Recently, the mass media has brought the idea of gender identity to my attention.

The matter of gender roles is a very sensitive subject in America. Gender roles are an important mediator of human experiences and of the way individuals interact with each other and their physical environments. Many people question the validity of gender binaries in youth as compared to in adulthood. I find them to be questionable in general.

As soon as the umbilical cord is cut and the sex of the baby is determined, social expectations are activated. Suddenly, there is an agenda for a whole array of developmental experiences that will influence that person throughout his or her life.

Over the past year, the Ad Council and the Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Children and Families, in conjunction with the National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse, has been running ads for the Take Time to Be a Dad Today campaign, which ostensibly aims to provide advice on being a good parent. Many of the ads center on a father catering to his young daughter by playing dress up with her, letting the girl paint his nails or engaging in other feminine activities.

Similarly, in April 2011, the popular clothing label J. Crew published an ad adorned with a little boy getting his nails painted fluorescent pink.

Remarkably, these two sets of ads depicting such similar acts generated widely different commentary from viewers.

Not only did the Take Time to Be a Dad Today ad campaign not meet with any negative feedback on the Internet or TV talk shows, President Barack Obama’s participation in the campaign suggests that the White House approves of it. Any man is capable of being a father; however it takes something special to be a dad. Therefore, taking the time to earn that title is very important in our society. In fact, it is so important that full-grown men are encouraged to play dress up, to attend imaginary tea parties and to braid their little girls’ hair. What’s so ironic is that these actions, when performed by a grown man, are anything but unordinary. Instead they are considered to be endearing and a reminder of just how dedicated those men are to being the best fathers that they can be.

Shockingly, commentary regarding the little boy delving into his inner diva and enjoying the iridescence of his nails was anything but favorable. Rather, many conservative reporters voiced opinions that the painting of his nails would later add to confusion in his future.

“This is a dramatic example of the way that our culture is being encouraged to abandon all trappings of gender identity,” said Keith Ablow, Fox News psychiatrist.

Erin Brown of the Media Research Center went so far as to claim that the ad blatantly celebrated transgendered youth. Well, Mrs. Brown, if that is the case, then why have I not seen your thought-provoking comments pertaining to ads that show men engaging in female activities?

The answer is simple: You merely have to open your eyes in society and you will uncover the truth for yourself. In the 21st century, it is completely acceptable for adults to comply with opposite gender practices, considering they may be parents, aunts, uncles or what have you. Little girls are even encouraged to become acquainted with sports, a love of nature and other primarily male interests. However, it will not be tolerated for little boys to engage in female activities in a favorable hierarchy of their interests, for that may lead them to become transgendered or gay. God forbid.

The morals of our society seem more corrupt on a daily basis. We are supposed to be the nation of equality and individuality, yet we are held to a gender binary that clearly separates males and females. Some people act as though these boundaries are only in place during our youth so as to ensure that we adopt the gender identity that corresponds with our biological sex. But truth be told, our society seems to have never grown out of relying on the boundaries that separate our population.

The gender binary gets stronger every time the media airs gender stereotypes. Sure, some of them may be funny, but all they do is point out the assumed differences between genders, thus creating an impenetrable barrier within society.

It is essential that we break away from this ugly trend of picking and choosing who is allowed to identify themselves with certain activities, clothing and objects. Surely we share different anatomies, but that should not necessitate that we lead entirely different lives.

Diversity and variation are fundamental attributes of our nature. They are concepts that allow us to become adaptable and successful. Therefore, it’s important that all people have the opportunity to fill whatever gender role they see fit. That choice has the potential to change peoples lives for the better, thus ensuring their ability to pursue happiness as they see fit.