My mother used to tell me, do not run your bicycle too fast! You have to remember that you are a girl not a boy. Try to act like a girl. In my school life, I was introvert, didn’t like to converse with senior female relatives and girls who love to talk about how to become a perfect women. I loved cycling, painting, and social activities with my junior and senior mates in my neighborhood. My elder brother also told me, oh that types of activities not yours, another brother appreciated me what I really liked to do. That time, I saved myself from my mother’s anger by doing household works for her. She was happy but remained persistent to make me a perfect woman! May be she was afraid of our traditional social believes, which identified activities in line with biological differences between boys and girls.
EXPERIENCED NATURAL WOMEN BODY BEHAVIOR
One day my mother was at office, only me and our maid were at home. I found her in bathroom and continuous bleeding, I understood she had miscarriage. Really it was an awful experience about women body construction when I was just eleven years old. Over time I myself felt some changes in my body that helped me to discover myself that, ‘I am a woman’. My mother told me, its natural sign for every grownup women.
I revealed myself in a different way to the eyes of men. My mom already experienced all about these stages and she tried to teach me our social view about women, what I should do or should not. Really it was hard to learn in addition to my regular studies! But my mom was determined to make me a perfect woman in the society’s eye. That time, I didn’t understand mom’s strange acts. Eventually I get to understand the social, cultural and religious believes associated with gender and identity.
SOCIAL CULTURE TOWARDS A GIRL
In Bangladesh, outside cities, girls are more handicapped by the social/cultural norms and values, poor access to formal education and greater social and economic injustices. I got the opportunity to pass my school and college time in district areas due to my father’s govt. job. Till I remember a name ‘Shopna’, she was a brilliant student and beautiful girl. She had a dream to be a doctor! But very often she missed the college and afraid how long she continue the study. People disturbed her on the way to college. Suddenly I heard the news; Shopna got married and stopped coming to college. I don’t know whether she was able to make her dream true! That time society taught me that ‘I am a girl and I can’t do everything easily like a boy.
I consider myself very fortunate as I passed my college time and find out myself in a university campus. I thought, here gender perception may be different because I belong to a community where most people are educated. But the real stories didn’t satisfy me from the very first day. Out of 35 students we were 9 girls in Business Administration Department and the boys always like to show that boys are better equipped to study Business Administration than the girls!!
SOCIAL BEHAVIOR REMIND THE GENDER IDENTITY
In my university time I had gained little work experience from an international Nonprofit Organization as a volunteer. Till that time really I had no idea about gender identification in professional life. After completing my graduation and I started internship in a foreign bank. Thought that, a multinational organization, there may be gender equal environment, but the same subjugation remains may be with some modifications. Finally’ started fulltime professional life and gaining different gender discrimination in everyday professional life.
Last year, I went to New Zealand to attend a conference. One Pakistani likes to meet with me there, because I am a Muslim, and we are from samer religious group. But he was disappointed, why I don’t use hijab. And also he was surprised when he knew that I was along there. He asked me, ‘your husband allowed you to come alone’? I was not upset, understood he said from his religious view point, ‘Islam says, you must take care of your husband. Few months ago went to New Delhi alone and faced the difficulty to pass Bangladeshi Immigration. Immigration officer asked my husband passport number for my marital status authentication. I was insulted, because I didn’t hear any story to ask a man, his wife’s passport number for his marital status authentication.
EXPERIENCES ARE CONTINUING!
Now I have already passed my 28 years. I can count my ages. But I can’t count how many times I find out my gender identity during this time! Gender inequality in work place is very common. We divide people in line with gender- the male and female. Female are more suitable for household and some specific job like teaching, doctor for female patients etc. Interesting experience in my profession, if a female doing better than male worker people like to gossip, the lady has not enough concentration for her family life. Also interestingly, the opposite story, if a lady perform less than a male, their clear opinion, female are less merotorious and attentive than a male.
It’s very natural how much I can pay for my family, increase my value to my husband and his family. It shows the clear picture of economy and gender, also decision making role in my family. Economic status helps to minimize the outlook, ‘I am women, so I have no right to give my opinion in family decision making’.
Body is one of the vital parts of gender identification. My one of male colleague often say, “companies are losing to recreate the women, cause often they need leave, especially in pregnancy period. But they have to recruit for balancing male and female! And without beautiful women office environment is not complete for work environment. I mean work fragrance!”
THOUGHT FROM MY EXPERIENCES
Unlike sex, which is biologically based, gender is largely a cultural construct. A gender identity is the way in which an individual self-identifies with a gender category, for example, as being either a man or a woman, or in some cases being neither, which can be distinct from biological sex.
The term "gender identity" was originally a medical term used to explain sex reassignment surgery to the public, but is also found in psychology, often as core gender identity.
Biological factors that may influence gender identity include pre- and post-natal hormone levels and gene regulation. Social factors which may influence gender identity include gender messages conveyed by family, mass media, and other institutions. One's gender identity is also influenced by the social learning theory, which assumes that children develop their gender identity through observing and imitating gender-linked behaviors, and then being rewarded or punished for behaving that way. And also my experiences not out of that theory.