Wednesday, March 16, 2016
From birth we are surrounded in the trappings of 'male' or 'female'. Everything around us is appropriately color coded from coats to blankets to shoes to wallpaper and paint. Toys are gender appropriate, even when we are too young to know our own identity. Parents never say to their daughter, "When you grow up you'll be a fireman or a soldier." They don't urge their sons to be nurses or nannies or secretaries.
Later, gender identity determines behavioral expectations. Females are supposed to be modest, quiet, submissive, retiring, cooks, servants, baby makers with no opinions. I speak this truth from my position as a female. Sixty-seven years experience allows me to say this is not the veriest tip of the iceberg. Even at my age, there are expectations that I will cook, clean, do laundry, service my husband's pleasure--though we are both retired and have no commitments. It is a testament to his love that he doesn't sit back and do nothing, but pitches in to do his share.
Males on the other hand are supposed to be rough and tough, play sports, hunt, fish, learn carpentry, car repair, get a job, demonstrate their maleness by making inappropriate advances to women and drink beer. My goodness, that last is so important. When a male fails to reach one of the benchmarks, he is ridiculed and may have to defend himself physically because God knows having a brain is dangerous.
I wonder what would happen if we had one set of expectations for every child, regardless of gender? What if every child learned the same basic skills, played with the same non-gender specific toys, took part in the same types of sports? What if aggression was not acceptable behavior just because the child was male? What if females were encouraged to use their brains and leadership skills? How many generations would it take to reach the point when our gender identity wasn't our primary identity? Ten? Do you suppose ten generations would be long enough?