The gender role argument – Noble pursuit or a moot point?
The 21st century has heralded an influx of discussion about gender in society, and while many of these discussions involve truly notable topics such as gender equality in the workforce, equal pay, equal distribution of duties and responsibilities, equality of marriage, and equal rights, if you look at the minutia of the conversations, you’ll see a growing trend towards an abstract notion that no real distinction should be made between the sexes, and that traditional behaviours associated with each gender are a social abomination, and should be ironed out of the fabric of society.
While every opportunity should be provided for members of either gender (or those who associate with either gender, or none at all), there is also an important factor that is rarely considered in this age of gender intellectualisation.
The fabric of our world is based on binary principles. There is a union between the strong and the supple, the positive magnetic and the negative magnetic, the one and the zero, that weaves the threads that sustain everything that we are. Throughout all of nature, the union of male and female is unwavering.
Biologically, males across practically all species, are assertive, aggressive, physically stronger, and more dominating. Binary 1.
Females, across practically all species, are yielding, physically supple and nurturing. Binary 0.
These biological factors, seen in the human sphere, are the primordial driving forces that have morphed intellectually and culturally into what we know as gender roles.
Certainly, it can be argued that the complexity of societal influence and reinforcement keeps these roles intact, but it is this very root that provides the ground for these roles to develop.
Our sentience allows us to contemplate the meaning of our sex organs, much as it allows us to contemplate the meaning of our own existence. But, in a general sense, there can be a tendency over-contemplate, which creates a mental interference with viewing the actual process of how life operates.
The complexity of these discussions feeds us into a whirlpool of competing ideas, but in the realm of abstract philosophising, it is easy to disappear up our own intellectual arse, and forget extraordinarily simple truths about the nature of reality.
These binary principles have been in action for billions of years. The Chinese, in Taoist theology, determined these principles, as Yin, supple, yielding and earthed, and Yang, as engaging, progressive and sun-bound. The intertwining of these forces create the play of the Tao, or the ‘way’. The union of Yin and Yang, in the ancient Chinese context, provides the balance between Heaven (that which seeks) and Earth (that which settles).
These principles, however, are not fixed or set in stone. The way changes, folds, forms into different manifestations. Yang turns into Yin and vice versa. The Chinese I Ching, or ‘The Book Of Change’ – one of the oldest books in Chinese history – details the interplay between these two primordial forces. That which may be traditionally known as Yang might have a distinct proportion of Yin contained within, and yield a drastically different path than what common ideas of Yang may elicit. The unfold in and out of each other, yet remain distinct halves to a whole.
To transplant these somewhat arcane elements of Chinese metaphysics onto modern day society, you can see this in an every day fashion.
A boy may be born who has the inclination towards the supple and yielding. While he may be born traditionally Yang, he yields to his Yin, and gravitates towards a more feminine space. Dancing, singing or dolls may be what he favours as a child, and he feels comfortable and at ease with these inclinations. But of course, traditional gender roles might be imposed upon him by an unyielding father, causing distress and discomfort about his own identity. Conversely, the same can be said of a girl born towards the inclination of her own interests which may be at odds with specific gender roles assigned for her.
The modern day thrust of arguments against gender roles, as far as The Modern Ritual can see, is an aversion to the discomfort those impositions may cause, and the idea that no individual should determine gender roles on another, based on traditional ideas. For the most part, we agree with this.
However, what the modern aversion to gender roles seems to be pushing toward, is the idea that a boy who grows full of determination, embracing trucks, toy guns, cowboys and indians, and traditionally male oriented pursuits, should not be allowed these inclinations purely out of aversion to the perceived male dominance these pursuits embody. Or, for a girl to be born with a natural inclination towards loving Barbie dolls, pretty dresses, fairies and beauty, should not be entitled to these inclinations purely of aversion to gender roles that infer that females should be prettified and objectified.
To be denied these inclinations by parents who views traditional male and female gender roles as abhorrent, is just as contemptible as a parent who denies children the pleasure of seeking out whatever interests them based on an insistance of adherence to traditional roles.
A person is born with their own inclination, which is an argument proudly held by those who support acceptance of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people. This inclination can be shaped by influence, or can be grown in defiance or outside of influence. If a person is born with an inclination towards aggressive aspiration and power, or a nature of suppleness and yielding, irrespective of the gender they are assigned at birth, it is their nature to experience.
In general terms, throughout history and probably for the remaining of our time as a species, most of those who are born boys remain boys, and most of those who are born girls remain girls. The boys, generally, will grow up to be thirsty seekers of position and influence, from boyhood to adulthood, they will seek to touch the sun, and taking cue from their natural biological strength advantage, they will act upon this adopting competitive behaviours. The girls, generally, will grow up to pretty themselves, embracing their supple and yielding form. Taking cues from their natural biological gift to grow children in their bodies, they will grow to be nesters, seeking to root in the soil of life. They will rule the family. They will protect and shelter. This majority has been, and this is the way it probably will be, until we are no more.
For those who incline towards a venture into the alternate arena, differing from the inclination of their biology, they will always face challenges.
It will pain many readers to view these ideas.
But a person should be free to seek out and act on the inclinations of whatever they wish. If their inclination is to adopt traditional male or female gender roles, it is their inclination. If they choose to defy traditional gender roles, it is their inclination. The fruit of their own inclinations, and the trials and tribulations of their endeavours will be their own to experience.
If you are a woman, the truth is, it’s going to be somewhat difficult for you to assert power and dominance. If you are a man, the truth is, it’s going to be somewhat difficult for you to yield to subtlety.
However, in the face of this truth, is an almost untold principle in this age. The uncomfort that may transgress as a result of going against your assigned gender role is one that is difficult to avoid, but can provide valuable fruit of human experience. The Yang does not dissolve into Yin, and the Yin does not grow into Yang without a significant transmutation, which can involve an alchemy of hardship, determination and perseverance in the face of the great, unrelenting stream of strong dancing with supple. Ultimately, the integration of ones own personal inclination, and the satisfaction that results from acting truthfully on that inclination, bears a unique fruit that those who follow along the lines of their biological imperative will never get to experience.
As long as the principles of respect, non-violence, compassion and intelligence are fostered, an individual should be encouraged to be as aspirational or as yielding as they want to be. Whatever their gender.
Above all, the adoption of the idea that an individual should be given the chance to pursue whatever they are inclined towards should be paramount. However, upon acute investigation of the nature of reality, one should also realise that some paths are going to be harder than others.