Lecture 2: Gender Identity and Gender Role

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Hi, I'm Dr. Rich block, and welcome to session three, lecture two. In this lecture, we're going to continue our discussion of sexual identity that we started in the first lecture where we talked about biological sex. In this lecture, I'm going to talk about gender identity and gender role. And they combined to, you know, to have people have this internal picture of what it means to be a man or a woman, and then how that plays out in real life. Now, there's a lot of controversy about gender. And it's been in the news the last couple of years.

And, you know, the idea of transgender and transgender bathrooms, I mean, it's very, very politically charged. So I'm bound to say something in this lecture that's going to offend someone because, you know, I tend to be a more traditional 66 year old heterosexual male and every once in a while that escapes and slips out, but I'll try and be as neutral about it as possible and just ask you to listen to the lecture with an open mind and try and get beyond any slips of the tongue I might have and appreciate the overall content and how it applies to helping your clients get unstuck. I think if you do that, we'll, we'll get through this and, you know, achieve the goals that I want to achieve. So bear with me, I'm going to reduce myself and get right to the meat of this. Okay. So as we talked about in the last lecture, these five components are five dimensions of sexual identity and we talked about biological sex.

In this one, we're going to talk about gender identity and gender role. That is, if I can get to the next slide, okay. So gender identity is defined as the internal picture of what it means to be a man or woman or not. Nowadays, both or neither. And the LGBTQ movement has shown that there is tremendous variation, and how biological men, women and intersex folks perceived themselves, that internal perception. As we talked about in the last lecture, gender identity exists along a continuum of masculinity and femininity, that is influenced by all of the factors that contribute to our sexuality.

And we talked about the whole host of factors that play into our gender identity and our sexuality. So you can see, we talked about the biological continuum last lecture. In this lecture, we're talking about the gender continuum, and that really combines gender identity and gender role. And you'll see that gender identities the internal picture of what it means to be male, female, or were something other than male or female. And gender role is how that how you act that out. In real life, the actual behavior you're engaged in.

And people fluctuate and move along this continuum. And I tend to look at, you know, the left side masking as being, you know, the traditional traditional picture of a masculine biological man in American culture, American society, because that's where I live, who I deal with this course, you know, is biased towards, you know, American role role models and role perception. So a traditional masculine man would be on one end, and the traditional feminine biological female would be at the other end, and then transgender person will be somewhere in the middle, depending on whether they're intersex or not or their biological man or biological woman, and then how they see themselves in terms of what biological equipment they have. So it gets very interesting when someone's transgender. You know, it's a little easier to understand And someone who say a biological man like myself, I'm a biological male.

I have a penis, I have, you know, testes, and, you know, the chromosome pairing appropriate for a man. And I'm 66 years old and grew up in a very traditional period of America. I was born in 1951. And though the gender identity that I had and the gender role that I played out in my earlier years, you know, came out of a very, very traditional American landscape for what it meant to be a man and what it meant to be a woman. Now, at that point, there was no discussion of transgender folks. So most people grew up, you know, most men grew up looking at very traditional masculine role models, you know, strong, silent type.

Well, obviously, over the course of my life, I've gone through, you know, the women's Revolution, the sexual revolution, the trans revolution, and my Gender identity and gender roles really changed as a result of that, you know, I grew up and really became a very non traditional man at an early age. And I was a stay at home college student husband when I was 21 years old cooking and cleaning for my wife. And yet I had very traditional masculine components to my identity in my role also. And then I changed in my 30s and 40s, after I became a dad, and raised a couple of sons, and then I changed again, in the last, you know, 1020 years, as you know, I and my wife has begun to age and, you know, whole new cultural landscape out there as presented itself. So, gender is very fluid. And it can change, you know, multiple times over the course of a person's lifetime.

And that's something that clients need to understand that it's okay to see yourself differently now than you did, you know, 10 years ago or 20 years ago or 30 years ago. And really gender identity is strongly influenced not only by mainstream culture, but also by subcultures. You know socio economic subcultures, ethnic subcultures, racial subcultures, religious subcultures, they all play a part in how one sees themselves as men, women and, and trans people. The interesting thing is that gender identity is formed by age three. So by age three little kids know who they are, but it changes over time. Okay, that's why, you know, it's not unusual when you're talking to someone to say, Yeah, I knew, you know, I knew what I was like, I knew what I was gonna be like when I was three.

