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Extinguishing Gender Roles, Igniting the Romance

Being flexible in your gender role is an obvious plus.

By H. Bondurant, Duke University, used with permission
Source:, used with permission

Most people think of metrosexuals or those girls from Tegan and Sara when they hear the word “androgyny.” It actually comes from the combination of the Greek words for man, andros, and woman, gyné.

The yin yang sign, believe or not, is also a symbol of androgyny. Eastern philosophy believes in two types of energies, much like what we might call kinetic and potential in today’s scientific terms, called yin and yang. Each is associated with opposing forces in nature, such as hot and cold, one of which is a distinction between male and female. However, instead of a battle of the sexes, it is held that each of us has both types of energies. The healthy, emotionally stable person is the one that has a perfect balance of the two.

While this may just seem like some mystical bullshit, modern psychologists have been finding results that support much of this ancient wisdom. Sandra Bem, the creator of the Bem Sex Role Inventory, found androgynous individuals to be more competent than those who with just masculine or feminine traits. Her pioneering work inspired others such as Janet Spence, who believed and demonstrated that these traits work together in multiple ways.

When you think about it, being flexible in your role (gender or otherwise) is an obvious plus. It allows you and your partner to find middle ground by seeing things through a common lens. Aggression has been typically a masculine trait yet it’s pretty damn sexy to see a woman take charge.

Cultural stereotypes and inherited traits affect not only your gender role, but also your personal idea of what that entails. It’s important to remember that our gender roles may have subjective definitions. One could be more feminine socially but more masculine sexually. Just like finding inner balance between the energies, a perfect couple should be able to compliment each other by filling the gender gaps. Some men love to cook and clean, some women can change your oil in seven minutes. Finding someone that fits you, and not necessarily a certain gender stereotype, is essential to a harmonious relationship. — Fist published on on March 22, 2011.

H. Bondurant, PhD, has always been interested in people: how we think, act, and relate to each other. They specialize in issues of self-knowledge from a social and political as well as psychological standpoint. As an interdisciplinary scholar, H.’s work focuses on how to approach one’s sense of self, life, and relationships with others. Their research often draws from cognitive neuroscience, gender and race studies, behavioral economics, linguistics, and medical ethics. H. also teaches yoga, organizes community events, and loves to rollerblade.

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