Ryan Hutton – “A man is as capable of looking after a child just as a woman is, and a woman is as capable of working for the house just as a man is”

How do you self define?

I’m not really a big fan of labels. As far as sexuality goes, I’m not entirely sure to be honest, so I’m pretty undefined there. If I had to put a label on my gender, it would be gender fluid, but I’m not a big fan of labels because of the expectations and the stereotypes that come with them. I’m just not about that.

What does feminism mean to you?

Feminism is the emancipation of women basically.  Gender equality and feminism have the same goals but they’re not the same thing. When people call themselves ‘equalists’ but not feminists because it only focuses on women, they miss the point of feminism and gender equality. Basically feminism is about playing catch up with the rights that men have; it’s about getting the payroll to the exact same wage, it’s about getting women to be treated equally to men in society, which is very important because nobody should be treated as less than anybody else. Like I was just working in a sixth form full of boys and was being asked questions like “Hey, how much pussy do you get Ryan” and I imagine if I were a girl and a girl came up to me they wouldn’t be saying “How much dick do you get here, Ryan”. They might, but I doubt it! Generally it feels like people objectify women especially when they use words like “pussy”. Even just in common, everyday stuff that you wouldn’t think is sexist, is sexist. It makes me feel very uncomfortable when people talk about girls like that. Then obviously women are more likely to be raped, and it’s not that men don’t get raped, but there’s people like Donald Trump who’s general attitude is to “grab the pussy”. It’s really not great that Donald Trump was elected for the president, because it’s showing youth that this person and his attitudes are acceptable when they’re not.

What do the words “woman” and “man” mean to you?

There are two different types of meanings to me; there are the biological terms for male and female and that’s how you’re born. Unfortunately we don’t get to choose which sex we’re born as. So your born with a penis or vagina. But gender on the other hand, is again about hearkening back to labels. The term “man” or “woman” to me signify gender roles, so a man has to like sports and the colour blue, and for women, obviously it’s makeup and liking the colour pink. I don’t think gender itself is a social construct but I think gender roles are a social construct –  but I guess that’s what gender is to me so it sort of merges there a little bit.

When did you become aware of your gender?

I’ve always grown up, not like the stereotypical male I guess, but I only really sat down and thought about it about a year and a half ago. That was when I thought about being gender fluid. By that I mean that I fit both gender roles to some extent, which is why I actually hate the term gender fluid because it’s a label that creates another role in a way; a label that signifies that you’re both genders and neither. So I don’t really want to identify as gender fluid but it does make sense to me.

Do you ever feel unsafe due to your gender?

No, mainly because I’m biologically a male; my sex is male. If I was female I might feel different, but I’m not, so I feel safe in that aspect. Nobody is going to attack me because I’m a male, but If I’m going out with more feminine clothing or more gender neutral clothing, like whenever I’m wearing my dungarees I can feel a little unsafe sometimes in regards to the comments men will make, but besides that I’m not really unsafe. I’m not very open about the fact that I’m gender fluid so that helps me feel safer too. I’ll tell people I trust and I know people won’t judge me for it, but I don’t feel the need to tell everybody. I don’t need to begin the sentence with that, “as a person who identifies as gender fluid…” because I can say, “as a human being I think this about other human beings”. In other words, I don’t think it really affects anything.

Do you feel treated differently by men or women?

Yes, definitely. Growing up I was pretty much left out of a lot of sports, and because boys would play a lot of sports, I was sort of segregated from the guys and hung out with a lot of girls. Girls would generally be nicer to me than the guys, but not so much now at university. Now that everyone’s in the same place, everyone seems more understanding. But yeah, as I was growing up guys were a little mean to me; not all of them but some of them.

What are the positive ways that the world views women?

I think there are positive attitudes with feminism coming into play a lot more. I personally, and a lot of other people have a lot of respect for women speaking up and saying “this is how we’re treated, and we don’t want to be treated like this”. It has sort of opened our eyes. Even I, when I was growing up, did say some sexist things because I was surrounded by those ideals and I was trying to be a traditional ‘lad’. So I would occasionally be inherently sexist, but it has opened my eyes when girls have stepped up and said “these values are wrong, these attitudes are wrong”. Generally, they’re seen as great mothers, and I think it’s great that women are seen as caring figures, even if they are sort of expected to be that. It’s a double sided coin. They’re put into that role a lot more than men are, which is wrong; but generally their image as good, strong parental figures is a positive one. I think media and TV are slowly getting there too.

