Understanding Gender in a World Full of Boxes

You know when you are moving to live in a new place, and you pack as many things as you can into boxes? It makes them easier to move that way. For the most part you pack similar things together into the same box. Perhaps you organize them by room, or by function. You tend to place them in a specific box, and if you are like me, you definitely have a few miscellaneous boxes of things that don’t quite fit into another category, or aren’t enough for a full box. Over half of the boxes I have when I move are labeled Books and Rocks. It really speaks volumes to what I am passionate about. Somethings are too big to fit in a box, were perhaps at one point in a box, but since we put it together, it is best moved as is.

You know when you are moving into a new place, and you’ve got all of your boxes unloaded and haphazardly strewn around your new abode, perhaps organized by room yet again. Some people may start unpacking right away, with the motivation and excitement that comes with newness. Others, exhausted from the change, may succumb to less productive means, and choose simply to take out only what they need to make it through the next few days. Some boxes get unpacked quicker than others depending on necessity. Some boxes, may never get unpacked at all, as they are just impractical items that we deemed valuable enough to keep with us.

Eventually, however, we consider ourselves moved in. Everything we want to have unpacked is unpacked. Perhaps everything is even outside of a box.

We live in a world full of boxes. They are useful, for moving things around, for communicating, for organizing. Somethings are too big to fit in a box, or start in a box, and as we put it together, soon a box is impractical to use for it. A chair is easier carried outside of a box, than within one. Chair parts are easier carried inside of a box than outside of one.

I think gender is like the chair. When it is in parts, it is easy enough to put it in a box. When it is all put together, it can be an entirely different scenario. Once put together, you have to be the right kind and size of chair to fit, and the box has to be the right size to fit you. If we have a small box in our perspective of gender, we only can fit a limited amount of people. The size of the box, though, also denotes practicality.

You can see why society uses boxes, and why they become the size that they are. They’ve tried to define them in a way that fits most people, most chairs. If the box is too small, it won’t fit the majority. If the box is too big, it is considered impractical for communication. It makes sense.

We need to remember though, that sometimes it is more practical to not use a box at all, and instead just use the chair, in fact, I don’t know of anyone who puts a put-together chair into a box to move it. I think that is how we should treat gender. Consider that boxes are just hindering our ability to communicate. Without boxes, we can freely include all kinds of chairs without the discrimination of size.

What kind of language would need to encompass this change? What kind of behaviors?

How truly difficult would it be to raise kids as gender neutral? Saving gendered pronouns for people who intentionally choose them and inform you of them?

There’s a big question that I want you to ask yourself: If you had grown up in an environment stripped of stereotypes based upon physical characteristics that any given human has, would you have chosen the gender that you have? If you weren’t taught that “Girls have _____. Boys have _____. Girls like _____. Boys like _____.” If you simply discovered that you like trucks and wearing dresses, and have a certain set of genitalia, and didn’t let that define you into how you are perceived by the world. Would you have chosen the gender that you are perceived to be? Have you felt like your gender? Are you truly comfortable with it? Have you even questioned it?

Isn’t it odd that it is taboo to talk about genitals and show them, yet society is okay with using our genitals to determine how we are perceived and even how much we get paid. God forbid (Heh) that we address them in any other manner.

I’m truly curious to know your answer. I want to know if you’ve ever questioned your gender. I want to know if it is because you’ve never been taught to question it, never felt the need to, always felt that you fit it, and if so, how did you know that you felt that way? Please reflect and let me know, the key to understanding gender is going beyond my individual journey with it, and finding out the journeys of others as well.

Thank you for indulging in my perspective, and going on this journey with me. I hope you brought some snacks!

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