Genderism: Unhealthy prejudice
Redesigning Bite the Fruit’s online store, it became clear that when it came to categorizing our products, the usual system of classification, “For Him” and “For Her,” is no longer viable. Gender is hardly binary. And sex toys are functionally non-gender specific.
The adult industry, just as other industries, is plagued by genderism. The patriarchal attitudes, holdovers from when men controlled all the money while women got very little of it, still influence and shape the business. The issue is often overlooked or completely ignored with negative effect.
Genderism, or gender binarism, is the social system or cultural belief that gender is a binary, or that there are, or should be, only two genders — man and woman — and that the aspects of one's gender are inherently linked to the sex in which they were assigned at birth and is strictly decided by the biology of the individual. These aspects may include expectations of dressing, behavior, sexual orientation, names/pronouns, preferred restroom, or any other quality attributed to their birth gender's representation, feminine or masculine. These expectations may reinforce negative attitudes, bias, and discrimination towards people who display expressions of gender variance or nonconformity and/or whose gender identity is incongruent with their birth sex.
Genderism is of particular relevance to individuals who fall within the transgender spectrum, and is the overarching ideology responsible for transphobia and assault on transgender individuals. In addition, much like how transphobia is parallel to homophobia, genderism is said to be parallel to heterosexism, or the belief that heterosexuality is the superior or more desirable sexual orientation in comparison to homosexuality, bisexuality, asexuality, etc.
Heteronormativity, the ideology that two genders and heterosexual orientation are the social norm, also contributes to the rigid social constructs put in place for gender identity and sexuality.
Gender binarism, like heterosexism, denies or ignores the existence of gender identities that do not fall in either of the two accepted categories: man and woman. It leaves no room for any belief where gender as an innate identity can differ from sex. It breeds anti-gender nonconformity or discrimination towards non-binary gender persons.
Some traits, according to research, tend to appear more prominently in either men or women. Men tend to exhibit assertiveness, competitiveness, leadership, individualism, independence, aggressiveness and control. Women tend to exhibit traits like empathy, vulnerability, humility, inclusivity, generosity, balance, and patience. But humans are complex. We all possess a unique amalgam of traditionally “feminine” and “masculine” gender traits.
In an ideal world, we would call all of these “human” traits. But the world is hardly ideal. We maintain and uphold certain traits as either masculine or feminine. We reward individuals for behaving in ways that are consistent with traditional gender traits. We punish those who behave outside the acceptable gender norm. We operate within a dysfunctional system of reward and punishment based on behavior traits that are only negative or positive based on the gender of the individual exhibiting them. A male who exhibits empathy, is disparaged. A female who exhibits independence, is vilified.
These examples may seem extreme or unrealistic. However, pay close attention to what certain behaviors are compensated and the person’s gender. You will likely encounter a man praised while a woman criticized for exhibiting the same exact behavior. The oft cited example is a man who raises his voice at the staff meeting is a good leader, while a woman raising her voice is too emotional.
Gendered labels are highly sensitive and can elicit visceral reactions from all sides. It is time to let go of these flawed, limiting distinctions. They are inaccurate. They no longer serve. Increasingly, gender traits or behaviors associated with one’s sex are becoming meaningless. Holding fast to them can only cause harm.