He Dresses, She Slacks: Transgender Sex Roles

I notice when people complain about weak sex roles. “Women should be women, and men should be men. “If we didn’t have rigid sex roles, might we all be “people” instead of “male” and “female”?

a "feminine" Barbie Doll contrasts with a "masculine" Lieutenant Worf action figure

Last month, the highest court in Australia decided to recognize some people as being of a non-specific sex. If we didn’t have rigid sex roles, would we all be “people” instead of “male” and “female”?

If we didn’t have rigid sex roles, what might be a reason for being transgender?

Let’s take a look at some of our ideas about sex roles, and think about what we want and expect from men and women, and from ourselves.

Transgender and Sex Role Considerations:

Social Sex Roles
Sex Roles in the Workplace
Clothing
Value of Each Gender
Body Language
Mannerisms
Social Expectations
Emotion
Relationships
Transgender Psychology Issues
Sexual Preference
Biology
Physical Characteristics
Conclusion

Social Sex Roles                            

Awkward moments occur when a woman holds a door open for a man.

Some women like to shovel snow, load the back of a pickup truck, and carry groceries into the house. Many women dig in the garden, and enjoy watching action movies and sports.

Many men like ballet dancing, quilting, and taking care of young children.

What do you think about men who like to design clothing and living spaces? How do you feel around men who enjoy artistic endeavors like hair styling, lyrical poetry, and weaving? What about men who prefer to watch “chick flicks”?

Sex Roles in the Workplace                            

How do you feel when you watch the Mark Morris Ballet production of The Hard Nut? Women play some of the “men’s” roles, and men play some of the “women’s” roles. The Mark Morris Ballet Company cast dancers, not men or women.

 

How different are men’s and women’s roles? How reasonable are these differences?

Women sew Men are tailors
Women in restaurants are waitresses Men are maitre d’s
Women tend gardens Men farm and landscape
Women care for the elderly and young children Men guard
Women in business are receptionists, secretaries, and administrative assistants Men are managers and administrators
Women drive cars Men drive trucks and pilot airplanes
Women in schools are school teachers Men are professors and school administrators
Women make meals Men are chefs
Women handle money as cashiers Men are financial advisors
Women sell luxuries at home parties Men sell cars and home entertainment equipment
Women make crafts Men are mechanics, builders, masons, carpenters, electricians, plumbers, welders, and tradesmen
Women in the medical field are dental hygienists and nurses Men are surgeons
Women use appliances Men use power tools
Women are homemakers Men build homes

Arguments in favor of hiring women to top leadership positions emphasize women’s collaboration, listening skills, focus on development, and valuing differing opinions. The traditional male business model values individual competition, aggression, and advancement. Do these differences explain the employment differences?

How do you feel about people who show up to work on a road construction crew in tattoos, coveralls, and work boots? Does it matter which sex they were born? Or the gender that they express? How do you feel about a person who shows up to work in an office wearing false eyelashes, nail polish, and high heels? What if she was born with male genitals?

Sex Roles in Clothing                          

Who is more conspicuous: a transgender male or a transgender female?

Who wears more colorful, expressive clothing: masculine or feminine people? Women’s clothes are lovely colors, shapely and flowy. Why are most males of other species more colorful than females, yet we’re not?

When you enter a store and see colors and lace, and sparkle and delicate doodads on one side of the store, and drab colors and chunky accessories on the other side, do you feel free to choose which side of the store to shop, and which clothes to wear? Do your neighbors and family members?

Have you noticed that store lighting often mutes the colors of men’s clothes, and highlights the colors of women’s clothes?

Are you attracted to the men’s clothes that are made of beefy fabrics with rugged seams? Men’s accessories like gloves, watches and scarves that work better and last longer than women’s? Are the sleeves and inseams the right size for your arms and legs? Are the shoes and socks a good fit for your feet?

Do the most masculine of men always prefer to shop for themselves in the Men’s Department? When do women hesitate to wear men’s clothes?

At what age do these differences show up?

Value of Each Gender                      

Why would a transgender man want to cultivate his masculinity in such a restrictive environment?

Where misogyny exists, why would transgender women exist?

Why might someone exhibit extreme characteristics of their gender?

Body Language

Women sit with crossed legs. Men stand with their bodies looking larger, with their hands on their hips, and legs apart.

Women use curvy hand movements. Men’s are angular.

Mannerisms

How rough and aggressive can women be, compared with men, before being denigrated?

How often are men admired for being delicate?

Social Expectations

You might be familiar with the children’s rhyme that I grew up with:

“What are little girls made of?
Sugar and spice and everything nice
That’s what little girls are made of.
What are little boys made of?
Rats and snails and puppy dogs’ tails
That’s what little boys are made of.”

Do other children’s rhymes like this one come to mind?

Medical records that specify physical characteristics like sex organs make sense, but why do identity documents (birth certificates, church records, drivers licenses, passports, marriage licenses) divide people into two sexes? How does that complicate matters for people who are transgender?

Emotion

Men cat call and brawl. Girls giggle and cry. Are these expectations taken to the extreme?

Sex Roles in Relationships

Women connect intimately with others, and discuss feelings and perceptions. Men provide information about status and actions.