What do you think about casual sex?

If you wanna have casual sex, have casual sex, as long as it’s consented. That’s it really. I mean, don’t go sleep with other peoples partners but if you are with someone who wants to have casual sex then go for it. It doesn’t really matter.

Are you pro-life or pro-choice, and why?

I am pro-choice because, well, do I need to answer this, really? So if a woman is raped then their entire future could be put on hold or even called off because they have to have a child. Even if it’s not rape, like if something goes wrong with the contraception, or you’re young and stupid and you don’t use contraception. When a 16 year old gets pregnant does she really want the baby unless she was specifically trying for one? Her entire future until she’s at least about 30 would be thrown under the bus until the child is old enough to be going to school and looking after themselves a little more. So yeah, I’m pro-choice, definitely pro-choice.

What are your feelings about contraception?

Use it! If you don’t want her to get pregnant, and if you don’t want an STD, use contraception. If you want to get pregnant, don’t use contraception, and if you want to get an STD; which I don’t see why you would, then don’t use contraception. That’s about it really.

What are your thoughts on marriage and monogamy?

If you want to get married, then get married, and if you don’t want to get married, don’t get married. I personally can’t see myself settling down and getting married, but my attitude might change if I meet someone and I’m about 40. I don’t judge anyone either way. The divorce rate is so high nowadays that it’s become evident to me that you don’t have to stay with someone if you’re unhappy, but it’s a lot of money and a large commitment. It’s something I personally don’t want to make, but I respect people who do. I do think though, that it’s your way of showing love for somebody, and if you are going to have a child with that person, be it through adoption or through biological means at least you’re showing you could be good parents, as opposed to not being properly committed. It’s a big commitment to make.

What are your thoughts on parenthood?

I think that we’re slowly getting to a point where it’s equal between a mother and a father, but we’re not quite there yet. I think a mother and a father should both be expected to do equal work and care to the child. Like if a woman’s got a better job than a man, the woman should probably be going to work to earn more money for the child and the man should look after the baby. A man is as capable of looking after a child just as a woman is, and a woman is as capable of working for the house just as a man is; but unfortunately it’s not equal at the moment. Certainly in parenthood you should have two parents; whether it’s both males or both females, or whether it’s your grandfather acting as a father, and so on. Just so long as you have two parents to take care of you, so that at least one can work and one can devote time to you. I grew up basically seeing my dad every two weeks or so, and I know that sort of affected me growing up and in my development. I think if he was more present then I would be a stronger person as a result, so I think it’s quite important that you have two parents who are there all the time.

Do you think your sex education was efficient?

My sex education was terrible. Well, they taught us how to have sex which is always a good thing. They taught us to use contraception, and they taught us about how male bodies work and even the female body to an extent, but they didn’t teach us what to expect. I’ve had sex with two different virgins, and the first time I was a virgin myself. They didn’t bleed both times and I thought I was doing it wrong. I thought I was having sex wrong or I wasn’t very good at it. Turns out they’re not supposed to bleed, and it’s bad if they do bleed. I wasn’t really taught that in school, and I was taught that they had to bleed by both women and men. I think the educational system is quite sexist in that way and I don’t even think they mean for it to be. I think they should start having a look at reviewing it, and showing that sex should be pleasurable for both sexes, and not just so women can get knocked up and have children.

Do you feel comfortable communicating your sexual needs to your partner?

Yes, and I hope they feel the same with me. If someone doesn’t respect my sexual needs then I won’t have sex with them, and I would expect the same from someone else. If I didn’t respect their sexual needs then I’d expect them not to have sex with me.

Has your sexuality ever been used against you?

No, because I’m not very open about it. I think the way I act, and I’m not overly flamboyant, but the times I’ve acted a little feminine and that has sort of been used against me by guys. But generally my sexuality hasn’t been used against me. I’m quite lucky in that respect. I’m not really someone who has grown up as obviously part of the LGBT+ society.

Photo Credit: Aysha Panter
Photo Credit: Aysha Panter

Is there anyone you would undermine your principles for?

No.

In which situations do you feel safe to speak your mind or stand up for yourself?

