Societal / Personal
Society at large is rarely an indication of the views of an individual. This is true in pertinence to the I view gender. My belief is that society’s views on gender are changing, but by and large, gender is viewed as binary: two polar extremes dictated by your sex at birth. People who stray from these expectations are publicly ridiculed by those that adhere to their involuntary assignment as a tongue to a frozen flagpole.
I view gender as a spectrum marked incrementally by pronouns that can be best described as mile markers. Traditionally, a person’s conformity to these pronouns is based on sex. However, I view these mile markers as a social roadmap to describe the internal and personal identity that is gender. Everyone falls somewhere on this spectrum and the closest mile marker is picked accordingly in order to allow the people around you to address you in a quick manner.
I disagree with some of the views that fall closer to extremist liberal side that push such concepts of ditching the idea of gender, making up words for gender that aren’t in the english language (ze, zer, hir). Ideally, gender should not define anything about a person whether it be personality, preferences, or sexuality. Although we haven’t universally reached the point where this is the case, the more we create categories for people to conform to, the more likely it is that norms and stereotypes relating to these categories will become true. Rather, labels have already been laid out. If a more diverse crowd identifies with a certain label, it is harder to hold ‘she,’ ‘he’ or ‘they’ to a certain expectation.
Pronouns were created solely for ease of language, not as a conspiracy to control or confine people to a specific social role. It is only recently that pronouns have been attached with the meaning they bear today. Of course, it is only respectful to address someone by their preferred pronouns, but if we were able to tear down the expectations that we hold pronouns to, we would consequently tear down the gender based social infrastructure that they support.
She / He
At probably what was far too young an age, I first watched Pulp Fiction. I remember instantaneously falling in love with Uma Thurman’s depiction of Mia Wallace. She encapsulated this beautiful agglomerate of personality traits I had always viewed as isolate from one another. Mia Wallace is, in my eyes, a role model. She is the embodiment of a progressive definition of femininity. Her drug use, swearing, confidence, and sub par dancing helped to validate the unfeminine parts of me that I am still working to stop considering flaws.
On the daily, Mia Wallace is merely the trophy wife to a much more traditionally powerful and successful man. However, when her personality is allowed to shine in lieu of a night spent with her husband’s employee, she comes off as confident and self-reliant. Before this, I never had come to realize that a woman could be both. Part of privilege is having the choice to fall into a successive role or a dominant one and not being confined to either. A woman is allowed to have the desire to dress up, wear makeup, or please a man. After seeing Mia Wallace conduct herself in varying situations, I finally understood that adopting this role is empowering if a women is presented it as an option, not a given.
Most suburban Boulder kids don’t grow up idolizing fictional characters that overdose on heroin or marry a mob boss, but there is an undeniably empowering aspect to this caricature that shaped the way I view femininity from a young age. This was the first time growing up that I truly saw a confident woman in the media that I looked up to. There was no need for Mia Wallace to validate these unfeminine aspects of her personality, rather, she embraced them and flaunted them without shame. Everyday, I only hope that I can grow to share this mentality.
The first time I listened to Young Thug, I found the lyrics and delivery of them amusing yet catchy. Although I had heard some of his music, I was entirely unfamiliar with the bizzarity of Young Thugs compatibility with traditional gender roles. The content of his music is often raunchy and offensive to many. However, his outward appearance and mannerisms seem more offensive the heteronormality hidden behind his lilting vocals. It’s as if two people with two seperate normative gender identities are waging a war in Young Thug, each manifesting itself in different parts of his image and craft. However, no matter how fluid or non-conforming Thugger seems to be, all of this seems to be abridged on a surface level by the pronouns preferred by the artist: he, him, his.
Listening and viewing Thugger’s disposition as a female, I am more confused than shocked or upset. Although the content of his songs reflect a toxic view of masculinity, every other aspect of his personality contradicts this. It is easy for me to naively see men as falling into one of two categories: toxic and offensive, or overtly feminine and liberal. It isn’t everyday that you see a figure in the media display these two polarized traits simultaneously. Young Thug is a constant reminder that nothing gender related is black and white or binary.
Of course inseparable from this polarization of expression comes the socially hegemonic side of Young Thug that his lyrics display. I have found myself numb to the messages about women that rap music often sports and this case is no different. Deep down, I know that supporting and streaming this music is perpetuating a misogynistic view of females that we have tried so hard to shake, but I can’t help but take the bait of allowing Thugger’s garb to cloud the moral voice alerting me that something is off. It has become far too easy to desensitize myself to shocking lyrics and themes in Young Thug’s music because he comes off as ‘woke.’ If this method of fogging more sinister themes is adopted on a wider scale to appeal to a more liberal audience, much of the work that has been historically exerted to reverse traditional gender roles may be in danger.