Gender vs. Character

In the times that we live in it’s hard not to unknowingly conform to predetermined gender roles. What I mean by this is that while brainstorming what qualities I would list for each gender, I had to think outside of the box literally. For so long I was under the impression that women and men play separate roles because I’ve been conditioned to think that way since adolescence. I was always told “Respectable Girls Don’t Do This” or “Young Women Sit With Their Legs Crossed” and “Don’t Sit Like a Boy!”  and I realized those gender roles that were instilled in me still govern the way that I think now. After brainstorming for a few moments, using an open mind I came up with the list below:

Important Qualities Women Should Have:

  1. Strong Work Ethic in Any Field She is Interested in.
  2. A Certain Level of Class / Awareness of Self Worth.
  3. Humility/ The Ability to Empathize with other people.

Important Qualities Men Should Have:

  1. Drive/ Determination: to achieve goals, provide for themselves as well as their families.
  2. Dedication: being faithful to people in their lives, as well as their life goals.
  3. Honesty: being truthful about feelings, experiences and long term desires.

After reviewing my list I realized that the qualities I chose for each gender were pretty much the same. Yes, I used different words to describe the qualities men and women should have but most of the words are synonymous. In all honesty, the qualities that are important to me are interchangeable between both genders.  The differences that I noticed between the way I view gender roles are very minute.

The main difference between the two lists describing my preferred qualities of genders is that I felt women should have a certain level of class.  I realized that maybe I feel women should have class because of the way I was raised, but on the other hand why don’t I hold men to that same standard? I believe it’s because I’ve never experienced a situation where a boy was reprimanded for being wild and living his best life. In all actuality, any time a boy acted out or did something wild or crazy people would just say “Oh he’s just being a boy”.  However, when a girl would act out or did not conform to the standards of being a woman she would be told “Act more like a lady.” or “Don’t be a Tom Boy”.

I think Women’s History month will be a great month for me to unpack the way my upbringing impacts my idea of gender roles. Once I understand my true feelings about what gender and sex actually mean to me, then I can try and break down those mental barriers that hinder my thought process. What I’m saying is that in order for me to think outside the box, I have to remove myself from the box I am currently in. Hopefully, this blog and a discussion about Women’s History month will help me with my unpacking and unboxing issues that affect the way I view the world.

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2 Comments

  1. Cherishe,

    The transparency and vulnerability you display in this blog is admirable. Your voice always comes through so strongly, and it’s as though I can hear you speaking to me as I read. I really appreciate the point you make about upbringing influencing the way we view gender. Growing up in a house where I saw women being whatever a moment called for, my view is that women can do anything men can do.

    As for your point around women needing to have “a certain level of class / awareness of self worth,” I actually believe men need this just as much, if not more than women. The fact that many people will justify the behavior of boys and men by saying “boys will be boys” is a huge hindrance to our ability to grow and become fully developed human beings. We are juxtaposed to women who are at an inherent disadvantage in this regard, so it sets us up to have our mediocrity celebrated much like white people up against any other ethnic group of people.

    I’m not sure what you mean by “a certain level of class,” but I worry that it is more about appealing to respectability politics, which I’m not so sure is particularly helpful in the context of liberation. Also, I am very much opposed to the way respectability politics are employed and weaponized to accelerate or limit opportunity for any given person. This has nothing to do with a person’s capabilities nor does it speak to their level of humanity. Those are my honest thoughts on that bit.

    I wish you a lovely rest of Women’s History Month and support your journey to continue unpacking issues around gender. Keep up the wonderful writing, too!

    Steven

    1. Hi Steven,

      Thank you for your comments.

      If I may I can try to clarify what I mean by a certain level of class. In my opinion, I feel that women should know their worth and not allow any one man or woman to take advantage of them. Maybe a level of self-awareness would be a more suitable term since the word class can be used by the oppressor to further hinder the oppressed. But in context of what I was saying class is self-respect, loving yourself, not taking any mess from anyone, respectfully putting people in their place but most of all understanding your peace and not letting anyone interfere with that. Maybe I should have clarified that better, but thank you for bringing it to my attention.

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