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I recently came across an ad for a gender-neutral beauty product and was puzzled since when unisex gave way to gender-neutral and is there a difference between the two. When used as an adjective, gender-neutral means applicable or accessible to all genders, while unisex means appropriate for any gender or sex.
The notion of gender-neutral has become popular lately and refers to the traditional designation of the sexes as female and male. According to an increasingly prevalent view, the binary gender division, i.e., the division into male and female – discriminates against those minorities who belong (or believe they belong) to various other genders.
And since all of it sounds a bit confusing and difficult to understand, let’s see some particular examples:
- Gender-neutral restrooms. They already exist in many places. Women’s restrooms are on the left side, men’s are on the right side, and gender-neutral ones are in the middle.
- Scent beyond gender. An idea that started with CK One in the 90s – is shaking up the perfume industry. CK One is the first cosmetic product marketed as unisex for young customers with gender gravity. Quite simply, it was – and still is – for everyone.
- Unisex clothing. Shapeless sweaters, wide jeans, and lightweight pantsuits that sat equally well on boys and girls instantly became popular and fashionable. The unisex style conquered youth, which became the starting point for its ascent to the modern Olympus. Today, fashion designers prefer their collections to show models that are androgynous. Sometimes it is difficult to determine who it is – boyfriend or girlfriend.
- Gender-neutral names. The interest in unisex names is definitely on the rise. The reason may be that gender boundaries are breaking, or people are intrigued by a name even before knowing if the baby will be a boy or a girl. This trend is here to stay and carries over into clothing and accessories.
- Gender-neutral language. In substance, these are changes in official language aimed at sensitizing more people to the topic of gender diversity. These new trends, however, provoke complications and sharpen two opposing positions. Advocates of gender-neutral language insist that masculine and feminine nouns are discriminatory to people who consider themselves neither men nor women – and that this challenges sexist biases. Their rivals respond that attempts to transform grammar are a veritable assault on language. Social justice warriors seem to underestimate the biological structure of gender at various ends of the spectrum, going to the extreme that gender has no such basis. The other side neglects the social and cultural factors with a higher prerequisite to extremity – homophobia. Тhe truth is somewhere in between – balancing and respecting all perspectives.