She's a Woman if you Know What I Mean

The other night I was at a party. It was about 11 pm, and our group had fallen into a familiar pattern. The girls were sitting chatting around the dining room table, sipping martinis and mojitos. The guys were shot gunning beers, playing video games, and singing along loudly  to Nirvana and Sublime. As usual, I had managed to slip away from the girls group, and was giggling helplessly while my husband and his friends did their best to gross me out with successively more stupid youtube videos. A few minutes later, one of my girlfriends joined me on the sofa. A little drunk, she leaned forward and whispered "Don't you ever feel like you should have been born a man?". 

I have, in fact, always felt like I relate to men more easily than I do to women. I like the easy banter I have with my male friends, the way we can insult each other and argue and make up without seriously hurting each others feelings. When hanging out with girls, with the exception of my close friends, I often feel awkward. I make social blunders, and have a hard time fitting in. According to the way society defines gender, I have a lot of "masculine" traits. I am outspoken and ambitious. I like conversations about sports and politics and world events, and have a hard time opening up about my feelings. I value logic and fairness over emotional choices. I love my husband passionately, but my freedom and independence are extremely important to me.

My friend and I spent the next half an hour or so discussing how we fit in with society's view on gender, and male versus female behaviours. Like me, she felt more aligned with the male stereotype. She felt frustrated at how much easier most men appear to have it at work, in relationships, even in the bedroom. We wondered if there was something wrong with us, if somehow we weren't "feminine" enough. 

I thought hard about our conversation over the next few weeks. And I decided that the issue here is not whether I am more feminine or more masculine. The issue is with the way society stereotypes both men and women. When you say that a group of people is supposed to act a certain way, you reduce the likelihood that individuals in that group will allow themselves to act any other way. And you also make it difficult for anyone who doesn't fit the mould to gain acceptance from others, or to be confident in who they are. 

Scientists and sociologists continue to debate endlessly on gender identity, sexuality, and the differences between the masculine and the feminine. But I think the issue would be a lot less complicated if each individual could simply decide for themselves what being a man or woman means to them

Do I wish that I had been born a man? Do I feel more masculine then feminine. No. I feel human, and in the end, that's all that matters to me.


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