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Does Gender Matter Anymore

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    As society has developed and generations have passed, the notions of gender and sex have evolved to a point of unrecognition for some people. Whereas one’s clothes used to determine one’s gender, which then defined oneself, the notion of fashion has changed, where clothes now immediately define oneself, leaving the question of one’s gender ambiguous.

    New York Times journalist Hayley Krischer discusses in her article “Beyond Androgyny: Nonbinary Teenage Fashion” the effect of the androgynous fashion movement on society’s conventional construction of gender roles. Krischer interviews several non-binary teenagers, addressing their thoughts on how clothes allow them to express themselves, and how emerging androgynous icons, such as Billie Eilish and Lachlan Watson, have become revelations in fashion. Krischer reveals that for these teenagers and teens all over the world, clothes have become a way in which people can understand themselves and their own gender identity. “Clothes make the person,” and the future of gender expression lives in fashion (Krischer 2019).

    The shift in fashion and what it signifies has shifted as generations have passed, from most noticeably from baby boomers, to millennials, to the most recent Generation Z. This shift could be depicted by the acceptance of social constructionism as a way of life over the notion of gender essentialism that characterized older generations and many still to this day. Gender essentialism describes the notion that gender is a permanent two-category system, either male or female, based on chromosomes, genes, and genitalia. Social constructionism describes the notion that gender is not self-evident, we through our interactions give meaning to the culturally defined gender roles. As Eilish labels them “ancient,” society’s gender roles have been forced upon developing children for as long as humans have been around (Krischer 2019). Judith Lorber discusses the impact of gender roles on society by stating: “…gender is a process of creating distinguishable social statuses for the assignment of rights and responsibilities. As a part of a stratifications system that ranks these statuses unequally, gender is a major building block in the social structures built on these unequal statuses” (Lorber 1994). With the potential elimination of societal gender standards and roles, standards that were brought about arbitrarily, the barriers separating men from women, or ultimately people from people may be broken down.

    Although perceptions of gender and acceptance of non-conformers has changed for the better, life for many people across the country could be vastly improved. From something as simple as a doctor costume for a boy, and a nurse costume for a girl, women have been nurtured into accepting a lower status than men. This situation changes however, whether it is for the better or worse, when gender is removed, and people are addressed solely as people, not just as a man or a woman. This can lead to judgment based on character, rather than the stereotypical gender roles placed people. Yet the right to express oneself freely comes with a price in many places, where others refuse to accept a person for their construction of their gender, only seeing the sex given to them at birth, consequences including higher suicide rates and greater acts of violence against non-binary people.

    With the rise of social media, and young, influential pop stars and actors, the ability for people to speak out, embrace themselves, and be accepted for who they are is changing as time and social perceptions change. Through fashion, makeup, music, athletics, and more, people have a greater freedom to disturb the limits of what makes someone who they are, regardless of gender. The “ancient” gender roles that have shackled some for so long are beginning to unravel, revealing a multicolored and multidimensional representation of what our society looks like.

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    Does Gender Matter Anymore. (2021, Dec 16). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/does-gender-matter-anymore/

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