Exploring what gender means to us

A big topic to discuss today; as more people are speaking about how they feel about gender we thought we would explore what our gender means to us-is it important? Do we think it is a spectrum? How much is it really connected to physiological factors?

We began by looking at fashion in the West throughout the last century to see how assigned roles for men and women informed clothing and how this changes as the years go on…and those who defied the cultural fashion norms of their day.  Please click here to have a look: Fashion and Gender

What we noticed from the pictures was that the predominant fashion for men was a suit, and this didn’t really change for many decades, although a cardigan became a casual substitute for a jacket, the tie was still worn.  In the 70’s though with the arrival of Glam Rock, suits began to take on a much more colourful, glittery, lacy and all in one form.  Meanwhile Punk was doing something very different and introduced gender neutralised styles as men and women wore the same clothes and hairstyles.


In previous generations, apart from those who deliberately went against cultural norms it seemed to be men in suits and women in dresses.

The group discussion touched on the debate of how much is nurture or nature and observed how from a very young age a child learns what is for boys e.g blue and trucks and what is for girls e.g pink and dolls.  Though it was noted that what this looks like for us today was not the same stereotypes of three or four centuries ago; think of the flamboyance in the royal courts of men’s fashion.

People talked about how it is helpful to organically be able to find your way through your gender as a child to enjoy your gender or to have the choice to maybe not feel so connected to it.  Some people shared experiences either received or observed of sometimes ‘progressive'(?) parenting of forcing children to play with non-stereotypical toys for their gender, and the removal of a chosen and enjoyed toy because it was ‘gendered’.   We also spoke again, as we have previously in this group about how certain qualities are attributed to being masculine to feminine-when maybe it’s actually just human! The group acknowledged that maybe gender can be a bit more fluid and doesn’t have to be placed rigidly in categories of jobs, qualities, colours and fashion for men and women…this applies to moisturiser…the group were joking that for women it is marketed for separate and individual moisturisers for hands, nails and cuticles, feet, legs, elbows, face, neck, eyes, etc, and 300 different choices of shampoo depending on hair type, while for men, one big bottle will clean the lot including the oil on the garage floor! Though we do know this is changing as men’s grooming has become a big emerging market which clearly shows the change in the public’s perceptions and expectations of gender.


One thought on “Exploring what gender means to us

  1. Given the diversity within the group, so refreshing that such harmony here on acceptance and expansive interpreation around gender expression and identity. Ash.

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