A close look at gender

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It is believed in many quarters that effective communication is somehow linked to notions of congruence. On a superficial level this idea makes sense to me, but one only needs to look under the surface to find that things are not as simple as they might initially appear to be.

Cultures and traditions across the world have diverse ways and means of categorising natural things. Masculine and feminine images are not universally accepted as the same in every situation. I have seen situations where a child has been brought up with a gender fluid sensibility and it is mainly the adults in that child’s life that had to make mental adjustments in dealing with what they saw.

What role does conditioning play in the scope of things that many of us regard as “normal”?

It is likely that the cosmetics industry did a considerable amount of market research before someone came up with the term “metrosexual”. What was the primary aim for doing so? Was it to convince as many men as possible that it is okay to use lotions and creams in their personal grooming, so the companies could shift as many units as possible?

There is also a person’s inner life to think about. On a visit to Nigeria, eyebrows were raised when I insisted on sometimes going into the kitchen to do my own cooking. My father was a good cook, but I only ever learnt those skills from him when he came to visit me in London. Why do so many of us cling so tenaciously to cultural straitjackets?

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