Today, the topic of this article is going to be something which is also quite personal to me, and a topic which I am seemingly incessantly getting into arguments over conservative people about. Getting straight to the point: that topic is gender roles.
The more you pay attention to them, the more you realize that they surround many aspects of our life and dictate what behaviours are appropriate for us to perform, and conversely, which behaviours aren’t appropriate for us. From a young age, we are branded with a code of behaviour:
“Boys like blue, girls like pink.”
“Boys like cars.”
“Boys have to be tough.”
“Be a man.”
“Men don’t cry.”
“Real men do ______.”
All you have to do is walk into a toy store, and the dichotomy of gender roles is branded clear as day. Laced along one aisle, everything is pink and purple indicating for the girls to play with dolls. The other aisle is blue with toy cars and toy trucks, signaling the toys that the boys are to play with.
If a boy wants to buy a doll because he is interested in dressing them up due to his interest in fashion, he is ostracized as a freak and it is seen as an odd behaviour. And so, from a young age, society indoctrinates children to believe that because you were born a certain gender, your genitalia then define the way you behave, and even the things you are supposed to like.
If who you are corresponds to this construction, and you have grown up to be the ‘tough, emotionless’ ideal of a male, then you probably have not thought much of this. But for someone like me who is of the ‘feminine’, it is a set of ideals that go against many aspects of the person who I want to be, and for it I have faced ostracism. The fact that I don’t fit to this construction then forces me to think of this construction on a daily basis. Why is it constructed? What substance does it actually have behind it? The factors behind these questions are going to be some of the discussion of this article.
But first, where would my manners be if I didn’t introduce some aspects of myself:
I choose to wear skinny pants and tight clothing.
I choose to wear jewelry.
I choose to say words like ‘dear’, ‘hon’, ‘love’ to refer to people
I choose to wear 5 inch heels.
I choose to wear makeup.
I choose to wear perfumes labelled in the ‘ladies’ section.
With regards to the aforementioned points listed, before I go on, I bet that some people are going to immediately, right off the bat, go “Oh but he’s gay, that’s expected.” BUT truthfully:
Actions such as these should not correlate with my sexuality. Just because I am sexually attracted to men, it does not mean validate my behaviours to be allowed outside of a gender role construction and forced within a narrow-minded stereotype.
The fact that I do the aforementioned has people assume that I am gay, and this just shows the unhealthy effects that this dichotomy places upon our society. If I were a heterosexual, I imagine I would have it a lot worse off (whoa, did Thommy Dee just mention a situation where heterosexuals would have it worse off?!?!). In that situation, people would assume my sexuality as homosexual and mistake it just because I feel more comfortable with myself wearing shoes with heels on them (makes my butt look nice and round), or giving my skin a clearer look by using a good foundation and other cosmetics.
People should not have to validate their gender by performing a set of actions which have little to no proper meaning behind them.
I’ve had many experiences of people I know attempt to assert the conventional gender roles upon me. If I don’t follow these actions which society has made, actions which have no real substance behind them in proving that I am in fact a man, then these people think that something is wrong with me. In fact, there is absolutely nothing wrong. I look down, I have a penis. Yep. Lovely. I’m a male. Simple as that. No code of behaviours beyond that should have to prove that something is there that I already know is there JUST BY LOOKING.
Arguments generally look like this:
“It’s weird for you to wear makeup.”
No it isn’t.
“Yes, it is.”
What is telling you that?
“It just isn’t normal?”
Once again, what is telling you that.
“Society. People just don’t do it.”
So a construction made by society makes it wrong. Okay. Beyond that, why is it wrong?
“Boys just don’t do it.”
And why is that?
“Because it’s weird. Society.”
And as you can see, as it is a construction with no proper substance behind it, basically all the arguments I have come across follow this circular argument going nowhere.
Going back within the depths of my memory (quite recent though), I have had men tell me that they would date me if I didn’t “dress like a girl”, as they basically put it.
And this guy whom I met up with, who seemed properly interested in me, said he wouldn’t kiss me because he “doesn’t kiss girls”.
And then last year I had a couple of friends try and push me to act more “normal” as they put it: To not wear cosmetics, and dress exactly like the other men where I live do: wearing chinos and buttonup shirts and snapbacks.
When I ran out of foundation and met up with them, I was treated like a dog who had just learned how to sit for the first time.
These latent attempts of manipulation pissed me off. Just because the way someone presents themselves doesn’t follow a ridiculous hollow construction of a dichotomous nature, it doesn’t make it any less valid.
Plus the dichotomy set up through gender roles in the modern world is a factor towards gender inequality, but that’s a topic a whole other article could be written on.
The media does not help this, either. Even when you have seemingly grown up past the gender dichotomy, it is still prevalent in the adult world. Putting flame in the problem, Father’s day and Mother’s day advertising is just a rampant cavalcade of assigned gender roles. The below advertisements (catalogues) are examples of this.
You will see that for father’s day, advertising is generally of hardware tools. And then for mother’s day, it is cosmetics, jewelry, spas and domestic ware. Basically, men are forced to the shed to play with their tools and to fix up their cars, and women are forced to the kitchen.
Furthermore, this culture of a male having to be tough, and unable to show their emotion has shown time and time again to bring upon destructive side effects. Men aren’t supposed to cry. It is odd for men to show emotion. They are weak if they show emotion.
It is healthy to cry and show emotion. And in a society such as this one, where one’s roles and expectations are decided by their gender, and men having to be tough and suppress their emotion, it may damage their psyche. And suppressed emotion becomes anger. And anger becomes aggression. And this may be one reason why crimes of homicide and assault and rape are committed by men a lot more than they are committed by women.
Whilst on the topic of crime, the looks I get just for expressing myself outside the bounds of gender conformity make it seem like I’m committing a crime. I wait for the day I can walk in public in my 5-inch heeled ankle boots and my makeup and not have people stop walking in public just to take a few minutes to process the defiance of the transparent construction of gender roles.
I should not have to feel any discomforts or worries in public that I may get beaten or attacked just because I choose to act and present myself in a way that isn’t in the ways of “being a real man”.
I could say a LOT more on this topic, but to keep it simple: I have a penis. Therefore, whilst I put on my makeup and zip up my 5-inch heeled ankle boots, I’m just as much as a valid male as a sports player, a businessman or a mechanic, or a tradie.
Get used to it.