Women ask questions. Men give statements.

When a transgender woman is working hard to grasp at her femininity, how well does she warm to women who cultivate their own natural femininity? And vice versa?

Why is it hard for men to be attracted to trans women?

Transgender Psychology Issues

What kinds of challenges do people face when going through puberty? How is this different for people who don’t fit the cultural stereotypes?

What kinds of challenges do people face when they are born looking masculine, and prefer to be feminine in certain ways, and vice versa?

Up to 1/3 of the people studied around the world who identified themselves as transgender had attempted suicide. I couldn’t find how this compares to the general population, but this sounds like a severely high rate.

Can you imagine, or have you experienced, a transgender person being a victim of discrimination, harassment, or violence?

Sex Roles in Sexual Preference

With men so restricted to sex roles, what attracts liberated women to them? What attracts gay men to them?

Biology

Most people are born with either male or female genitals. Some people find that genitals don’t accurately indicate identity, aka, gender. This situation is common in history and many cultures.

Sex roles are partly neurological. Women’s brains tend to be better at verbal memory, social cognition, and combining intuitive and analytical thought. Men’s brains tend to be better at motor and spatial skills.

Sex roles are also hormonal. Increased levels of estrogen makes women more motherly and sexually active, while testosterone makes men more aggressive.

Men’s bodies and brains are larger. They have more muscle. Women give birth to, and feed, babies.

Yet, these biological differences seem to be overstated. The similarities between men and women are much stronger than the differences. In other words, there is more variation between individuals of the same sex than there is between the sexes.

Physical Characteristics

Have you spent any time trying to figure out whether a person is a male or female? What difference does it make?

We use our voices to express ourselves. Vocal chords differ, in accordance with sexual characteristics.
Men sing bass to tenor.
Women sing soprano to alto.
Are men as expressive with their voices as women?

Do you expect women’s bodies to be shapely, smooth, and curved?
Do you expect men’s bodies to be muscular, athletic, and angular?

A young woman shaves her body. A young man looks forward to being hairy.

Which physical characteristics do you want for yourself? Which do you want for your sex partner?

Why would a heterosexual trans woman like her masculine body? Why would a heterosexual trans man like his feminine body? What’s the difference between having a certain sex’s body, and being a certain gender?

Conclusion

Social, psychological, and biological considerations affect our identity. Characteristics of transgender are identity, or an internal sense of maleness and femaleness. Gender is a continuum, not a binary state: masculinity and femininity are points on an infinite scale, not two categories that divide everyone into one extreme or the other. However, with the rigidness of sex roles, imagine how difficult being transgender might be.

I am not an academic expert in Social Justice issues. I hear and have many questions, and I value discussion. Each article that I write is an attempt to broaden your perspective on issues, as I broaden mine.

Photo Credits:
“Madonna” by Daniel Kruczynski, via Wikimedia Commons
“Lieutenant Worf Action Figure” by Olga Nohra
modified by Grace Buchanan
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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51 thoughts on “He Dresses, She Slacks: Transgender Sex Roles

  1. Reblogged this on Spirit In Action and commented:
    Thank you Grace! A lot of good questions here. I’ve always considered gender superfluous and just done as I pleased-much to the consternation of the narrow minded culturally boxed in sorts I encounter 🙂
    I’ve had a lot of transgender friends over the years, some were really psychologically distressed, others like my friend Courtland, seem vastly better adjusted than the average person.

    I’ve always wondered why the majority go along with narrowly defined sex roles-or anytime really. Is it just easier to conform or do people really feel comfortable with such absurd limitations?
    I feel very lucky to live in a time and place where the colonized can no longer force Native men to cut their hair and become dysfunctional like the settlers.

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    1. Thank you. I have been famous for my questions. Some people appreciate them; others find them annoying. I tried to select the ones that were most interesting.

      I like your questions about “why the majority go along with narrowly defined sex roles.” I hope someone stops by with some insight into this. My best guess is that some people find comfort in common agreements, clear expectations and rules, but I don’t understand that.

      I am glad that the “the narrow minded culturally boxed in sorts” don’t box you in any more 🙂

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      1. I don’t think they ever could;-) When I was a toddler in the 70’s adults would ask me what I wanted to be when I grew up. The standard answers for girls in the Bible belt South of the US included teacher-nurse and mother. I consistently answered “a man” and when they would laugh and tell me this was impossible and why wouldn’t I want to be a pretty lady like my Mom, I told them “Just watch me-I won’t be a slave when I grow up! Why would anyone want to be a woman and do all the work and have everyone bossing you around?”.
        I’m not transgender in the sense of feeling my body doesn’t fit but I never understood how anyone could allow themselves to be trained like a monkey to obey and shut themselves down as women are expected to do.
        I’m glad to note that the younger generation seems to have a lot of girls who skateboard, kung fu fight and other supposedly masculine activities that caused such a ruckus when I did them;-)

        Liked by 1 person

        1. As always, thank you for taking the time to share more of your thoughts.

          I was a teenager in the 70s. I am amused by how homophobic my friends were, yet one turned out to enjoy being a flaming fag, and another became an award-winning drag king.

