The meanings that we give to being a man or a woman are significant in how we look at ourselves, and how we perceive and relate with others in the world. Traditionally, the meanings given to gender were predominantly defined by the social roles associated with one’s sex. However, advancements in technology have influenced social fabric in a way that has considerably reduced need for one’s sex to be a significant determinant of these roles.
The polarities here are traditional values and new possibilities, for the self and collectives. In other words, our social identity is becoming increasingly gender neutral. This brings in a welcome relief from the traditional stereotypes of gender roles. It is therefore not surprising that many people today feel more comfortable being a ‘person’ rather than being a ‘man’ or a ‘woman’. However, since this transition is not seamless, people also find themselves struggling with values that have been inherited and new ones that are being formed in the changing world around them.
This creates considerable confusion in our personal, work and social spaces about a very basic question: What does being a “man” or a “woman” really mean to us and how does it impact on our role taking processes? This question is especially relevant when we hold gender stereotypes within and yet function from a platform of gender neutrality. The answers perhaps lie in looking at how we derive the meanings we give to our gender. Femininity and masculinity are abstract concepts, not the qualities, traits or energies of biological men and women. Principles of femininity and masculinity are configured in our psyche through various symbols and are held uniquely by each of us. These symbols, through their unique configuration in each individual offer their share of myths, perceptions, dilemmas and confusions. These, then, shape our day-‐to-‐day role taking processes in our personal and work spaces.
There is a chance to explore some of these in a workshop/lab that is being offered by Sumedhas Academy for Human Context scheduled to be held between 18th and 24th November at Bangalore.
This program aims at anyone who are interested in personal journeys of self-‐ awareness and/or and in exploring and discovering how their actions and choices are determined by their gendered identity. It is meant for change-‐agents, institutional buildings and leaders for who gender diversity and inclusion are crucial in their work and it may be of particular interest to professionals in fields of management, the arts, academia, arts, politics, social sciences, social development and activism.
For more information, look up the Gender and Identity Brochure at http://www.sumedhas.org. Or contact me through this blog.