FEMINISM - Back in university I took a course titled "Male and Female Relationships"... It was really more of a literature course in which we analyzed how men and women interact with one another, and not just on a biochemical level as per sex / love (much to the disappointment of several people in the class on the first day who evidently did not read the course description). but also dealt with issues of motherhood / fatherhood, how children relate to their parents, how siblings relate to each other, how male / female co-workers get along, bosses, authority figures, etc, etc.
The course was my first taste of what a gender studies course was all about. In the years that followed I took many other courses on similar topics, including Psychology of Women, Male and Female Archetypes, and so forth. I basically minored in gender studies, which at the time was often known as women's studies, a misnomer because we spent half the class time talking about men too.
That last bit is an important part of the whole gender studies phenomenon. As a series of courses they really don't contribute anything to the global economy... but they do allow people to study something which effects how people interact with each on a social level.
Knowing the gender/sex of an individual is the first thing people do when they meet someone new. They look at their chest, their face and try to determine which sex they are. Once this is done they also assess how feminine or masculine a person is.
If the first is confusing (ie. the person has facial hair and yet has breasts) then we get confused and wonder what exactly is this person standing before us. Are they like the bearded lady from the circus? Are they a really butch woman? Are they a man who looks feminine and has hormonal problems? Are they a transsexual? If a person can't tell they get confused and distracted, trying to determine what exactly they are looking at.
In the end it might just be a tomboy who has some whiskers. Hopefully they don't notice you staring and trying to figure out the conundrum.
In Toronto there was recently a couple who decided they were going to raise their baby "genderless", meaning they would treat it the same regardless of whether it was a boy or a girl. This was later reported on in the local media and it became a bit of a fuss. (The kid is obviously a boy, but the parents were refusing to admit it.)
Now because he was so obviously a boy all the neighbours were saying so, asking to see if they were correct. There was even polls to gauge public opinion. A bit too much fuss if you ask me.
When the boy eventually reaches kindergarten he will already have identified himself as male. He will be prone to playing with others boys (because girls are icky, dontcha know?) and doing activities that boys want to do. Its a natural process of self identification.
Identity is very meaningful to the individual. People define themselves with words, saying things like "I am a doctor" or "I am an amateur race car driver" or "I am a father of three", and so forth.
For example, I am an artist, writer, author, website designer, painter, sculptor, photographer, athlete, bicycle mechanic, weightlifter, archer, cyclist, amateur boxer, zen guru, Lilith expert, SEO expert, linguist, poly-lingual, long haired, glasses wearing, amateur guitarist, CEO, entrepreneur, Dungeons & Dragons player, nerd, geek, health nut, eidetic genius, liberal-minded, practical, spendthrift, blatantly honest, Scottish-French-German-Hebrew-Prussian, straight, white male with a sense of humour.
But is this all that I am? No. I am also a body, blood, sweat, meat, fluids, organs, skin, hair and if you believe in any religion I am also a soul which is either going to heaven, hell, purgatory or being reincarnated after I die.
And even so, is this all of my identity? No, because I left things out... I am also a lover, a poet, a hopeless romantic and any number of other words that people might choose to describe me. ie. Some people might call me a self-righteous prick.
Recognizing that we define ourselves by our identity, gender studies is a topic that doesn't just deal with issues of relationships, androgyny, sexuality and so forth... it also deals with the topic of identity and how that is tied to our ego.
The macho male ego for example is a fragile one. Its built upon the idea of being "macho" and masculine at all times. If caught in a situation where the macho male looks weak or feminine, the macho response is to loudly proclaim that they aren't feminine, a sissy, a coward, gay, homosexual, metrosexual or whatever... and if loudly proclaiming it doesn't work, then they start a fight to prove what a 'big man' they are.
I'd argue it takes a bigger man to be humble and accept that we cannot always be macho. Especially if you're a parent.
As a parent there will be times when you need to change a baby's diapers, take the kid in a stroller to the park, and so forth. Not exactly macho activities at all.
But then again macho and married with children don't usually go that well together. Alpha males may be good at attracting women (especially dumb women), but they're not very good at keeping them around because they tend to be assholes.
Studying gender (as per gender studies or women's studies) is therefore highly useful. I'd also argue it takes a smarter man to realize these things and that getting in a fight isn't going to change anything. Fighting won't make your penis bigger.
But it might get you kicked in the balls.
In unrelated news.... Macho Man Randy Savage dies in car accident
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