Reject the role society assigns us
By Micayla Vermeeren Contributor, Photo by Jordan Daniels Opinions Editor
Battle of the Sexes.
Few phrases make my skin crawl more, and for damn good reason. For as long as I – or really, anyone in history – can remember, there’s been a stark dichotomy between what the “sexes” (note: sex and gender are in no way conflatable, but for the purpose of specific phrase analysis, let’s stick with sex for now) can and should be.
And keep in mind, this dichotomy is violent. It’s active; hence, the word “battle.”
On one side of the field, swathed in deep blue, we have the men. The providers. The protectors. The ones on the front lines.
On the other, draped in linens of pink, the women stare back. The nurturers. The docile. The ones on the sidelines.
It sounds archaic, right?
It’s the year of our Lord 2017. And we don’t hold our society to those standards anymore, right?
We know the difference between sex and gender! We know that there aren’t just two genders and that gender and sex can, and often do, disagree with each other. We know that women can be CEOs and that men can cry. We know that the binary hasn’t provided enough space for everyone and we’ve made moves to try and break it down. Break it open.
So, why then is it that all of these beautiful non-conformers that we’ve fought for years to empower still get the short end of the stick?
Because this battle is part of a larger war.
Gender roles came from one central idea: a way to control an entire population on the basis of arbitrarily assigned “truths” about character and personality based off of one’s perceived sex or sexuality.
Humans are nuanced, complex beings. As Carl Sagan once said, “we are each of us a multitude.” The ins and outs of individual personalities are vast and we could spend years of our lives in a relationship, but walk away still only knowing a tenth of who the other really is.
That’s dangerous. That means to get to know someone, to understand them, we need to take time – and this hasn’t always been a popular idea.
The division of gender roles serves to categorize the insurmountable world population into two, easy-to- chew “types.” All we do to pass judgement on another is asses their sex. From there, we know whether we can overpower, woo, trick, seduce, ignore, empower, partner with or trust the person across from us.
But our genitals do not constrain us.
Unless we – and I mean the whole damn collective “we” – take time to study the history of gender roles; listen to the people who have lived within and outside them, look at the way we as individuals have learned to see ourselves in relation to our sex and commit to more than a “pussy hat,” those ingrained ideals will remain.
I don’t know about you, but it takes a lot for me to fight. It’s not in my nature. But if you tell me there’s about to be a battle of the sexes, I’ll fight like hell to shut that down.