As per Wikipedia definition “Gender policing is the imposition or enforcement of normative gender expressions on an individual who is perceived as not adequately performing, through appearance or behavior, the sex that was assigned to them at birth”… she should behave like a girl… he can do it, he is a boy. Since my childhood I have heard so many of such comments, believe it or not most of them came from my mother. Fortunately my father was a bit progressive in his thoughts and he did not bother much about whether a girl should behave typically like one. In our society, gender policing is more strictly implemented by women than men and applied mostly to women than men. The question is… why? Probably because we are taught that way, so the answer lies in education. Only proper education can change this or I should say improve the situation, changing it would be a far cry. Because my mother was brought up in that way where she had to behave like a typical girl, wear girly clothes, be shy, listen to every elder in the family, be obedient, help her mother in the kitchen and household, be ready for marriage when parents thought she should be, keep no ambition for higher education, look beautiful but keep only girl friends, no boys to be seen around her, etc., etc. she could never accept the rebel I was. This is true for many other girls across the globe where they are often misunderstood because they did not conform to their typical gender behavior. Is it not enough to feel like a woman from within rather than behaving like any? The case is worse in case of boys though; they are often called effeminate or even gay if they fail to behave like a typical male.
I was often called as a tomboy because I loved participating in various sports, did not enjoy wearing flowery girly clothes as they made me slow, never said yes to something I didn’t agree, never followed a rule that I could not justify myself, wanted to be independent by all possible means, always called a spade a spade. More than enough reasons to be misunderstood, called as greedy, immature, disobedient, stubborn, etc. etc. This same attitude marked me as bossy, aggressive, ill communicative at my workplaces dominated mostly by men and closed minded women.
I could think beyond what my parents taught me because I had access to education. One of the benefits of being born in a Bengali family is that you have free and aplenty access to knowledge and education, even the most conservative parents encourage their children to opt for higher education, study beyond the levels of formal education. But this is not true for every child on the face of the Earth.
Children should be given a choice regarding the way they should behave, the kind of clothes they wear, how they want to build their future, how they chose their friends; in a disciplined manner so that they don’t misuse the freedom for choice and become better human beings. Instead of “straightening up that kid, we should teach and enlighten his / her”…