Existentialism is a theory that emphasizes the importance of free will and determining your own fate. A fate that is not determined by social constructs such as family, love, religion, and gender. Existentialists believe that society should not restrict an individual’s life or actions and that these restrictions inhibit free will and the development of that person’s potential.
When it comes gender, society usually puts emphasis on the MALE/female binary. We are socialized through our families, our education, and the media to believe that certain characteristics make up these two genders. This binary that is forced upon us in not an accurate representation of our community as gender is a spectrum and not everyone’s gender identity matches with their birth sex.
However, how a woman looks and acts is drilled into our brains since birth. Society sets standards. If you meet them or rebel against them is theoretically your own choice. Rebelling against society’s standards is easier said than done. With our constant exposure to the portrayal of gender whether through the people we interact with the movies we watch, at some point both working to fit the stereotype and working to defy it, our choice is not purely our own.
As a young woman, I have debated this choice. Do I stray from the mold? Is it even my choice?
From a young age, I identified as a “tom-boy”, which is the six-year-old versions of refusing stereotypical gender roles. I would not let an article of pink clothing touch my body, because it was too “girly”. Later, I choose to reclaim this “femininity”. I wore pink. I did my make-up. I thought it was my choice to reclaim these “feminine” habits. However, through the view point of existentialism, this choice was not free will. It was heavily influenced by society and its archaic gender roles.