Resolving Gender Issues Requires Collaboration
By Coraline Pettine
Solution to Gender Issues Begins With Understanding Gender
As you have explored this website, you have learned about a variety of issues:
- Stereotypes in sports, media and society.
- Workplace inequity including harassment, discrimination and power imbalances.
- Health, ranging from sexual health education, to mental health issues, to access to healthcare.
- Abuse, such as dating and domestic violence, sexual assault and human trafficking.
- And much more.
As these problems continue to impact society and the global community, individuals continue to work towards trying to resolve each and every one of these different struggles that individuals face.
While these matters are all unique and require differing efforts to rectify, they are all interrelated by one common concept: gender.
People can only address the difficulties caused by stereotyping, workplace inequity, health and abuse when they address the misunderstandings surrounding gender.
Misconceptions about gender perpetuate violence against women, the hypermasculinity of men, the objectification of females, discrimination in the workplace and harassment of LGBTQ+ minorities. This is because these misconceptions result in stereotyping, assumptions and the oppression of select groups.
They are encouraged to stop seeing people as their gender and begin seeing them as people.
To combat the misconceptions of and the injustices that stem from gender, people can engage in more conversation and opening their eyes to the different genders. That way, they will begin to understand that not only are gender and sex unrelated, but understand that gender or sex does not have to determine anything about an individual.
The advice that Aidan Kosciesza— a transgender writer, speaker, and activist— had for individuals stuck in the old ways of understanding gender was to start by simply opening their eyes and observing that individuals express themselves in ways other than entirely male or entirely female.
“You have to look at what’s around you,” Kosciesza said. “Because there are so many expressions of gender. It’s not black and white— or pink and blue— as it’s so often made out to be. Gender is not binary, even for people who are cisgender. People feel and express their gender in many different ways.”
When observing all the different gender expressions and identities, it is important to acknowledge the variations but not make assumptions based upon them. Gender diversity should be recognized and celebrated, but individuals must not be labeled based on their gender identity if society is going to end gender-based injustices.
Charlie Ashcom, an androgynous student studying theatre at Edge Hill University in the United Kingdom, said that even they still label individuals at times, despite identifying as androgynous in order to avoid gender labels and stereotypes.
“I am guilty of doing it occasionally,” Ashcom said. “It’s usually with older type people who, you know, you’re not sure, but it’s probably not okay. [It is] a spur-of-the-moment [action, but] it shouldn’t be okay.”
Stephen Geday, a partner at Fairlie and Lippy Law Firm, said that it is natural to put people in a box and view them a certain way; however, Geday encouraged that people need to try to avoid doing that.
Ashcom added that they hope people one day stop seeing each other as male, female, or androgynous— that people stop putting others in boxes— and start seeing individuals as human beings.
“We’re all just people living our lives and it’s just not fair to continually put people in a box because they’re different than the majority,” Ashcom said. “That’s just been society for forever and ever and ever. Everyone just needs to realize that we’re all people and to discriminate against you just because you might be slightly different is just ridiculous.”
By Coraline Pettine