose my rightful name? Usually by that time, you never want to change you name, because, you feel it would be too much of a hassle to learn a new one, and to pay all the cost to do it.  Basically, it’s like a judge looks at you and goes; “First ones free, want another pay up!”  How is that fair?             Also, why should I not be allowed to select a name that I want and not let it be another gender name?  How come I have to have a name that is “suited” for my gender?  Is it possible to be “A boy named Sue”?  Why yes it is.  We only accept that names are gender conforming because we are raised to believe this.  In actuality, your name can be “Sarah” and your gender can be “Male”. I mean, we allow “Male” names to have “Female” counterparts “Harriet (Harry)” and “Georgia (George)”, for example.  Yet, making the “Male” name just a “Person’s” name?  Why? It comes down to the standards that exist and the standards you accept.  It’s basic that you live your life the way you plan on it, and no longer accept that society controls your life.  The control society has on your life, is the rules that play in our life.
            Sit back and look around at a family structure that you live in.  Then, think about everything anyone ever told you about how you should act in that structure.  Finally, look at your gender, what you were told, and what your placement in the family structure is.  Where do you see yourself?  Do you see yourself masculine or feminine? Then, do you see your gender as masculine or feminine?  How does that make you feel?  Does it feel that you should accept that and you are comfortable with it, or, do you feel off-set by the relations you linked together?  That is a gender role in society.  That is it.  What you feel about that gender role is really the part of “Nurture vs. Nature” that you really have to understand.   First, I must elaborate on that field of study.             “Nurture vs. Nature” is a belief that when a child is born disregarding the gender they are born as, they, can be either gender because they are raised as any gender the parents deem fit.  Thus, you can raise a boy as a girl or vice versa.  This is saying that genetic coding in the body does not dictate the outcome of physical or behavioral traits a child will undergo and be instilled with because they are raised in a certain light.  That light being the gender they are “forced” to live as.  This theory actually comes from a Victorian time period Polymathy named Francis Galton, who received the idea from his cousin: Charles Darwin’s book “Origin of a Species”. Both Donald Hebb (a psychologist) and Judith Harris (an Author) both wrote books on the idea that children are raised and instilled with morals and standards that they live up to, can in fact be a way of life one grows into.  So, even though a child has “Free-Will” the belief that what you are raised to believe can inherently affect that “Free-Will” one has.  Hebb answered the questions
     “Which, nurture or nature, contributes more to personality?”
With the answer:
     “Which contributes more to the area of a rectangle, its length or its width?” For a particular rectangle, its area is indeed the product of its length and width. Moving to a population, however, this analogy masks the fact that there are many individuals, and that it is meaningful to talk about their differences. Thus if a game such as soccer defined the width of a playing field very tightly, but left the length unspecified, then differences in the area of the playing fields would be almost entirely due to differences in length.  Harris wrote the book “The Nurture Assumption”, in the book she argues that “nurture” even though linked to a family upbringing may have some effects on a child’s adult IQ and even personality.  A child may have a bigger part played on these traits by peer grouping and random environmental factors (culture and era of growth) that plays a bigger part on the nurture than family life does. In which, is true, because children do spend more time in public domains because of public schools after the age of five that outside influences do play a larger role.  Though, it is not these outside sources that affect our thinking on gender.  Gender, can be asserted to nature instinct.  We are born to breed, to fight, and to love. It’s natural.  As is our thinking methods and our free will. These are factors that do affect how we perceive that world.  Now, what we do with these factors is what really makes the logical thinking that one can use to make headway in the world and view everyone as an equal and not hold someone accountable for things out of their control.
     Want to know something very interesting about a gender neutral world? You no longer have to define your “Partners” by the two terms “Boyfriend” or “Girlfriend” we can now have even cooler names to define our “Lovers”.  Want to learn a few? Here we go:
  • Paramour
  • Significant Other/OS
  • Gender-friend
  • Lover
  • Sweetie/Sweets
  • Partner
  • Cuddle Buddy
  • Soul-mate
  • Steady
  • [name]friend
  • Mate
     Are those not just the coolest sounding terms of endearment you have ever heard? I mean, I would love to be called a “Steady” or a “Gender-friend”.  It’s just better to not define someone as a “Boyfriend” or “Girlfriend” because not everyone goes by that.  People who are “Gender-fluid” for instance would be coined as a single gender. The ideal of accepting that only a person can be just one gender is closed circuit. Many people break these molds and stick to many different gender states in a solid time.  It’s almost like this, not all children, but some when growing up have the notion that all dogs are male and all cats are female. Why is that?  It is explainable like this.  Dogs are protectors, hunters, and shown in a more masculine light through media circuits (Take “Homeward Bound 2” and “All Dogs Go to Heaven” for instance). Cats are portrayed as light, flexible, and whimsical creatures.  Cats expel many feminine traits (For instance, “Batman’s” villain “Cat-woman” and even “Cat’s vs. Dogs”).  This is why these children learn later in life that these species exist as two genders.  Yet, because of their traits, childhood innocents as well as mass media preludes a different tale.
            So, with gender also comes the more ignorant and unacceptable discrimination that comes with anything. This planet is full of discrimination and it’s a very negative and hurtful thing that corrupts most of the planet still. It’s the idea of something being different that scares us.  Sadly, one way to deal with the “Unknown” is to make fun of it. People are discriminated on based on race, heritage, geographical location, sexual orientation, religion, and even gender.  Yes, gender! Now, geographically speaking gender roles are significantly different.  The belief that “Woman” have to keep their faces covered is only followed in Muslim dominate countries.  Such our beliefs in: Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, and other “Middle Eastern” countries. Or that governing rights are mainly for “Male” gendered persons.  That is also a “Middle Eastern” belief that is followed. Why should two genders be given roles that are hurtful to a person just because of a random factor?  That main factor being: their gender. We cannot choose it! Stereotypes are discrimination as well. Another belief is that “Woman” is mainly allowed to be in the kitchen.  That is a “Woman’s” place to cook and clean.  That’s a shallow belief that is seen across the world.  “Woman” are equal human-beings that are may be better at many things over a man.  Being a good worker may be that trait.  Raising our children with that belief is just wrong.  As you should be learning that you can be anything you set your goals too.  In a believable range that is.  Don’t dream to be a fire truck Billy… It’s not going to happen. Or that all “Men” have to be bread-winners in a household or that they hit “Woman” who does not listen to them.  Not all “Men” are violent people or even bread-winners. Did you ever think about a lesbian couple? I mean, there is not man in that equation so; one of them has to make more money in a household.  So, one of them who is “Female” is a bread-winner.  It’s logic and acceptable as that’s how it should be.  There is nothing wrong with someone with a vagina making money to support them in a world that is controlled by money.             The idea that gender marks what you will do in your life, which in itself is discrimination because we set realistic goals for a gender that someone of any gender, could partake in.  So, why make it only for one gender and not everyone? Would that not make more sense in a world where we believe that anything is possible? Living to standards set in an era that is not our own only means we are going to repeat all the mistakes of past generations.  Making new standards and goals that do not discriminate on gender, only means, that future generations are going to make a bigger and better world based off our ideas.  We would never be forgotten.
            Now, one can actually ask of how this ideal state of existence would come about?  Two genders exist and that is so. Though, when it comes down to it:  Raising a child in a gender neutral lifestyle is more quite a feat, but not in the slightest hindering a child’s outlook on life.  Now, one of the most interesting studies done on the raising of a child is “Nurture vs. Nature”.  See above for reference on “Nurture vs. Nature”.  My belief on the matter is that both Nurture and Nature are practical for raising a child.  Here is how this makes sense:  When raising a child in a gender neutral environment you have to remember that children who are adolescent depend on observational skills to do most of the learning they do in those years.  This is both touch and sight, when a child is between that ages of one through four a child uses touch to both “discover” them as well as discover other things. A child can make a rational discovery of what their sex consist of. With sight a child can both see that two types of sex also exist.  Most the time, “Mommy” and “Daddy” help this come about.             One thing that we fail to understand is that regardless of what you instill in a child, when they grow of an age where they can make their own decisions and act on those decisions; a child will enviably turn to which one they seem to be more connected with.  So, nature does take course as a child has free will and we cannot hinder this either. We can though, instill moral values and ideas that will help them be successful regardless of the life they choose.  We cannot stop this. We do not own our children; we just let them grow in our care. The thought that raising a child with the understanding that regardless that two genders and sexes exist, anyone can fill the roles of both sexes/genders at any time.  A child will both understand what gender/sexes consist, the roles that those genders/sexes are expected to fill, and finally be able to discern that regardless of the gender/sex of a person.  They exist of a single person and gender plays no role in whom they are.
            Did you know that even vocabulary is placed in the same groups as “Male” or “Female”? In English, only objects are given feminine or masculine traits by the descriptors OR they are given that trait by the pronouns used: “He”, “She”, “His”, “Her”, “Him”, “Man”, and “Lady” to name a few. Spanish uses “El” and “La” to make objects “Masculine” or “Feminine”.  Now, as though characters and people need to be placed into these groups.  The idea of stepping back and not saying “Him” or “Her”, but using words such as “They” or “Them” to describe a single person and not a group, is not a bad idea.  We do it in speech daily, as though it is even improper we still express when talking anonymously about a person, “They” and “Them”.  I find no problem with using “They” and “Them” as pronouns and not adjectives. Regardless the proper grammar required it does not muck up a sentence in the slightest.  It’s like saying this:

