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Rethinking Our Gender Identities in the Age of Fluidity

Key Shared Insights & Perspectives

1- The Past

The Genesis of Our Gender Identities

We started our discussion revisiting our past to try to understand the genesis of our gender identities.

Listen to Jason Rosario’s take on where our gender identities originated and what needs to be done to make them more representative of our individuality.

In this first segment, we also touched on the topic of Nature versus Nurture and their relative influence on our self-awareness and behavior.

Listen to Lea Glaenzer as she shares her generation’s clarity regarding gender identities and the need to break down old cultural norms as an expression of autonomy.

2- The Present

Gender Identities in the Workplace

Today, gender identities and perceptions have an effect on the way we work together.

Jennifer Brown pointed out various gender challenges including the proven negative impact on women who speak up about injustices even when their sacrifices cause positive changes overall. Additionally, our open dialogue about gender may have reduced the one-on-one work relationships between men, who currently hold most positions of power, and women.

Listen to Jennifer as she describes how this breakdown is harmful because collaboration and support from men are critical to challenging the current balance of power.

3- The Future

What if we blurred gender identity boundaries in media?

While we are witnessing somewhat contradictory trends, a pull toward modernity and a push against change, creating marketing and advertising that is gender-neutral could be the key to making business and economic opportunities more equal. If we stop thinking of gender in the strictly binary sense and instead realize that our gender is fluid and sits on a continuum, our message becomes more inclusive. Some brands are going in that direction already, such as Beyoncé’s Ivy Park which recently launched an entirely gender-neutral clothing line.

What if we turned up the volume on our own uniqueness instead of trying to minimize our differences?

The desire to organize and label groups of individuals in order to make assumptions about them is driven by our human nature. When we look closer, however, we see an incredible range of diverse attitudes and behaviors within populations formerly considered monoliths. Perhaps the gender identity and sexual orientation language of the LGBTQ community will inspire others to expand beyond narrow gender definitions to claim their uniqueness. Hopefully, this new awareness can stimulate respectful inclusion and compassion in all areas of business and society.

Individual Take-aways

As we came to the end of the hour, our group ended the discussion in the same way we started, with a tour de table. Each participant had the opportunity to reflect on what they heard and share their takeaways from the conversation.

Listen to the last 10 minutes of the episode,

Final Thoughts to Consider

Firstly, it will clearly take a combined effort from both men and women to change the legacy of our gender identities.

We need to strive to rebuild our identities from the inside-out and from bottom-up to be seen for the authentic human beings that we are.

Secondly, as Professor Mark Sherman pointed out, men haven’t really been asked to share their feelings and it would be beneficial if both men and women could be allowed to express their vulnerability and be heard, not judged, by others.

Thirdly, gender identities, sexual orientation and behaviors are not black and white but all the colors of the rainbow – they exist on a spectrum. In the 80s, the Benetton clothing brand pioneered the idea of gender and ethnic diversity and it’s exciting to see modern brands building on those themes. If we limit ourselves to traditional gender norms, we’re often stuck dealing with the negative stereotypes associated with them. So, we need to learn to value everyone’s uniqueness and focus on our commonalities, rather than on our differences.

Finally, the idea that we can achieve equality and make the world a more inclusive and safer place by participating in gender battles is not the most suitable strategy. Fighting and blaming one another won't bring us happiness or get us closer to our goals, especially if the goal is restoring the equilibrium and seeing human beings flourish.

It is time to stop fighting and instead, embrace ourselves and each other as authentic individuals. It is a more complex worldview, but it may lead to more compassion.
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