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I’m Back & Questions About Gender

December 16, 2009

It’s been a little while since I’ve graced these pages with my presence, but like I had said, I was taking a little break. Unfortunately, I will be doing the same during the Holidays, since I’ll be at my Mom’s and probably won’t have regular access to a computer, but for now here are a couple thoughts to ponder. 

I often hear people begin sentences with: “Guys are ….” and “Girls are…”. I do it too, it’s sometimes hard to express something without using mass generalizations as a tool to get an idea across. I’m not saying it’s alright, just that it’s easy. Clearly, in our society there are distinctions created between the sexes, which is risky ground to cover especially since the divisions aren’t exactly as clear cut as all that (which is a good thing). That is an easy concept to grasp on an individual level, but when having a discussion about “an idea” it becomes more difficult to keep it all on an individual level and that’s when it’s sometimes easier (and more dangerous) to generalize. 

I think that raises an interesting question: Is there really a biological and gendered division between how individuals approach sex, emotions and relationships or are we simply socialized to think and act like there is? It’s a complicated question and certainly one that needs more than a single blog post to get to the bottom of, but I would be really interested in knowing your opinions on the matter. 

The stereotypes are clear when it comes to issues of sex, emotions and relationships, to a point where I don’t even have to list them, but where does it all stem from? Simply put, are “men” and “women” wired differently? Personally, I like to think that there are no biological gender differences except for the obvious one: physical. That being said, I can’t deny  the impact of socialization when it comes to gendered classifications. “Women” are portrayed as more emotional when it comes to sex and relationships while “men” are given more freedom in that area (the freedom of detachment). 

Movies like “He’s Not That Into You” seem to offer superficial truths about how each sex approaches relationships (sexual or otherwise), but are these classifications beneficial or simply another hinderance to our individuality? Western society certainly gives a lot of importance to the individual in terms of personal freedom and assertion, I’m not saying whether that is a good thing or not, but it definitely has a huge impact on the way we perceive ourselves. It’s ingrained in me to resist classifications of the sort and if there’s one thing that pisses me off, it’s being told (especially by a man) that I am acting like such a “woman” because of such and such. I feel that statements like that strip me of my agency as a person, as an individual, and that it puts me in the impossible situation of having to either resist or embrace the stereotype, which ultimately always feels like being stuck between a rock and a hard place. 

4 Comments leave one →
  1. December 16, 2009 4:39 pm

    This is something I was just thinking about. Not just about sex, but other sorts of things.

    For me, sex isn’t that big a deal. I won’t be with just anyone of course, but I don’t see it as this beautiful emotional thing..
    With some guys that I’ve hooked up with, their thoughts were very different. And not even with sex. I coould kiss a guy and he would be in a tizzy if I didn’t want a serious relationship afterwards.

    So personally, for me, hearing “men are like this” “women are like that” drive me crazy. No one possibly knows how every single person in a certain gender reacts to things or feels about sex and so forth.

    I completely agree about feeling stripped of your agency as an individual. I often feel the same way.
    Again, thanks for providing some interesting topics to think about.

  2. December 16, 2009 7:30 pm

    I knew someone who would say “that’s so like a girl” or something close to that at the most insane moments and it would drive me nuts. I hated it so much. It was like I didn’t have a right to feel or act that way or even say what I had that brought on that comment AND I also felt like acting contrary to my original impulse was just that “acting contrary” to who I am.

    I used to purposefully avoid girly things when I was growing up. I was a tomboy, but I also WANTED to be a tomboy. I wouldn’t readily admit to playing with dolls, I used to say I hated the color pink. Even when I was a teenager, I tried my best to separate emotions from sex, so that I wouldn’t be a “typical” clingy girl or whatever. I’m sure I’m not the only one that has consciously fought the stereotype of what it means to be a “female”.

    Every time there’s a family dinner at my Dad’s house, the women (my step-mom, aunt, cousin, brother’s girlfriend) always do the dishes while the men don’t lift a finger. Not that it’s like that all the time, my Dad (on a normal day) will do his own dishes and help with dinner and after dinner, but on occasions where people gather the women always end up in the kitchen and it pisses me off. I’ll sometimes refuse to take part on principle. I’ll never forget the time when I was officially no longer a kid and my Mom asked me to cook my brother a steak. Neither of us where living at home at the time, we were visiting and he was sitting in the kitchen twiddling his thumbs waiting to be served. I refused. Blah, tangent over!

    Thanks for the compliment! xoxo

  3. December 16, 2009 10:30 pm

    As a man it is okay with me if you generalize about men. I believe that men (although to be fair not all men) are action oriented. The act of sex fulfills this need for action. For me the most important thing in a love relationship is sex. In order to insure that my needs are met I try to give my wife what she needs. I love her, I give her companionship and I do the dishes help with house chores and I believe I make hot sweet sex with her. I guess I am the stereotype.

  4. December 16, 2009 10:39 pm

    I think sex is one of the most important things in a relationship for most people. I know it is to me, but I think how people define sex and how it relates to relationships can differ greatly from person to person. For some sex might mean penetration, but for others it also entails attraction, an exchange of thoughts, desire, touching, connection and whatever else you can think about. Of course you don’t have to have all of the elements that make sex in a loving relationship so great to engage in it in the first place, but the more involved you are with the other person (and I don’t mean commitment) the better the whole experience can be. At least, I think so.

    I’m sure your wife also gives you companionship and that she also enjoys sex and not just as an exchange for all those other things. Not to say those other things aren’t also an important aspect of a partnership.

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