A couple of days ago I read some parts of a conversation in Twitter, about how media, companies, and so on, encourage traditional gender roles in kids.
The thing was about some menu boxes from a well known fast food company. They came with a theme of princesses, and with a theme of superheroes. The problem is that you have to choose the box for your kid, and if you don’t pick up the obvious choice, you’ll probably get a lot of stares, and your child will be probably embarrassed.
Some will argue that the problem is the kind of role models we’re offering our children. The clichés. Girls are princesses, and must be beautiful, and have expensive clothes, and be nice for their princes. Boys are heroes, and are meant to be strong, don’t cry and fight a lot, and finally save the princess.
Ok, those clichés do not provide really healthy values for our kids. Granted. But I don’t see the problem in those roles, as long as they are well explained as fantasy characters; as long as they’re not the only influence kids have.
I see the biggest problem in the choice, because I don’t see that playing with princesses or superheroes has necessarily to be associated with being a boy or being a girl. And it doesn’t have to determine the kind of person you are.
The problem is the structure.
See, I’ve been asking myself, what is gender?
When you’re born, you have genitals. And you’re labelled after them, as a man or a woman. Then you grow up, and start doing things. Start learning things. And big people tell you when you’re doing good or bad. So, you have a behaviour, which is both innate and learned. And this makes you as a person.
And you still have your label attached.
But the label is just a label. You’re just a person, an individual. So it is what you think, what you like, what you do and what you feel. This is unique.
Imagine all the individual personalities painted as dots in a graph. It happens that all of the individualities tend to group around two big points in the graph, and those dots would be kind of man and woman. But I guess that there is a huge dispersion around those two points. Can you picture it?
Now, the funny thing is that the dots are personalities. They have nothing to do with the bodies of the people in the graph. And probably the cloud of dots is denser around those two points of the standard man and standard woman, but it doesn’t mean that all the dots that are closer to the woman cloud have to be genetically female.
So, it turns out that there is nothing as a gender quality for anyone. Everybody is just a dot in the graph, and it happens to be somewhere near one of two fictitious points that are placed in the middle of two thicker clouds of dots.
But correlation doesn’t imply causality. The problem is that we think it does. (Humans…)
So we actually generalise. And create structures to categorise people. And thus, we leave a lot of people out, when we create this gender idea and force it on actual people.
The problem is not the role model. Those are just toys. You might like them or not. The problem is that you’re supposed to choose the right one.
I have played a lot of video games in my life (I guess I’ve played video games more than anything else). And I’ve played action video games (shooters, soccer games), as well as doll video games (I created lesbian communities when I played the Sims, which of course I had to keep secret from my family and friends). And a lot of games in the middle of those. Sometimes I feel one way, sometimes I feel the other. And I don’t think games, or education has shaped that much the person I am, because I’ve ended being that person. I must say that I’ve got a lot of discomfort, sadness and pain in the way, but that was because of the structure. That was because of what I was supposed to like. But my dot was not anywhere near it was supposed to be.
Labels only exist in our minds. What actually does exist are people. If we kept that in mind, if we could learn to know people, not to expect them, life would be so much easier for a lot of people who don’t quite fit into an approximation…
PS. I know. Gender doesn’t exist, so why can’t I accept myself? Why am I transexual? Well, I guess if there was no expected gender roles, the discomfort I’ve felt all my life would have been less. But there are, and there will be for a lot of time. Plus, I’m really uncomfortable with my body, with my genitals, and those actually do exist.