Gender identity is changing
There exists clear evidence in society today to show that the way people live their lives is changing and this includes the major aspect of human life—gender identity. It can be argued that gender identity is a social construct as more and more people begin to question the norms and roles humanity has almost always thought we must play based on our body’s biological structure. There are two main topics when it comes to discussing the change in gender identity, ie the feminine identity and the masculine identity, however, as more and more people in the USA and Europe are beginning to identify as “non-binary”, the world sees the dawn of a new era. A world full of transgender and transsexual identities, a society that is becoming more accepting of homosexuality, bisexuality, pansexuality, demisexuality, asexuality and aromanticism.
The female gender identity is arguably one that is the most recognizable change within the pages of humanity’s history. In recent decades women in many societies have gained the right to vote and employment, they have gained reproductive rights which have given them access to contraception after fighting for them through protests. There are countless social media movements like #MeToo and #TimesUp. Sharpe (1990) and Wilkinson (1994) observe that women experience greater educational and employment opportunities in modern capitalist societies and there is evidence that women’s economic power has increased. Walter (1999), Banyard (2011), and Redfern and Aune (2013) all point out that girls are more likely than their mothers and grandmothers to aspire to educational success and professional careers after careful sociological research and study. Previously male-dominated fields like psychology are now heavily dominated by females. It is clear that women are starting to gain more recognition in the world and getting more opportunities for better education and employment after decades of strikes and protests.
Although women have gained more cultural and economic power, it is probably still only a fraction of what men possess. Reproductive rights of women had just recently been a massive topic of debate in which women were denied any abortion rights even if they were victims of rape or minors in the USA. The controversial changes in women’s rights and the feminine gender identity are one of the biggest topics of discussion today and even stand to be recognized by the UN general assembly when discussing sustainable development of the world as the world still faces a crisis of improper representation. Women are still the minority in STEM and countless voices are being ignored even today. An example of this can be seen in Iran, where women who do not wear a hijab may be imprisoned for ten days to two months, and/or required to pay fines from Rls. The police have used tear gas to disperse crowds of up to 1,000 people in rallies in cities including Mashhad, Tabriz, Isfahan and Shiraz just recently on 21 Sept 2022. Thousands are being silenced for protesting, and change concerning females born into Islam is a topic that barely reaches the ears of the masses and yet is still prevalent in society today- they are still not treated with equal rights.
With the rise of identities such as the “new man” and the metrosexual man, the world is seeing a change in not just female gender identities, but also male. A noteworthy sociological study done by Sarah Schoppe-Sullivan et al. (2017) shows that more men are likely to attend the birth of their children and are more likely to be emotionally involved with their children than their fathers or grandfathers. Jaclyn Friedman (2017) talks about how the patriarchy’s “Toxic Masculinity” has a tendency to be harmful to the mental health of men in society even today as they are forced to suppress emotions that make them seem “weak” and Mairtin Mac an Ghaill (2004) adds onto this theory in his “Crisis of Masculinity”. Research by Malgorzata Matlack (2014) suggests that many men feel that their masculinity is undermined when they fail to find a job and cannot perform what they see as their most important gender role—providing for their families. While hegemonic masculinity is still very persistent even in postmodern society, it is slowly evolving and starting to see change.
The USA and Europe have seen a significant rise in the number of people who identify as non-binary, i.e. neither entirely male nor female and the rise in surgical procedures/medication available for those who wish to change their gender. countries like Nepal, Germany, Australia and Pakistan officially recognise that there now exist more than two gender categories and offer a third gender option on official forms. In India, there have always been men who identify as Hijra, i.e. eunuchs who are neither male nor female and in Albania, there exist “sworn virgins”- cis-females who vow to practice celibacy for the rest of their lives, dressing up as men, taking on a male name, doing male work such as policing and act as the heads of their households, they are regarded as the equals of cis-men. Connell points out that postmodern societies are beginning to accept homosexual identities. It is still a criminal offense in 72 countries worldwide to be in a homosexual relationship.
Gender identity is changing through social media, as more and more people are able to find comfort and connect to people like them on the internet and are protected by its granted anonymity. There are more social movements starting every day and more people are starting to become aware of the various gender identities thanks to apps like Tiktok and Youtube, they’re becoming more accepting. There are many celebrities that have come out as homosexual or bisexual and there are just as many transgender icons making waves online like Cavetown. The representations of gender have changed in the media with the rise of identities like “femboy”, where boys cross-dress, wearing skirts and dressing in a particular subcultural fashion but still identify as males. There has also been a rise in women choosing to wear suits instead of dresses from Coco Chanel first decided to wear pants to formal occasions in the past to today where countless women are hailed to be more attractive wearing suits and displaying “masculine” features or characteristics on the internet. This is clear evidence that social media has changed the way we look at gender as a whole.
There also exists a more biological and genetic argument on the topic of gender roles. It can be argued that females are more passive than men and men are more likely to be aggressive than women. The nature side of the nature-nurture debate suggests that certain characteristics displayed by both genders are inherently biological. A study done by Bandura et al. that explores aggressive behavior in children found that boys were more likely than girls to display acts of aggressiveness. The results of this study show that gender identities can be influenced by our biological genders- our body’s physical structure.
While traditional gender identities and stereotypes still persist in modern society and influence how we may behave, legal changes and technological advances that have helped increase awareness and connect people all around the world, the statement that gender identity is changing stands to be truer than ever before.
The British School, Sanepa
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