Gender Role Bullying

There are no such things as gender roles. Bullying people because of their gender is just – stupid. There. I said it. The question is – how can we shut gender bullying down?

Gender Bias is real. And it’s embedded in the language itself. Every language has gender. And every language treats gender differently and every language has different gender categories. And all of this – use of language to define what is or is not the typical traits of a particular gender – impact expectations and gender norms and this – in turn – impacts gender related bullying.

All that is a long winded way of saying – eliminating gender role bullying is not – every – going to be easy.

First- the science. Here is an article I posted on my other blog – that has to do with Humanist approaches to life and leadership. It’s part of a conversation I had with Dan Tyre, Chief People Person at Hubspot. And – yes – I do have an awesome job and I do get to meet really interesting people.

The article is about gender in language and how it impacts biases and a book by George Lakoff called – Women, Fire and Dangerous things. FYI – my degree was in cognitive linguistics.

All languages have gender categories and they all place inanimate objects and animate non-gendered objects into those gender categories and to speak the language – you usually have to understand what the gender category is – in other words, what the traits of the gender are considered to be. In Hindi – you have to know chairs are female – but beds are male.  Or that water is masculine but air is feminine.

It is these gender attributes in the language that cause part of the bias problems we experience and have to work to overcome. In a language where being female is equaled with fire and dangerous things – you would expect women to be treated differently than in a language/culture where women are considered equal to sugar and spice and everything nice.

It is these implicit biases – some of which are coded into our languages – that are so difficult to overcome and why ALL of us can benefit from learning more about implicit biases and how they effect our thinking.

What should we do about Gender Bias?

My answer – ignore it. Every individual is – an individual Who cares if an individual adheres to a gender norm or not? Exceptions to rules are allowed. Not only are they allowed – they should be celebrated.

Also – it’s often the people who break the rules – that achieve greatness. You want long hair – wear your hair long. If you like short hair – wear your hair short.

Do what makes you feel good. And – celebrate yourself as the individual you are – that is also part of an amazing tradition of interesting people.

As for the people who are simply – NOT ok with gender norms being broken – feel sorry for them. Chances are – something is going on in their lives that make them unable to be comfortable with people being happy. That’s sad. So feel bad for them.

What I don’t want you to do – is allow these sad people – to make you – unhappy with yourself. I know it’s hard – but – you are ok – they are not. Feel sorry for them.

If you feel you are being isolated – look around you. Look for other people who are being isolated. There are always other people who are being isolated. If people are being mean – don’t try to get them to like you. Find other friends. They exist. If you need help with this – ask your parents. Everyone needs help – kids need help too.

If you can’t talk to your parents – try the school counselors. Best of luck.

Just – remember – gender norms are TOTAL nonsense. And don’t let any insecure individual tell you otherwise.