The above statement may appear intriguing to some, but that’s what we need to do, at least in 2021. Even today, majority of the world population is not aware about the distinction between ‘sex’ and ‘gender’.
Gender is something that is most often thrown and forced upon us according to the sex we received at birth. We are told to act, dress and behave in a certain way. In more simple words, ‘sex’ is what nature has given us at birth, for example, ‘female’ and ‘gender’ is something that we identify ourselves with as we grow up, for example, ‘woman’.
In this way, we can say that gender is a social construct, that is, gender is a human made concept while sex is a naturally grown system we have on our respective bodies since our birth.
It is also important to note that gender is variant and we would be doing injustice to the gender minorities like agender, non- binary and gender fluid people if we overlook them.
Moreover, we should also keep in mind that, lack of awareness regarding the difference between ‘sex’ and ‘gender’ is one of the main reasons of patriarchy. As mentioned above, since our birth we are expected to behave in a certain way. For example, when a male child is born, we expect them to be tough and physically strong and compare them with wild tigers and lions while when a female child is born we expect them to be soft and pleasant like an angel.
Another example could be, male toddlers are gifted guns and cars whereas female toddlers are gifted doll houses and ‘kitchen sets’, because from the beginning only we have this sexist notion ingrained in us that the male child will grow up and ‘earn’ the bread while the female child will ‘bake’ the bread.
‘Sex’ and ‘gender’ are most often used interchangeably and this also contributes to patriarchy, in fact it shows how patriarchy is deeply ingrained in us. Some of us indulge in patriarchy without even knowing it.
Patriarchy may favour males but it is beneficial to no genders in the world. In global context, gender expressions like ‘feminine’ stereotypically means one needs to be loving and
caring and ‘masculine’ stereotypically means one needs to be daring and challenging. Now here comes the problem- for example- a male who has ‘loving’ and ‘caring’ characteristics and identifies himself as a ‘man’ suffers due to these socially constructed ideas of being ‘masculine’. Similarly, a female who has ‘daring’ and ‘challenging’ characteristics and identifies herself as a ‘woman’ has to suffer due to the culturally made concepts of being ‘feminine’.
Another interesting thing is to note that if a man identifying male has some stereotypically feminine characteristics like caring, being soft and submissive, they are trolled and if a woman identifying female has some stereotypically masculine characteristics like daring, being loud and dominant, they are praised. This proves that the patriarchal world we live in hates femininity and just loves masculinity.
If a man celebrates his masculinity, he is praised but if a woman celebrates her femininity, then she becomes inauspicious for the society. It is important for us to note that femininity and masculinity is subjective and depends on person to person.