I am frustrated. I am frustrated because people think it’s their job to police others’ femininity or masculinity.
It’s like, we’ve all been prescribed a quota-a level of femininity or masculinity, that we are required to meet, and if we don’t, other people are entitled to confront us about our shortcomings, so that we may make adjustments.
I, like each of you, have been socialized into performing my gender by means of behavior, dress, grooming, etc., and I happen to feel secure in conducting myself in a feminine manner, which falls in line with society’s expectations of the way I’m supposed to behave and interact with others. However, this is not the case for a lot of individuals.
I have a very dear friend whose significant other has been exceedingly critical about what he perceives is a lack of femininity. Consequently, she has been adjusting her appearance and behavior in order to please him.
I find this disheartening, because I really admire this friend of mine for her ability to be herself un-apologetically, and regardless of what anyone else might think. And I like the person she is.
Men are also prescribed a very rigid list of traits to obtain in ordered to be considered as adequately masculine. For both genders, and any gender in between, the societal expectations to behave a certain way are very constraining to individuals.
Real men are buff, real women have curves; men can be scruffy, women should be void of all body hair; aggression is acceptable for men, but women should remain passive; men must be diligent breadwinners while their wives maintain their households.
You get the idea-there’s a lot of rules to remember. And if you choose to disregard some, or take on characteristics of the other gender, your femininity or masculinity is called into question.
Managing to conform into a functional member of society while simultaneously developing an individual identity can be dizzying, and quite the balancing act.
There’s no wrong way to be a woman, and no wrong way to be a man. I just wish that society would allow us to perform our genders in an authentic fashion, rather than jumping through hoops in order to meet the expectations that have been prescribed to us before even our grandparents were born.
Imagine if these hegemonic masculinities and emphasized femininities didn’t exist-I think that we all would have turned out vastly different.