This past February 2019, I was very fortunate to attend a conference on International Women’s Day at Copenhagen Business School (CBS) in Denmark called “Fight the myths about gender at International Women's Day 2019.” Not only were there fantastic speakers such as Nima Sophia Tisdall of Blue Lobster App, who was recently featured by the Obama Foundation, but also we all participated in a GenderLAB experiment, where we were asked to identify our various, unique identities and the stereotypes that surround them. For example, I distinctly remember writing down that “I am a woman, but I cannot cook, and I don’t want to be a housewife.” This innovative and compelling exercise, stimulated my creative juices and got me thinking about other areas where norms, identities, and stereotypes all collide.
In essence, this day was a day to celebrate diversity and difference by having everyone understand the cross-pollination that occurs with gender, norms, identities, sexuality, stereotypes, cultural mores and values, etc. It’s such a complex topic, because we humans, are complex individuals. But at the end of the day, we are all just a sum of our experiences, and the most important thing, is how we treat each other on a daily basis and how we treat ourselves. Please enjoy the short poem below about challenging my own identities.
Challenging My Identities, Norms, and Stereotypes
I am a woman, but I am also a man.
I am a woman, but I am not extremely emotional or dramatic.
I am a woman, but I am pretty athletic and good at nearly all individual sports — think rock-climbing, long-distance running, hiking, etc.
I am heterosexual, but I am also LGBTQQ-friendly.
I am spiritual, but I am also rational.
I am a Buddhist, but I am not a vegetarian.
I am a sexual being, but I am not anyone’s sexual object.
I am really really powerful, but I am also really really gentle.
I am very confident, but I am also insecure.
I am Japanese, but I am also European.
I am Asian, but I am not good at math.
I am American, but I am also a Global Citizen.
I am American, but I am not a Trump supporter.
I am mixed race, but I am also just a normal human being.
I am an individual, but I am also part of a larger community.
I am very worried about climate change, but I still pollute on a daily basis. We all do. But in Japan, I've polluted less than in America, since I live in a smaller space, I never drive and rarely use the trains, and eat a mostly pescatarian diet.
I want to eliminate all gun usage in America to the bare minimum, but I am not and should not be labeled as a lunatic or anti-American.
I stand for the dignity and respect of all human beings, but I am also pro-choice. As a side note, when I first heard the term "pro-life," I thought it meant that we promote humanity overall, and specifically, the life of the woman / soon-to-be mother. But I was wrong. Those who advocated for "pro-life" were generally very religious, and somehow had taken that term to mean "anti-abortion." I’m not sure how they did it, but lucky them. I will always believe that a woman should have the right to do whatever she wants to her own body, and should have the right to an abortion.
Thank you very much for reading this short and sweet post. I hope it got you to challenge your assumptions, think about your own identities, and ponder the stereotypes that are said about each of your identities.