Does Gender Still Matter?

There re several important aspects to who we are. When we describe ourselves on paper to those who do not know us we may often find ourselves stressing the groups to which we belong. We may start with age which in recent times has become a very big issue as the elderly become more likely to experience discrimination. To some people their status as able bodied or differently abled may be very important as well. Ethnicity and cultural affiliation can also be placed on the list. For most of us our names are a large clue as to the gender our parents classified us with at birth but as times change and culture along with it we should ask, does gender really still matter?

Yes it does

Gender is the social construct that we add on to the very biological matter of sex. Male babies have penises and female babies have vaginae. This is their physiological sex. Parents begin to socialize them into their given roles early on by dressing them in the colors that society deems appropriate. Pink for girls, blue for boys. This is useful in maintaining order so that everyone does what is expected of them as they grow up. By separating tasks for males and females based on their individual strengths, more can be accomplished than if the less suited individual was encouraged to complete the task anyway.

No, it does not

The fact that gender is socially constructed means that in different places it has manifested in starkly different ways. There have been cultures where women were warriors and others where men were nurturers. This has worked just as well or better than some of the systems we see now. A binary system regarding maleness and femaleness also neglects people who fall somewhere in the middle. There are intersex people whose genitalia appear ambiguous. There are trans people who identify with the social expectations generally placed on the opposite sex. Several studies have shown that in both cases, such individuals suffer greatly when they are prevented from being themselves, however they chose to be. Even people who are homosexual may carve out their own version of masculinity or femininity which should not be treated as inferior. Perhaps personhood should be more relevant than manhood or womanhood.

Perhaps gender will continue to evolve for quite some time or we will eventually grow beyond it entirely. Time alone will tell.