Gender is not a sock drawer

We should not be restricted by gender roles

Guest Author-Lyndzi Sakowski

Chances are you started reading this because the title captivated you. Or maybe you are thinking “ahh not this Feminist crap again!” If that’s your reaction, I’m sorry that someone impressed upon you the negative, inaccurate, and unrepresentative connotations of feminism. My goal here is to refrain from using the word feminism, past this paragraph.

Sock drawers. What do they do? Well, they house your socks and hide your mail; but mostly, they organize things in a neat and tidy space to make our lives easier. This is just a small example of humanity’s tendency to believe that everything needs to be categorized. If it isn’t already organized, we find a way to “fix” that. Plain and simple.  If I sound dogmatic – I’m not – just know that I am passionate and eager to tell you why gender is not a sock drawer.

Here’s the thing: gender doesn’t exist. I probably just lost a few of you with that one – you will be missed – but if you are still there, I invite you to listen with an open heart. If you are interactive in the LGBT+ community on campus, D-Saga, first off: you go, glen coco! Secondly, you have probably already heard of the difference between sex and gender. If not, no worries, I got you: sex is what happens inside of us, the X and Y chillin’ in our bodies. These letters ultimately dictate what gears ya’ got, with the exception of other cases.

Gender, on the other hand, is entirely socially constructed. This is fancy-shmancy wordage for people created it, placed meaning on it, and the reason it persists is because people adhere to it. This might be confusing, but with the help of Google and the right classes, it’ll become clearer.

Why does this matter? Well, because men and women co-exist every day. They interact constantly. But this interaction is sometimes largely manipulated by unhealthy ideas of gender and what roles accompany that.

So, I’ve already said that gender is something constructed by society. Our brain, almost simultaneously, compartmentalizes duties, actions, roles, behaviors, stereotypes, images, dress, etc. with these genders. Without even meaning to, we place so much faith in these gender beliefs. Additionally, we might hold people accountable for not adhering to these same beliefs we do. This might seem absurd, but I witness it consistently. What comes to mind is the notorious “you belong in the kitchen,” mainly directed towards females, and the painfully famous “man up! Don’t be a pussy!” directed at men. You might be shaking your head, but we do this. It’s human nature.

We like our beliefs and we don’t like to have them challenged, especially by someone we don’t even know – like me, right now. So if you look deep inside yourself and discover that you do in fact categorize gender in the ways that I mentioned, then I want to confirm that you aren’t the Devil himself. You aren’t even necessarily an a-hole; just remember that gender is not a sock drawer. And your beliefs about it are not an excuse to be silly and rude to others.

If you’d like to learn more about all this, and I encourage you to, there are a few simple routes you can take:

  • Do some research! Google is your friend. Something like gender socialization or gender roles works.
  • Be a nice person! Just because a guy is completely comfortable with expressing his emotions or a girl likes to speak out, burp, fart, chew, it is none of your damn business anyway, and it’s certainly not a reason to remind them to fit into your sock drawer of gender. C’mon now.
  • Introspection. This is so good for the soul. Looking inside yourself and considering what your views are and what it all means can do some good once in a while.
  • Last but not least: wear, sing, love, whatever you want, regardless of what your “gender” says you should. Just make sure it’s not breaking any laws, kids.

Hopefully this article finds you well. Hopefully you didn’t litter it or ditch it because I mentioned the “F” word at the outset. There’s a reason I stopped using it. This is not about feminism. It’s about thinking critically about your beliefs, where they come from, and what they even mean. To take it old school, it’s about not being rude for no damn reason.