On Gender Roles and Gendered Products

Today I received a package from Sephora I had been expecting, containing some foundation I wanted to try. Sephora also does this cool thing where they give you three free samples with every purchase, so I selected some sample perfumes and added them to my cart. One of these three perfumes was “Versace pour homme,”which basically means that it’s Versace for men. So I sprayed some on my wrist and it smelled so good that I considered investing in a bottle of it in some point in the future. But then I starting thinking about how annoying it is that we gender perfumes. It’s not only for men. Anybody who likes the scent can purchase it. But this is just part of a bigger issue. Our society so strongly feels the urge to gender everything and make a clear distinction between what is “for girls” and what is “for boys.” Because god forbid a guy bought a razor “for women” he would instantly become emasculated. And oh how sad that would be, to be compared to or even be considered a girl.

The social conditioning of gender roles and gendered products is literally introduced into our lives since birth. Boys get wrapped up in blue blankets, and pink is exclusively for girls. Little girls are urged to play with dolls and wear tutus and become obsessed with Disney princesses. Boys should play with hot wheels and Leggos and try out for the little league team. And it’s not as if this behavior and way of thinking is innate. It is learned behavior and ideology. Five-year-old girls don’t have this innate sense to play house or want to be a ballerina when they grow up. We are taught this through observation and guidance. No one ever questions if their little boy prefers pink or blue. It’s just not an option. Fathers automatically assume that their daughter doesn’t want to play catch because she is female. Never giving her the opportunity to decide whether or not she likes sports is what continues this cycle.

And of course people will tell me to not care so much, that it doesn’t really matter. But it does. It shapes the way we view men and women, the way we stereotype, and assume these roles solely based on gender identity. I’m a woman and I like “men’s cologne”. I like dressing comfy and not giving a shit about appearing as a “proper lady”. I’m also gay. But I wear makeup and jewelry. I’ll even occasionally wear stilettos (although that is usually reserved for weddings). What it means to be a man or a woman is not determined through how the media dictates what we should wear, buy, do, or even look like. That is something entirely up to the individual. And I am certainly including transgender folks in this argument. They should not be required to “pass” as a certain gender in order to be respected. Surgery and hormones cost a lot of money, which many trans people don’t have. And someone’s biological make up should certainly not determine their worth, i.e. the overpowering and smothering patriarchy. And of course if you are someone who fits into these specific gender roles that is perfectly okay. There is only a problem if it is not your choice and is forced upon you throughout your entire childhood and adult life. So if you are looking for any rolls to choose in the future, I’d go with sushi.

Advertisements

Depersonalized

I am but a window
and my eyes only see
what they want me to see
and while your words effect this body,
this heart has very carefully shut itself away.
I watch myself live my life as a passive viewer,
an uninterested audience member
and only occasionally do I stop to question if this is reality
when I feel as if I am only a pawn in a video game,
alive but not quite living

Exposing “Masculine” and “Feminine” Qualities

The definitions our society has attributed to masculinity and femininity widely contrast. In fact, they are the exact opposites. When we think of masculine we use words like dominant, strong, and independent. When we think of feminine we use words like submissive, frail, and dependent. While both women and men do contain a mixture of both of these qualities, for some reason it is only acceptable for men to be completely masculine and for women to be completely feminine. For this, we can blame society.

However, these words, these adjectives, are faulty. They shove men and women into tiny boxes, forcing them to “conform” to these ideals. One is to believe that a masculine man can take care of everything, provide for the family, and never cry, while a feminine woman is weak and must obey her husband or any other male authoritarians. Obviously, these are two extremes ranging from super human to helpless. But if we are to take these definitions so literally, as we generally do, we have to consider the extreme sides.

I have heard many people make the bold “statement” that masculine women are lesbians, and feminine men are gays. When such statements are made, at least to me, it is obvious that these reverse characteristics are meant to be taken as an insult and as an abnormality, which so happens to be considered wrong or disdainful. These claims may be made for various reasons, but the important part is that they are made at all. It appears to be a rather troublesome thing to be “different”, existing outside of societal ideas and/or normalities. It is not acceptable to set ourselves apart.

And although being feminine is an insult for men and women, women are at a disadvantage because masculinity is something they should never ever possess. If they adhere to their given roles as weak and submissive, they are inferior. (I mean, who wants to be told that they’re weak?) And if women are masculine, they are either lesbians (which is a bad thing apparently) or undesirable. Feminine men do appear to be at a certain disadvantage, but in the end, they are still men, men who own everything and rule the world.

To conclude, the terms masculine and feminine are absolutely ridiculous. We do not need to use these adjectives ever. They are insulting and absolutely useless. Humans are individuals. We are all inherently different and we all possess different qualities, regardless of sex or gender. We are unique. We have brains. We have entire thesauruses and dictionaries to provide us with more appropriate and accurate words to describe each and every individual we meet. There is no need to clump an entire gender into one “ideal” category. We’re better than that, or at least, I hope so.

*I decided to write this because of these comments that I have viewed recently:

[“Women aren’t supposed to be too strong. If women were strong, they’d be men (or lesbians).

What man in his right mind would want to have sex with another man? That’s gay. Therefore, women should be slightly submissive. It’s the essence of femininity.”

“A man wants to be with a woman who’s a woman – the type of feminine woman that is rapidly becoming extinct.”]

Well, boys, here’s a little tip:  If there is a vagina attached to her, there’s a good chance that she just might be woman.