          When I went to college, I read an article about a woman who gave birth to an “X”. She refused to tell anyone whether the baby was a boy or girl. I loved it. I decided to raise my kids like that. Imagine my horror when I overheard my oldest tell her brother that her favorite color was pink, his favorite color was blue, and the dolls were hers, and the trucks were his. She remembers this, and says that she learned it at school. She is now an engineer in a man’s world 🙂 On the other hand, her sister is a fashion store manager who is ultra-feminine, and my masculine son sells industrial parts. I feel good about supporting them to discover what they liked, and being who they are.

          Your answer to “what do you want to be” made me laugh, and got me thinking about how much I, too, wanted to be something other than the oppressed, deferring, confined women who I saw. I was fortunate to have role models in high school who taught me to be a person rather than a woman.

          I understand that being transgender goes beyond one’s physical body. It is an understanding of one’s inner person: one’s identity. I agree with you that rigid sex roles also contributes to transgenderism. Even with great role models, it sure contributed to my androgynous tendencies.

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  2. Grace!

    Thank you for this mind awakening (much more meaningful than the old ‘thought provoking’ I think, don’t you.

    Reblogging with comments, rather than hijacking (lol) your comments section.

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    1. Thank you for all of the mind awakening comments that you leave here (I like “mind awakening. It is new to me. Thanks for sharing it).

      I’m glad you added an lol after your claim about hijacking. I think hijacking is only when someone redirects the conversation to something completely unrelated. You are not guilty 🙂

      I look forward to when you post comments on it here or at your reblog.

      Like

  3. Very thought provoking, Grace! One thing that annoys the hell out of me is the Miss Mrs Ms thing. Guys are just Mr. Why does anyone need to know whether a woman is married, not married or even whether she’d rather people didn’t know? And what about people who don’t identify as any of those? We should scrap these labels and just be “first name” “surname”. Done. That’s all anyone needs to know!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh yes, Heidi; I am glad that the need to differentiate between old married women and young maidens/spinsters is obsolete. I, too, look forward to when titles match that cultural status. It’s too bad that Ms is so loaded with connotations, like evasiveness of marital status, and feminist leanings. Have you noticed that it has become more pervasive? At the local school, all of the women teachers are called Ms. I’ll take this a step further, and wonder why we need to differentiate between women and men teachers. Why can’t they all be “just” teachers?

      Sex-specific words in general drive me crazy. While in college, I heard about women being bent out of shape over history vs herstory and such. Just to be different, I wondered why men didn’t complain about having words that described them exclusively. Why didn’t they fuss over having to share history, amen, and male pronouns with women? Why didn’t I ever hear one tell us to get our own words 🙂

      I’m glad you stopped by and left a note to ponder.

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  4. You have a lot of piquant questions here, I enjoyed reading this! One thing I would like to point out that is not a popular opinion – that is, in fact, shot down and shut up by a lot of the transgender movement – is that gender itself is what is oppressive. Without gender, people would simply express themselves as they wished. Clothing would not be attached to sex. Jobs would not be segregated by sex. Political acumen would not be associated with sex. Power, or lack thereof, would not be associated with sex.

    Until I started actually paying attention to the radical feminist perspective on gender, I was very confused about myself, because I kept focusing on GENDER. I kept finding discontinuities, incongruencies in my actions and motivations that played in to my dysphoria in a huge way. After coming to the conclusion that gender itself is oppressive, that my actions can be agender, that I do not identify as either a man or woman in gender, that it is my SEX I want to change, that I experience SEX dysphoria and not GENDER dysphoria, things started to make sense.

    Everyone who is unhappy with gender roles experiences gender dysphoria. Anyone who is uncomfortable with the demands that our oppressive, hierarchical society have placed upon them in the name of gender experiences gender dysphoria. Those individuals who feel the need to change their BODIES are not transgender. They are transsexual. Unfortunately, a lot of trans allies have jumped on board and, I think, are doing a lot of harm along with a lot of good. Just a few thoughts from a radical transsexual. I guarantee my opinions above are not representative of the majority of transsexuals or transgender-identified people.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think I get what you are saying – some people really feel that their body is the wrong sex and want to change that. There are also plenty of people who are sick of sex stereotypes and want a bit more freedom and that’s a slightly different issue, as is not feeling that the gender they are is right. I know a person who has make and female physical characteristics and identifies as a woman. She doesn’t want to change her body any more than it has been and is happy wearing ‘female’ clothing and being a woman. Causes havoc filling out forms and with the health system, though, she was once told that having a prostate exam and a breast check just didn’t “fit” in the system. Well, in that case, the system is not acknowledging the reality of what’s out there and needs to change.

      Liked by 2 people

    2. I was so impressed with your latest post, that I was hoping you would stop by and share your thoughts here.

      I clearly I agree with you about clothing, jobs, and social roles being artificially restrained by gender expectations. Thank you for sharing your point of view about gender as an unnecessary/destructive social construct,, and sex dysphoria vs gender dysphoria.

      Your writing makes me more certain that as long as a person’s social environment defines masculinity and femininity, most people will experience gender dysphoria.