Now, sometimes thoughts, feelings, you know, personal scripts, mental images about gender identity, contribute to getting stuck, and contribute to the couple being stuck in a sexual rut. And what I found over the years, although there's multiple aspects of it, Gender identity, one of the big parts of it that contributes to people being stuck. And this is you know, regardless of whether they're, you know, masculine feminine trans folks is body image. So I have an activity called the body image inventory that is in your activity file. So if you haven't taken it out and printed it off here, I'd like you to do so. But again, body image refers to clients evaluations of their bodies, specific body parts and their functions.

And an includes thoughts, scripts, images and emotions about body parts, bodies and body functions. So let's go through this together. The instructions to the clients is to you know, print too often give them the body image inventory and say, okay, rate each body part according to whether you're extremely satisfied or extremely dissatisfied. And then at the end, we add them all up. So you can see Every part of the human body is included. And it's gender neutral.

So anyone can do it. You know, for the chest I put, you know, chest and breasts, you know, for differences between biological men and women, obviously. And then you know, caps hands height, stomach, buttocks, thighs, hips. I mean, I'm sure there are parts that are missing. But yeah, like teeth, cheeks, I mean, some people are obsessed with their cheeks. So we're going to skip a couple of parts.

But these 20 give a pretty good overview of the human body. So you asked him to to put in a number one to five, and then at the end, you add up all the numbers. And if someone scores between 80 and 100, they have a very positive body image, and then all the way down to someone's going between zero to 20. They have a very negative body image. So after they're finished, and you have the score, and Sarah, what are your thoughts first Well, I would say what are your thoughts about your score? Okay?

And then say what are your thoughts, your personal scripts, your mental images and your feelings about your body? And how do these mind programs I remember going all the way back to the ACC coaching lecture. We call thoughts scripts, images and feelings, mind programs. So how do these mind programs keep you stuck in your sexual rut? And what are you willing to accept about your body as you move forward to improve your sexual relationship with your partner? Remember, what we want clients to be able to do is coexist with their pain and suffering, shift their focus off of it, and then move forward towards their goals.

So by now, you've probably set some general goals for what your client wants to achieve with their sexual relationship or their own sexuality. And now you're at the point recently Okay, you looked at your body image, and you've concluded that this part or this aspect of your body image has contributed to being stuck. You know, maybe you think your penis is too small, your breasts are too large, your butt's too big, your nose is too bent, whatever it is, but it's kind of interfered with your ability to kind of live the sex life you want, and it's kept you stuck. What are you willing to accept now about your body and your body image and coexist with it at least kind of bring your pain and suffering along with you as you start to make progress on your goals? So rather than become mesmerized into inactivity, because you're stuck on this body part?

Are you willing to bring it along with you and move forward? That's the whole idea, that question and that's what we want them to do. No, I personally think it's absurd that 13 year olds are getting nose jobs because they're dissatisfied with their nose. They can't bear to face adolescence, you know, with a nose that's not perfect. So this is kind of what we're looking at in society now there's new people just feel they can't move forward unless this has changed. Now I have another activity and this takes some more of a societal look.

So the first one was a personal look at body image. Now we're going to look at what is society telling you? So this activity really helps clients explore the societal messages they got about body image, and then it has been see how those societal member messages kind of figured into their own internal thoughts, scripts, mental images and emotions. So print this off if you haven't done it yet. Pause the video and get it I'll take another sip of water. Okay.

So it's fine to do the following thing described three Specific messages you got a regarding what your body should look like and these are overt messages somebody saying you should really look like this and I've had clients have people tell them you know, your butt's too big you need to shape it down. Your arms are too skinny you need to bulk up you know your your hair is is just too black, you need to lighten it up for two blonde you need to darken it up. So site three overt messages, and then cite the sources who said that, Who told you that your butt should be smaller, your arm should be bigger, etc. And then it gives three examples of covert messages body image messages that you've received, you know, something that you saw in a magazine you heard on TV, you read about in the blog you saw online you saw on YouTube, so three over and cite the sources and three, cover and cite the sources Now give three specific examples of adornment and grooming.

And I kind of separate this because this is, you know how you're supposed to look in terms of your clothing and your accessories, and grooming how you're supposed to look in terms of, you know, your hair, your makeup and stuff like that. So three specific examples of adornment and grooming. So now you have these nine examples of societal message messages related to how you should look how you should adorn yourself and how you should groom. And now you ask the client, so what are your thoughts, personal scripts, mental images and emotions about these messages? All right. And what you find is some people they just accept them or or some people they're annoyed by them, or some people are furious about them, but they're still rolling around in their head, and they still try and live their life according to them.

