What’s in a name? Apparently, William Shakespeare got it all wrong, if you place this in the context of today. My name was supposed to be my identity, but it is becoming something that I should live up to. As soon as you add my surname, you can ascertain with unbelievable confidence and astute judgement, the type of person I am, my spending habits, the kind of profession I would have, the God I worship, and a whole other plethora of ‘relevant’ information about me. Relevant enough to form a judgement about me, relevant enough to be friends with me, relevant enough to be in a relationship with me or relevant enough to enter into a business with me.
Allow me to narrate you a story of two individuals to drive home my point. One is called ‘Aries’ and the other is called ‘Libra’. Aries and Libra have known each other for a long time and after a long courtship, they eventually got married in the full religious customs of Aries.
Libra works with a domestic company in a slightly stagnant role, while Aries works with an international organisation, and travels abroad often. Libra spends time browsing E-commerce websites for cool deals or planning for their next vacation while Aries has back to back meetings, conference calls throughout the day. Libra and Aries respect each other’s work and make genuine efforts to understand and advise each other on work, colleagues, office politics and so on.
Before you pore over the article again to see if I gave away any clues about the identity of Libra and Aries, let me assure you that it is a true story of two real individuals and that’s all that needs to be told about them to continue this piece. We have created certain moulds for each of the genders and we conveniently place them in these moulds as soon as they start exhibiting criteria pre-conceived by us. As our personalities became more complex, we kept increasing the number of moulds, but this process of classification continued.
As soon as I was placed in a mould, I was expected to behave according to that. Any agreeable actions would earn me validation while every disagreeable action/thought/statement would make me a misfit. the moulds created to account for biological differences are now used to account for logical, physical, spiritual, intellectual differences as well.
I wish to put before you a notion of ‘Gender Neutrality’. Up till now in this piece, I have not used a single gender referential word and believe me, it was not hard. Hence, the name of the protagonists – Libra & Aries. Sun signs are perhaps the only classifications that are not gender-specific. Should belonging to a particular gender make me inclined towards either home science or football? HR or finance? Arts or engineering? Dancing or driving? Barbie or GI Joe? We are unconsciously imposing such choices on our youngsters, and that is the most worrying part. We are forcing them to like a particular colour, a particular set of toys, or more recently and more bizarrely, a particular kind of Kinder Joy, for instance. Young parents might find such differences trivial but these differences get ingrained in kids and force them to follow stereotypes and curb their natural instincts.
My gender should not define my beliefs, my responsibilities in a relationship, the roles expected from me in an organisation. My gender should not make me immune from taking up responsibilities of the household or of kids either. We have stopped seeing each other for what we are, instead, we see ourselves for what society portrays us as.
My gender was not my choice, but what I make out of it definitely is. I do not want to be a misfit, and neither do I wish to be stereotyped. Just ponder over the times when one is picked on for wearing pink, drinking vodka, smoking menthol cigarettes, going for a facial. Imagine the predicament of a young boy wishing to take up ballet or a girl wishing to become a bouncer. The basic emotion of crying and the basic act of throwing a ball are also scrutinized. Boys are not supposed to cry like little girls. Similarly, the basic act of sitting is a measure of judgement for a girl, as apparently there is a well laid out scientifically proven detailed method as to how should girls sit properly. Beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder, but sadly so does judgment.
Using gender neutral references disrobes these stereotypes, and we get to witness the true self. Let’s just stop using gender suggestive/regressive behavior as this trend needs to stop right away. You never know what incident leaves a scarring impact on an individual. Let go off salutations, social obligations, taboos and treat me the way I deserve to be treated, not how you think I should be treated. You can hold the door open for me or thump me on the back. I will not fall for She/He, I will be just ME.