OP: Our socially constructed ideas of gender

5 November 2019

Abby Jadali

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Gender roles. A term sitting in a puddle of culture ideals and cultural norms. A term that was once used to help everyone understand their place in society but has instead caused a power imbalance among the sexes and gender identities.

Traditionally, women are thought of as being emotional and feminine and men as being level-headed and masculine. Now I know there are many more examples of socially constructed gender roles, but that would require me to write a longer article than I was prompted to write.

I also want to make it clear that I am not saying a woman cannot be feminine and emotional or that a man cannot be masculine and level-headed. What I am saying is that assuming that one is always like this and the other is never like that is completely discriminatory.

The differences between males and females is strictly their genitalia and reproductive systems, but even a person’s sex/sex organs do not affect their gender identity (or lack of). Gender and gender non-conforming/non-binary are a fluid way for anyone to identify and should not be assumed by people on the basis of an individual’s appearance or body parts.

My main goal here is to provide a better understanding of the terms that coincide with sex and gender, not to offend anyone, but to possibly assist someone in finding themselves.

For years it has been said that there are only two sexes and only two genders – but as our days progress, more and more terminology is arising to help people better identify themselves.

There are different types of sex: male, female and intersex. Male refers to those with male genitalia, female refers to those with female genitalia and intersex refers to those who have both in some capacity – meaning there are variations of this. The terms male, female and intersex are strictly meant to acknowledge a person’s genitalia but that does not mean they need to conform to the gender that has been socially attached.

There is no real number for the amount of genders a person can identify as, but I will attempt to name the most common: man, woman, non-binary, gender non-conforming and gender fluid. I will not say what each of these mean exactly because then I would be conforming to societies’ ideas of gender.

The people who possibly fall under any of these categories varies in how they express themselves from other people. I see the ones I mentioned here as umbrella terms, and there are an infinite number of identities that fall underneath.

Gender roles are a serious issue in our society, and while some people may see them as a necessity, I see them as a nuisance that is harming the way people live their lives. We should all be able to express ourselves in any way we want – to be anything we want.

My main piece of advice is to not try to guess someone’s gender or even assume it. If you are just meeting someone for the first time, they may not be comfortable sharing that kind of information right away. I suggest asking someone what their pronouns are (he, him/she, her/they and them are some of the more common).

If you are more knowledgeable about this topic and want to share, please write a letter to the editor so I can be better informed, and our audience can be as well.