In a weak moment last week when I couldn’t take NPR or news radio I surfed the local radio stations in my car. Here are two phrases I heard in the span of 5 minutes. I have no idea who the artists are nor am I all that interested…
“Man, I feel like a woman.”
“I’m yo man…” (but something about needing to get down at her place because he had a girl at home)”
Suffice it to say I’m not going back anytime soon to the music on the radio. But, I will admit it got me thinking about how we know what feelings are quintessentially male or female. In the first song the woman feels like a woman because she has the power of attraction but does her own thing. In the second song, I assume the male singer feels like a man because he can sexually please a woman all night long.
What makes us male or female? (No, I’m not talking genetics here.) Sometimes we look at behaviors and interests. Sometimes we look at attitudes or attraction to the opposite sex. But most of the time I think we look at how others perceive us. If they treat us the way we think our gender should be treated (or, is commonly treated even if we don’t like it), then we feel like our gender. When we are invisible to others, treated differently (or so we perceive) based on our interests, behaviors, body type, etc. then we may feel that we are not like most of our gender.
Why is this important to consider? I have clients who have wondered about their orientation due to their feeling different than most of their friends of the same gender.
The simple answer is to assume that God makes a diverse group of males and females and that we ought not interpret our differences as having that much meaning. Of course, we rarely find the simple answer helpful. So what are we to do when we do not feel like others of our gender? Is this a big issue out there or just something we counselors see?