8 Ways To Break Down Gender Roles In Friendships

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Throughout my life, friendships have routinely been the relationships that most effectively impact me as a person, both positively and negatively. But because we've been raised in the society that we have, it can be important to consciously break down gender roles in your friendships. Because that's the thing about internalized misogyny and transmisogyny: They're sneaky little things. They can slide unchecked into your conversations, slowly but surely, and suddenly microaggressions are normalized, you're making harmful generalizations, and you are on the road to, dare I say it, being close-minded. Perish the thought.

Your friendships — the good ones, at least — should function as safe spaces, where you can be honest and vulnerable, and you can try out new ideas and thoughts and concepts and ideals without the fear of being mocked. Your conversations with friends about gender can serve as training wheels for the rest of the world. As with pretty much everything in life, you have to live with something in order to really learn it.

In order for this arrangement to work, though, there needs to be respect and trust. Without those two elements, none of these suggestions for consciously addressing gender roles in your friendships will work. But if you have that, then these eight things are definitely worth exploring. Everyone will benefit from them — you, your friends, and the rest of the world.

1. Ask About Pronouns

It is so very simple, but it can make a huge difference.

2. Question Stereotypes...

Accept nothing at its surface; question everything. Remember that we don't live in a vacuum, and if you dig deep enough, you'll find that most social issues intersect at some point.

3. ...Especially That "Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus" BS

Noooooooope. Nope nope nope. Holding up the overarching belief that "Well, men and women, they're just different. They're like cats and dogs"? That's at the root of the whole problem. If I have to hear, "Well, women are just really catty" one more time from anyone, regardless of their gender, I will lose it. It is so lazy to fall back on platitudes like that.

4. Hold Each Other Accountable

Who else if not your friends can you rely on to be an honest mirror? We hold a lot of internalized prejudices — it's kind of unavoidable. In order to address them, and subsequently fix them, we need other people to sometimes be an unbiased third party and say something.

5. (Share The Emotional Labor)

This is a gendered action. Women tend to be socialized to feel like they have to do the full amount of emotional labor in a relationship, especially when it's with someone who's male. Reject that. Be on the lookout for those tendencies. They're not necessarily verbal. Friendships should be some of the most equal relationships we'll ever experience, and one person doing all the heavy lifting while the other stands idly by is, uh, no good.

6. Make An Effort To "Call In" Rather Than "Call Out"

Getting immediately aggressive and condescending will, 99 percent of the time, make people tune you out. Treat your friends (and everyone, honestly) with respect. Even if you don't agree with them, make an effort to understand where they're coming from, and work your way from there.

7. Send Each Other Resources

The best way to learn? Read stuff! Google it! And then share the wealth!

8. And Discuss Them!

Learn to love intellectually stimulating conversations with friends about challenging the gender binary! They are the best! You will become a better person because of them!

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