The Spectrum

spectrum, men, women
2 min read

While I was driving to college one day, I came across an advertisement for a famous show on the radio, which, on one of the days was going to address the topic of equality for women. In this advertisement, the woman exclaimed, “Real mard auraton ki tarah nahi behave karte” (real men do not act like women). Her tone was sarcastic, implying that she ridiculed it. That got me thinking about what that line really meant.

She kept saying how it showed women are basically looked down upon in the society. Well, yes, that’s quite true in some respects but I don’t think that’s what’s happening when you refer to “real mard auraton ki tarah nahi behave karte”. You’re not just looking down upon women here, well, not at least objectively. What’s actually happening is that you are glorifying the idea of being a “real” man and that’s where things start falling apart.

The reason I say this is because being a “real” man (or a woman) is just a theoretical concept, more like an illusion. It’s an unnecessary and false ideal.  Don’t run like a girl. Don’t sit like a guy, cross your legs. Don’t cry like a girl. Don’t catch like a girl.

The human body has about 20,000 genes that define our characteristics. Even slight variations in any of these could completely change the way a person behaves – mentally and physically. We have, for our convenience, chosen certain gross characteristics that bifurcate gender.

But that’s all they are – gross characteristics. If you dig deeper, you realize that everyone has certain crossover points. At these points, men behave like women and women like men. This gives us a spectrum, with all possible sorts of men. No man can have all the manly traits, making the idea of a real man impossible.

Even in computers, true binaries are theoretical. There are thresholds to determine whether a value for a voltage is more like a 0 or a 1.
So when you say “a real man won’t behave like a woman”, there’s nothing wrong with it. It’s quite the fact; obvious and simple but also irrelevant and redundant. Not because it’s making women look bad but because, like I said, it’s setting an unnecessary and a false standard for men to be men.

It is this categorization and compartmentalization which creates an illusion of wanting to belong to a category. It makes it tough for everyone because we all belong to the spectrum, with varying intensities. So there is no point glorifying the “real” binaries; real men or even real women for that matter.

Traveller, reader, and writer with a knack for spotting the uncanny. I enjoy the theatre; watching it and writing for it. I love abrupt endings, especially when –

7 comments on “The Spectrum

  1. True!! Nicely written. Our generation has started discussing this at least…so we are heading towards a genderless world in the future let’s hope…

    1. Apart from much of the article that I disagree with, what I find most apalling is your comment. I will say this in no forgiving terms, this is one of the most radical of postmodern, neo-marxist ideas that I have ever seen, in essence extremely dangerous. I’m assuming that you, “hoping for a genderless world in the future” stems from the distaste for the concecpt of gender, in that it is somehow inherently oppressive, or a more general invocation that gender is somehow a societal construct. Gender is not something that we get to choose and enforce on other people. If you have a penis you’re a man and if you have a vagina you are a female. You cannot divorce biological differences from this fact to fit your narrative. It is inherently a classification of the two biological sexes of the human species. If you’re hoping that if the world suddenly becomes genderless, it will suddenly become egalitarian. Let me give you a rude shock. It has been noted that some of the most egalitarian societies in the world have some of the highest differences in gender, in terms of employment across several fields.
      You can find several credible dissertations to the effect of this, online. If you’re hoping for a genderless world, keep hoping, gender or gender differences are not going anywhere. Conservative thinkers like myself know the objective reality and I will do my part to keep these radical postmodern ideas in check.

      1. Hi, thanks for the comment. Let me present a different viewpoint here.

        You say that the view stems from (according to you) an incorrect view that: “…gender is somehow a societal construct”. I’d like to point out that the first definition of gender you’ll find after a quick Google search is: “the state of being male or female (typically used with reference to social and cultural differences rather than biological ones)”.

        I can understand how and why someone would get “sex” and “gender” mixed up. “Sex” is in strict terms, a biological construct, and yes, we should NEVER dream of a “sexless” world, because that would be a world where humans would cease to exist.

        What I believe she means by a “genderless” world is the idea that the (incorrect) stereotypes associated with the male or female sex (I emphasize the word SEX here), should not interfere with the natural behavior that a man or a woman exhibits (or otherwise hinder them, psychologically or physiologically).

        If you are biologically a “male” but you are naturally inclined to walking “like a woman”, nobody should tell you that you should “walk like a man”, because that is NOT in your control. It’s a subtle distinction, which (I agree), some postmodernists push to mockery. If your behavior overlaps with behavior that is stereotypically associated with women – that’s not your fault. Gender is more behavioral and cultural, and has less to do with biology; more to do with society’s interpretation of it.

        Of course, if these behavioral (gender-based) stereotypes are eradicated, we won’t immediately fall into an egalitarian world. But it will definitely be one of the steps towards getting there.

        I’d also like to point out that the study you have mentioned is one that is very popularly cited by conservatives all over the world. However, it is not relevant to the article at hand, which, in essence is trying to say that some men behave “like women” and some women behave “like men”, some just do at a greater scale than others.

        Nobody is saying that men and women are the same on a biological level (that would be crazy!), but on a behavioral level, they overlap quite a lot, and we should respect this overlap 🙂

  2. “Of course, if these behavioral (gender-based) stereotypes are eradicated, we won’t immediately fall into an egalitarian world. But it will definitely be one of the steps towards getting there.”

    I disagree, and we have data to prove this otherwise, which is the study that I cited. If you have some of the highest levels of social equality in a society (Scandinavian countries), gender stereotypes tend to amplify more in jobs across various fields – more men in STEM fields, or more women in nursing jobs. You saying that eradication of gender stereotypes being a step towards an egalitarian society has no data to back this claim. However we have concrete data supporting my claim. Gender stereotypes are not in the least bit sexist against women (or men) or like the postmodernists like to claim, oppressive, in institutional hiring in a capitalist society. The gender wage gap is a myth. This is of course true even in India. There is no institutional sexism. It is, however, rampant on a societal level. Women tend to be more agreeable, on average. This claim not only has biological roots but also psychological roots. Hence their proclivity towards nursing jobs (as i claimed earlier). To say that eradicating gender stereotypes is in any way a “step towards an egalitarian society” is unfounded and utterly, without any sort of proof, vapid.

    1. Hi,
      I think the discussion is taking a completely different route. The point of the discussion was whether gender stereotypes should be encouraged or oppressively enforced.

      I think that people should be allowed to express their gender-related behaviours and feelings naturally.

      Let’s say for the sake of argument (and for the sake of the study) that a genderless world wouldn’t achieve egalitarianism. However, wouldn’t it be a better world for people who exhibit (“stereotypically”) behaviours of the opposite sex? Who are we to tell them it’s wrong or enforce our behaviour pattern on them? That’s all this is about.

      Also, from your comment, I think you might be a Jordan Peterson follower. I do appreciate some of his ideas and thoughts.

      1. It’s that obvious? I think Jordan Peterson is one of the greatest thinkers of our generation and a formidable opposition to the scourge that is postmoderism. I think the western civilization allows enough freedom to express themselves and even the freedom to express behaviours of the opposite sex. Why do you think these crazy social justice warriors exist? It’s quite evident that its the very freedom given to these people that we have reprehensible laws in Canada (Bill C-16) that suppress freedom of speech and promote political correctness. They want to enforce their agenda of policed speech in order to promote their expression of whatever (innovative) genders they belong to because they have the freedom to express themselves in the first place. I believe this is a clear attack on the values and standards of society that have shaped people since hundreds of years. I sure as hell don’t want this postmodern wave of gender expression in India.

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