Okay, so the last question is how do these mind programs keep you stuck? So really what we want to look at is okay, you're stuck in a rut and your sexuality and your sexual relationship, you want to get to this next level, you're buying into these nine messages that you've received from society about how you should be, you disagree with three of them. And you're really pissed off about this. So how do you see all of that keeping you stuck? And you know, if you want to ask the next question, you know, what are you willing to coexist with, as you move forward to get unstuck? So you willing to accept the fact that maybe your butt is a little bigger than, you know, YouTube videos, say it should be?

Are you willing to accept that and move forward and take action steps on improving his sex life and the idea you want to keep reminding people you don't have to be perfect. You don't have to have everything figured out in your head. in advance, before you commit to take action to change your life. Good. So we talked about gender identity being the internal perception of what it means to be male or female or trans gender role now is the outward portrayal how you actually behave, and how you dress. Your adornment is for your career choices with your place of residence, all of those things reflect gender identity.

So gender role is okay. So now, this is what I think about myself. Here's how I behave. I chose this college I chose this career I chose not to go to college and chose this job. I chose to live here because of this reason I chose to live there. And you'll see that you know, people make choices about a lot of things based on how they see themselves, as you know, males, females, trans people.

Once again, I want you to accept that according to acceptance and commitment coaching, there is no correct or no preferred gender role for men or women, you can be who you want to be clients can be who they want to be an act, how they want to act. The only reason you're looking into this is you want to see if their gender role is contributing to them being stuck and unhappy. And clients often get stuck on gender role issues, and usually they're related to outdated personal scripts and learning or values conflicts. So again, an outdated personal script is this little scenario with dialogue, and then you know, the mental images are the pictures that accompany it, or learning so maybe, you know, someone had a gender role, message that was given to them and they have this internal gender role script that said, you know, men, don't cry.

Big boys don't cry. And you know now they're struggling because they they feel it's okay to express their emotions and they cry, you know, they've grown up and they realize, hey men cry, you know and when they cry they they feel bad about crying because this little script running around my head says, you know mentioned cry or mentioned being nurturing mentioned, you know, love to take care of children or whatever. So that's no longer works. It's no longer part of their belief system, so it's outdated. Or a values conflict. Alright, so, you know, let's just say, you know, a woman grows up in a very traditional household and you know, is expected to be heterosexual and get married.

And, you know, she buys into that and it's kind of her gender role and you know, she dates and everything and then she realizes that she's equally attracted to women. And you know, she experiments with bringing a woman in To the fold and then seeing what it's like to be sexually intimate with a woman and then finds that this woman has a male partner and then the three of them realize that they will love each other and and enjoy each other sexually. And so now she's in this you know, I guess you would call it a polyamorous relationship with a man and a woman which goes completely against the values that she was raised with. And that just tugs on her because these old values no longer apply to who she is as a person in 2017. And then noticing the scripts, the learning the scripts, rather the thoughts, the mental images and the emotions about these outdated learning and values conflicts is a key to getting unstuck.

So kind of realizing that hey, you know, I got this old stuff running around in my head, these old thoughts and scripts, these old mental images, and these old emotions that are associated with this stuff, and that's why I'm feeling really anxious and just like being mesmerized into doing nothing. So noticing it is part of the process. General is usually consistent with gender identity clients, usually actress and behave that are consistent with how they view themselves as men, women and trans folks so that their gender role is consistent with their gender identity, whatever that gender identity is, remember, I'm not saying there's a right wrong good, bad, moral immoral gender identity. All I'm saying is that clients will have gender role usually it's consistent with that. Now, when clients get stuck, is when they try and adopt or play out gender roles that don't mess with their gender identity when they're not being true to themselves, and how they see themselves.

So the key and AC coaching like dealing with this isn't saying, well, you have the wrong gender identity, that's a problem. It's helping them see that the way you're behaving isn't consistent with the way you view yourself. Now, if you're hung up on the way you view yourself, because because of the old, these old, outdated scripts, then we can deal with that, you know, we can teach you how to accept that your mind still runs all these old movies about, you know, your sexuality constantly through your head. And even though they no longer apply to you, and you don't, you know, see them as valuable and they're not very helpful. Your mind still runs all that shit by because that's what your mind does, is it runs thoughts, feelings, scripts, movies, constantly all day. So as long as you understand that how your mind works, and you understand that the reason you're not doing anything and you're stuck, is because you're in a different place than some of these messages you're getting from your mind and you got to just accept that and and code With those old painful scripts and thoughts and move forward and I always use the analogy of that rucksack, you know, each of us carries this rucksack or this knapsack or this, you know, duffel bag over our shoulder that's filled with pain and suffering.

