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Breaking the Mold: The End of 'Boys Will Be Boys, Girls Will Be Girls




Today, I'd like to open up a discussion about pronouns, aimed particularly at those of us who caught up a bit later – myself very much included. It's an essential conversation for understanding the diverse spectrum of gender and identity in our evolving world.


Rewind to the eighties, when I first had to navigate the norms of society, things seemed much simpler, especially in how we categorized people. Back then, the labels were straightforward, but now, we're learning to embrace a much richer and more complex understanding of identity.


Back in the era of cassette tapes and Tetris, the world's view on sexuality was pretty cut and dry. You were 'straight,' or you found yourself lumped into a few, often unkind, terms used for the LGBTQI+ community.


Stereotypes were rampant: a feminine male was often labeled gay and a masculine woman was either a tomboy or, more harshly, assumed to be a lesbian. As a gay woman myself, I've grown to dislike the term 'lesbian' due to its derogatory abbreviations, steeped in fear and hatred.


Reflecting on my childhood, I suppose I fit the 'tomboy' stereotype. My spare time was filled with G.I. Joes, Matchbox cars and tree-climbing adventures. I prided myself on my scraped knees, a badge of my fearless escapades.


I was the youngest in a family of three children — girl, boy, girl. My sister fully embraced her femininity, delighting in all things traditionally 'girly.' In contrast, my brother showed interest in activities and hobbies considered both masculine and feminine. He had always hoped for a brother, so he found a kind of camaraderie in my tomboyish demeanor. I was often referred to as a 'pretty girl,' a label that felt out of sync with my tomboyish identity and adventurous spirit.


Over the years, I've navigated the fluidity of my own gender expression, embodying both masculine and feminine traits. This personal journey has helped me empathize with those who reject the gender assigned to them at birth, especially considering the societal struggles tied to gender norms.


Historically, women have been pigeonholed into restrictive roles: the mother, the homemaker, the subservient wife — tasked with the Herculean effort of keeping the family unit intact.


Back in the day, the men I knew, much like the ones from my childhood, had a pretty standard routine: working 9 to 5 or maybe 6 to 2. Returning home to a world of domestic perfection – a meal on the table, a pristine house and well-behaved children eagerly awaiting their 'king.' This archaic division of labor is a stark reminder of the endless, often thankless, nature of homemaking.


My father, despite his progressive streak, was a product of his time, adhering to traditional gender roles. Our evenings were choreographed around his arrival: dinner timed with the end of the nightly news, a ritual where I delighted in presenting him with his beer and bowl of peanuts. Like I said... simpler times. Ha!


As a child, I reveled in these chores, viewing them as a way to 'earn my keep.' While such responsibilities as ironing at four years old, might be viewed harshly today, they were a source of pride for me. These homemaking skills have stayed with me, setting a high bar for domestic standards.


However, I've grown weary of this incessant cycle. The allure of returning home from work to a life of leisure is undeniable, yet I recognize the inherent unfairness in it. Household maintenance should not fall on the shoulders of one, but rather be a collective responsibility, transcending outdated gender norms. It's an endless job, demanding the involvement of everyone.


Last night, at dinner in the quaint area known as East Rock, in New Haven, Connecticut, we had an incredible server who kindly asked for our names. When it was my turn to inquire about theirs, my old-fashioned brain, still catching up with the times, automatically assumed a 'female' name like Julie or Sarah would follow. But to my pleasant surprise, they confidently introduced themselves as Brendan.


This brought a smile to my face. Observing Brendan's happiness in their self-assuredness was genuinely heartwarming. Whether it's he/him, they/them, she/her, or any other pronouns someone might choose, witnessing such a display of authenticity and contentment in one's identity was truly beautiful.


My journey from the black-and-white world of the eighties to today's vibrant spectrum of gender and sexual identities has been both enlightening and challenging. It has taught me the value of understanding and embracing the full diversity of human experience.


We have come a long way from the rigid stereotypes and roles that once defined us, moving towards a more inclusive and empathetic society. However, the journey is so far from over and has barely just begun. Each day presents an opportunity to learn, to grow and to support one another in our unique expressions of identity.


As we continue to break down the barriers of gender norms and societal expectations, it's crucial to remember the collective effort required in this endeavor. The sharing of household responsibilities, the rejection of outdated roles and the embrace of all identities are steps towards a more equitable world.


In this ever-evolving journey, our greatest allies are compassion, understanding, and a willingness to learn. As we hold these values close, we're not just enhancing our own lives, but we're weaving a world that's more inclusive and welcoming for those who follow.


Isn't it intriguing to think about what kind of legacy we'll leave for future generations with these powerful tools in hand?

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