The story of two Canadian parents who decided to keep the gender of their baby a secret was actually making the rounds a few months ago, but I've decided to blog about it because gender issues have been annoying me recently. The debate is still going even now about whether the parents should have chosen this for their child, and it'll be an interesting social experiment to see how it pans out... And yet I can't help feeling that it's a bit, well... wrong (read about it here).
A prime example of the over-doing of gender equality is a primary school in Sweden called Egalia. In this school, the whole idea of gender has been done away with, in order to create complete gender neutrality. There is no pink, no blue, no toy guns, no Barbie dolls. Everything has been carefully selected to ensure that gender plays no part in the personality of the children- who are not referred to as boys and girls, but rather as "friends". That is, inside the school. Because it seems to have been forgotten that outside this state-funded school, males and females do exist, and your sex is bound to make some impact on your life.
To me, gender equality and gender neutrality are not the same thing. I identify myself as a feminist, and I want women to be equally respected in society as men are. In many places nowadays, they are, and it's wonderful. However, I do not want to actually be a man- the same as a man. I'm not. I'm female, and I'm both happy and proud to be so. And I think most men feel the same way about their own sex. It's not that I feel that gender should influence how people act- if they identify more as the opposite sex, then I think it's fine too. But I feel like there is a distinction between sexes- they're not the same. So why do some people insist on acting as though they are?
I might identify as a feminist, but I also see myself as a somewhat typical "girly girl". I like dresses, shopping, makeup, ballet. But I like rugby and action movies and cars too, and I don't feel like society is telling me not to. I like it- the fact that I'm free to do as I like. I don't, however, feel as though I need to effectively not have a gender at all in order to live life happily. On the same vein, I think that if guys want to paint their nails and wear skirts, let them. But stop trying to get rid of all the things associated with men and women respectively.
I know fine well what the world is telling me I should like, and I don't think that it affects me as a person one bit. And obviously, I can think of some circumstances in which society would dictate exactly how I would be as a person, but in modern day Britain (or Canada, or Sweden) it generally really doesn't. We don't need society to be gender neutral. People would find other ways to be different anyway; it's how we are. Let's please work on making men and women equal the world-over before we attempt to fix something that, frankly, isn't broken.
Also, I know this will probably annoy some people, and I probably went a bit ranty. But it's an issue that I feel strongly about, so here you go. I'll respect the opinions of commenters if you respect my own. (: