Until recently, it was commonly accepted that you are born as one of two variations: blue-loving, car-racing male, or Barbie doll and glitter-worshiping female.
But now, with more young people of my generation questioning the concept of gender than ever before, these social concepts and stereotypes are being increasingly challenged. As time goes by, more and more of us are pondering the unanswered: What does it mean to be of a certain gender? And, primarily, is it time to break free from the confines of the preconceived ideas of our ancestors?
As to whether there are fundamental, biological differences between the male and female brain, the jury is still out, and neuroscientists divided. But what we can say, and what we do know, is that from the moment we are born on this Earth, the neural pathways that make us who we are and what we believe remain in a state of continual plasticity. In simpler words, we are wired fluidly and are infinitely subject to change, particularly during the phenomenon of childhood and early adolescence.
This notion, this proven medical fact, provides evidence that what we teach children-and I mean everything- will likely decide (or significantly impact) the paths they will follow during later life.
Essentially, there is more evidence than not to suggest that we are born as neurological clean slates-a perfect foundation for potential and travesty, love and hate: all for the people around us, our environment, our very earliest memories, to decide what we are to become.
With this in mind, as someone who is by no means a professional but holds a keen interest in Neuroscience, I believe that we should bring our children up to be, as much as possible, gender neutral.
To move forwards as a race, we need to stop telling our young women that they aren’t strong and are incapable of science and world leadership.
We need to stop bombarding them with concepts of how little girls “should” look, and act “in a ladylike way“.
To move forwards as a race, we need to stop telling our young men to suppress tears and to “grow a pair” whenever emotion other than anger is expressed.
We need to change the fact that the most common cause of death in males under 40 is suicide.
A way of life beyond gender expectations and oppression does not have to be an ideology; it could be a taste of tomorrow if enough people are willing to make a stand.
I was a victim of gender stereotypes and limitations as a child, cloaked in the ideal characteristics of my sex; and so were you. There is no means of changing the past.
But we can, at least, shape the future. Starting with gender-neutral school uniforms, or the right to choose a skirt over shorts and vice versa.
When I have children-if I have children-I want for them, above all else, to have the freedom to choose their own paths, and the knowledge that it will, regardless of stereotypes, be accepted.
Thank you for reading. As always, I would love to hear from you if you have any thoughts on the topic, or just for a general catch-up 🙂
I also wanted to tell you that there is a new Mental Health blogger on the scene: A Spoonful of Evie-so please check out her site and support her on her journey! She writes about some very relevant issues in a very supportive and intelligent way.