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  5. Thank you for directing me here, WeaverGrace. As you can imagine, answering all your questions from my personal, male to female trans perspective will take a while, and I intend to skip some, but I will give it a go over the next day or two and post it to my blog. I will be sure to let you know when it is finished.

    Great article! Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am delighted that you accepted my invitation to stop by. You make great points at yesterday’s post at your blog. I especially like that you pointed out that male humans are more colorful than females: the “skin can tan more, and their face can flush more.” I add that male humans also are more colorful because of their body hair.

      I look forward to reading your additional thoughts.

      Please post a link to your follow-up post here so we can all hop over.

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  6. Thought-provoking, Grace. We suffer so many things as humans. We also cause enormous suffering. We are unduly confident in technological opportunities to solve our problems. One of the things that bothers me most is how money has become a god and all human beings are now being used as commodities to be disposed of or replaced by cheaper human beings in the service of profit maximization by the very, very few. We are beginning to see through so many lies fed to us – simply in order to exploit us. Gender one of those exploitative lies.

    In a sense, we are co-operating in our own exploitation – and totally clueless about where we are headed. Sad.

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    1. Oh! I feel so saddened by what you write here. So many ways to dehumanize, oppress, and devalue ourselves and others. You make a valid point: gender expectations can be a vicious weapon.

      Yet, I cling to your statement that “we are co-operating in our own exploitation.” Thank you for the hope that goes with that. Let’s talk more about what we can do to rectify these situations.

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  7. Reading Judith Butler I can agree with her that the situation of someone who feels male/female in a female/male body can be the source of much unhappiness. Apart from the useful debate about the value/gender politics that contribute (or not) to that unhappiness I cannot help thinking that this is very much a “first world problem” on a planet deeply affected by the unsustainable growth of, particularly, that very first world’s consumption, be it cars, boats, medical procedures, weapons or whatever. Many believe that a person has a right to whatever technology is available to her/him if she/he can afford it. I really think that this individualistic attitude ignores the fact that humans need to learn to share, co-operate and – yes, do without many things we now consider rightful necessities.

    If we want a future for our children and grandchildren big changes will have to be made. That is our species’ overwhelmingly important issue. We have perhaps a decade or two to figure out how to change and build the international political will to realize that change. Here is a link to a podcast on the growing idea of “Degrowth” done by our wonderful public broadcaster, the Canadian Broadcasting Commission:
    http://www.cbc.ca/ideas/popupaudio.html?clipIds=2423403950

    I listened to it recently. It explains some of the hard choices that will have to be made. Our Native Peoples used to judge a decision by considering its effect over a period of seven generations. We need to start using the same criterion.

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    1. Oh, yes, a first world problem it is. I must have edited this link from my post. I don’t see it up there. It looks like a great read about gender fluidity across cultures. I have another link, too, about the existence of transgender throughout history, that I might have edited out. I wonder if you will want to take a look at them.

      I understand your perspective of gender differentiation supporting competition for scarce, valued resources, and overpowering cooperation for plentiful, essential resources. I, too, cherish the Seven Generations perspective. I am hugely disappointed by what happened during the past couple hundred years, and hopeful about what could be coming.

      Thanks for bringing up the degrowth issue. I wasn’t able to bring up your CBC link (I have unreliable bandwidth), but I found a related webpage that has great photos of the degrowth concept.

      Thank you for participating in this conversation. I’m glad you are here.

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      1. It’s always a pleasure to exchange ideas with you, Grace. I know I got a bit off topic but also know we share concerns for future generations, justice and First Nations. Keep weaving people and thoughts together in your wonderful and positive way. Glad I found your site a while ago.

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          1. I was happy to read in your other post that the Onondaga have gained the attention of the international community. This is indeed somewhat hopeful. An Anishinabe elder friend of mine said that the international courts are the best hope for progress in Canada on honouring treaties that are disrespected and recognizing that much of the land that is being considered for pipelines is unceded Native land. Taken without treaty. There certainly is plenty of evidence that our current corrupt, corporation-abetting federal government under Stephen Harper, unhindered, will destroy the values and the legitimate power of our First Nations through an unprecedented legislative onslaught that is un-debatable due to the sinister use of omnibus bills that change as many as 70-80 existing acts at one time. Below is a link to my post on the very persuasive, desperate arguments of Mi’kmaq lawyer Pamela Parmenter, whose eyes are wide open on what is going on.

            A parliamentary government with a majority is capable of doing much more bad/good to/for Canada than a president can do to/for the US. Unfortunately our PM is focused on doing what I consider to be bad.

            This is why I am so “obsessed” with this one, planetary, environmental ‘channel.’ Canadians are not only ignorant of the things you and I have discussed here – a large number of us are still very prejudiced against First Nations.

            This is why a forum like yours is so important. Thanks.

            https://mightyturk.wordpress.com/2013/04/05/using-buckshot-legislation-to-decimate-first-nations-rights/

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  8. Hi Grace, thank you for your kind words on my blog and thanks for inviting me over here to a very interesting discussion.

