The Gender Issue
Gender is prominent in inequality debates and opportunity discussions. Stereotypes and biases persist which limit individuals according to assumptions about their gender based on sex at birth. Like most social problems in the US, the gender issue is part of a larger problem of religion, specifically Christianity. Any discussion of gender bias must include Christianity because this religion fuels gender role assumptions and demands that adherents comply with binary views of gender. In a Christian-dominated society, whether you consider yourself a religious or not, Christian gender roles become embedded in culture through socialization, making them ever-present in members.
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What are gender roles?
A gender role refers to the social or theoretical construct of acceptable behavioral practices for a specific sex. Much debate surrounds the origin of gender roles with many researchers believing these roles evolved from physical differences over time such as men being generally stronger than women, lending men to becoming fighters or hunters. This thinking has merit but is not universal to all cultures. More importantly, this type of thinking breeds assumptions and bias often resulting in gender role stereotypes. In Christianity, these assumptions become wrapped in dogma and tradition resulting in gender oppression.
Examples of Female and Male Gender Roles in the United States
There are many different gender role examples. For females, gender roles often pertain to occupation, intelligence, skills, interests, and even physical appearance, and these roles carry expectations limiting to individual opportunity and performance. Women’s gender roles include such beliefs as women should be teachers, women should be stay-at-home mothers, and women should manage the home. As girls, these gender roles are instilled through expectations of them to play with dolls, they should desire to get married, and girls should be obedient to men. Gender roles for Christian women teach them how to act and look like women such as in the case of purity or modesty culture. The more fundamental the Christian culture, the more stringent these roles become.
Men also have gender roles. Some of these roles include: provider for the family, boys should be athletes, or spiritual leaders. These roles also dictate men's appearance and behavior, such as expectations to be muscular, tough, or a good father. Men are also expected to act in a masculine way, such as being strong or not crying. These roles and resulting behaviors have both negative and positive consequences.
Positive Aspects of Gender Roles
Social Structure: Gender roles can provide a certain level of social structure and predictability. They can help individuals understand their responsibilities and duties within their community.
Identity Formation: They can contribute to the formation of one’s identity and sense of self.
Cultural Continuity: They play a part in preserving cultural or religious traditions over generations.
Keep in mind, that these positive aspects of gender roles are positive only if they provide some benefit. If a gender role encourages racism, then this is not beneficial to a nation living in harmony.
Negative Aspects of Gender Roles
Limiting Individual Expression: Gender roles can limit individual expression and personal development, forcing individuals to conform to societal expectations rather than exploring their interests and potential.
Stereotyping: They often lead to stereotyping, which can result in unfair expectations and discrimination.
Inequality: They can perpetuate inequality between genders, particularly in societies where one gender is considered superior to the other.
In a superficial manner, gender roles give people a role in society as an example of a mother or father and add cohesion to society; however, this benefit does not necessitate rigid adherence to female mother and male father gender roles that Christians profess to be morally correct. There are LGBTQ parents today, who parent equally well if not better in some instances, reflecting that while gender roles existed in human societies for a long time, they are not static and change as societies evolve. For this reason, It is important to promote flexibility and acceptance of individual differences rather than rigid adherence to traditional gender roles because when gender roles are inflexible, like Christian gender roles, they promote stereotypes, prejudice, and gender oppression.
The Absurdity of Gender Policing
Gender roles are expectations society places on people based on their assigned sex at birth – not biological imperatives. These expectations are relative to culture, often dictating dress, behavior, career choices, individual expression, and interactions. These expectations do not match the reality of human diversity and complexity since many do not identify with the binary categories of male and female, and feel more comfortable switching genders. Ultimately, gender roles are not biological in nature but based on biology and have changed much even in recent history.
Gender roles, regardless of any positive effects, are gender oppression since they – by default – limit opportunities and choices according to birth gender.
Prior to WWII, women were expected to stay home and men work; however, when men went to war (also a gender role expectation) women entered the workforce to fill labor shortages. Since that time, women entered the workforce in every profession, and this trend continues to grow.
Binary views of gender and strict adherence to these roles defies not just the reality that these roles change but also the fact that gender fluidity exists. Believing biological sex binary and assuming male and female roles lacks critical thinking since intersex individuals (people who share both male and female sex organ characteristics) exist. Beyond anatomy, gender is not a purely biological factor evidenced by cases in which children underwent unsuccessful sexual reassignment that caused catastrophic results. The cause of such procedures to “normalize” children results from a polarized belief in gender roles and the need to fill these roles. In reality, people are not born with gender roles. Gender roles are purely a product of socialization and culture.
No one can dictate another person's gender since they cannot undderstand that person's sense of gender comfort.
The inability to understand gender feelings and comfort should raise a red flag about enforcing gender in the retrospect of treating homesexuality as a criminal behavior or psychiatric disorder. Though this example should be enough to show the fluidity of gender, similar to sexuality, and deter gender enforcement, another reason arises, namely individual autonomy.
Those who feel comfortable in different gender roles than their birth-dictated ones, what harm is caused to others? None. Because gender roles are social expectations they hold no threat than women deciding to wear pants to work rather than skirts or men wearing skirts instead of pants to work. The gender role now reveals as a stereotype and biased norm limiting personal freedom and diversity potential.
What could be more oppresive to autonomy and in violation of privacy than dictating someone's gender or sexuality.
Christian Gender Nazis
Nothing is more oppresive than religion when it comes to gender roles, especially Christianity in the US. The desire to dictate sexuality and force compliance with male and female gender roles and sexual behavior is led mainly by Christians. No other group in the US demands that gender be adhered to in this manner with politicians like Ron DeSantis leading the oppression by cutting healthcare benefits to transgender individuals.
Gender fluidity harms no one, yet Christians wage war against this foe that somehow threatens them despite being a small percentage of the population. Though Christians argue they save children from being forced to alter their sexuality and genders, they actually lie to justify their belief that anything other than man and woman and their gender roles are a sin.
They simply hate based on their faith that dictates fluidity of gender is bad.
To justify their hate, they are willing to overlook scientific facts and reality in general and force people to adopt their beliefs, knowing that they violate personal freedom of choice (and perhaps even cognitive necessity). They also violate self-determination by enforcing rigid and outdated notions of gender roles that have been imposed by society for centuries – at the expense of individual well-being. They are the Gender Nazis, enforcing their will to create gender roles at the expense of human diversity.
Gender roles shift with our views and beliefs in these roles. Key to understanding gender roles is their fluency and nonbinary form. Adopting a gender role is a decision based on a sense of personal identity, not a moral imperative. Those who choose to adopt different roles based on gender beliefs commit no wrongdoing but forcing them into gender roles is a violation of their rights.