Gender affects all of our relationships with other people. When people talk to each other, their ideas about themselves, like who they are and what rights and opportunities they have, clash with how other people see them and how they treat them.
But it often seems like gender in its truest sense isn’t a part of our social relationships. This is because the way most people think about gender is so deeply ingrained that it seems “normal” and natural.
To understand how we live together, you have to be able to question the things you take for granted every day. This includes our gender, which is a big part of who we are.
This website is a resource for working with other people, but it also shows how important it is to always work on yourself. One could even say that the other can’t really happen without it.
In some ways, the reason for this is easy to explain: each of us is an individual with our own opinions and experiences of living with other people in society. Because of this, everyone has a personal stake in conversations about gender. This is easy to test because most people have met people whose looks didn’t immediately tell them if they were male or female.
Maybe not as many people then think about what this says about gender or how they think about gender stereotypes. In fact, people often organize their ideas about things based on gendered assumptions that have never been questioned.
The idea of “gender awareness” helps us remember that we all need to be aware of things like:
We often think of ourselves as male or female or man or woman, but these labels don’t do justice to how complicated gender and sexual identities are.
- We show our gendered selves in many ways, including how we treat others, both consciously and unconsciously.
- We judge and think about other people’s gender, and this affects how we act around them;
- We judge the gender(s) and sexuality(ies) of others based on images, associations, assumptions, and normative standards, and we don’t always know how or where these influences come from;
- Gender is a major factor in determining who has power, privilege, and opportunities and who doesn’t in a given society. It slows down the movement toward equality and an end to discrimination.
Gender awareness is an important goal for everyone, but it’s especially important for youth workers and young people who want to talk to their peers about gender and violence to work hard on this issue. Gender awareness is important because no one can ever fully “step outside” of the social and cultural processes that shape their identities, values, and perceptions.
However, we can still learn to reflect on ourselves and ask ourselves questions, which is very important for group work and group interactions. Gender awareness should also be seen as a process, because the way we think about ourselves and others as gendered, sexual beings changes over time and in different situations.