    Speaking as an MtF transgender person, the thought of less distinction between the genders is something I find quite disturbing. For also so as long as I can remember I have wanted to be or at least act and dress as a woman, not some sort of common gender, not a man in a society that allows individuals to behave in whatever way they so desire; I want to be a woman and live the female role in our current society. I suppose that could mean that my transgender status is a product of the society in which I was raised, but that doesn’t mean I would want that society changed.

    It’s slightly akin to a question that all trans* people ask ourselves – the “magic pill” question, which comes in two versions. If there were a magic pill that could “cure” my transgenderism and make me 100% male, would I take it (not a chance), or if there were a different magic pill that could make me wake up tomorrow as a biological woman with none of the hardship of surgery and transition would I take it (hell yes)

    If gender and sex as it exists in western society were to become less delineated, would it have as much of an implication for gay people as transgender people? If there were little or no difference between men and women, would we all be effectively bisexual?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for coming over! I knew/hoped you’d have something valuable to add.

      You wrote, “that could mean that my transgender status is a product of the society in which I was raised.” I understand that you value your identity as a feminine woman, as our current society defines one

      I, too, find the idea of less distinction between genders disturbing, just as I find the idea of less distinction between people disturbing. On the other hand, I yearn for gender fluidity to be more widely accepted, so people could be more comfortable being as feminine and as masculine and as nongender and as multigender as they are, regardless of conspicuous sexual characteristics.

      I share your wish that a magic pill existed so a person could wake up in the desired body, without the hardship of hormones and surgery and all the fear and pain and expense that those include. I will share it with you if I ever find it.

      As far as the transgender cure pill, if it ever shows up, I might do what I can to extinguish it. I am all for diversity and self expression. However, some people’s identity might include malalignment with their transgenderism that is as valid as your transgenderism. Therefor, I might have to restrain myself, and simply protest it to prevent it from being imposed on too many people.

      Great question about the potential effect of gender unification on people who currently have a single sexual orientation.

      Like

  9. I will be completely honest. I have no idea how to address these questions, and I’m trained in cultural studies. Years ago, as a union activist I had to represent transgendered union members in a conflict. It taught me the limits of empathy. I realized I had no idea what the members felt like, or how they experienced life. I have always been very comfortable with being a woman, and I just didn’t understand why anyone would want to go to such extreme measures to change their body. As a woman who’s uncomfortable with the effects of the birth control pill on my hormones, I was confused by their willingness to seek hormonal treatment.

    I realized through that experience that it honestly didn’t matter if I understood. My self definition and my relationship with my body, my sex, and my gender wasn’t at stake. I can see how it would be terribly hard to have them at odds with one another, but I can’t imagine what it would feel like.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oops, I hit post to soon.

      I had always come at civil rights discussions from a place of trying to understand what it would feel like to be discriminated against. But I couldn’t feel like the members of my union. I realized, though, that I didn’t have to in order to fight for them. I just had to accept that what they were experiencing was real. And I eventually managed to do that.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Hooray! I am so glad that you found that you didn’t have to understand or empathize to fairly represent people who are different than you.

      When I first discovered that a friend of mine discovered that he was a male in a female body, I was fully supportive. Then, I heard about friends who were not so. I can’t understand that. I wrote this partly to help me understand why people would have such a hard time with transgender, partly because sex roles perplexed me since I rebelled against them in high school, and partly with hope to help others be more accommodating to transgender people.

      I wonder if we will “hear” from anyone who stops by here who presents reasons why transgender or flexible-gender people shouldn’t have specific rights.

      Thanks for stopping by. It’s great to see you here.

      Like

  10. I am just discovering your blog and have not yet read any other posts. This post is intersting and thought provoking. I like the idea of people being people, however, I believe that we are born with natural tendencies based on the gender we were born into (there are always exceptions). Maybe our body parts determine which way we are bent. I am not a doctor or scientist so I can’t say for sure.

    Personally, I like gender roles. There was a time in my life that I fought my inner woman and tried to be more manly. At the time it was fun to explore, but what I discovered is that I am woman. I enjoy my softer side. I am supportive of men being the stronger sex and I think the more we try and make men feel bad for being men and women feel inferior for being women, we are going to find a more confusing culture.

    It is already difficult for men to know how to love a woman and vice versa because most do not know if they will be accepted for the role that they feel comfortable in.

    People are people. It would be great if people were able to embrace the role that they most felt comfortable in without fear of how others will perceive them or treat them.

    I’m looking forward to exploring more of your blog.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for stopping by and sharing your thoughts.

      I am glad that you feel comfortable in the body that you were born into, and that it would be the kind of body you would choose, if you had the choice before you were born.

      I agree that our biology affects who we are. I perceive sex as being more complicated than genitals; it is brain structure, hormone levels, skeletal construction, blood composition…so many other factors that I edited out of my post.

      I appreciate what you wrote about enjoying gender roles. I can’t imagine. I like roles to be flexible, varying like the weather.

      I honor the characteristics of each person, regardless of whether the characteristic is masculinity or femininity or something else. At least, I think I do. We’ll see if someone here outs me.

      I must admit that I feel uncomfortable around extremely feminine women, and extremely masculine men, until I get to know them, or until I find that they are similar in some way to someone I already enjoy.

