18 Myths About Sexuality and Gender That Do More Harm Than Good

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Despite how much it feels the world has changed for the better with the rise of modern media, there are still countless misconceptions swirling about sexuality and gender identity. These unfounded beliefs only set us back and harm everyone, regardless of sex or gender. Here are 18 of these myths and the reasons why they need to be left in the past. 

Gender and Sex are the Same Thing

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Sex is what you are assigned at birth based on your genitalia. Gender is what you choose to identify with once you develop the ability to make such a choice. This could be as a toddler or in old age. Gender is a construction of society based on evolutionary principles that, over time, have shifted to become less applicable. In 2024, anyone really can be whoever they want to be. 

Real Men are Aggressive

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This is a dangerous thought that is so deeply etched into the fabric of our society that it continues to take arduous effort year after year to unravel. This type of thinking leads to domestic abuse, habits of fighting, and more. Being a “real man” is not contingent on one’s ability to throw a punch but on one’s inner strength and ability to be emotionally open and caring towards others. 

No Woman Wants to be Single Past 30

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It’s alarming how many people actually think like this. Women over 30 who are unmarried and/ or childless are unfortunately bound to get a lot of flak because people assume they are only in such a situation because they have no other option. However, many women don’t want to feel tied down by a family. They want to travel, have new experiences, and focus on their careers. Some get all the emotional fulfillment they need from friends and family members. It’s wonderful to want a family, but wanting to be single is just as respectable.

Bisexual People Aren't Loyal

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We often hear comments about the idea of dating a bisexual person being intimidating because there are “twice as many people to compete with.” Just because someone is vaguely attracted to both men and women doesn’t mean they’re attracted to all of them. This sort of comment perpetuates the stereotype about bisexual people being overly promiscuous and discounts their very real experiences and romantic feelings. 

Sexuality is Cut and Dry

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You may identify as fully straight, fully gay, or something else entirely. Yet, for many people, attraction is more about the person than how they present. Some people go their whole lives only being attracted to one gender, and then one day, they meet someone who surprises them. In today’s world, fortunately, it’s much more widely accepted than it was 20 years ago to be comfortable being unsure of your sexuality.

Blue is for Boys and Pink is for Girls

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This is a pretty big generalization that reaches much farther than simple colors. The idea that a certain aesthetic must be in some way tied to someone’s gender identity is just not how most people think anymore. When you think about where it comes from, you’ll probably be stumped. That probably means it’s archaic and needs to be left in the past.

Men Are Better at Being in Charge

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The ability to be a good leader is not a quality based on sex; it’s a skill developed through specific life experiences. Believing that a good leader has to fit into a box based on gender is reductive of the individual to something baseless and strips away parts of their identity that may be important to them. It also could deprive the world of incredible female leaders, of which we know there are so many.

Transgender People Are Uncomfortable in Their Bodies

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This is no more the case for transgender humans than for cisgender ones. A lot of trans people have no desire to get gender-affirming surgery or to be on hormones. Being trans means something different for everyone. A person’s transgender identity might be reflected entirely in their mannerisms, name, makeup, clothing, or something else. It can also, of course, be reflected through surgery or hormones. Everyone is different and should feel safe to present themselves to the world and to themselves in whatever way feels right.

Men Don't Need to Feel Safe in Relationships

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Many men feel like they must always act tough, which can lead to built-up resentment because they aren’t properly expressing their emotional needs to their partners. Just as much as women, men want to feel loved and secure. They need to feel safe in that way to be comfortable in their relationships and truly be their best self. 

Bisexual People Are Just Confused

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Some people believe that it makes sense to be gay or straight but not to be somewhere between the two. It’s a common stereotype, unfortunately, that bisexual women are attention-seeking and that bisexual men are actually just gay but not ready to say it. In truth, sexuality is much more fluid than that implies, and these generalized assumptions are harmful and restrictive.

Men Should Make More Money than Women

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Just because there is a set precedent for hundreds of years doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be subject to change. There is no reason whatsoever that men should make so much more on the dollar than women. People are paid different salaries based on various factors, from education to experience to skill. Gender has no place in one of them.

Homosexuality Is a Phase.

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For many teenage parents, this rebuttal feels like an easy out because teenage hormones are so wild. While this is true, the key factor that is often overlooked is that parents do not say that a straight child’s sexuality is a phase. The only instance in which an identity is coined a “phase” is when it’s one outside the norm of what the parents expect or want. All a person’s expressions about their romantic and sexual identity should be treated with kindness and respect.

Sports Are for Men

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Athletic ability varies from person to person, not gender to gender. This year’s NCAA women’s basketball championship had more viewers than the men’s for the first time, and the thing is that women and girls haven’t gotten any better at sports; the media has simply increased its reporting of it. In the past, such attention on the women’s side of a male-dominated sport would have been almost inconceivable. Still, the way the championship flourished this year proves that women have the ability on the court to be just as, if not more, captivating. 

Women Should Be the Primary Caregiver

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Socialization has led to many fathers being held to a much lower bar than their female counterparts, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Fathers can and should show their children affection, tenderness, and attention. They should change just as many diapers and attend just as many parent-teacher conferences. 

Asexuality Is a Consequence of Trauma

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Because so many of us are driven by sex (i.e., the desire to reproduce), it can be hard to fathom existing in a mind and body that aren’t interested in sexuality. That doesn’t mean it’s illegitimate. There is a stereotype about asexual people that the reason they aren’t interested in sex is due to some sexual trauma in their past. Guess what? Some people are truly just happy not being sexual.  

Nobody Is a Single Parent by Choice

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Contrary to popular belief, many people choose to have a child without a partner. Sometimes, it’s because the person is eager to be a parent and hasn’t found the right match, so they just want to go ahead and do it. Sometimes, it’s because a person wants to go it alone. Anyone, partnered or otherwise, can be a wonderful parent and give their child a fulfilling and healthy life. 

Being Artistic Is Feminine

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There are often negative connotations surrounding little boys being in ballet, theater, or other performing arts. Ironically, the strength that it takes to be a professional ballerina is on par if not beyond most other professional sports and takes a physical toll on the body like nothing else. Such close-minded viewpoints that boys being ballerinas, for example, make them less masculine are in direct contrast to the view that to be manly means to be physically strong. Pick a side, people.

Children Need a Mother and a Father

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We never want to imagine our lives without the parents we love, and for many children, the gender-based connections to our respective parents shape us heavily. A teenage girl might struggle to communicate with her single father about starting her period. A young man struggling with societal expectations of his masculinity might have a difficult time getting the support he needs from his mother. All this means is that we are not doing enough to show one another individualized support. It’s a brutal cycle that can only be broken through healthy communication and compassion towards life experiences we may not understand. 

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