Social Question

wundayatta's avatar

When in the course of their lives and how do people become men and women?

Asked by wundayatta (58625points) June 15th, 2012

Obviously some people think this is innate. Something you are born with. But others think it happens in another way. I’m interested in how those others think it happens. Theory and personal experience are all welcome, although me being me, I prefer to hear about personal experience.

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27 Answers

CWOTUS's avatar

I’m settling in with popcorn. Okay, wasabi peas and mixed nuts. But still…

Trillian's avatar

What in the name of God is a wasabi pea?
I’m not sure what this is about here? Do you mean for an anecdote, ending with ”... and that’s the day I became a woman.”? Because I’m not sure if your question is related to gender or adulthood.

CWOTUS's avatar

I’d give you a GQ, @Trillian, but… I can’t do that for a Q within a thread, can I?

Wasabi peas are dried peas (not as hard as the ones in pea soup, but I don’t know the process by which they’re created) with a dried-on covering of wasabi, a hot Japanese horseradish.

Crunchy, hot, vegetable deliciousness.

ragingloli's avatar

A man becomes a man when he first tastes his own juice.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

I think you already know how I think it happens but here goes a short summary: a baby’s born and is classified into two acceptable sexes that have been defined by people at some point in history – that’s a first expression of gender as biological sex categorization is gender written on the body. Then, that baby is reared by primary and secondary socialization agents according to the current gender norms that vary based on culture. That’s gender written on behavior. Finally, to complete the evil process (and I do think it’s harmful), the person is expected to orient themselves sexually and romantically to the ‘opposite’ sex/gender and that’s gender written on sexuality. You can see where many different things can happen if you remember there are intersex people, people who don’t feel like boys and girls or men and women and people who don’t care to be oriented in the ‘opposite’ direction.

fundevogel's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir I’m not sure how old your kid (kids?) are but I’d be really interested in hearing how they choose to handle their own gender identity since you’re raising them gender-free. Maybe that’s a long ways off or something that will change as they develop, but I’m planning on being around here a good long time.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@fundevogel You can check out my blog if you’re interested. They kids are now almost 6 and 3½ years old. They understand others think they’re boys. They feel no particular way about it.They’re raised without gender expectations but they are aware of gender as a concept and how it’s deployed.

fundevogel's avatar

Thanks! Consider yourself internet-stalked.

wundayatta's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir That’s from the outside it seems to me. But I think some people think of people’s gender identities as also coming from within, regardless of morphology. If you do not identify with the gender of your body or chromosomes, then how do you become whatever it is you are? How do you imagine your children will decide what they are? Do you imagine they might go through their entire lives not identifying as male or female or something else?

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@wundayatta It’s not from just from the outside because people, especially, children internalize it. It becomes an essential part of a person, deeply embedded and embodied. Of course with every pressure, there is possible resistance and that’s how people carve out their own genders or lack of gender but it’s always in response to what they’ve seen and experienced. And the question about how we become who we are if we’re not our given gender is very interesting and I challenge people to think about who they are if they’re not their gender – I can answer the question because I am not my given gender. I imagine my children will decide on many difficult things in their lives using their brains and hearts and so forth and so on. I don’t know what they will identify as and whether any of that will last a lifetime.

wundayatta's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir Is there anything you can say about that process of your awakening awareness of your gender—sort of at what point in your life and what your awareness was like—that you’d be willing to share here? Obviously, I understand if it’s too private to talk about.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@wundayatta I met a trans person when I was 18 and a freshman in college. I learned of gender ‘deviance’ and gender transitioning and gender variance over the four years after that. I think somewhere around my second year in graduate school (the masters program, not the current program), I started realizing that I don’t feel like a woman and that I don’t feel like a man, that these things are created and have no meaning for me. It wasn’t a huge deal or anything but I wasn’t able to articulate these kinds of things because my now ex husband was scared to discuss it and was not supportive because he always said passive aggressive things like ‘I wish you’d wear more dresses, that’s how I’d like you to be.’

So it wasn’t until wis.dm and meeting Alex and Dylan on there that I began to speak my truth, so to speak. I explained it to them and to my best friend. Alex and my best friend were always on board, Dylan not so much. Eventually, I began to speak about my identity openly and at events and in forums, etc. In my head I don’t often think about it, only when others are sexist or gendering me or refusing to be respectful do I remember that what they see is different from what I feel.

wundayatta's avatar

Thank you, @Simone_De_Beauvoir. I can get a little feel for it, now. It sounds like you don’t try to name or label yourself. Do you feel like you have to resist social pressures to label, or is that something that really doesn’t get inside you any more?

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@wundayatta Yes, I do have to resist social pressures to label but it’s not even about me, it’s about how people perceived as women and women-identified women are treated, in general, that bugs the hell out of me. It’s also problematic when those who have been told that I am not a woman refuse to believe me.

wundayatta's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir If someone asks you what you are, what do you say?

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@wundayatta What do you mean? Are they asking me “What kind of person are you?” or “What gender are you?”

wundayatta's avatar

You said that they don’t believe it when told you are not a woman. So if someone asks you what you are, if not a woman, what do you say?

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@wundayatta Oh. I say ‘I am not a woman. That doesn’t mean I want to be a man. I don’t think gender is necessary so I’m just a person. You can just say Simone.’

flutherother's avatar

Simone, I can understand that you don’t want to be classed as one gender or another and I am fine with that as that is your right and your identity. But most people realise at some point that they are either a girl or a boy even if what kind of a boy or what kind of a girl is entirely up to them. I wonder at the wisdom of challenging someone’s identity whatever it may be but perhaps I have misunderstood you.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@flutherother I do not challenge your gender identity or that of anyone else. As for wisdom, I wonder at the wisdom of gender, period.

YARNLADY's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir Perhaps what seems true for you is not really true for the majority of people.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@YARNLADY Whether that’s true (and I suspect it is which isn’t saying much for this precious majority) or not has nothing to do with the fact that the person doing the wondering is myself and I’m allowed to question absolutely anything I feel like questioning…and if you ever feel like tallying the positives of gendering our children vs the negatives, my column would sadly beat yours. Hands down.

YARNLADY's avatar

^^^ I’ve always been out of step with the majority

Only138's avatar

My definition of being grown up: When growing up, you think you know everything. When you become a grown up, you realize you don’t. :)

tups's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir If I may ask, what personal pronoun do you use? It can’t be he or she, so do you use a gender neutral pronoun or how do you do that?

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@tups I prefer ze or Simone or ‘that person’ but I can’t deal with people sometimes so it’s okay to use she.

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