Musing on Gender

Musing on Gender

By Helmut Domagalski

Do you ever wonder what it would be like to be raised as a child, with nothing but absolute encouragement to express what comes to you?  Well not just anything, but anything ethical.  Whether gay or straight, to simply be encouraged to be?  To accept and love every aspect of yourself without a particular bias?

When I think that – I wonder, how gender might express itself.  How would humans be in their highest and purest forms; if we let them love and evolve into themselves without imposed guardrails?

I think that this is hard in our society because we are constantly setting expectations for each other.  We are raised up with society-imposed definitions of beauty, intelligence, strength, masculine, feminine, etc.  As we assimilate all the cultures and religions into our American society however, we find so much variation in these definitions; and as our life expectancies extend, we have more time to delve, contemplate, and consider what we are doing to ourselves and to our youth in these constructs. 

What is beauty for example?  You can be pretty outside for only so long in life.  What if our inner beauty could be visible to everyone?  What if we became the kind of people that valued character, kindness and honesty above all things – in work, in friends, and at play.   Gender then, gender might not mean as much.

I am fascinated with gender and gender expression, because to dare to bend the lines of expectation, and simply express yourself as you wish to do is hard for a rule-follower like me.  There are heavy cloaks of expectation set upon us early in life.  Men are to be strong, hard, mean – able to attack and defend.  But are they?  Modern straight men, I believe strongly – are struggling in this country to be strong in their weakness.  Too many of them are trapped in isolation – when they so badly need brotherhood and connection to the tribe of humanity… beyond just their wives or girlfriends. 

I admire greatly men who are willing to show their femininity, who can be soft and kind fathers – and who allow the women they love to take the lead when that is how the woman is best engineered.  And when men express their feelings and needs to each other as brethren, across familial lines – that is the making of some great humans; I’m lucky to have at least three such creatures in my life.

I have also been blessed in my life to be around women who run circles around men.  Some do – at heights and levels of business and power in this world that are astounding.  Isn’t that beautiful!  And there are men who do the same. 

We must learn ultimately to love all genders and the myriad of their expressions equally.  Truly.  And that means to not lay preference to any – which is hard to do in a world filled with marketing, and advertisement, that manipulate us – that infect our brains with expectations and only further emphasize the biases we already have.

I played with gender as a child – but landed on the conclusion that I was a boy and I was drawn to boys.  But that could have gone in any direction.  I could have felt like a girl inside, or something in between. And, I could have developed sincere long-term attractions to both women and men, or some other variation in the human experience. 

What I find as I speak to people of the trans community, cross-dressing friends, pan-sexuals and gender fluid individuals, is that ultimately – these labels indeed may be what I need to let go of next.  I (we) have in me (ourselves) such a need to put things in categories – and one of the greatest lessons of my life is that these boxes, these labels, these prisons, are not the healthiest constructs for us humans.

Indeed, each person we meet is their own snowflake.  And how they want to express their gender and who they want to cuddle up with is just one dimension which we must seek to understand.  Our parents were their own kinds of snowflakes that impressed or did not impress upon us their own strengths and weaknesses.  We have each pursued various choices and have differing skills and drawbacks in who we have evolved into – mentally, ethically, spiritually, physically, socially – the list goes on. There is not a box for Helmut. Helmut is by definition who they are and they offer the opportunity to be simply understood if you so choose to. (And yes, that’s the first time I’ve referred to myself with a they)

What I hope for more than anything, for the future of gender and for the future of humanity – is that we can maintain a high level of ethical standard and respect for how we should treat each other – alongside an immense respect for each person’s unique pattern of who they become.  I do not want to restrict your journey if it is not harming anyone – because I am certain that something about your pathway – when it brings you joy… will help you bring joy to others.  And in the end, it is the relationships with ourselves and with each other that indeed are the greatest treasures in the life on earth… and how those joys fuel a more enlightened, ethical and kind future for the next generation of humans we are ushering onto the earth.

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