I have been told my entire life that I ‘better not’ opt for higher education and would probably get married off at the earliest as “at the end of the day, household chores are all I’ll have to take care of.” Why waste so many years on costly education when being a homemaker is supposed to be a woman’s ultimate aspiration? Half of my wits were lost in trying to convince others that my ‘potential is not pea-sized’ (as is their mentality)!
Times back then weren’t as rosy as it is now. It was really a hard task to persuade my parents that I want to continue my studies as I could clearly see, for myself, a shiny future ahead. The more difficult part was to keep my head above water and try not to succumb to the pessimistic views of others. It was really tough keeping my determination in place. I have been probably policed several more times in my life, telling me what I should be doing as a woman. I am sure I am not the singular victim of sexism.
I am vehemently against gender binarism and gender role allocation. It’s not just because I have like most men and women have been a victim of it, but because it’s restricting in more ways than not.
Certain things are out of our control, or are they not?
Gender is a social construct and not biologically determined. It is the roles, or identities we attach to a child at birth based on the child’s genitalia.
Gender roles are a set of roles that are supposed to be appropriate for a specific gender. What society thinks is the acceptable behavior or attitude for a particular gender might not be what a particular individual of that gender identifies himself or herself with.
It’s universally accepted that a woman is a nurturing body and should behave likewise, but does that incapacitate a woman from destroying? We have ample examples of women from different eras that have killed equally well.
On the contrary, men are supposed to be courageous, tough, and unbreakable which doesn’t mean men are incapable of being scared of most things under the sun. I have also been around men who are scared of cockroaches. Imagine how stupid it would be to have to manipulate your natural reaction on seeing a cockroach, just because you are a man! *rolls eyes really hard*
We are born with reflexes, innate urges, needs, capacities whose true essence cannot be captured in this societal construct. What genitalia we are born with are truly not under our control but whether we choose to identify with our gender or with our opposite gender, should morally and legally be under our control. We alone have the right over our bodies, our lives, and what we choose to do with it.
Do we need gender roles?
The concept of gender roles comes from the distinction between masculinity and femininity. This notion is regressive because this puts every individual into tight boxes where we might not belong. Not just that, but adherence to specific gender roles, especially against one’s inclination, persistently depletes one’s psychic energy. It is like having to behave, dress, walk, and talk like someone who you are not. One starts to feel like an imposter in one’s own body.
Gender roles are impeding in a multitude of ways and some of which we all have experienced. Not being able to be comfortable in one’s own identity creates dysphoria which is hardly possible to shrug off. It’s for a lifetime.
Watertight roles give birth to stereotypes that get extremely tiring to deal with.
The ideas of genderism have so deeply conditioned the society that the ones who smash the box and choose to experiment face discrimination, social isolation, and stigma. Even though it shouldn’t but eventually these societal outlook breaks them down, and they often suffer from guilt, shame, self-doubt, and self-hatred.
Gender roles don’t help an individual fully play with the spectrum of possibilities. What you can do as an individual isn’t decided by what you have between your legs. It’s defined by your determination, your capacities, your willpower, and perseverance. What you choose to become, whether an artist, a caregiver, a homemaker, a professional, or an entrepreneur depends solely on your interests and aptitude. How you chose to dress should depend on your comfort and not whether you have two blobs of flesh on your chest or whether you have meat inside your pants.
Some superannuated construct should not trample the liberation one experiences with self-expression. Being able to step outside one’s familiar zone is what helps us explore ourselves beyond what we already know. This life is ours and we know what is best for us.
When we mentally stick to gender roles we often cannot experience the gamut of emotions the human beings are capable of experiencing. This is how our lives become less colorful and more segregated into blacks and whites. A man is capable of feeling emotions, crying, being vulnerable, and giving up. A woman is capable of protecting, of earning, of being the strong pillar of the house. And one should not feel the pressure to be someone else they cannot reckon with, just to avert judgmental personalities. Can you imagine the pointless suffering we all have to go through just because we fail to abide by the ideal roles someone else created for us?
Gender is a free-flowing concept which doesn’t need to be compartmentalized into distinct constructs. It is more of a spectrum with countless choices than of a binary and that is how it should be for all of us. When we live with mutual respect, kindness, and love, the world automatically becomes a better place to live in. Be authentic to yourself as the world is ever-changing.
Have you got a face? Go put some makeup on and rock the world. Just make sure your foundation matches your skin tone. *winks*