Is it a boy or a girl? This is the first question we ask when someone has a baby. If they have a willy, we say it is a boy, if not then we say it is a girl. Once they have been classified as either male or female, we then segregate them in a number of ways. Worse still we lay down rules according to the gender given, rules that are often inconsistent and irrational. There are things we let boys do and not girls and vice versa. All because they have a penis or not.
For some though, the question of what sex to assign is a bit problematic. Some have a vagina of sorts along with testis and a malformed penis. It is not clear cut whether we can say they are a boy or a girl. We know that the camp we place them in will have an impact on the whole life ahead of them. God does not assign the gender. Instead a doctor will be brought in to decide as they have had all the specialist schooling. Of course, they are always right every time, without fail and never succumb to human error like the rest of us.
If we are not sure which sex to assign a child of ours, we may decide to do something about it. Too many wish to put them in a category of our choice rather than wait for them to emerge as one of their own choosing. Many want the issue resolved right away so babies and toddlers are hastily operated on.
These problem cases may seem rare, but maybe not as rare as we like to think. However, most see them as rare enough to be dismissed as exceptions and just ‘freaks’, freaks of nature. Instead of dismissing these so called ‘freaks’ as irrelevant they can shine a light on the way we view genders. Maybe the harsh boy-girl separation is something we have been doing for so long throughout history that we struggle to get away from it. The real freaks could be those that are ultra-feminine or extremely masculine and that the bulk of the population are a mix of the two.
What do we really use to decide what gender someone is? Can we draw up a reliable method of defining the genders. One that works in all cases? We are not debating the concepts of masculinity and femininity. Instead we are asking whether we can state that someone is male or female in a black and white manner rather than just people of the same species. If you were to say girls are more.. or boys are more.. you have already decided who are boys, who are girls in order to measure. A paradox of sorts.
Most people claim that it is obvious that someone is a male or not and that we have a basic ability to determine which sex someone is. In day to day living we use visual clues and clothing plays a part. We still feel that we can distinguish a man from a woman even when somebody is dressed in drag. A man in women’s clothes is still masculine enough to be spotted. The same goes for a woman dressing in a masculine way. They just seem sufficiently masculine or feminine to be separated. Whilst it is not quite so easy with babies as their facial features are far less prominent, we don’t make such an issue of it. We don’t pay it too much attention and it is pretty much unheard of to request that someone removes their underwear to establish what sex they claim to be. Most will admit however that there have been some occasions where they have come across people that we are not sure which sex to class them. We notice them and stare for a bit trying to decide. Anything a bit unusual evokes some curiosity.
There are plenty of stereotypes. We think of females typically having slender body shapes, maybe hourglass rather than 'A' frame. Breasts that protrude are seen as the prominent feature of women thus men with man boobs feel awkward. Body hair particularly on the face can mark us out, as does a sweeter softer face. Nevertheless, you will get some wimpy looking boys and 'wouldn't want to meet down a dark alley' strong looking girls. Men can’t have orgasms people cry, but how wrong they are, I can vouch for that. On this note, the sensation when highly turned on ripples through a large part of the middle of one’s body for some time. It is considerably easier to bring about ejaculation than an orgasm though. How do we go about getting sufficient arousal for it to come about? Some need to be relaxed, some must get fizzed up, some need the element of cheekiness / effrontery, some need ripeness and for the rest, heaven knows what. Some would prefer a good book or a glass of wine and leave that aspect of sexual amazement to those with more resolve.
What if a man were to lose his member in a motorcycle accident, is he still a man? If a woman has a hysterectomy is she still a woman? Half the population in theory can produce children, but this half have issues for many are barren. The potential to bear children frames femininity but is not entirely useful in determining gender reliably. Although men can't become pregnant, nor can many women. Men are deemed to be the providers of the seed unless they happen to be sterile or have opted for a vasectomy. A large percentage historically have a role in procreation, yet this is useless in making absolute differentiation between the sexes. If rules are going to be made in society, then they need to be fair for all. Lots of legal cases revolve around precise definitions. It has great relevance. Any distinction you make between a man and a woman would surely work in all cases if it were to be justified.
If we were to fall back on the chromosomes, the xx/xy, we would think that we would be on safe ground except these have anomalies. The chromosome system is not a two-part system. It comprises numerous registers with each person having their various components set at different points on the scale. Big built strong alpha male types will have a lot of the settings to the one side yet can still have a few feminine characteristics. At the other end of the spectrum, there will be those that have delicate sweet cute feminine bodies, but also some masculine traits as well. If we evaluate all of the bands, we can see that on aggregate, people lean to one side of the gender divide. However, nobody is 100% male or female. When we feel hard done by, people will point to someone worse off than us. In the same way, there will always be someone stronger, taller, bigger breasted, more agile or with a more feminine /masculine voice than us too. And many of them will be put in the other gender box.
