This post doesn't have anything specifically to do with either of the countries I write most about. Instead, it is borne out of the reading I do, the videos I watch, and a conversation I had earlier this week.
This topic has weighed heavily on my mind since I read an article about gender on one of the many sites I follow (Vox). The article shared stories from individuals who described how they preferred to be identified in regards to gender. There were so many different terms, I quickly became overwhelmed.
|Thanks to: http://cazub.weebly.com/gender-fluid.html|
Reading all the way through, I could only think that the problem isn't with them trying to find their space in a binary world, but that the world (and society) is not binary. If we all relaxed our ideas of what it means to be a man or a woman, there would be far less stress for everyone.
I let those thoughts settle for a while in the back of my head, not sure how to address them - or if I even needed to address them.
Then I had a work-related breakfast meeting.
That meeting culminated in an older, white, man launching into a bit about how *all* women shop a certain way, and *all* men shop another. Let's just say it wasn't kind to women - we were, collectively, deemed to be inefficient. He proceeded to lecture the table on how men and women differ when telling stories. He seriously went back to the caveman days to support this thesis.
I was the only woman at the table of 5. The other men at the table stayed silent and just stole sideways glances at me. How would it have been different if I weren't there? Lots of jovial laughing and agreement?
Walking home upset (and crying - I'm 'such a girl'!) my thoughts circled back to the Vox article I read weeks ago. I thought about how I am stereotypically feminine in some regards and masculine in others. And how my husband was once mocked - by a woman in the Air Force, no less - for learning to sew. Why is it so necessary to have these rigid gender roles? Why, in 2016, do we find it odd that a man enjoys cooking or that a women handles the car maintenance?
I think these rigid gender roles lead to the confusion and obsession with gay and lesbian couples - "who's the man?! who's the woman?!" Here's a handy guide: if they are both female, both of them are women. If they are both male, both of them are men. It is shocking how many times I've had that conversation just in the past few years.
As a society, we've (largely) relaxed the structure around jobs which were once gender-specific. Let's keep moving towards relaxing other societal constructs, like shopping strategies and story-telling. Maybe one day we can just all be people.
Footnote: While researching for parts of this post, I came across the "Gender Identity" page of the Statistics New Zealand site. So incredible to know that my chosen country has put some thought into their classifications of gender, and that another general review is scheduled for 2018.