By Tee Tyson
It starts at an early age, gender identification. As soon as you’re born, before you can understand who you are or where you’re from, you get put into a category, pink or blue. From there, it only gets worse. Dresses for girls. Cute flannel button ups for boys. Dolls for the little ladies. Action figures for the wee gents. Makeup and mini backpacks for the tweenage females and skateboards and chain wallets for the fellas.
Maybe I’m dating myself with these references.
In the end, the era doesn’t matter. Whether it’s the 1956, 1999 or 2013, society has worked hard to tell us what our gender roles are. Even worse, we are punished when we try to step outside the constraints of our sex.
When I was in high school, a friend of mine got sent home because he wore a dress to school. I got called a lesbian because I liked baggy jeans and uniform shirts with names embroidered over my underdeveloped breasts. Names like Bill, Bob and Jimmy Mack. Which obviously meant I loved girls.
Growing up is hard to begin with. The hair, acne, weight gain and growth spurts all work together to make ages 11-18, or if we are talking about me, 4-29, the hardest of our lives. They are only made worse by people telling us what we can and cannot do, what our gender roles are and the unacceptable behaviours for each. The thing is, discovering who we are, what type of boy or girl we are, is a private sort of matter.
If you’re lucky, you learn not to care what other people think and do as you please. If you’re unlucky, you suppress your urges and desires, you try to conform to what society thinks a proper girl or boy should be. I have a dream that one day we can all simply be who we are.
Sometimes I think about what is considered ‘girly’ and ‘masculine’. Men are supposed to be tough, unemotional providers who enjoy rough sports, fighting, and video games. Girls are soft, understanding, weak and enjoy knitting and perfecting the art of eyeliner application.
I laugh. Shake my head. And insist the gender roles need to be redefined by having no definition at all. I think we need to recognize there are more than two gender roles. Everyone doesn’t simply fall into one of two categories.
Furthermore, we cannot be defined by our likes and dislikes, clothes, posture or whether or not we pee standing up. The truth is, there are no pink and blue jobs. There are no female and male hobbies. We can be and do whatever we want. If a lady wants to be a firefighter, so be it. If a boy wants to wear a tutu to school, then he should. The rules are archaic. Laws outdated. It’s time to simply be. And let be.