We live in a time when the concept of assigning people to tasks based on sex – creating boys and girls teams – is considered divisive, antiquated, and unfair. The advance of feminist equality movements have largely contributed to this mindset, and the movement’s observations of sexism practices being common in previous ages – and still common in some locations – are valid. Sexist stereotypes have done much to limit people from their full potential, through insisting that our opportunities and abilities are dependent solely upon our chromosomal arrangement.
There are some who have reacted to the extreme nature of systematic, sexist, discrimination with a similar extremity. They will insist that, to abolish sexism, being male or female should play no part in any equation, whatsoever. Those in this group wish to go from assignment of male or female meaning everything, to it meaning nothing.
As noble of an idea as this may sound, erasing barriers and prejudice against one sex, or the other, does not erase the fact that the sexes are inherently different from one another. Males and females mature into adulthood differently; experience socialization differently; play different roles in sexual relationships; and participate in parenthood uniquely. Biology is not a reason to discriminate, but its impacting affect on our experiences is indisputable.
As with so many other things in life, balance of perspective appears to be the best answer to the issue of sex and gender differences. It is possible – and arguably desirable – to craft a society in which individuals are recognized for their unique attributes, rather than being lumped together as all being the same. An appreciation for the unique experiences associated with being female, or male, is the premise behind the construct of gender-specific sober living homes.
Gender-Specific Sober Living Promotes Validation of Experience
Anyone who has tried to explain something important to someone, only to have had that someone just not get it, knows how frustrating lack of understanding can be. If the idea that we are attempting to communicate is of a highly personal nature, we are even more prone to feel a sting of hurt and rejection when no indication of understanding is communicated by those listening. On the other side of the coin, feeling understood – and validated – can produce a cognitive relief, and flood our emotional senses with a warm glow of companionship.
Feeling understood and validated is a key to recovery. Before we are able to properly rid ourselves of the mental and emotional baggage that we carry, it is usually the case that someone else needs to acknowledge that it exists. This validation, in the form of empathy, is what most often frees us from the weight of being entangled and entrenched within our problems. Once some of that weight is lifted by the acknowledgment of another person, we are able to see, more clearly, a way out of or unpleasant situation.
As intelligent, intuitive, and kind as someone may be, there is really no way to know what another person’s journey has been like without walking a mile in those moccasins. When it comes to sex and gender-specific experiences, no amount of cognitive acknowledgment – or book learning – can substitute for actually having been there. If you want to test this theory, simply mention menstruation or childbirth during mixed-sex company at your next social function. It is most likely that you will see the males look awkwardly around the room, while the females emphatically join in with their own accounts of the experiences.
Gender-Specific Sober Living Offers a Safe Space
Many of those who struggle with substance abuse are coming from a background of trauma. Much of this trauma has been experienced with an abuser of the opposite sex. Statistics indicate that one of every six women has been a victim of rape, or of a rape attempt. Other studies find that 95% of the victims of domestic violence are female. There is strong evidence to suggest that there are gender differences in the role that each sex plays within the cycle of violence.
Whether you are a victim of violence; a perpetrator of violence; or neither, your gender assignment within society as it pertains to violence is associated. Males are most often viewed as aggressors, and females are most often viewed as victims. The fairness of these associations is largely irrelevant, as proclaiming them to be inaccurate, in your case, does not erase the statistics.
Domestic violence has roots in fear. When the majority of violence is gender-specific, the treatment for eliminating such fear also benefits from being gender-specific. Within the confines of gender-specific sober living, these fears are able to be safely explored, without threat of intentions being misaligned by the opposite gender. Both males and females are able to safely share their perceptions; concerns; and experiences with their fellow brothers and sisters in recovery, and can expect the relation and validation which can only come from those on a similar side of the playing field.
Gender-Specific Sober Living Keeps the Focus on Self-Improvement
While the specific numbers are not known, estimates indicate that over 95% of the population is sexually attracted to the opposite gender. This means that there is a very high chance, when dividing the sober living housing into male and female groups, participants are not going to be distracted by flirting. Exceptions will always exist, but the odds are good that you will not be looking to score your next partner from among your roommates.
Being free from the distraction of being sexually attracted to those in a group provides an environment for self-focus. There is a psychological concept that we are not able to attract a positive mate until we, ourselves, are in a positive state of being. As long as we are struggling with ridding ourselves of the demon of addiction, we are at risk for attracting others with similar demons. Tending to our mental and emotional needs while within an unromantic, gender-specific, space can prepare us for eventual partnership with someone who is similarly healthy and balanced.