Sometimes I see people complaining when they see someone who is transgender or where you can’t tell if they are male or female. There was a tremendously unfunny character on Saturday Night Live named “Pat” where the entire skit was about people trying to figure out if Pat was male or female. Has that happened to you?
Imagine for a minute if everyone was like that. Imagine you couldn’t tell from someone’s looks or their name or the clothes they wore whether they were male or female.
Would that change the way you treat them?
“But I’m single and I want to find a partner,” you say. Okay, fine. So does that mean you’ll only be friends with potential partners? Maybe you should get to know the person better first. If it turns out that they are not sexually compatible with you, what’s the problem? You have a new friend!
And if you treat someone thinking they are one gender only to find they are another, does that make you reconsider how you treat that gender?
This is not easy. We’ve been ingrained to place people into categories and have certain expectations from them, and it’s a hard thing to overcome, admittedly. But it might be a good idea every once in a while to think about people you know and work with and ask yourself if you would have treated them differently had they been a different gender.
(BASED ON COMMENTS HERE AND ON FACEBOOK, LET ME CLARIFY:
This is a thought experiment about how we treat people differently whether they are women or men, and how if you didn’t know, how would you act. I’m not really talking about going somewhere like a party or a bar where sometimes the purpose is indeed finding someone you might want to be attracted to physically.
And for God’s sake, I LIKE looking at pretty women, so I don’t want that to go away. I don’t WANT everyone looking asexual, nor do I want to shame women who like to dress sexy.
I’m mostly talking about thinking about how you may treat women differently from men for things that have nothing to do with wanting them as a sexual partner. Do you treat female coworkers differently from male coworkers, for instance?)
Some of us cis people there’s no doubt as to gender. In my case it’s Mediterranean traits like hazel eyes, hairy body, you know. Undoubtedly male.
Well, I wasn’t actually calling for a society where everyone was alike. I’m just saying it’s not a bad idea to do the mental exercise when you meet someone, to make sure you’re not treating them differently simply because of their sex — and especially in the workplace and school and so on.
If you’re going out to bars and looking for partners, yeah, that’s different.