We live in a Western culture, if not a worldwide culture of separating humans into boys and girls. Why do we need to slice our kind into a gender split? Is there merit in it? It certainly seems that way if you’re a male. A large chunk of at least circumstantial evidence would suggest that being a male in most parts of the world gives you a helping hand in life. There’s often joy when a girl is born, but there’s that bit more joy and celebration when it’s a boy. Why is that? Are boys that bit more special and to be celebrated ahead of girls?
I think if we’re all honest with ourselves, humans as whole are pretty special and at the start of each and every life there is a great potential in everyone. It’s cultures that add on the special significance of being a male. Either because they’ll probably carry the family name, or there’s no need for a dowry to move them on. Innately it seems for the most of human existence the male has been expected to go and “make something of himself” whilst the female has been expected to stay at home and help bring up family. Normally her siblings till she’s old enough to get married and start raising her own collection of off-spring. Perhaps hoping for a daughter to be born to share the load and a boy to bring “pride” to the family.
In Western society I think there’s an idea we now live in an equal society, where it’s as good to be a boy as it is to be a girl. However, the reality is still rather different. As a culture we’re still amazed to find a woman in a powerful position, or in what are seen as typically “male” positions. With that underlying thought of “well, hasn’t she done well”. But really, is there a reason why a girl can’t do anything she chooses to? I don’t see a reason psychologically, let alone physically. All humans come in all shapes and sizes, so both genders can fit different roles.
In a great example of getting us to think differently about gender, Cordelia Fine in her book “Delusions of Gender” wonders why we don’t split the world into left and right handers? That’s a binary choice, and to us it seems daft. But why? It’s just as arbitrary and not very insightful. One could argue that at the start of humanity the division of labour made sense, women generally rear the kids, the men get the food. That’s all fine with me, however it’s been a long time since that was the case. Today, besides giving birth, a man can do all the child rearing and a woman can do all the “bread winning”. It really is just societal ideas that stop this being the case. It’s seen as emasculating for a man to being doing “women’s” work, whereas it’s “empowering” for a woman to fight her way into typically “male” work.
The point of this blog is, as with my others, is to highlight that we all have capabilities to do a whole range of things. If we can see past societal norms then the world opens up even further. We don’t need to feel worried about what we fancy doing. If a guy wants to be a nursery nurse, and nurture kids, then that’s great, let him do the best job he can. If a woman want’s to be a physicist and she excels at it then that’s great. Equality isn’t just about getting women to equal men, as if men are the pinnacle. It’s about allowing all members of the human race to do what they feel drawn to do, hopefully bettering human kind along the way.
Therefore, from my perspective as a therapist, don’t worry about what others think, do what suits you. Show you’re really good at what you do regardless of gender. Challenge the blocks to progress by demonstrating how good you are at doing what you do, in whatever field or aspect of life it is. Be proud of your abilities and show them off, be a role model of others who might not be as strong as you. Your courage might well enable more and more people to do what they want to do.