If you’re as old as I am, you’ll probably remember an old Saturday Night Live sketch where a character named Pat whose gender could never quite be determined. He/she would be doing everyday activities & everyone he/she would interact with would try to determine whether they were dealing with a man or a woman. With a gender neutral haircut, unassuming clothes and an average sounding voice, it was very hard to tell. I used to think this skit was hilarious but little did I (or even the writers) know how close to reality these scenes would eventually become. Nowadays, women and men are becoming more & more gender agnostic. Little girls don’t wear pink & boys don’t wear blue as babies anymore and women are even turning into men & men into women. It’s getting more and more difficult to tell if someone is a man or a woman. Besides, many people would consider it rude if they were asked. Wouldn’t you?!
What is a person to do? Well, here are some rules I think people should abide by if they want to look gender-neutral:
Women shouldn’t wear a mohawk unless they wear a dress to go with it – if you want to rock a traditionally male haircut, then at least put on something feminine to counteract that. It’s like the “yen” & the “yang” – there needs to be some contrast.
Shoes should not be unisex – People should always be able to tell by your footwear what sex you are. Unless you are in the military (or wear some other type of unisex-required footwear), shoes make the man or woman. So even if I can’t tell your gender by your clothes on your body, I should be able to tell by the shoes on your feet.
Let’s talk about babies….because I can’t always tell what sex they are either – pretty much all babies look alike, in my opinion. So unless your infant is swaddled in pink or blue, parents don’t be offended if someone like me can’t tell whether your baby is a boy or a girl.
Go to the bathroom, please – When you can’t tell sometimes the best thing to do is just watch them walk to the restroom. This way you can see which one they go into – the men’s room or the ladies room. It may seem crazy, but it’s a safe bet.
Why is it so important to know? – While everyone doesn’t need to wear blue or pink all the time, it is very important to know whether I’m dealing with a man or a woman so I can determine how to treat them. I wouldn’t change my clothes in front of a man, but I would in front of woman. I would have “girl talk” with a girl, but not with a boy. I would ask a man to help me by lifting something heavy, but I wouldn’t ask a woman. And I would also expect a man to hold the door open for me, not a woman. I hope you get the point…..it does matter what sex you are.
Gender not only defines who we are, but how other people treat us.
Have you ever encountered a person whose gender you couldn’t tell? What did you say? How did you react? And what finally gave it away?
Check out an old SNL skit below & let me know what you think. Was Pat a man or a woman? –