Shades of gray

This morning I read a great snippet of news that really brightened my day. It may not seem like much to anyone else, but here’s the article: click. One thing that has always bothered me about “society” is our strict definitions of the gender roles. Girls have to wear dresses and play with dolls, and boys get their knees dirty and play with toy trucks. You’re either 100% girl or 100% boy. I believe instead that most of us are somewhere in between the two extremes. Somebody can be 75% boy and 25% girl (I’m talking mentally of course, though it’s possible physically), or 15% boy and 85% girl.

It frustrates me to no end how in modern times we still have this need to force beautifully amorphous things into the confines of a small, four-sided definition. If you have a penis you must like these things, if you are a type a personality you like act like this, if you are right-brained you do these things, if you are poor you look like this, if you are smart you make only good decisions.. etc. The world is not so black and white, there are so many factors that influence each of us on our journey through life.

Back to the matter at hand, gender roles.. here’s my personal experience in regards to doing “girl” things.. I’m sure a lot of people could relate.
When I was a little girl I had more fun playing with boys. I had 3 brothers so I’m sure that influenced my tastes to some degree. I didn’t want to wear dresses, I played with legos and cars and went frog catching and went on expeditions to the “woods” (the small undeveloped parcels of land in suburbia). I also played with barbies and played house and dress up, but most of those instances took place alone in my room because I was the only girl in my family. I always had a boyish flare to the way I dressed and in middle school I even started wearing boy’s clothes. I was by definition, a tomboy. I guess the point that can be extracted from that is that.. we already know and have accepted that girls can be very boyish and that is normal.

Now on the flip side, if a young boy were to put on a dress then his parents would be shelling out money for a psychiatric evaluation. If I had a little boy and he was curious about girl things I would let him explore. If nothing else it would be good for him to gain a slight understanding for what it must be like to be a girl. Most boys don’t have any desire to do girl things, and this is no doubt a result of our male dominated history. I’m sure once gender roles balance out we will see a higher instance of boys doing girl things. How all this relates to sexual orientation I’m not sure, there may be no link. There are masculine women who like men and feminine men who like women, there may be a trend but it’s not black and white (nothing ever is).

In addition to believing that we aren’t 100% boy or 100% girl, and that this is not linked to sexual orientation, I also believe that the link to our physical gender is not definitive. It makes sense to me that, in history, men going out and doing the hunting and women staying home and being homemakers and mothers has been beneficial to our species so biology has continued to be in favor of this model generation after generation and that is why the majority of us can conform to the gender roles with few issues. However, the great success of our species also allows room for variations to this model. So when someone says they have the body of a man but the mind of a woman, I can accept this, and I can accept that there is nothing wrong with this person. Transgendered folks may be a minority because of natural selection, but they aren’t ill or handicapped. They are fully loaded human beings with all the same emotional and intellectual potential as the rest of us, all capable of contributing great things to society and they shouldn’t be brushed off or overlooked. Any mental distress that comes with being transgendered is a result of discrimination and the fact that being transgendered doesn’t fit in with the conventional family model.

Briefly I would like to add that in the animal kingdom many species are homosexual, hermaphroditic, asexual, or can even change their gender. There are many species of animals where the males care for the offspring or the female is more physically powerful.

What I want to get across with this post is that we need to move away from a black and white way of categorizing things. Life is much more interesting and there is so much more to learn and appreciate about yourself and others if you just break down those walls.

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