Why are we so obsessed with gender? We scoff at people determining individual identity by zodiacs, blood types and head forms but we don’t hesitate when someone says “well he’s a guy – I’m not surprised” or “well she’s a woman – they are like that”. I catch myself doing that as well!
Why is this so wrong? Well for once it’s sexist and thus discriminating. Please go back to the quotes above and replace “woman” or “guy” with “nigger”, “black”, “Chinese”, “American” or any other group – sounds disgusting, right? Also it hurts me as an individual – it denies me the ability to be an individual with a distinct identity if it is assumed that because I’m male I must and will behave in a certain way. Also it serves as ridiculous excuse for a lot of behaviors such as men fooling around (“men have needs”) women bitching and being unreasonable (“well I’m a women – I have needs”) or vice versa.
“Gender influences individuals – there are hormones and such – it’s scientifically proven!” some might say. Well, I don’t deny that at all – my argument is rather that we are overly obsessed with it. We confound statistical probability with certainty – e.g. it’s statistically likely that a man is stronger than a woman. But it doesn’t mean that all men are stronger than all women. Or it might be statistically likely that boys like cars – now let’s say it’s even as likely as 80% – that still makes millions who don’t like cars and thus renders the statement “boys like cars” WRONG.
The gender brain-washing-machine starts so early – in most cultures we have very clear ideas such as girls like dolls and boys like cars. Well, I found either very dull – I liked violent cartoons but I also liked baking. But it always warms my heart when I see that there are some efforts to let kids decide gender-neutrally what they want to play with such as in Sweden and even some individuals to go to extreme lengths such as this father in the US who rewrote the dialogues in Zelda giving Link a sex-change so his daughter could enjoy a game with a female heroine (yes, girls can like adventure, too). I’m not arguing to force kids into doing stuff they don’t identify with – I’m arguing our gender-attirubtion (“caring=girl”, “adventure=boy”) is at best outdated and we should raise individuals not stereotypes.
This is what I think happens. If you believe in free will your identity (let’s put genes aside) is formed by absorbing external influences and fermenting these observations with your free will to create your individual identity:
Forming individual identity
There are countless external factors from parents (did you have them? did they love you? what is their background and belief system?) to the country you grow up and your natural environment (being prone to be eaten by predators vs. cozy urban “everything’s a quick drive away”). And even your gender is there! Again if you believe in free will you take these influences and form your individual identity.
Host of factors influence our individual identity
Now the problem in our world is that instead of gender (with hormones etc.) being one factor that influences us we let gender infuse every last aspect of our lives. We add a gender-dimension to everything! This can reach an extent in which free will is pushed aside by the onslaught of genderized aspects thus simply copying generalized half-truths directly into our individual identity or more simply brainwashing us.
Brainwashing with gender obsession
This deeply rooted sexism is not only annoying but also deters us from becoming who we really are. So think twice next time you argue with “typically male”, “what do you expect from a woman”, “this position requires hard decisions – a man would be the natural choice” or “for this role we need to hire a woman because they are more emphatic”. It’s difficult – I know! We do it all the time – heck my mom does it and she would be horrified if I told her she was sexist. Still it’s worth our every effort to change!
Oh and if you are not swayed by the arguments because you think gender roles are “logical”, consider that it’s also logical that the sun circles the earth and it’s still wrong, And if you are in the “natural” camp – think about how “natural” reading and writing is and whether you would rather do without it to get back in touch with raw nature.