The idea of having two separate sexes is highly entrenched in our view of society. One has a hole and the other a peg. Any other viewpoint is swiftly rejected. Thus, from an early age segregation begins. We have different changing rooms. We like separate toilets except we don’t mind in aeroplanes, trains, small shops and most homes. Some schools think it is wise to have separate classrooms for those with a penis and those without, because it is fun to control. People exclude half of society from taking part in a range of activities simply because they have been defined as male or female. Characterised not on performance but on an expected role in child creation and child rearing. Totally illogical and irrational yet violently enforced. Not one country at this point in time has managed to put in place a law that treats all people the same. Many places put more effort into repressing certain types.
Without a doubt those in power like to control and restrict those around them in many ways. In how they dress, in how they conduct their lives, and this is the crux of the issue. The idea that we are all just people and not boys and girls fazes the majority. Neither can we accept that some of us are just more feminine or masculine than others.
Whist we can point out a few minor examples of what is supposed to be different between the boy and the girls, they are dwarfed by the much larger number of things that are identical. If you counted all the body parts that are indistinguishable between the sexes, you will see only emotive reasons for creating such damning discrimination. This is not to say that we don’t relish and enjoy the sight and company of contrasting characters and seek company with them. We can still gravitate towards cute people with exacerbated femininity or masculinity. Hence why some people like to accentuate their femininity by wearing makeup and refraining from becoming too muscular. Or conversely spend hours at the gym toning their physique. Not everyone worries about their looks, for many laughably, pretend to place higher regard on inner beauty. There is a lot of joy to be had in making oneself as feminine or masculine as we like and that is our business and an onlooker’s delight.
There can be pressure to conform, to present oneself firmly within one of the categories. Being born without the affirming characteristics that set out our gender identity creates a significant issue within and rejection by those we encounter. Sexual confusion, sex changes and awkward lives materialise. The freaks have difficulties. In truth, we are all freakish, accidents and different. We may have been a product of a planned pregnancy, but our parents did not select us specifically. One can be subject to the same amount of derision for being too fat or too thin whether male or female. We will discriminate when we choose a partner ruling out baldies, shorties and the loud mouthed to name but a few reasons to reject. This only changes when we are confronted by a limited pool to choose from or we reassess our own shortcomings.
Body types will have significance in the workplace. It can be advantageous to be beautiful, but sometimes beautiful people can be hampered by the fear of competition. An employee will use a different filtering mechanism to whittle down candidates to present to the boss than the boss might themselves. Staff might be in fear of being overshadowed by new attractive people coming on to the scene. Some are less inclined to give a petite figure a chance in something like the construction industry despite the measurable distinctions in actual performance being minimal when timed. Suitability is only truly proven once someone has been in the job for a while and preconceptions get eroded. Female warriors have been as deadly as any others in conflicts of the past. By and large there are as many capable people classed as women as there are classed as men. Make no mistake about it, I could find some people who you would call women to face off and challenge any typical bunch of those you call men.
People have different hormone ratios and that intensifies their appearance. It gives rise to more body hair, higher levels of aggression and a greater ability to compete. Those most proficient at a sport, the champions, or those that are the best at maths seem to be in the male category. Nevertheless, the difference is marginal, crucial to come top, but the females do not lag that far behind. It is only a small number that make up the elite, most people have average abilities. Take a random sample and you will see no significant difference between the sexes. Besides, the best one or two doctors can’t be on all the hospital wards right across the country. The top leagues would have a good proportion of female participants there by merit if the world lost its bias. Where there is no exclusion there is little difference in performance between the so-called sexes. Tradition holds people back rather than lack of competence.
We can hunt for sections of our genes that can spell out what sex we are, but it will still come down to human interpretation. We can highlight types that belong more to the male or female category such as those with the obsessiveness trait. However, both men and women can be prone to focusing heavily on one subject for a long time. Whether it is nurturing, caring, loving, loathing, desiring or any form of human emotion we can never place them higher or lower on just one gender. Anything a boy feels will be felt by many girls too.
A nation that counts people as people and not as either male or female has no interest in making anyone change how they label themselves. It would just end the denial of access to anything based on a gender discrimination. The only time we would be stopped from doing something is if we were underage or truly incompetent. There is no need to banish Mr/Mrs/Ms etc from the diction. In English, there is plenty to take umbrage at with the masculine element in man/woman, male/female, lad/lady, prince/princess, count/countess and he/she and so forth. From here on you will see he/she/her/him replaced by they and them. You should notice that things become rather stilted and constrained. It is harder to write without these pronouns. Despite everything, the freedom to write how we want is paramount. So, you write how you like and address people as they wish to be addressed. If we say, “they are handsome” or “they are pretty”, do we assume ‘they’ refers to a boy and girl?
As with any new idea, things can be taken too far. Providing fairness, equal chances and the same respect for all, need not become a deterrent from expressing femininity / masculinity. It is all too easy to make everyone feel obliged to dress neutrally and to address each other in the exact same way. This very dark path would stifle our freedom to take into account the treasures of human life. I adore a green garden but wouldn’t dream of chopping every flower head off to keep it green, green, green. Give each plant the water and sunshine they need, let the colours and variety flourish, please. Give everyone the same opportunity to work, to serve and to compete whilst still allowing them to express their masculinity/femininity as they so desire.
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