The Gender Box

Gender has become a heated topic over the last few years. We have developed new ideas around gender roles that reshape how we see ourselves, each other, and what that means in social interactions. This cultural shift has brought about open ended discussions on what it means to be male and what it means to be female.

Gender roles have existed since the beginning of time. We use them as a way to describe what it means to be male or to be female, what colors each gender is to appreciate, what jobs they will pursue, the toys they play with as children. Gender roles exist as a way for our brains to place a finite definition on an idea. Putting solid restrictions on what is fluid. Being male or being female is a beautiful thing, an intimate thing. But when we tell someone that they have to fit into a box, they feel as if they don’t belong anywhere when they stretch the box a little.

People have never fit into a box. We expect ideas of men and women to remain the same while the culture around us is constantly changing. This is dangerous. We hear advocates seeking for equal rights for women, but there is still a cultural stigma that the woman is to be the one that does all of the cooking and cleaning around the home. Men are uncomfortable expressing their emotions because that makes them weak, which is a ‘female’ characteristic. This gender separation is reiterated all around us in that changing tables are only in women’s restrooms, because a woman is the one that is always with the kids. Characters on TV always fit into these boxes, and if not that individual is used as the butt of every joke. We are fighting for ‘feminism’ and equality, but we are neglecting the biggest issue; preconceived notions that a man must be one thing and a woman must be another. What if we erased these lines and allowed people to be who they were created to be?

We belittle men that want to stay at home with their children. We tell a little girl that plays with action figures and race cars that those are boys toys. We ‘gender revel’ our pregnancies with the colors blue or pink. Boys are told to be tough and active while girls are encouraged to sit on the sidelines and act like a ‘lady.’ These are the gender norms that our society has created. If you search the world you find gender roles are different in each culture. However our society has decided that our gender roles are right and should be followed to a T or something is wrong. You can’t possibly be a man if you like makeup and fashion, or you can’t possibly be a woman if you are a plumber and like to work on cars. We equate these flips in gender roles as an issue with sexuality. These individuals are stigmatized, criticized, and pressured to change. But what if we lived in a society where people could be whatever they wanted to be? I know we tell our kids this, but we don’t really mean it. We all know that certain things are off limits, that if we venture out of typical gender norms we will not be accepted.

People were not created to live in a box, we should ALL feel the freedom to explore and pursue who God created us to be as individuals, and not who society says we should be based on the anatomy we were born with.

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