An ethical Storm

Before the 1950s, the word gender was uncommonly used until sexologist John Money made the distinction between biological sex and gender as a role. In the 70’s the word gender started to gain some headway especially with the sexual revolution.   Today, you’ll see gender replacing the word sex altogether when describing females/males.

In terms of gender, the role it plays and how it shapes children based on societal expectation or pressure, a recent debate has come about after ‘the Toronto parents of a four-month-old baby named Storm have decided to raise their third child without revealing its sex in order to free him or her from societal expectations around gender identity and stereotypes’- The Calgary Herald.

Sounds harmless. I dream of someday having my own children; I often fantasize of how we will bake cookies together, play brain teaser puzzles, attack the walls with crayons (I grew up in a very free household) and dress-up as super heroes to conquer the world in our basement battle fortress. Being that I don’t have children the truth is that I do not know what to expect. I am aware of the fact that the division of gender roles does exist; I see it myself on a daily basis.

One scenario that will always resonate with me was when I was on an airplane and the parents of a son and daughter had brought their children to meet the captain in the flight deck after we’d landed. Both kids were in awe and the parent’s eyes sparkled with pride as they brought their kids up to see the front of the plane. The mother looked at her son and said ‘see buddy, some day you can become a flight captain just like this man here’. The daughter so happened to have been looking at me at that time, so I looked at her and said ‘someday you can become a flight captain just like this man here too sweetie’. Her smile grew huge as she clutched on to her Barbie doll.

Back to the story regarding the Toronto couple mentioned above; I absolutely recognise that the way in which society shapes and categorises females/males into specific roles and ‘ways you should be’ is an issue. However, the debate arises over the fact that the parents have basically transformed their child into a social experiment stripping it of any gender identity altogether. My take on the whole issue and plea to society is to please just let children be children. A four month old does not deserve to be propelled into a media spectacle and take on any responsibility more than deciding which toy to play with next whether it is pink or blue.

Kids just need to be kids. Will I encourage my son to play make-up party? No. But guess what, I wouldn’t encourage make-up party with my daughter either. The difference is that if my children want to play make-up party then by all means they are free to do so without judgement. I am all about gender equality and raising my children in a neutral environment.

Taking a step back, I am 28 year old female looking for my male counterpart. Being a woman, I enjoy wearing make-up, painting my nails and wearing cute outfits. I am nurturing, gentle in my touch, my voice is soft and I have that certain smell that I remember my mom having when she’d snuggle me after scraping my knee. My dad never had this. He was rugged and would scruff my hair up if it was too neat. To me, this description of my parents is pure beauty and it’s not a matter of dividing them into feminine or masculine roles; it’s just how they were and how they are as male and female.

Is society to blame for the fact that I shave my legs and enjoy wearing frilly pink dresses? Should my mother have dressed me in cover-alls and cut my hair short as a child to prove a point? Here’s my opinion: there are certain things in life where I feel women and men should be equals. However, biologically speaking I am a woman who is attracted to males with masculine characteristics; the old fashioned, hairy, deep voice, strong, protective man. I’m not saying that this is the way all men are or should be; I’m just digging down to the roots as I perceive them.

Even in the most neutral state of mind, we can all admit to a certain threshold where our gender comfort zone reaches its limit. If my husband is better at sewing than I am then by all means he can take on the sewing, but the minute he asks me to paint his toenails red is where I draw the line.

Free to be who you want to be regardless of society's gender expectations? Yes. Absolutely, go for it. Arguably, the biological wiring between men and women are different. Take it as you will.