How Gender is Pushed Upon Us

Many years ago, I agreed to meet with someone regarding a mentorship program. I was a Maintenance Management Systems Engineer for the Florida Department of Transportation at the time. The mentee in question walked in and did a double take.

“Oh, I was expecting you to be a man,” he said.

That left me wondering why it made a difference to him. Was he now having to lower his expectations? Was he looking forward to some deep conversations while sharing a urinal? Did he think the extra appendage could be used to an advantage on the job, and now he would be left without someone to demonstrate how? It boggles the mind.

But let’s face it: we all have gender shoved in our faces every single day.

Which restroom do I get to use? I better go into the ladies room, because lord only knows what might happen if I enter the forbidden zone. Mind you, I’ve never once in my life actually watched one of my bathroom mates in the actual act of doing anything more than washing hands, so this whole separation thing seems comical to me. What do you guys do in there? Is there a secret handshake?

It still amuses me when a form asks me to indicate whether I’m Mr. Mrs. Ms. or Miss. Why is it important to reveal my marital status? Am I potential wife material to the receptionist who takes the form? Why don’t men have to reveal their status? And what if you are nonbinary?

And why do we still bother with gender pronouns? I’ve written about this before. Why does it matter the genitalia of the person you are calling intelligent? I wish we’d dump he and she already. It matters not.

Why can’t everyone comfortably buy all the shirts in a particular clothing store? Why is it necessary to designate the gender of a shirt? I even know a few men who refuse to wear pink. Come on, now.

And people often ask the gender of my dog. I always think, “Why? What are your intentions?”

I’m finally getting old enough that people don’t ask me whether I had brothers or sisters. As if knowing the answer to that will give some magical insight into what makes me tick. I just don’t get it.

We even specify the ends of water hoses and the like as “male” or “female”. And don’t get me started about those people who insist on calling boats and cars and any other inanimate object that is forced to do one’s bidding without question a “she”. I’ve blogged about that before, too.

And why does each person in a marriage have to be designated a husband or a wife? Are their roles really that different anymore? Of course they can be. Each person has different strengths and weaknesses. But why is it so important to specify? Why do some people still surrender their last names?

Even if you are attracted to a certain gender, as many of us are, specifying it shouldn’t matter. This is my spouse. This is the person I love. This is my partner. This is my soulmate. Why isn’t that good enough? The only time gender needs to be specified is when and if you are looking for someone with which to naturally breed. Full stop.

The more I think about it, the more I look for signs of it, the more absurd it all becomes to me.

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2 thoughts on “How Gender is Pushed Upon Us

  1. Angiportus Librarysaver

    I’ve felt like this for eons. What a relief to, in the last couple decades, hear someone come out and say it.
    Next time you visit Skagitropolis, you will find a little free library on the Skagit college campus — it’s on the east side of the parking lot on the corner of Division and Laventure. There’s another’n on Fir Street, the eastern half thereof, north side of the street, I forget just where.

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