      I want you, and everyone else I encounter, to feel comfortable being who you are. I appreciate your courage to leave a comment here that might be misunderstood, deleted, or otherwise considered unacceptable.

      I hope you find more reading here that you enjoy.

      Like

    2. Hello Hubseeker and, of course, lovely Gracias,

      I commend you QFH, for your stance in response to this post. I have spent, lately, so much time around just men, that I don’t often get an intelligent perspective from the XX side of the aisle.

      My most recent relationship was with a woman who was bisexual. In point of fact, she identified herself as queer and liked the idea of gender fluidity – she was forever stealing my underwear on those days when the mood struck her to feel more masculine.

      I didn’t mind, in fact I enjoyed, her engagement with different roles that were often at odds with ‘traditional’ thinking. So that there is no confusion here, I am a man. I look like, sound like and (I think) act like a man. I appreciate my facial hair and absolutely enjoy other things that make me masculine. I could not pretend to be gender fluid (whether I want to or not).

      Amusingly, I was in attendance regularly, at an AA meeting. After I started seeing Tate (the ex-gf), she came to me with interesting news. It seems that one of the other female attendees at this meeting had thought, for the whole time she knew me, that I was gay. I laffed and laffed. I spent a fair amount of time trying to grasp why she would have come to that conclusion.

      The best I could come up with are two things. I am literate. I love my home language and play with words and phrases all the time, using obscure meanings and newly made up collections of words to get my point across, or sometimes just to piss people off, because they have to actuallu think about what I’m saying, rather than utilising the process of half listening and trying to check their latest text messages at the same time…if you talk with me, pay attention…I do it to/for you, give me the same courtesy.

      And secondly, I am courtly (what a gay word, lol.) I am very respectful to women. I open car doors, I consider their opinions as valid as any other person’s. I pay attention when they speak. I hold the door open for them. I am not belligerent, dismissive, overly possessive, barbaric or rude when I am with women. Perhaps, in some people’s eyes, that makes me lean toward gayness.

      I am gay because I am smart. And also, because I show respect to other people.

      Not to put too fine a point on it QFH, but if these are the gender roles that mean something to you, then the view from the XX perspective is skewed. And badly. The kind of woman who arrives at this conclusion because of the things that I mentioned, suffers from the same prejudice as the person who dismisses a person outright because they are gay. No, no, this one was perfectly OK with me being gay. Except I wasn’t. And there lies the issue. Aye, there’s the rub.

      In her eyes, I wasn’t masculine enough. (OK OK. I can’t hammer a nail straight without having to go through surgery to reattach my thumb, but I still likes girls.) I figure my lack of Home Depot skills just means I contribute to the economy and hire the small business contractor to protect my thumb and feed his family. Is good.)

      This revelation to Tate was sort of an entre-nous disclosure, but Tate, knowing my sense of humor (and comfort with my sexuality) just had to share with me. Forever after, if we were at a store and I would hold up a purple shirt to check out, we would look at each other and say ‘WWKT?’ What would Kathleen think?

      But poor Kathleen, born and raised in a mid to lower class Irish family, raised around NYC’s Bravest (and living with one as a husband), and living in the most conservative area of NYC, just couldn’t parse my behaviours as anything but homosexy.

      So those gender roles you speak of make me uncomfortable. Tate could hammer the nails, but I am chef-like material in the kitchen – or is it kitschen? I could also treat a burn, decide when to go to the hospital and stitch a nice wound better than she. So I was the nurse and cooked the meals while she was the construction worker. OMG! Maybe I am gay! (no, no, jk, sorry boys.)

      I sa a picture somewhere of a box. On top was the word ‘men’ and a simple on-off switch. The lower half of the box was labeled ‘women’ and had multiple dials and knobs with gradation marks and levers and meters showing vaious outputs…you get the idea. I’m not suggesting it is that cut and dried, but we mens are challenged from the get to figure out what is right to do vs. what is not so helpful.

      So, to my gay way of thinking, your acknowledgement (tucked away better than a transexual’s p***s) that “most [men] do not know if they will be accepted for the role that they feel comfortable in” is right on target. So let them be men (whatever that means to them), and if Kathleen wants to think they are all gay, then let her – she’s married and off the market anyway.

      But me, being the rabid control freak I am, would end it there and leave:

      “I am supportive of men being the stronger sex and I think the more we try and make men feel bad for being men and women feel inferior for being women, we are going to find a more confusing culture”

      out. I thought about including the phrase ‘I like gender roles”, but instead decided to pretend that you meant that, like Tate, you would steal someone’s boxers to play manly-man on certain days. That is probably not how you meant it, but I can pretend too.

      n.b. Grazie, If you find this too long of course, edit away. Rereading for punctuation and grammar (Damn you, Sister Mary Bernard!) I found that it might also be a bit cantankerous. I was writing while drinking my first cup of coffee of the day, which means I was not quite in my right mind yet. Cantankerousness and other difficult personality traits are always at the fore prior to my caffeination. But again, do as you will. I trust you with my words and content completely.

