Almost anyone who has had a conversation here on GirlsAskGuys about political, social, or economic issues as they relate to gender can probably attest to the tension and competitive attitude that exists between the genders here. I personally feel that this is incredibly damaging to individuals of all genders, and to our generation as a whole. We are entering trying times that threaten to separate us by political views, religion, race, and creed- let's not let them separate us by gender, too. The contention building between the genders is powerful and deeply rooted, and I'm not naive enough to believe that one myTake will eliminate the problem. But if I can inspire even one person to try to foster peace in their own interactions with the opposite gender, then writing this will be worth it.
Here are my reasons why it's important to stop this war:
1. It's not just about gender.
We're all human beings who have feelings, thoughts, desires, needs, problems, struggles, hopes, and fears. Regardless of gender, each of us is a unique individual with our own experiences and perspective. Members of the opposite gender are as different from each other as other members of your own gender are from you. Making assumptions about who another person is, or what they experience, based purely on their gender is just plain counterproductive.
2. It's not a competition.
All too often, conversations about gender roles or gender based problems morph into competitions to prove that one's own gender is the most disadvantaged or the most poorly treated. There's no way to win this fight. Wanting to prioritize your own problems- those that affect you directly- is totally natural. But every individual is in that position, so trying to prove that your problems are more important simply because they are yours is a waste of time.
3. You'll never know what it's like to be in the opposite gender's shoes.
You can put on a pair of heels or oxfords if you want to. But you will only ever know what it's like to be yourself and to live your own life. Your views of other people and their situations will always be clouded by your own natural biases. That's an inescapable, unavoidable reality of being human. During recent years, gender issues have become much more convoluted and complex. There are now numerous issues that affect each gender. No individual will ever be aware of, or fully understand, every problem that people of the opposite gender may be facing.
So let's end this useless fighting, and try to foster peace between the genders. Here's how:
1. Acknowledge your biases.
When you engage in discussions about gender related issues, remember that you only know what it's like to be your own self and your own gender. You may not fully understand the problems that someone else is dealing with, and that's natural. But never assume that they're not significant to the person who is affected by them just because you don't know what it's like to be in their position.
2. Don't start a competition.
It's simple to argue that a broken leg is a bigger deal than a paper cut. It's not so simple to argue that it's harder to be one gender than it is to be the other- nor should that be the point. The best way to have a meaningful discussion about gender issues is to avoid turning it into a competition in the first place. Any problem that hurts people is an important problem, so skip the comparisons and find something more productive to focus on.
3. Treat others as you want to be treated.
Everyone wants to feel heard and taken seriously. Minimizing someone else's struggles to make your own seem more significant won't get them on your side. Try to empathize with other people's problems the same way you'd want them to empathize with yours. Many of the biggest gender based issues can only be solved if we all work together as a society. Men and women are both human and we need each other, so being on the same side is incredibly valuable- let's learn how to cooperate for everyone's benefit.