I find that the environment (and norms) can impact development, particularly expectations of behavior based on gender. As the mother of four children, two girls and two boys, I do find that an individual can be male and have certain interests and qualities that are stereotyped as feminine. For women, this can be true as well. For example, I am not one that likes to go shopping without a purpose and do not enjoy walking around malls. I go out only for what I needed and don’t enjoy shopping but see it as something that has to be done when items are needed. I love football, played all sports growing up with my brothers and sisters, and would rather sit and talk about politics and economics than go out for a girl’s night. I do like to dress nicely and do my hair and makeup daily but my interests lie elsewhere. The same can be seen in my children.
The latest example of this is our youngest son. He was in college studying to be a Director of Christian Education and graduated with honors. Our son is very talented musically and does an excellent job in the theatre. He loves helping others and is sensitive to injustice when he sees others being bullied or harassed. He does not like sports but likes to read, play the cello and trombone, and act. This has allowed him to have many friends throughout his high school career and he was the only male in the high school that went with a group of 12 girls to Homecoming. He couldn’t decide which girl he liked best so they all went as friends. He now has a new relationship with a female that he is very interested in who attended the same college as he is. We saw all the signs of a hormonal teen who embraced his gifts.
What are some things we can do to help society appreciate the uniqueness of the individual rather than labeling their traits as male or female?