      (Am working on my next revelatory post- which is why it isn’t up yet…Oh the fear that haunts us when choosing to share oneself…)

      Like

      1. Thank you for your perspective. Conversations are good. Let me clarify a little bit. Everyone is who they are and some are more comfortable in certain settings than others. I am a strong independent woman who has been on my own since a young age. I can fix most things in my house, do yard work, go toe to toe in a professional environment with a man or a woman, I can hold my own and I am not ashamed by it. I know how to be alpha at work and more on the submissive softer side at home (when I was married). I enjoy doing some stereotypical “manly” things and am fully capable of doing so. My ex husband was the cook and he was far better at it than I was.

        What I did not state well was that I do not have a problem with and fully support the male gender being the stronger sex. Sure there will always be exceptions to the rule and our place is not to judge but to accept.

        My argument with the current culture is that stereotypical “manly men” are not appreciated any longer and I feel like many men think they need to play down their masculinity in order to be accepted by a woman.

        To speak in reference to the original blog post and the main topic at hand, I was basically saying that people are people and as great as it is to think we could ever be mature enough as a human race to accept it, doing so would alter and confuse the human race. I, personally, feel that men and women are created differently and that men are the stronger sex and to take that away from men causes confusion.

        My opinion is just that. It does not mean that I think other opinions are wrong or that I dismiss the beauty of our differing opinions. On a personal level, I like the idea of traditional men and women and the roles that go along with it.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I agree that conversations are good. I am very excited about the conversations that have been happening here.

          Quest, your comment makes me more aware that I am uncomfortable around manly men. I find manly behavior unappealing when it comes from excessively masculine men. I felt the same about girly women until I unavoidably got to know one.

          I am guilty of appreciating when men downplay their very high level of gender identity when around me. (If they don’t like this, then we are both losers missing opportunities) I worked hard to word my questions to conceal this, so this post could attract interest and comments from a wider horizon of perspectives.

          I think that you state that people would be confused if sex roles collapsed. This idea has been echoing in my mind. I wonder what you mean by this. What would be confusing about more people being who they are, rather than fitting into one of two one-size-fits-all boxes? Am I misunderstanding you?

          I can understand the value of clear expectations that comes from traditional sex roles. It’s not my cup of tea, but I probably tried it on at some point during my life and found it useful.

          Again, thanks for stopping by 🙂

          Like

      2. Chris, your stories are long, but oh so amusing. You face tough issues with a great sense of humor. I wouldn’t edit your comment because I like your misuse of spelling and grammar — they add to the points that you make. (I did kinda lose you at the end, though, from “control freak” on) Let me know if you want me to make any changes for you.

        Thanks for continuing the conversation with some interesting quips and clips.

        Like

        1. Chris, I see that at the “control freak” part,” you were proposing edits to Quest’s post. I am still debating whether this is too pugnacious for my blog.

          On with your tale-telling and word-smything, as you say 🙂 Nerdy Sr. Mary Bernard would have to be prowd of yoo.

          Like

  11. Tjanst,

    Think Bob Dylan singing, ‘Oh, the times, they are a changin’…”

    I am here to post a few links that truly lend themselves to this introspection. And really, though we blog to the public and hope for comments therefrom, everything said is a reflection on how we individually feel on a given topic. We’re not prognisticating, nor are we reporting on trends with graphs and charts…I have met the enemy and he is us.

    To wit:
    http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/may/12/conchita-drag-queen-transgender-ambassador-eurovision-winner-trans-gender-diversity?CMP=ema_1364

    The above was, I think, was written by one of our Queer Nation friends in the UK. Of exactly what stripe, I’m not sure, but that is actually the point of the article… I will let you read.

    These next two are about our good friend and newly signed professional football player Michael Sam. One shows some of the visceral, untempered reactions that were made public and the next indicates that the world has moved on and that reactions like the first article refers to are truly a thing of the past, like dinosaurs who just don’t realize we are past the Cretaceous Age.

    So read here:
    http://www.click2houston.com/news/reactions-heat-up-after-michael-sam-kisses-boyfriend/25927874
    And make sure not to miss the last line.

    And then, here:
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/early-lead/wp/2014/05/12/showing-michael-sam-kiss-was-not-up-for-debate-at-espn-nfl-network/

    Good on you, ESPN.

    Flames and trolls to the back of the line, but Flamers – up front, of course.

    Like

  12. Hello Grace, what a great conversation. We are such complicated creatures aren’t we?

    I’m of the opinion that the only people who are truly just “people” are newborns who’ve have not yet been tainted by the views of others. Awareness has been our undoing. Once we become aware of our differences this is when prejudice and acceptance evolve.

    Discrimination is such an ugly word that unfortunately is, and always has been, prevalent in our society. From sex, sexual orientation, ethnicity, religion, to economics, ability, disability, eye color, hair color, short, tall, big and small to the way we walk, talk, laugh, cry, think, the list goes on and on.

    From personal experience I have found that when I’ve been exposed to those whose lives (for whatever reason) differ from mine, my life has become enriched. I think if people had the ability to swap lives/situations that would be the point when transformation then being able empathize with, and embrace our fellow humans can happen.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Hello Stephanae 🙂 Thank you for joining the conversation.

    I appreciate your pointing out that we are people when we are born, not blank slates to be scripted. Therefor, being born with a certain identity probably makes sense to you.

