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Going beyond gender stereotypes, we need to know that gender is a spectrum, and that everyone has a uniqueness beyond conventional definitions of male and female.
It all starts with the PINK and the BLUE
Her dolls, her dresses, building blocks to her room – we think it needs to be PINK
The boy is welcomed with BLUE, but why? – he hardly has a clue
What if one sees a boy with a little shade of pink, or a girl with a little shade of blue –
We stare, and probably think, how dare? A little discomfort, a smirk or a frown
Is it really fair, or rather, should we really care?
I ponder on and realize it all starts with us having two discrete sets of characteristics etched in our minds under the ‘Blue’ (read boys) and ‘Pink’ (read girls) categories. This is the very outcome of our social conditioning – every little girl is expected to be the right shade of pink and every little boy goes through an equal pressure to get all the attributes under the blue list for him to be socially accepted as a ‘man’.
These two discrete lists engraved in our minds are the primary cause of intolerance of anything that deviates. When ML Sharma, defense lawyer uses metaphors like ‘flower’ or ‘diamond’ for women in the documentary (India’s Daughter) with such strong conviction, he is being honest about what he thinks. He is reading out the attributes under his pink category that’s been etched into his psyche as part of his social conditioning. On top of this, in patriarchal societies, the characteristics associated with masculinity are more valued than those associated with femininity – which becomes the underlying cause for inequality in these societies.
…in patriarchal societies, the characteristics associated with masculinity are more valued than those associated with femininity – which becomes the underlying cause for inequality in these societies.
What if it weren’t two discrete lists etched in our minds through our cultural conditioning? I have come across men who are more sensitive than women and women who are far more aggressive than men. I have come across men who cook passionately and women who love riding motor bikes. I have a son who is more emotional than my daughter, and a daughter who never likes playing with soft teddy bears or plush toys. Honestly, most of the time I have seen shades in between pink and blue. If I happen to see the perfect Pink and Blue, a closer look tells me they have repressed, or have never explored the other shades in them – because they are conditioned in a way that they dare not explore.
I would like to referr to the Jungian theory of Anima and Animus which can be very well co related to the Tao concept of Yin & Yang. Jung postulates that each individual has both masculine and feminine components of the psyche. For a male, the feminine component is called the anima, and for a female the male component is the animus.
The Tao symbol with it’s Yin and Yang energies is expressive of the same idea. The two halves of the circle are equal (no one half is superior than the other), but they are different. Each has a spot of the opposite within it; the light spot within the dark can be considered as the animus of the female; the dark spot within the light can be considered as the anima of the male. All creation is composed of two energies held in harmony and in constant interaction. The wholeness in a man would mean exploring one’s anima (the feminine dimension) and for a woman would mean exploring one’s animus (the male dimension).
Jung believed that anima (in male)/animus (in female) matures as we cultivate an independent, non-socially conditioned idea of ourselves, growing more aware of what we truly believe and feel, and more articulate in expressing these beliefs and feelings. Our uniqueness may not look anything like traditional ideas about masculinity and femininity. It would instead represent who we really are – the unique blend.
Our uniqueness may not look anything like traditional ideas about masculinity and femininity. It would instead represent who we really are – the unique blend.
A highly rational, controlled ‘macho’ man perhaps has a neglected or underdeveloped anima and a highly compliant and subservient woman most probably has her animus neglected/under-developed. When man’s anima is repressed, it leads to a kind of aggression that is not balanced by love, patience and sensitivity. This results in ill-treatment of women, violent behavior and yet justifying these acts.
For an individual and the society to grow holistically both masculine and feminine dimensions need to be in harmony. This is highly applicable to organizational cultures as well. Research has found that organizations with greater gender diversity do better. With a balance of masculine and feminine approaches, the organization leverages from the strengths of both dimensions. An effective leader needs to have both the masculine and feminine dimensions to be more effective.
The war between the sexes or proclaiming “My Choice” is not solving the underlying issue though it definitely helps raise awareness and questions status quo). The problem starts with the pink and blue list engraved in our psyche. It’s very difficult to smudge the ones that are already etched out hard but we need to make sure we don’t etch it any further into young minds. It starts at home when kids see parents sharing all responsibilities equally and when the kids are not asked to do things differently because of their gender. A balanced society also needs a balanced leadership – the kind of leadership that makes room for their masculine and feminine qualities and respecting and valuing both.
I can’t agree more with Emma Watson when she said, “It is time that we consider gender on a spectrum, not as two opposing sets of ideals”. When we move out of these sets, and just be what we are – our unique blend, we are at our best. Forget the pink and the blue – I wish for a world with a million shades of pink and blue!
Being your true shade is incredibly sexy!
First published at the author’s blog
Pink or blue image via Shutterstock
Sophia is the founder of Soul Cafe, a mom, a travel and life enthusiast. She
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