Situations like this, where I’m with somebody I know understands sexuality and gender, someone I feel secure with. Whenever I go to LGBT+, I also feel quite safe because I know everyone is in the same boat. I think sexuality is a bit different because a lot of people are more accepting of sexuality than they are of gender nowadays. I’d probably tell anybody that my sexuality is ambiguous and that I haven’t really figured it out yet, and they’ll be OK with it, but with gender I don’t really tell many people, because I just know people will think “oh he’s gender fluid, is that really a thing?” You know, like “you are a guy even if you are a little feminine”. It’s not necessarily the disrespect that bothers me, it’s the questions that will be asked, and I can’t really be bothered with the hassle. I’ll tell people who won’t generally ask questions and people I know I can trust, but generally I don’t see the need to go and tell everyone about it. I’ll say in terms of pronouns, I don’t want to confuse people. People who have known me my entire life, who have known me as a ‘he’, I don’t want them to have to suddenly change to calling me ‘they’ because I know, even inadvertently it would be difficult, and I’m not that bothered about pronouns. I can see why it might bother somebody whose trans* but it doesn’t bother me.

Do you feel satisfied with how women are depicted in film, TV and advertising?

As I was saying earlier, I do think it’s getting better. I wouldn’t say I am wholly satisfied with it, but in terms of media and TV I think we’re getting there. I think female writers are becoming more prominent in Hollywood and in TV which is good because they know how women should be written. They know how to write them like human beings.  I think male writers are getting there as well, they are starting to finally understand and subvert the expectations and the stereotypes associated with women. I think some very clever TV series and films are coming out about that which is great. They’re finally moving on from the strong woman stereotype which is basically a personality bland female character. Advertising though, it’s stupid for both males and females. More so for females, but both are over-sexualised in advertising.  If you look at deodorant, perfume and aftershave adverts it’s all very over-sexualised. I think Lynx are finally getting there with their advertising. I use Lynx as an example because originally it was about getting the stereotype of a really attractive women and saying that you need to be a hunk to do that. But now they seem to have moved on to adverts that focus on men it’s about making who you are work and they wont use over-sexualised females in their adverts. I want to say they actually made reference to two men being together in their latest advert but I could be imagining that. I think adverts, in general, are getting there though, mainly because now if an advert is sexist it’s going to get a lot of flak. No one is going to buy it or very few people will. I think they know the risk of running a sexist advert.

How do you feel about products marketed towards women?

I think it’s stupid, unless of course you need it. You’re not going to market tampons towards men because men don’t have periods, but I don’t understand why you have female shampoo, female toothpaste and so. It’s the same with male stuff; sports equipment is the best example of this. For sports like tennis we have male equipment and female equipment. I don’t understand why we have female rackets and male rackets, and footballs aimed at males and footballs aimed at females. It’s just stupid.

What are your biggest fears?

My biggest fears are just related to my friends and family and their safety really. I’m not too concerned about myself, I’m more concerned about my friends who are part of the LGBT+ community. I am worried that something might happen to them because there are still homophobic and transphobic people. It’s those friends I’m more worried for more than the friends who are straight white males and even to an extent straight white females, though I do worry for them. My biggest fear is probably that something should happen to my friends and family.

What are your greatest accomplishments?

My greatest accomplishment? I guess it’s just sort of getting here. This point in my life. Not necessarily getting into uni, but like, growing up is tough for everybody, even for the people who don’t admit it. High school’s tough because we’re discovering who we are and we’re just finding the will to carry on and to just not off yourself despite how harsh and horrible it is, and despite the confusion that we all go through about ourselves. I think my greatest accomplishment is just getting to the point of sitting here in this room and having this conversation. Mt whole life is a butterfly effect. It’s everything that has happened in life and just getting through all of that. The world’s an awful place, it’s nice to know that I can survive in the awful place.

What image do you think you project on a day to day basis?

Hopefully somebody who is laid back and just accepting of everyone and who they are. Just somebody who isn’t discriminating. I just want to be seen as a kind person and I hope I am seen as that.

What image would like to project in an ideal world of solving social expectations?

Somebody who is just free of labels, who is who they want to be. Someone who younger children can look up to. Someone who doesn’t feel the need to stick to labels or social expectations. Just someone who is happy and someone who is themselves.

What are your most positive relationships?

The ones where I can talk to the other person about anything. While I don’t have this relationship with many people, It’s really great when I can talk to someone about anything and feel comfortable. I can give my opinions about anything, good or bad, popular or unpopular to that person and that person will accept them as opinions. Being able to just talk about and do anything with them and just be in a good light with them constantly. Someone I can spend a lot of time with and never stop talking to.

What do you deeply love about yourself?

My hair. I don’t love myself that much but I do love my hair.

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Photo Credit: Aysha Panter

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