    I consider “prejudice evolving” an oxymoron. In each of the examples that you gave, I see discrimination as an unsustainable way to gain power.

    I agree that awareness of differences can be exciting! I thrive on becoming able to see through another’s eyes. I gather different perspectives like some people collect trinkets. I cherish each one, doting on the newest ones, and wanting to keep all of them dusted off. I’ll venture to propose that past-life regressions offer humility that supports something that I love to say, “There, but for fortune, go you and I.”

    I appreciate the thought that you put into each comment that you add here. Thank you.

    Like

  14. This blog: http://www.nature.com/scitable/blog/cognoculture/testosterone_and_human_aggression_or_180520 makes some interesting points about testosterone.
    To quote a paper by Katherine Simpson, “testosterone is only one of a myriad of factors that influence aggression and the effects of previous experience and environmental stimuli have at times been found to correlate more strongly.”

    So, if we did change our view of the world and each other, would that change aggression?

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Thanks for bringing this article to our attention. How interesting, that the author of this one points out that research results on testosterone are highly inconsistent. That is the fun and frustration of science: resolving discrepancies between well-designed studies.

    I like Katherine Simpson’s additional statement, “hormones themselves do not directly cause behaviours, but induce chemical changes in certain neurons, affecting the likelihood of certain behavioural outcomes.” I also like her citing different kinds of aggression, such as fear-, irritability, stress, sexual stimulation-, and exercise-induced. Then, consider her statement that stress lowers testosterone levels.

    Nothing is simple, is it? The more we learn, the more we find that we don’t know.

    As for your question, I’d love to read possible answers.

    Like

  16. I got started with the book, “WordPress The Missing Manual”. It is outdated now, a year after it was published, but still very useful for topics that are not covered well online, and that you might not think of 🙂 It includes information about wordpress.org, which can be confusing.

    P.S.

    I see that our comment originator is actually a spammer, so I’m deleting the question about suggestions for new bloggers, but leaving the answers.

    Like

  17. WordPress does most of the work for you – I run a blog without any idea of programming. My one experience was that I started with Blogspot but then changed to WordPress because I found it easier and the comments sometimes don’t seem to work properly in blogspot. I’m much lazier than Grace and never read any books, I just dived straight in, googled anything that caused problems and adjusted it as I went along! Good luck.

    Like

      1. Hahaha! truth is, when I asked my daughter (the family IT guru) about what I should read she said “Muuuum! Just try it out! It’s all set up for people like you to use, anyway, so how hard can it be!” Ouch. So I did, and she was right. No doubt those with the expertise can do a lot more, though.

        Like

        1. You can feel good about your skills, Heidi. I looked into Weebly, at the urging of a friend, and found that it is MUCH simpler to learn to use than WordPress…and costs more if you want basic bells and whistles.

          Like

          1. Must admit I’m a cheapskate when it comes to my blog, I haven’t paid for a thing. Maybe if I get really famous… As far as IT gurus go, though, I’m still waiting for the website this one said she would set up for the little business we’re starting. Can’t be ready-made. Has to be all done by her, from scratch. WordPress sites, the horror!! She has her last exam before 3 weeks holidays from Uni today, then I’m giving her a week. Otherwise I’ll set up a nasty ready-made thing and put her name on it. That’ll motivate her.

            Like

          2. Ironically, I like to think of myself as technologically inclined, but whenever I try to do something here on WP, I am stumped by the seeming comlexity or annoying recalcitrance of the site.
            As an example, you will note I have a yellow fractal as my avatar. I do not in real life, but when I actually try to log in to leave this post – it will not log me in. If I do log in under my own account and come here to chek out the latest weavinge, I am no longer logged in on the new page, though I am still logged in at my page. Just a minor quirk, one that I have contacted the help desk or whoever they are. They have yet seen fit to respond.

            So, to those who make this work for you, I salute your WP – WordPress Prowess. As for me, I will fight again another day.

            Like

            1. Chris, I have been having a similar frustration: I found that if I leave a browser tab open, logged into WordPress.com, then I do better, but not as well as before. I wonder if it is a Chrome update issue, since that was when I noticed the difference, and Firefox is working well.

              For example, I am editing a post right now, and had to sign in to leave this comment, all on the same browser! Then, even though I signed in, on the next screen: “Sorry, this comment could not be posted”

              Oh yeah, another trick: instead of clicking on the WordPress W to sign in, fill out the form, making sure to click in each field (don’t just copy and paste).

              I just submitted a post to the forums. I’ll let you know if I hear back.

              Like

  18. Neema, there is a post off in the ether now, un-posted due to the devious ways of the WP elves.

    I will post this via the tired and not so true method that gives me a yellow square avatar of nothingness.

    I have tried the ‘open a second tab after signing in’ with about the same (50/50) results. I have also sent that note to the help people but they are on vacation. I will have to wait and see. Thank you for your suggestions.

    Like

  19. Hi there! This article could not be writteen anny better! Looking through
    this post reminds me of my previous roommate!
    He always keppt preaching about this. I most certainly will forward this ppst to him.
    Fairly certain he’s going to have a great read.
    Many thanks for sharing!

    Like

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