There are many who believe that masculinity and femininity are dictated by being able to do certain activities. If a man is able to do these activities then, by default, he is masculine. A similar standard with different activities holds true for a woman. For example, if a boy or man can’t throw a football, shoot a gun, protect his family, etc., then he fails to be masculine. If a girl or woman can’t bake a cake, take care of a family, be found attractive in the eyes of others, then she fails to be feminine. When trying to understand masculinity and femininity, we need to be able to determine just what it is that makes a man masculine and what makes a woman feminine. Consider the following possibly offensive jokes:
What do you call a man with no arms and no legs lying in front of your door? . . . Matt.
What do you call a man with no arms and no legs hanging on the wall? . . . Art.
What do you call a man with no arms and no legs floating in the ocean? . . . Bob.
What do you call a woman with no arms and no legs on a tennis court? . . . Annette.
What do you call a woman with no arms and no legs on a fence? . . . Barb.
What do you call a woman with no arms and no legs on the beach? . . . Sandy.
Now whether or not you think the jokes are funny, they do all have a common theme besides the fact that they focus on people with no arms and no legs. Look closely. Regardless of whether or not they have arms or legs, they are still MEN or WOMEN.
The jokes don’t work if you say: What do you call an it hanging on the wall?
So, what does this mean? It means that men are still men if they have no arms and no legs and are not able to do everything that a man that has arms and legs can do. The same holds true for women. A woman is still a woman regardless of what she is capable of doing. Let’s take this a step further.
Let’s say that a man had his testicles damaged so that he can no longer have children. Is he now an it? If it was necessary that a woman has a hysterectomy so that she can no longer have children, is she now an it? Well, according to what we just discovered above, being masculine or being feminine is not determined by what a man or a woman can do, or what he or she can possibly do. If a man or woman has damaged or missing genitalia, he does not automatically lose his masculinity, nor she her femininity. Now, let’s go yet one step further.
Have you seen on the news or read in the newspaper a report that goes something like, “The body of man was found dead by the side of the road” or “A woman’s body was found in her apartment”? Do you see it? Do you see what they are saying? It is the body of a MAN and of a WOMAN. Even in death we are either masculine or feminine. If we didn’t acknowledge the body as either a man or a woman, that speaks volumes to the value we place on mankind as a whole. Now, there are times when the name of the deceased is either unknown or kept from the public for some reason. Yet if we were to purposefully keep the sex of the body out of the report such as:
The body of a person was found . . .
then there is an unspoken message conveyed along the lines of, “in death as in life you are meaningless. You were worth so little in life that you deserve no recognition in death.” Do we treat men and women this way? No. Should we treat men and women this way? If we accept Darwin’s idea of macroevolution, then we should because we are all here accidentally for no good reason or purpose anyway. Yet we don’t because deep inside, we know that men and women deserve a dignity and honor in both life and in death above the other creatures of creation.