Thursday, December 25, 2014

The Absurdity of Gender Typing

The Absurdity of Gender Typing

Society sets certain expectations on children based on their gender. Culture, peer pressure, and fashion work in tandem offering very specific paths that boys or girls may choose to follow. Perception of them as an individual is based on which path they choose rather than by WHO they are. Their appearance becomes the clue as to how they will interact with the world. It is absurd.

Let's start with females. Girls, women, ladies, bitches, sluts, whores, queens, divas. Have I missed a few of the terms used to identify the female gender? How many times have you said or heard any of these:

Girls like pink. Girls don't hit. Girls don't like math. Girls don't like science. Girls love to cook. Girls love fashion. Girls love to get dressed up. Girls love makeup. Women love to bitch. Whiny Bitch. What a whore. It's women's work. It needs a woman's touch. Girls want to be princesses. I'm waiting for Prince Charming. She was asking for it. She's a slut. She dresses like a whore. Girls hate cleaning.

Now that we have those great theories out there, I am betting that you already thought of more. We cue each other socially on how to interact. We reward behaviors: I have seen many parents reward their daughters for whining or pouting, using negative manipulative behaviors instead of neutralizing them.

I see pictures of current fashion and style. Girls wear shorts that barely come past their crotch. I can make out their nipples through the shirts that barely make it around their body without popping as they are skin tight. I hear several friends in my head saying "it is their body, it is expression." So why does fashion not accentuate natural beauty, why does it emulate a ten dollar crack whore? The body is beautiful, why not display it like a valuable jewel? A friend had a lovely body painting done, hold on tight, she WASN'T wearing a shirt. Her skin was a beautiful blue and white pattern. Beautiful! No one who saw her thought about taking her around back and gang raping her. I am not saying that anyone deserves to be raped, but the media creates an image of what someone wants based on how someone is dressed and how they apply their makeup and style their hair. The ones girls are wearing, like those of the crack whore on the corner indicate: stripper, hooker, easy, looking to score if you follow examples from our culture.

Before you object: have you every seen a stripper wearing body paint in a beautiful design that did not point at their sex? Have you seen one wearing long dresses; clothing that isn't form fitting? Ever seen one wearing granny panties rather than a thong? Nope! How am I not surprised. If I was going to go change careers today and become a stripper I would have to go buy the right clothes. I would have to apply my makeup right. I would also have to learn how to dance, or maybe come up with a routine involving comedy. I would need a g-string, thong, lacy bras, tight little skirts and tops. Somehow the fashion that teenage girls emulate is the very same as strippers wear to work. Strippers do not run around when they aren't at work in thongs and stiletto heels; with camel toes hanging out of their shorts. They just don't.

Women in committed relationships find themselves dressing up less and less, not worried about catching someone's eye. Dressing for comfort instead of looks.

I grew up in a small town. As teenage girls we were socially encouraged to learn to cook and take care of the home. We were encouraged to date boys and to dress up to catch the eye. We were on display. We were trophies to be impressed and won. We sought to win the right guy. We cooked, we joked, we excelled at sports and some girls fucked. It was always assumed we would marry, have children and tend our homes and families. What about who we were? What about what we wanted? Did we ever even know or were we too busy doing the things that got us rewards?

When I dress up and go out I wonder if I am looked at as a prize or trophy to be won and had. Are women really just a hole with two legs and tits for guys? Are guys really just dicks with wallets? I refuse to believe it! I have spent a lifetime refusing to believe it! My best friend in school was a boy named Sean and we played with dolls together-until he got teased so much his parents put him in a private school. I wasn't hired to work for my grandparents' construction company because it wouldn't
'look right' to have a woman on the crew. I hear "I don't think of you as sexy, I think of you as competent or sweet." Why is slut style sexy? Why isn't being responsible, kind, intelligent, outgoing sexy? Why isn't well dressed sexy? Come on people- it is up to us!

Did you know that there were gender correlation experiments done back in the eighties and nineties that looked at audience approval of films based on gender of the main characters? Did you know that BOTH genders like movies better if the main characters are male? Next most liked was unattached female characters. Think about that. They didn't include porn in the study or the results might have been a bit different. We act like porn doesn't exist, it is some sort of embarrassment-when it sells more than any other genre and was the motivator for the very internet we use now to exist. We are such an absurd society-to denounce sex and reward oversexed fantasies all in the same breath. No wonder kids are confused.

It goes beyond how we dress. We treat people based on their appearance. When someone shows up wearing less than a bath towel around their waist, we do not assume they are exceptionally intelligent or capable. What would your first thought be if I showed up at your door in a bikini? It wouldn't be philosophy or gardening, it wouldn't be that I was there to change the oil in your car. If I showed up in a suit you might wonder at first if a God found me and decided I needed to go pester you at your house about what you should believe; then you would wonder what I was selling. We reinforce the roles by rewarding the appearances that we like. We buy from salesmen who fit the stereotype. We tip scantily clad strippers with bigger bills. We give teenage girls our credit cards; which is our way of saying 'use your judgement which is influenced by what your favorite pop stars are wearing on your shows.' How about a little reason? How about a little practicality?

