NPR is one of my favorite news apps on my phone. It is my go-to for filling those in-between, waiting in the doctors office and exam room moments. I do not bother with the magazines they provide. I appreciate the thought, but admit it people, those magazines aren’t sanitized regularly. Besides, touching them violates my rule of “Don’t touch it unless you have to…” that I have instilled (or tried to) in both my children regarding hospital, nursing home, and doctor office etiquette (okay, most all public settings, especially bathrooms). The reasons are perfectly logical and reasonable and are two-fold. First, if you are sick, you certainly want to limit spreading it. Second, if you aren’t sick, how do you know that the last person that touched it wasn’t?

Realistic Germ Aversion aside… It was in such a circumstance that I came across this article:

We Don’t Accept Segregation By Race Or Religion. So Why Is It OK With Gender?

The article compares (finally) gender segregation to that of racial and ethnic segregation. And the author does a wonderful job of explaining what most would text “WTF” regarding our continued practice of gender discrimination.

I’m sorry, but… duh.

Um… girls, now women, my age have been wondering that FOR YEARS. Ever since Title IX began, then President Reagan revoked it, then it began again… but remained the dumbed down Jim Crowe Law that it is with its’ “Equal but Separate” allowances. Since the Equal Rights Amendment FINALLY passed the House and Senate and then failed ratification from the States. (I can post my Senior Thesis if you want to know more… but I will have to dig it out of the closet first.)

The author posited a well, “What do you think?”

I thought, “Well, A LOT. As a woman, and a mother of two daughters… I am aware of it every day.”

I have a huge chip on my shoulder regarding women’s accepted inequality in society. I have endeavored NOT to pass that chip on to my daughters. Instead I have tried to focus more on providing them opportunities, clothing styles, and even allowed ‘reckless’ behavior (for a girl) when they showed interest. “Hey! I can climb this!” “Hey! I can jump this!” In fact, one of my older daughter’s famous last words before the first aid kit came out was “Look Mommy! Weeee!”

By age 12, both have and will have a series of scars, all with very interesting stories behind them.

So, every time my daughters come home and say, “The boys wouldn’t let me play baseball with them at recess…” and “the girls won’t do anything but hang out and gossip at recess…” I thought about it.

I have to explain to them that no it isn’t right. And yes, some of those girls probably do want to play ball… And no, I don’t agree with it. But I put the onus on them. When my older daughter complained that boys and girls can’t play tennis with one another, I said, “Talk to your coach about it.” “Write a letter to the school board.” I prodded her to do something. Because if I storm in, battle standard in hand… I would be over-stepping my bounds.

When I was a kid, growing up in the 80’s, I pestered the gym teacher until they let us play baseball with the boys. (It was just me and one other girl, but we played… there was a line drive that took out one of the basemen involved, oh, and one home run…). If I’d had a parent, a grown up, saying “Write the School Board”… Hell yes, I would’ve done it.

Sports equality aside… the real questions that need to be asked aren’t regarding whether it is ‘okay’ or ‘justified’, or even if men and women, males and females, are just ‘different people’.

We need to question what “Gender” is… because I will tell you… I have a high school student now and, boy-oh-boy, are those kids interested in Gender. Well, that and sexual identity, but we’ll discuss that one later.

There are no longer female and male genders. There are new and interesting amalgamations thereof: Trans-, Cross-Gender, and even Gender-Neutral and -Fluid. There’s a list somewhere on the internet… Ah hah here it is:

See for more information if you are interested.

So. It would seem that instead of achieving Gender Equality, we have opted for Gender-What-the-Hell-Who-Cares-Let-them-go-to-the-same-bathroom-already.

Is it possible that making gender more complicated, will in fact, limit the stigma of just being one or the other?

Still, this foray into Divide-and-Classify does little to quell my concerns, or to answer the question… “What is Gender?”

For me… that is a question only everyone can answer. Because evidently we all decided at some point that it existed.

Here are some questions to ponder regarding how we separate the genders:

  • Are men capable of learning to nurture children?
  • Are women capable of learning to fight?
  • Do boys and girls remain similar heights and weights until puberty? Are there variations beyond that?
  • Can men clean a house? Or do laundry?
  • Are women capable of animosity, egotism, and jealousy?
  • Are men capable of kindness and gentleness?

If you say No, to any of those… you will find exceptions everywhere. If you try to generalize and say most don’t… then that begs the question as to why. Because, the exception never proves the rule. In fact, per Sherlock Holmes, it disproves it. And thus, we need to question it and look at the facts as they are presented. Not conjecture. Not physiological differences that do nothing but change how someone achieves physical strength and stamina. And especially not traits so imbedded and interwoven into our socio-cultural web that we seem to believe that they are part of us.