What do we do about this gender thing?

CC0 Public Domain via Pixabay

CC0 Public Domain via Pixabay

I’m about to do what I wasn’t going to do – write about Caitlyn Jenner.

First of all, this isn’t specifically about Jenner, as I don’t believe what she has done or continues to do is any of my business. Yes, I do see bravery in what she has done, setting herself up to take on tons of criticism to show the world that it’s OK to accept yourself for what you are. I will not assume that this does or does not make her happy or is the answer to all her former gender identity issues. There is simply no way to know this unless you are Jenner, and we, the world at large, no matter how much we want to predict and surmise (and judge and fuss with each other), are not her and cannot know this.

What I do propose, though – and I am not the first to suggest it, though I haven’t seen it brought up much – is that people holler and holler about gender being fluid, about not fitting society’s idea of our own gender and that we shouldn’t be so gender-oriented, but then some radically switch gender, demonstrating that a specific gender really is important to identify with. It’s confusing – and I’m trying. I guess it’s different for everyone, thus gender fluidity.

My thinking is that babies are born with a set of genitalia, but not with society’s cultural expectations. What if penises didn’t mean wearing blue, playing with trucks, being aggressive, signing up for football, jeans and T-shirts, choosing mechanics or firefighting over floral-arrangement or clothing design? What if ovaries didn’t mean wearing pink, playing ballerinas and princesses, planning the wedding of your dreams, lace and skirts, finding Mr. Right?

Would people yearn to be the “other” gender if these things didn’t matter? What if they could wear pink or lace no matter their genitalia? If boys were accepted as, I dunno, people? Just like girls? Each with hisher own personality, temperament, likes and dislikes, goals and desires? What if we had non-gender pronouns?

Sure, sexuality is still sexuality, and that’s what drives most of us. We’re either drawn to males or females, usually. But what if society didn’t keep tabs and make assumptions about what gender everyone should be drawn to? What if love and relationships were encouraged, but abstaining from such was acceptable. What if our culture’s norms and expectations consisted of compatibility and honesty, and not the proper gender and level of hotness?

I know, too much of what our culture is made up of has gone on for too long, and it’s not possible to waive a magic wand and make gender roles more malleable. But that doesn’t mean that some families who want their children to grow up comfortable with themselves and tolerant of others can’t start by not making a big deal about the gender reveal, not assigning gender-specific toys, clothing, room decor and chores. Give the kids blocks and crayons. Give them cardboard boxes. See what they come up with on their own. Gee, they might just develop an imagination where dreams can be realities and we all just get along.

About teachjournalism
I am a high school teacher of journalism, technology and reading. I advise the school's newspaper and yearbook, both student-led publications. Documenting and sharing my experiences is a way of reflecting to improve my own work and and inviting commentary so that we might all benefit. I believe, as I tell my students each year, that we all learn from each other.

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