And a lot of crap. You know, in some of it is what society told us about ourselves and how we should be and what our parents told us and what, you know, former lovers told us, but we had a lot of crap, we carry around a lot of pain and suffering. And you know what, it's okay to drop it or put that knapsack up in the top shelf of your closet, has you take steps to be who you truly are. All right, that's kind of what what we're trying to do here. So this I believe it's the last activity called messages about gender is a messages about gender role that your clients have, have gotten over the course of their lives so we're not dealing with gender right? Jenny, now, we're dealing with gender role.

So if you haven't printed it off yet, take a moment to do so. This is really fun. And I mean, I've been brought to tears doing this myself and clients have been brought to tears, me having me forcing them to do it. So it's very powerful and it takes a long time. And you might want to do it as a homework assignment because of that. What you're asking clients to do is for each stage of life have been described one specific message they received about how they're supposed to act.

Okay, how are we supposed to act as a man or a woman and you know, since most clients really haven't gotten messages of how they supposed to act as a trans person, it's really difficult to do. But if your client is trans person and you know transgender, and they got messages about how transgender folks are supposed to behave and do it that way, I think Some of the conflict and some of the pain and suffering that transgender people have is no, they were given messages about how to be as a man when they never really felt they were a man or about a woman and never felt they're a woman. And that's made for a lot of their pain and suffering and conflict. But the idea is to go back and break your life down into these stages, and then write down the one specific message.

And, you know, some of my messages that I wrote down in these periods, you know, were really, really painful. And just when I look back and think about them, you know, they still evoke little pain and suffering. So, can you have them go back and do this and do it as a homework assignment? And then you ask them to describe the source of the message and where'd you get that message from who could conveyed that message? And what was the context? Now give you one example of a message.

I got a message I was about Oh, we're still living in New York, New Jersey is probably about eight years old. And I had a crush on this little African American Girl down the street. And we used to kind of sneak messages back and forth. And we never really, you know, communicated because the first time I went over her house, her parents freaked out that, you know, she had a little white boyfriend. And the first time she went over my house, my parents freaked out the same way. So, you know, the clear message I got was that white boys don't, you know, date black girls.

And but the context that was really, really overwhelming and powerful, was I received a phone call call from my girlfriend. And my mother took it in the context was a big family gathering where everybody was seated around the kitchen table celebrating some occasion birthday or something like that. And my mother like Blitz notes, like at the top of her lung says, you know, Richie, it's your little colored girlfriend. And it was just such a powerful message that it just still resonates when I think about that and how angry I was at my mother for years and years and years and years because of her insensitivity, and how wrong it was to kind of doom us just because of you know, of our color of our skin. So, you know, describe the source, describe the context. And then you know, ask your clients to describe thoughts, feelings, you know, personal scripts and mental images about these messages.

And then lastly, ask rather than ask them, how these mind programs about gender identity and gender roles are keeping them stuck. All right. So that's the end of this lecture, I've tried to cover gender identity and gender role in more and more activities based way to really help you help your clients kind of look at how their gender identity and gender roles playing out and keeping them stuck rather than lecturing about gender. And again, you know, I apologize if Give me actually get out of here and get back to me. So again, what I'm trying to do is look at the application of this stuff, and give you some tools that you can use with your clients to have them explore their gender identity, or gender role. You know, your job is to kind of reinforce that, you know, there's no right or wrong moral or immoral gender identity and gender role.

And the only problem, the only reason that is a problem is because it's keeping you stuck. Now remember, these are not therapy clients, they don't have gender identity, you know, disorders to the point where you know, they have a diagnosable DSM five disorder. They're just people that are functioning, they would just would like to be functioning at a higher level. And maybe they want this relationship, they're in this sexual relationship to be even better than it is. So keeping it in that context that these are just good folks that are stuck on something related to their gender role or their gender identity, that you're going to give them a little insight into and show them how they can bring that stuff along with them and not have to analyze it to death, just accept it, and kind of move forward and try and make progress on their sexual goals.

All right. Thanks for being with me this lecture. I hope you enjoyed it. And again, if you have any feedback at all about my approach, and you want to shoot me an email and say, gee, Dr. Rich, I think he could have said this a little more sensitively or handled this a little better. By all means. If you have any questions, shoot me an email.

Thanks a lot. I will get out of this meeting and see you in the next session.

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