by Roberta Ravello
L’unisex has been growing in popularity for a few years. Entertainment icons are successful wearing one mixed style (men with traditionally women’s clothing and vice versa), betraying a cultural shift towards a more style androgynous especially liked by young people. It’s not just fashion, there’s more. Instead of highlighting the differences, there is a desire to trace the similarities to alleviate stereotypes of the past.
We started talking about androgynous brain in 1974, when psychologist Sandra Bem proposed the concept of “psychological androgyny”: the same individual exhibiting both male and female mental attributes. A year later Bem argued that those who are psychologically androgynous have better mental health because they are more flexible in coping with problems. Other scholars have since developed Bem’s work to argue that psychologically androgynous individuals are even more creative (cognitive flexibility). But the neurological underpinnings of psychological androgyny only became apparent in 2021, when researchers at the University of Cambridge used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to map brain activity to a physical basis. According to their studyeven if there are small differences between the brain of male and female individuals, the two are mostly similar and culture can directly influence an individual’s biology in childhood, when the brain is more neuroplastic. If they’re right, sex differences in the brain aren’t naturally present—they are social products And cultural. Also according to that study, androgynous (centrist) brains are on the rise and would be less prone to mental illness than those polarized in the male/female dichotomy.
So, conforming to social and cultural expectations of masculinity and femininity comes at a cost to the mental well-being; while being free to choose, to adapt to the context, gives a better chance of achieving happiness. In common parlance, the same concept is commonly expressed by referring to the metaphor of the “half apple”, for which the utmost happiness is obtained if the whole can be reconstituted. Not everyone is able to find a soul mate in life, wouldn’t it be desirable for everyone to be able to reassemble their male and female unity on their own? If a person to find their own inner ideal partner he needs to indulge himself with multifaceted attitudes or clothing, why should it be a problem for society?
Assuming these centrist brains are really on the rise, that means to me more balanced people In circulation. In my opinion, this change should be supported rather than hindered. Therefore the differences should be less highlighted in order to dwell on the similarities, what is generally done when trying to build a process of social peace. A person should be left free to exercise their male-female qualities depending on the context, without becoming the target of social blame. In fact, a man might want to be a nurse and a woman a bricklayer. A man might opt to look after his children and his partner to bring home the salary. Because choices should be forced by one tradition that can’t boast of having solved problems or led to wedded bliss, quite the opposite? Having so many adaptation tools, instead of just a few, in no case, it seems to me, can it be seen as a defect, except by those who perceive it as threat.
I am an incurable optimist. I think the best is yet to come. I would never want to go back to the life dictates of women of the past and I think the same is true for most contemporary men in Western society. Welcome men in skirts. I’ve only worn pants for decades.