Why my gender shouldn’t define my role

Today, I must be heard. Do not misunderstand me, misconstrue my words, or misread my intentions.

Today, I need to stand up and shout this message as loud as I can; so loudly, that my voice will echo through time, and my daughters and my daughters’ daughters will not have to scream to be heard. Because a platform will be given to them. Out of respect.

My message is simple, and it’s been said before. But for some reason, it has been decades and decades, and it has yet to be internalized. The message is this:


And that’s it. Three little words, none more than two syllables long. But this phrase seems to be the most difficult concept to grasp. After all this time, it still needs to be shouted, insisted upon, drilled into society’s brain. Women are people.

And people fill all sorts of roles in our society. Some people hold public office, some work behind the scenes. Some people prefer to work with their hands, some prefer to work with their minds. Some people run homes, some run businesses. Some people lead, some people follow. Some people are the teachers, and some people are students. And women can do any of these things. None of these roles should be seen as a “male role” or a “female role.”

I’m so tired of hearing “Why do you want to be a man? Why not embrace your femininity?” or “Why do you want to do what men do? What’s wrong with what women do?”

And my answer to that is: I don’t! I don’t want to be a man or do what men do. What I want is for a woman to be able to do whatever she damn well pleases without it being labeled “What a man does” or “What a woman does.” Just “What a person does.”

At this point I’m sure some readers are huffing and puffing about not denying biological facts, and there are studies to prove how a men’s and women’s brains work differently, and we have different hormones, and different natural inclinations, etc. etc. blah blah blah so on and so forth.

And yes. You are right. That is all true. I’m not denying it even a little bit. Men and women have different body parts. But so what? The body parts most used to contribute to society are the ones we have in common. And the few professions in the world that actually require the use of a person’s genitals, I would not recommend for either gender, and are probably illegal.

And yes, we have natural inclinations. But again, so what? Many women might choose to have children, but aside from gestating, birthing, and breastfeeding, men are equally capable at child-rearing as women. Why should it matter if the mother or the father is the primary caregiver? Personally, I choose to be my children’s primary caregiver for the first two years of life. But by no means am I suggesting that is the model everyone should follow. Each family has its own considerations, and should dole out the responsibilities on the basis of needs. If a man is a stay-at-home dad, who cooks and cleans and changes diapers, does that make him less of a man? Or is he simply filling a need that his family, and society as a whole, requires in order to function?

This whole notion of what is and is not feminine is very perturbing to me. It reminds me of the whole “Real women have curves” idiocy. I admit that at first I thought that was a great line, because, well, it included me! I have curves, so I’m a real woman! But then it occurred to me that by saying that, I am excluding other women—women who are equally as “real” as I am—from womanhood! What chutzpah! Who am I to decide what makes a woman?

And who are we to decide what makes a role feminine or masculine? How dare we create an environment in which people second-guess their goals in life for fear of being stigmatized as too much of the opposite gender or not enough of the gender with which they identify. Or worse, they are prevented from reaching their goals, because society is set up in such a way that is exclusionary to those who don’t fit their socially-mandated gender role.

Traditional gender roles have had their day. Enough is enough. Let’s break down the barriers.

About the Author
Bahtya Minkin is a full-time mother of four, originally from Lakewood, NJ, now living in Beit El. In her ample spare time she enjoys crocheting, reading, and arguing with strangers on Facebook.