“Billy, while walking down the street, dancing to the beat of the bass in his ears, was not detoured from his walking in a straight line.”  I can insert “They” and lose all pronouns of a masculine nature and I get this:

“They, while walking down the street, dancing to the beat of the bass in their ears, were not detoured from walking in a straight line.”  Do you find that offensive? Do you feel that even though you have no idea of the gender of the person in question you can still make out the picture I have painted in your mind?  I completely conveyed a small plot with characters and only eliminated a single sect of the sentence.  Only making it ambiguous and no longer substantial in whom a character is but in what the actions they are completing.  Does that sound bad?  Why should it be frowned upon when someone uses “Darling” or “Dear” when talking to a person?  Should not a language that requires pronouns to describe an object or person also allow a gender neutral or “gray area” option?  Not everyone feels as though they should. Why should we make this required?
            Now the idea I am talking about is not entire elimination of gender in society.  I do not mean go outside and just start attacking a certain gender.  I do not condone gender genocide!  What merely I am portraying in this paper, is an act of acceptance of who exist.  The idea of a society that relates to gender, as both two bodies do exist: “Male” and “Female” bodies, but also do not let gender play the significant role it is allowed to. Basically, we have an ideal state of a constant unisexual acceptance in a social light. The ability to accept that someone who is biologically one sex can be of another gender and the knowledge that people are people, and regardless of who they are, they are never excluded, shamed, or belittled for that fact. It’s giving up standards that held the world together in a different time and accepting a new set to fit our modern day and age society without hindering our complete and inevitable potential. 

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