The moment a child is born, he/she is exposed to gender-specific lessons. They’re assigned a color which is theirs, a certain type of behavior they should follow to appear as they belong to their gender, certain emotions they should show, and also ones they should at all cost avoid to not look or appear like the other gender. This pattern or say, a system that assigns traits to boys and girls for behaving a certain way, wearing only a particular set of clothes, showing limited emotions, the ones which have been assigned creates a huge impact in shaping the personality of the child ahead in life.
Talking specifically of boys, they’re taught to not cry, “A man does not feel fear” “A man does not feel pain” “A man does not cry”, these are some of the phrases a boy starts hearing the moment he steps into the world, untouched and innocent. The patriarchal system that we live in today has defined certain traits, characteristics of how a boy should behave to fall under the category of a man. Also, our society has defined different categories of the profession which suit both the genders. If a woman enters engineering, she will have the entire class staring at her for choosing the stream, similarly if a boy likes cooking he will lose all the qualities of being a man. He will be reduced to nothing. These gender-defined roles, characteristics, and the checklist which approves both genders on the basis of specific qualities have done bad to our society and the mental health of so many people.
We have a history of lessons being taught to women to sit, to talk, to speak less, to laugh with a mouth which doesn’t show fewer teeth. The moment people see a woman being assertive or showing leadership qualities or getting ahead of men, she will be called ‘bold’. It seems like we live in a society where people roam about carrying different titles in their heads. The moment a woman or a man does not fit the defined traits, these titles are bestowed and showered upon that person. Where will a man who likes to paint his nails go or a woman who likes to wear pants and be complete without makeup? Or a man who likes to watch T.V serials with his mother and enjoys them equally but is too embarrassed to accept it in front of his friends because they will reduce him to nothing. He will be called ‘feminine’. There are so many lessons young boys and girls start getting subjected to from a very young age. These lessons reside in us, we grow up with these lessons, we act on the basis of these lessons and decide everything that we must do or not do only on the basis of these lessons taught to us.
Yes, there are households in India which normalize a man sitting inside and taking care of kids because he likes doing that and a woman who goes out, does the job perfectly and comes back. However, with the majority of people such is not the case. We need to teach our children that the canvas is blank, paint it how you like. Plenty of opportunities go missed because of these gender roles and norms.
It is high time we tell our children to unlearn all the lessons that they have been taught in terms of guidelines to behave, to act, to speak, to sit, to love, what profession to choose, what clothes look best on a girl or on a boy. That’s not how it works.
These lessons are so ingrained in all of us that we often forget who we are because we are busy shaping our behavior and patterns according to the rulebook which this patriarchal system has assigned to each one of us. It will be a happier and better society to live in if we practice gender fluidity. It will also be a better place to live in for queer people. Because once you draw lines to something, you are never able to think out of those four sets of lines.
If we have taken enough modernization from the West, we should also let some modernity in thoughts enter that practice. It will be a better place to live in.
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