After a discussion about gender, a friend of mine pointed me to the curiously named facebook group ‘We Are Snails’.  The group was formed in response to an article posted on Student Direct by someone I can only assume to be a narrow minded Neanderthal. After making his disgust at those who break gender norms clear and imposing his fashion fascism on the reader, he went on to say, “It’s not cool and metrosexual to break gender norms. You’re an asexual prat and you’re no better than a snail. A life without gender specifics is one without value…” This offensive view surprised me, as it seemed so backward and unacceptable in modern society. But have we really made any progress at all? Superficially, perhaps.

 

A minority of individuals continually challenge and push the boundaries, moving towards a future where views, like those from the moron on Student Direct are eradicated. But this seems impossible when generation after generation perpetuate the same behaviour towards children: dolls for girls, cars for boys, pink for girls, blue for boys….and so on. Some fathers live for the day when they can take “Junior” fishing/shooting/driving/to his first lap dance. Similarly mothers want to take their daughters through the same experiences that they had with their mothers, and in doing so they carry on the view that certain activities are for girls and certain activities are for boys. But surely, you’d think, once a child or young adult, moves beyond this age where their parents are dictating what they do or wear, they can move on from a life constrained by gender norms. They can break out and challenge the system. But, this never really seems to happen for the most part.

 

I think this is because people don’t want to be snails. People want to belong to something, they need a clearly defined identity. I mean, why spend precious time carving out your own special identity when patriarchy has done so for you already? People are frightened by the idea that specific gender might one day not exist; that they can wear and do what they want. But this goes deeper than just being afraid of difference and being different. It’s a fear of freedom. When you have been constrained for so long and told what to think and do, you lose the capacity to make decisions and become afraid of absolute freedom. In saying this, I’m not damning every girl who wears a skirt or a boy who played with trains when he was younger. I am merely saying that possession of a penis does not automatically exclude you from playing with dolls. All I’m arguing for is choice, so people don’t feel compelled to be anything other than what they choose to be. These ‘asexual prats’ are enjoying so much more freedom that the author of the article is. People should be able to choose to be snails if they want. Or caterpillars, or ladybirds or slugs. 

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