Gender – The Role of a Lifetime

Want to be in the show? Want to be a player? First requirement is for you to declare what you have for genitalia.

Seriously, it seems to be that important. Are we innately designed to sort that out first when we meet people? If a person’s external story doesn’t make a person’s sex or gender clear to us, we wonder. Is that the framework on which we base our understanding of this new person?

As soon as we are born (actually, before we are born), our cultures provide us with guidelines on gender roles. Here’s how men ‘act’ and how women ‘act.’ Some of these expectations are rooted in biology but most are culturally defined. Lane one or lane two. We aren’t exactly sure how to relate to people who choose a middle path.

In reality, we don’t live in a binary world. Our biological ‘packages’ – including anatomy, hormones, etc.) are wonderfully varied. We are drawn to develop and express a unique amalgam of styles. Sometimes societal expectations just don’t fit. The words I dreaded most in the work world were ‘cocktail party’ or ‘semi-formal.’ I knew I would be stepping onto a stage with very specific expectations of women. The role didn’t fit me but I felt I had to play it in order to stay in the game.

I was in college in the ‘60’s when the culture went through enormous change. The ‘women’s lib’ movement challenged and changed gender expectations for both women and men. Men’s and women’s hairstyles, clothing, roles – even mannerisms – merged. We all met in the middle. Heck, that generation even knocked ‘Mrs.” to the sidelines by introducing ‘Ms.”

Might it be time to knock the “Mr. or Ms.” to the sidelines too?  Let’s assume if we need a prefix, we don’t need to know about a person’s genitalia. Perhaps M. Adam would answer the call.

Related articles:

Male Or Female Is The Wrong Question—How Can We Rethink Biological Sex? –  NPR TED Talk by Emily Quinn

I started the ‘gender reveal party’ trend. And I regret it. – by Jenna Karvunidis for The Guardian

‘It’s how I feel. It’s not how you feel’: four teens explain why they reject the gender binary – By Adrienne Matei, The Guardian

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