Day 4 – Gender identity, sexuality and Toblerone.

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Day 4 – Gender identity, sexuality and Toblerone.

Gender is really interesting. I used to think gender was as simple as “male / female”. I guess this comes down to a lack of education on the subject but also that it was a really easy way of looking at the world. Men have a penis, women have a vagina… I get it, we’re done.

But that’s just not true.

Caitlyn Jenner came out earlier in the year as a person who is a man by physical definitions but feels like a woman. The split there is amazing. And it’s all too easy to judge someone like that because people like to judge but also they like to criticize what they don’t understand. 

If we were totally free to express ourselves our genders would have nothing to do with our sex or physical selves and everything to do with how we perceive ourselves. 

In society we seem to want to split everything by gender. It could be the clothing departments in shops, or toilets or even which toys children should play with. 

By putting peer pressure on people to act and be a certain way we suppress people’s true wants and a lot of people never feel fully comfortable in the world. And because this has happened for so long, we just accept it and we just believe it’s the norm… but the truth is it’s only the norm because nobody has question or dared to change it. Norms were not always the norm, they had to become it.

Something I thought about today is, what if I don’t want to identify as either male or female. Just for a thought experiment, what if I don’t want that label because I don’t like it. I don’t think it suits me, and I feel like the way those labels are defined don’t quite sit right with me. What would I be? Well, I would be me. 

I wear boxers. I was in a clothing shop the other day and I needed new boxers. On my way to the checkout I had to walk through the “women’s section” and saw a pair of “boy shorts” which I liked. They were Bat Man Boy Shorts for Women. Has there been a more weirdly named and confusing product in the history of mankind as that? 

I purchased a pair out of pure curiosity.

You cannot (for hygiene reasons) try on any underwear and then take them back. So before I’d even left the store I knew these were mine forever, regardless of how well they fit. 

Now they happened to be really snug. I really like them. I’m not ashamed of this or embarrassed in the slightest. This doesn’t change me or have an impact but in marketing terms, I’m not their “target demo” and I can’t even imagine a world where they would make an advert tailored to me.

I think a lot of people don’t try stuff because they’re scared. Not scared of other people’s opinion, that’s natural and something you can get over, but scared of themselves and scared of liking something. I know I’ve avoided food, sexual experimentation, clothing and going places because I’m scared of wasting my time on something I won’t like, but also scared I’ll like it and it will make me “weird” to others. Which is stupid, because the people who think that stuff is “weird” aren’t people I’d want around. 

I love Toblerone. It’s amazing. Now it’s a weird shape for chocolate and contains stuff which makes my face and tastebuds happy. Now if I had been narrow minded enough to think “chocolate has to be flat” then I would never have tried it and I would never have enjoyed it and I would be missing out on something which makes me really happy. Why is gender and sexuality any different?

If you feel like trying on an item of clothing because you like it, go for it. If you enjoy wearing it, that’s cool. Even if it’s just in your room. Fuck the marketing teams who say that boy is for a boy and pink is for a girl. In 1927, Time magazine printed a chart highlighting gender-appropriate colours for girls and boys according to leading U.S. retailers. all advised parents to dress boys in pink and girls in blue.

It’s all bullshit and all brainwashing crap which is socially constructed to stop you from coming outside of little easy-to-market boxes. If you fit into a box, you’re easier to sell to. But the truth is people are more complex and we should be given more credit.

Blah, this turned into more of a rant than I was expecting. Any thoughts on gender identity, marketing around gender and sexuality? Write them below. I’m off to curl up in bed with a bar of Toblerone and my glow-in-the-dark Superman Boy Shorts.

PS if you’re about to comment “I already knew all of this”, I’m very glad for you and happy that you did, but I think I would have like to have read something like this a year ago. If I had, maybe I’d be wearing super comfortable underwear for an extra 365 days.



Simon Caine is a comedian, author, podcaster, writer and social media manager. He's the host of the Ask The Industry Podcast (iTunes link) , writer of jokes for Twitter and teller of gags on the London comedy scene. He's also the person writing this and it is taking all his willpower not to make a "Simon Says" joke.
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