What is the Future of Gender?
We have long been conditioned to ascribe value to gender stereotypes, especially the binary divisions between the male and female genders. The popular notion is that men dominate all species on Earth, while women are positioned as inferior, helpless and lost without the guidance of a man. These absurd preconceptions of gender may stem from the Christian concept of original sin, which is the belief that Adam’s downfall was caused by Eve’s subordination, when she consumed the forbidden fruit as advised against by God. We have long applied this phenomenon to the gender binary, as men are celebrated and praised while women are disregarded and punished if they threaten a man’s power.
To this day, women are often perceived as subordinate and ascribed derogatory labels. Throughout history, married royal officials and kings committed adultery with numerous mistresses in their palaces, using them as objects solely for sexual pleasure. If a woman committed adultery just as these rulers, she would be executed immediately. Though we are lucky to be rid of execution as punishment for adultery, women continue to be categorized as whores and sluts no matter how they choose to express or explore their sexualities.
Today, the majority of popular rap music is created by men that contain lyrics such as “She make the ass clap dancing like she on a d**k, bring it back I threw a stack that’s a lucky bitch, up and down she’s going she’s sliding on that pole, making money stacking up hundreds shawty cold,” rapped by Juicy J. in “Bandz a Make her Dance.” Male rappers often—or, excessively—assert their sexual appetites in their songs, and nobody blinks twice. Recently, rapper Tyga released a song called “Taste” that simply describes a woman “getting a taste.” Lines like “and she gon’ suck me like a f**kin Hi-C” indicate Tyga’s sexual cravings in the song. However, when women like Nicki Minaj, Lil’ Kim, or Cardi B rap about their erotic pleasures or fantasies, they’re immediately deemed “hoes.” The song “My Neck My Back” by Khia is regarded as one of the raunchiest songs in rap history, due to her relentlessly repetition of “My neck, my back, lick my p*ssy and my crack;” but numerous songs by male rappers exhibit the same message, if not one that is actually derogatory and should be criticized. Why are lyrics like “she gon’ suck me like a f**kin Hi-C” or “She make that ass clap dancing like she on a d**k” ignored, but similar lyrics by women are categorized as too vulgar and raunchy? This can be attributed to the notion that women must be considered whores or sluts if they possess and express a sexual appetite, instead of being praised like their male counterparts.
These toxic perceptions of women have long been present, and many are trying to break out of the mold of the gender binary. In the financial realm, women have made substantial progress. Jack Myers, author of “The Future of Men: Masculinity in the Twenty-First Century” says that “Young men are growing up more and more in fatherless homes, or growing up in homes where the woman is out-earning her husband, where they're both working -- they're not just defying traditional gender norms” (CBS News). While women have made progress in the economic sector, there is still a long way to go. Women are still paid only 75% of what men are paid for the same work, which says nothing of the even worse pay of Black, brown, and disabled women. The pay gap is a huge barrier that works to continue the notion of women as subordinate or lesser-than. Women and gender nonconforming individuals are working to redefine gender and push past its limitations, pushing past huge obstacles that make the fight seem futile.
This makes us wonder, what truly is the future of gender? Can we, as a collective, achieve gender inclusion and gender equality in the upcoming years? Imagine if the ideas of “masculine men” and “feminine women” were dropped from common ideology, and we are all seen as equal on the basis of our gender and sex. We shouldn’t live our lives based on expectations dictated by popular stereotypes and ideas about “appropriate” existence based on gender. But what would such a world look like? Would we eliminate the pronouns of “he, she, him, her,” and instead apply the pronouns “they and them” to all individuals? This phenomenon is already coming into existence as people are increasingly defining themselves as gender-fluid and resisting the gender binary in many different ways. If a genderless society is established in the future, would sexual harassment, violence, and rape lessen or cease to exist? Children could be taught to embrace their individuality and learn to be kind and nurturing people, which would perhaps end bullying, homophobia, and harassment as sexual orientation would also cease to exist with the disintegration of categorized genders. Would the words “bitch,” “slut,” “whore,” “c*nt*,” “pussy,” and “dick” also be eliminated from our everyday language? Will this utopian society allow us to finally love one another free of stereotypes and hatred? If we aim to answer these questions, we must begin to fight relentlessly for a radical redefinition of gender and the ways in which we interact with it.
The future of gender is proven to hold endless possibilities. With more determination and courage from all of us, we might be able to liberate ourselves from the harmful limitations of the gender binary and recognize the inherent value and equality of all genders. Although it’s unlikely that our world will rapidly unite, perhaps our immense need to co-exist harmoniously and peacefully will finally push us to join hands in solidarity.