This question came to me when I was designing the culture of a fictional country. I was wondering outside of the life sciences, why do we use gender, and should we keep it in our daily lives. In my own view the division of people by physical gender is pointless and serves only to create conflict.
We could do very well to reduce the amount of significance we place on gender in society, though I don't think it's all bad or unuseful.
I'm sure there is a term for it such as 'typicalism' or 'normalism', but I think there is a drive for humans to have some sort of identity which ties us in with others. There is some desire to form subgroups within the broader population and those groups aren't strictly arbitrary. The division between male and female likely isn't strictly arbitrary, though perhaps some stereotypes for both groups respectively are rather contrived.
I don't think that's wrong in itself. I don't think it is wrong to give people things with which to identify, and gender does provide some shared experiences which make it a logical identity group.
What I do think is wrong is being too rigid or forceful with groupings. The inability to accept that some, or even many people don't fit comfortably within the established norms is problematic. We need to allow space for people to not feel wrong or ostracized for not being normal. It is, to my mind, as simple as recognizing two very simple things:
What is interesting to me is that this issue comes up with trans and genderqueer issues quite a bit with an assumption that these individuals are the least serviced by gender norms. I don't think it is that simple. You will find cis and trans folk alike who are atypical for their gender, yet you will also find cis and trans folk alike who are highly typical. Setting aside that one trans woman I met was born male, in all other aspects was more the female stereotype than many women I have known. In her case, the existence of gender structures probably facilitated her exploration and eventual transition. I think that's great, provided we don't turn around and use stereotypical gender qualities to discourage those who do not identify with perceived norms.
So in short, no need to get rid of social gender constructs altogether, but neither is there a need to be so uptight about them or push people -- especially children -- into prescribed roles.
Well said Kris. I'd like to add, there is difference between masculine and male, and between feminine and female. I think a society that recognises that not all males are necesserily masculine and can be feminine, and vice versa for females, would be quite good.
Yes. Even a single individual can be feminine, masculine and androgynous with different aspects of their being.
Some people can't get over gender, the idea that one is allowed to do some things and not other things beyond the real differences, on how they behave, what they do, how they dress, what kind of car they drive, social & business interactions. Some people seem to go to extremes on this, people tend to go with what is expected of them, not what they really want to do and gender certainly has an influence on that.