In our current society, I think it’s fair to say that we like to try to cut ourselves a break. Yes, it’s true, we still try to tackle important issues such as race, equality, etc. However, a lot of us also choose to see ourselves as an already-much-more-free-than-before nation, or in a positive light.
Some might here argumentatively refer to some of our greater moments, when we really gained a leg for equality. Moments such as the black suffrage movement in 1966 or the legalization of gay marriage in a plethora of states just in the past few years.
But while these are obviously very critical and pivotal moments in our history, we must be sure that we don’t start using them as excuses for backtracking, or even standing still in our fight for equality.
Our nation is by no means a sort of magical land where opportunity flows freely for each and every member of our “melting pot” as many seem to pretend that it is.
To quote an article of the N.Y. Times,
“Today, the United States has less equality of opportunity than almost any other advanced industrial country. Study after study has exposed the myth that America is a land of opportunity.”
-“Equal Opportunity, Our National Myth” by Joseph Stiglitz
As I am a part of the gender portion of the blogging group, I have decided to address the ever-debated and sometimes overlooked issue of gender neutrality.
Now, let’s take a second. I’m sure we’ve all heard this term thrown around before at some point. But what exactly IS gender neutrality?
“There’s a difference between what the term gender neutral means and how it is used. As it should suggest, gender neutral refers to not favoring or centering one gender over another. If something is gender neutral, it isn’t marked as being only for people who identify as male, or female, or trans, or another gender. Instead, gender neutral means that the language in a written or spoken text, the event (like a workshop or a festival), or the facility (like a bathroom) is equally directed to and accessible to all genders.”
– “Gender Neutral” by Cory Silverburg, Sexuality Expert
And so we come to see that it references more toward what each gender’s role in society should be and what they should do. From work, to home life, and even to sexual preference! It covers a very broad swathe, and can also be a very controversial topic.
Our social and personal opinions on this issue stem from several sources. Our ancestries and race; our geographical location; our upbringing; innumerable factors play a key role in how we view what our gender’s place is in society.
But if we long so much to say that our nation is one of freedom and equity, why are topics like this one still such a huge deal?
Here’s an example.
Recently, heart-throb Harry Styles (of the globally famous pop band One Direction), tread very lightly on the issue of gender neutrality an On Demand Entertainment interview with fellow band mate Liam Payne.
(If you’d like to watch the whole video, feel free! But you don’t have to.)
In this video, the interviewer simply asks them what their preferences are in a woman.
Liam responds, “Female. That’s a good trait.” To which Harry light-heartedly shakes his head, laughs, and responds, “Not that important.”
Not that big of a deal, right?
Surprisingly enough, that’s where you’re wrong. The two band members participated in this interview back in November, 2014. And here we are, very nearly in February 2015, and it’s still being talked about!
Why is it that saying something so simple as gender not being that important causes such a massive stir that people can still be talking about it nearly four months later?
Granted, Styles is a hugely famous star. But the fact that our society still makes such a tremendous to-do about a little offhand comment such as this one is just blatant proof that the problem is still very much alive and breathing.
Why is it that men or women shouldn’t be able to say or do as they see fit, regardless of societal mold?
This blog plans to take a much deeper look at this issue, highlight the societal deficiencies, and hopefully at its end, show just how normal gender neutrality should be seen as.