Volume 2, Number 12 - March 07, 2012

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Michael Pelaez

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Gender Cartoon

Sex ≠ Gender

By Michael Pelaez

Do you remember anything from the day you were born?

I don’t either, but we can logically infer that on that day, we didn’t identify with our gender. Sure, we were biologically born with a sex of male or female, but we weren’t born with a gender of “boy” or “girl.”
Our journey into the concept and identification of boyhood or girlhood was instilled in us by our parents, the media, and society. It’s extremely common for parents expecting a male child to decorate their room in blue colors, and a females in pink. Why is that? Our sex doesn’t determine which colors, toys, clothes, hair length or hobbies we like. So why are females expected to like and act the same way as other females, and males the same as other males?
Gender is an illusion, an identification. Female children are expected to play with “girl” toys; male children are expected to play with “boy” toys—all while dressed in gender-specific clothing. If a male ever picked up a doll, or took up an interest in playing with an Easy-Bake Oven, leave it to society to subtlety and uncomfortably whisper: “Boys don’t play with dolls or toy kitchens.” If subtlety doesn’t work, then ridicule and harassment usually jolt the kid back into the made-up gender “norm.”
Gender roles are conditioned and reinforced on a daily basis when you are a kid and throughout your life. Depending on your sex, certain behaviors or preferences are discouraged, as if they belong to one gender over another.
It’s no wonder that by the time we’re in high school we have the masculinity or femininity circus act down to a science. We get so lost in our daily act and identify so strongly with our “manhood” or “womanhood” that we react negatively to labels such as “effeminate” if we’re male, and “butch” or “tomboy” if we’re female.
The urge to buy that shiny dress and high heels are nowhere found in female biology, and yet we accept that completely non-biological, non-intrinsic, strictly conditioned mindset and make it our own. We  even deceive ourselves into thinking that our sex determines our gender identification, when in reality you can freely choose to identify with either or neither gender.

It’s time to wake up and become aware of the unconscious act we put on every day. Masculinity is an act; femininity is an act. The only reason gender stereotypes seem true is because we play into them. Women are not more emotionally expressive than Men. Men are just not expected to be more emotionally expressive than Women.

Instead of perpetuating gender stereotypes, use logic and reason to disprove them.

Masculinity and femininity don’t belong to one sex over the other. If you choose to identify (or not identify) with either of them, it should be your conscious choice.




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