Women have a glass ceiling, often perceived as less capable in the professional workplace and paid less than male peers. When a woman expresses her opinion or makes a strong statement she becomes a bitch or overly emotional. Just a woman.

Instead of focusing on making children into a generation of mindless consumers who are only good at doing what they are told and following the popular opinion- why not take a role in guiding them? Why not empower them? Instead of enabling them and accepting that teenagers cannot cook, have no clue about finances or budgets- why not teach them? Why not discipline them now and then? Reward honesty and make manipulative behaviors cost? Stop playing servant to a generation who hasn't earned it!

Boys have it just as bad if not worse gender typing than girls. Boys, men, brolos, jerks, assholes, pricks, son of a bitches, fuckers, players. I probably missed a few here too.

Boy's don't cry. Boys don't hit girls. You can't do that to her, she is just a girl. You're a boy, your responsible. Men are strong. Guys don't ask for directions. Men get it done. Guys got to play the field, can't be tied down. Boys like red and blue. Boys don't wear dresses. Make up is for girls. Boys don't like dancing. Boys don't like dolls. Boys don't show their feelings.

Teenagers and young adults discover sex. They have sex. It is part of life. It happens. Sometimes girls get pregnant. Some girls make a career out of having children and living off child support while telling their children how irresponsible and uncaring their fathers are; a lot of guys get buried by child support. Sometimes the amount that is garnished is so high they can barely afford groceries and if they fall behind they are 'dead beats' or worse. They are criminalized. The courts often favor the women as 'women are nurturing' and are the mothers. Custody should not be determined by genders or outdated gender roles. This is a world where both parents have to work to support a child and pay the bills; just because a couple has a child does NOT mean that a guy should have to finance a woman's life until his child turns 18. There are many people who have various views and opinions on the topic; this is my opinion. I have seen women with three to five children from different fathers who DO not work; who live off the child support they get from the fathers who DO work. I ran into these women often when I worked in mental health. They had a lot of issues with substances and mental health problems and here they were raising and being the role model for three to five children. Absurd! Some guys get the short stick here. The legal system only works as well as you can afford it to, and it is influenced by opinion. Between couples it gets ugly. It can become a battle of words and worse. I wish more people would use condoms!

Parents enable their children, doing everything for them from packing their lunches and cleaning their rooms. Parents vie with one another to see who can outdo and be the best parent of all. One parent was described as even going into the classroom, taking her son's books and homework out for him. Wake up! How is your child ever going to succeed if you coddle, make excuses and enable? Are you planning to have an adult child? Part of becoming mature is being held accountable, being given responsibilities and learning how to live without your parents doing everything for you!

The people I see with the most balance in dealing with the typing are those who rebel against it. The people who say 'this is me.' I am who I am, deal with it and accept it or not. I have a beautiful friend who is a stripper. She always dresses up, she looks like a movie star from the days of black and white films. She has created her own style. We can all do that! She is so sexy, that she would be sexy in an oversized gym suit with a thick parka on from head to foot. I have another friend who plays with toys and she was the one in the body paint. She is an advocate for appreciating the beauty of the body. She is right. There has to be a way to desensitize how we react to nudity as a society. It starts with identifying and breaking our ridiculous perception of gender types and on stereotyping based on someone's clothes.

If I was a kid right now, I would be pissed off. A generation without direction, told they are always good because they might feel pressured or bad if they are told something else. Do you know that in many countries children see their parents shot, tortured, bombed and burnt in front of them? They are shot at! If a child from Bosnia were to suddenly be transported here they would wonder what madness had befallen the world. They would do chores, complete homework and strive to never have to go back to the war zone. They would work to save the money to bring their families here. Why do so many people and children illegally migrate to the United States? Because WE don't live in the real world. We live in an artificial bubble of consumerism designed to remain stable and keep the lower classes mollified enough that the wealthy can thrive. The lower classes do not have to worry about outright war, only taxes, poor health care, unhealthy food additives, and the occasional violent criminal. Way better than Sierra Leona where bodies lie around, and ebola claims lives left and right.

Children, I challenge you: shake off your smothering parents; start following the news. Start learning how to take care of yourselves and maybe someday you can teach your parents! Kids figure out who you are and what makes you happy; do not look to television, movies or commercials for a clue. Those things are only there to USE you. If I teach you nothing else, please remember that- and please, please, please when you eventually have sex USE protection: birth control is responsible. It isn't sexy to fuck without considering the consequences you could pay for the rest of your life.

Interesting fact about humans: when we have to focus our priorities on survival we stop worrying about what we wear or what Miley Cyrus did last night. When we have to focus on survival, when we have to DEPEND on each other, we stop coddling and start teaching. We set expectations. Our hearts break when we get hurt or fail, but we really live rather than perpetuate a cycle of consumerism, gender typing and bias, and petty conflict. We stop worrying about test scores. We start LIVING.

We all need to stop making excuses. We need to stop blaming the people we CHOOSE to elect. We can change how politics work, instead we just BITCH about them. We can CHOOSE how to perceive each other. We make choices every day, we choose to be passengers in our own lives-when are we going to take the wheel?

For now, I am going to continue to watch our society struggle with gender typing. I am going to dress up when I want to. I am going to make fun of people who see me as a prize to be won or had; I am going to encourage my friends to do the same.