Our society is making many advancements, particularly around social identity. For example, a study in 2014 found that millennials believed that gender shouldn’t define a person and shouldn’t determine their roles in society and behaviours. Gone are the days where we conformed to what people expected of us, and we are seeing more and more people claiming their identity as theirs to decide and no one else. But what does this mean for society? Are we heading towards a genderless world?
What should we expect?
Many consider the traditional labels of “male” and “female” to be restrictive, so losing these labels allow people a degree of freedom to be who they wish. Gone will be the silly restrictions of “males should wear this” and “females should do that”, and instead people will get to make choices on what to wear and what to do without feeling the weight of any expectations or stereotypes.
Will it be better for us?
"The absence of gender labels would be better for those who want to express themselves in a way that doesn’t conform to society’s stereotyped views of gender".
In many ways, yes. Gender stereotypes are a large source of controversy and offence. For example, a thirteen-year-old girl was criticised and called a “lesbian” because of her interest in football and ambition to play what is considered to be a “boy’s sport” professionally. Quite outrageous in 2019, if you ask me. Another example was seen in the US, where a five-year old boy was mocked in school for wearing nail polish. The absence of gender labels would be better for those who want to express themselves in a way that doesn’t conform to society’s stereotyped views of gender. But of course people who conform, and have conformed for many years, will feel threatened or challenged. Change is not easy and many people want things to stay the same.
Gender stereotypes impact people’s expectations and can limit opportunities for young people wanting to go into a field not typical to their gender, such as women in engineering or men in nursing professions – shocking, I know. Are we really still thinking and feeling thet men and women should do specific jobs? If so, maybe gender neutral is the way forward.
"Many consider gender to be a core part of their identity".
However, not everyone feels limited by their gender and many consider it to be a core part of their identity. Losing these labels completely could therefore be considered as a step in the wrong direction, as it would provide a new way of limiting expression of identity.
So, should we scrap gender labels or not?
"The point, and the problem, is not actually the concept of gender, but the stereotypes attached to them".
It's difficult to judge whether losing gender labels all together would be a step too far, as the whole concept is a bit of a paradox. If we lose them, some people would feel free from restriction, but others may feel a loss. But then after a few generations, the whole dilemma would be increasingly forgotten and gender considered an out-dated concept. Conversely, if we keep gender labels, then people will continue breaking away from these restrictions anyway, thus leading to the inevitable end of gender. So, what’s the point?
The point, and the problem, is not actually the concept of gender, but the stereotypes attached to them. It is these stereotypes which are restrictive and offensive, and it is these stereotypes which we must ditch. Should we scrap gender labels now? It's not necessary, they’ll probably reach their natural end in time anyway. Gender stereotypes, however, should be scrapped immediately as no-one should feel their life and identity restricted by a single word – now that, I can tell you, is an out-dated concept.