My mom was recently here for a visit. She and I do not see eye to eye on gender. She is a big believer in biological determinism, while I am a card-carrying social constructionist. I concede that our personalities and proclivities are certainly PARTLY determined by biology/genetics (or nature), I give much more credit to societal conditioning and context (or nurture).
I cringe at phrases such as “boys will be boys” and “of course she’s emotional, she’s a girl.” I am equally perturbed by “men and women are just different” or anything that smacks of assuming there are two distinct genders.
I realize that many people fall into “traditional boy” and “traditional girl” categories, yet I think MANY less would do so if there were not so many societal punishments for failing to cram ourselves into those tiny, solid gender boxes.
Why can’t we think of gender like a strainer instead?
You know how when you use a strainer with holes that are quite big to strain pasta shapes that are rather small how a handful escape and end up in the sink? Well, it’s the same with gender. If you dump a whole batch of boys into the masculine strainer, many of them will happily stay in the strainer, but others, for whatever reason, squeeze through the holes. These boys are the ones that the “traditional boy” strainer does not work for.
If we thought of gender in this way – as a construct that is not solid like a box, but full of escape holes like a strainer – then perhaps it would be more acceptable to end up in the sink rather than on the plate covered in societal sauce.
I know a gender strainer doesn’t sound as catchy as a gender box – nor does gender sieve or gender colander. But, as my mom would say, it’s only NATURAL I think in cooking terminology, I am, after all, female.