By: Rachel Lyle, June 9th, 2017
It is often thought that men and women think and act very differently because they are supposed to be that way according to society’s stereotypes but I believe that for many people this stereotypes are just that, stereotypes, men and women think and act similarly in many ways and are not so different in the way they work. In many ways men and women are the same and small amounts of stereotypical traits of both genders are in everyone.
In the words of Virginia Woolf:
“One has a profound, if irrational, instinct in favour of the theory that the union of man and woman makes for the greatest satisfaction, the most complete happiness. But the sight of the two people getting in the taxi and the satisfaction it gave me made me also ask whether there are two sexes in the mind corresponding to the two sexes in the mind, and whether they also require to be united in order to get complete satisfaction and happiness….. But it would be well to test what one meant by man-womanly, and conversely woman-manly, by pausing and looking at a nook or two.” (Pg. 98)
She is trying to convey the message that men and women all have traits associated with women as traits considered to be manly. She is saying that there is really no such thing as a female brain and a separate male brain. Everyone has the same womanly and manly traits just some show better in some people and other traits show better in other people. Men have traces of women in themselves and women have traces of men in them, and people should not believe that someone is truly completely man or completely woman because this is an impossibility. It can also be assumed that she is saying that traits shouldn’t be seen as tied to one specific over the others and they should be seen that they could be traits of anyone in general no matter what their gender happens to be. Woolf also states, “It is fatal to be a man or woman pure and simple; one must be woman-manly or man-womanly.” (pg. 104). In her mind thinking this is possible is wrong and can be a bad thing to believe.
Society today sees men as not allowed to show emotion, not able to deal with emotion, being completely logical, having no fashion sense, not facing their problems and finding solutions, just dealing with things and having aggressive and violent tendencies. As said by Cordelia Fine in Delusions of gender, “Pick a gender difference, any difference. Now watch very closely as— poof!—it’s gone.” (Pg. 27) This is to show that being one gender does not mean you are completely different it just means your sexuality is different not your personality and who you are as a person. Women in society are stereotyped as doing everything based on emotions, being extremely fashion forward and knowing how to dress well, and being able to solve their problems and face them with a good solution. In the words of Fine, “But of course many women do persist in male-dominated careers like mathematics, despite the stereotype threat and lack of sense of belonging. Luckily for them, there is an alternative to turning away from math—and this is to turn away from being female.” (Pg. 50) This meaning that what I say about myself being woman with male traits show that I can not truly be wholly and completely female without being partly male or having male parts in my traits. Women can do things society deems as manly and male stereotyped by being partly manly-females and not just womanly-females. This leads me to believe that what Virginia Woolf says the truth and to state that I wholly agree with Woolf that men are not just men and women are not just women and believe that these stereotypes are not true and that both men and women have traits that are stereotypical of both men and women.
I identify as a bi-sexual female but I also have traits that are often associated with men. According to the concept of heteronormativity people should identify as one single gender and have the traits associated with that gender and only those traits but I identify with both the male and the female gender and see traits from both of these in myself, showing that heteronormativity does not apply in every situation, myself as one example where it does not apply. An explanation of why Heteronormativity would be, yes, I can be emotional sometimes but I can also be logical when I need to be. I have a big heart for others and making others happy makes me happy, so I try to make other people happy with my happiness. When my siblings and family members go through pain and hard times I see it and feel like I should be able to fix it even though I know I cannot and often feel a pain for them and in a way go through it with them because I know I cannot fix the problems and it hurts me. Despite this fact I can also at times be logical and act out traits associated stereotypically with men. I can logically think through important decisions and logically solve problem that can be fixed and have actual solutions. I also am at times scared to show emotion and find myself in situations where I myself believe I am not allowed to show emotion or will be made fun of for doing it so I tend to bottle my emotions the way it is seen as the right thing for men to do.
I am not as in touch with my own emotions as most women tend to be or are assumed to be and I don’t see myself as as empathetic as most women tend to be. I have the tendency to show emotion the way society says that women do and women are emotional but I bottle my emotions more than I show them. I often put on a face to hide my pain and what I’m going through even with the people I feel comfortable with and trust, most of my closest friends have only seen me cry maybe once a year, twice a year at most. I don’t hold grudges and when I wrong someone or feel wronged I go to others involved and talk to them about how I feel and find a way to solve the problem in a logical way that works for everyone involved. When I get angry I do not yell, scream, fight, and make accusations as is what people assume and make, as seems like it is stereotypical for most women, I quietly go to somewhere I can be alone, cool down, and think logically about the situation and then I explain myself to who I am angry with or explain to someone what I’m angry about and figure out why I’m angry to resolve it in a logical way that I do not wrong others or hurt others.
I also am both stereotypically male and stereotypically female in the way I dress and what I like to do. I dress in a way that is seen as distinct from others and unique. I wear dress pants with a t-shirt and stripes with cheetah print and I like to see what I can get away with without being seen as not knowing how to dress or crossing the line; I like to push my limits. I love to dress up and wear skirts and dress, frills, lace, bows, etc., but I prefer comfortable pants and beanies to the stereotypical six and four inch high heels that are stereotypical of women in society today. I would prefer a sweatshirt to a nice strapless dress any day. I almost never wear make up and I dress in clothes that cover most of my body. I don’t wear tight clothing I prefer loose clothing. I do not show cleavage and I wear shorts and skirts that go to my mid thigh or longer or wear
leggings under a short skirt because I don’t feel comfortable showing things to other people. I like to knit and scrapbook and do other things that are things society thinks women do but nonetheless you more likely find me doing things such as camping, doing archery, hiking, and playing with nerf guns as society sees men doing over these things that society says are the right things for women to do. One of my favorite things to do is read but you’ll most likely find me in a corner reading a superhero comic book or a lord of the rings book rather than a fashion or celebrity gossip magazine.
Men have traits of women in them and are not truly what society says men are to be. I have experiences of seeing men show their emotions in a stereotypically woman like way. I have male friends that might seem like they act the way society stereotypically says a man should, the way society says a man should but I have seen these male friends show emotions as if societal male stereotypes don’t exist. I have seen many of them cry in front of fifty to sixty people more times than society says would be acceptable for men to do. I have seen many of my male family members get angry and rather than stereotypical being aggressive and violent and abusing people, they walked away from a fight and talked it out like real men. I have straight male friends who have a better fashion sense then I do and know how to dress better than I do and known what colors and clothes look better on me than I do and know how I should do my make up and what make up styles look better on me than I do.
I believe that men and women cannot be put into a category of completely man or completely woman, they have traits of both stereotypes and are in the words of Virginia Woolf, “man- womanly” or “woman-manly” and should be seen this way.