Gender means to me the collected notions of being that is ascribed to our physical sex identity. For me, gender is closely related to the physical gender of the individual. In fact, the identity that comes from being a specific gender is one that serves to provide meaning for the individual in everyday life. Being a man means that I exist in a position of privilege and preference simply because of my gender identity and my collusion with that identity. Specifically, being a man means to me that I do not need to be afraid of walking alone at night, I should be able to open jars on my own, and that I do not need to rely on others for help in most situations. I compete with other males in our society to assert my male-ness by being self sufficient, prepared and able to assume responsibility. These are not exclusive statements, as I do not believe that by adhering to these principles that it means that as a woman I would not.
However, I see that in my life I follow the path of least resistance, and internally accept the patriarchal responsibilities and roles that patriarchy creates for men. I see the ridiculousness of the system that defines me as a man also condemning womanhood, and realize that I want to be able to rely on, depend on and be in mutually beneficial relationships with women while still trying to affirm my gender identity as a man as defined by patriarchy. I realize that defining myself as a man means that I have internalized the norms of patriarchy including the feeling of the necessity of autonomy and independence, yet I feel the pull of healthy relationships and friendships with the opposite gender. My definition of being a man is also tied in with the reaction to this contradiction, and my response to it is that being a man means that I should be able to display autonomy and exist as a dependent in relationships at the same time. Being a man means that I have responsibility to consider how my actions affect others, and realize that I exist in a position of privilege that comes with a level of responsibility of being aware of my reactions, thoughts and actions concerning gender identity.
Being a woman to me means being a caring, empathetic person that puts the value of emotions above anything else. Womanhood stresses the importance of feelings and emotions, sometimes ignoring logic in the favor of being true to the feelings. Essentially, being a woman means to me being different, being other than man. This difference is essential to me, as those individuals who act in ways that are similar as men tend to alarm me. This is not saying that woman should not be competitive, driven and independent, but that is not all they should be. There has to be another level that exists in a woman, otherwise I get confused about their gender identity.
My father defines being a man as essentially being the one to provide and care for others. He sees the male gender role as a provider, as the one with the responsibility to...