Sunday, February 02, 2014

gender issues: introduction

i've been meaning for some time to write about gender, which is a much larger concept than just gender identity or gender roles or the gender binary. gender, along with its closely related concept of sexuality, are much larger and more flexible things than most of us ever suspected.

as i've been thinking about how to write about this, i have realized that it's going to be more than one post because i'd like to follow some different threads and also because it's a lot of stuff to jam into one post.

i want to say first that as i talk about this i am going to contrast how i USED to think about some of these issues with how i think about them now, so if any of my transgendered/intersex/indeterminate friends are upset by my old ways of thinking,  i'd appreciate it if you weren't all offended over stuff i USED to think. on the other hand, if you take issue with some things i think now, i am interested to hear your opinion, because listening to people with different life experiences than mine is how i came to have an evolving set of thoughts and beliefs on the topic in the first place.

i'm a person of mixed privilege and disadvantage; we'll talk more about that later.

but if you take a look around you, you will notice a great deal of media representations of gender normative people in gender normative roles and although these days there is much more tolerance and sometimes even appreciation for nonstandard roles and behaviors, there is still a strong and deep social bias about it.

and when i say "strong social bias", i mean that when people who rigidly adhere to the gender binary and "normative" gender roles and behaviors are exposed to ambiguity, it presents to them enough of a crisis that they do not know how to cope except by way of extreme anger and often violence.

there is something deep-seated there, and it is wrong.

i can tell you simply that it's wrong because unless i was hoping to relate to you sexually, it is none of my damn business how you experience your own gender or sexuality. it poses no threat to me nor to my sexual relationships with other people, nor does it undermine society unless your idea of society is everyone rigidly adhering to what's normal for YOU.

people are struggling in a too-often hostile world every day, and we should be talking about it.

or rather, we should be talking about it until some future time when it's just not all that big a deal and your gender identity or sexuality carries with it about the same level of interest or importance as your eye color or you handedness.

because while it's rather a big deal to YOU and a large component of who you are, it'd be really nice if it was one of those things that just doesn't matter to other people.

"oh, i notice you are left-handed. how do you take your coffee?"

1 comment:

Zhoen said...

I've been pondering many of the same issues, possibly for similar reasons.

I do think part of this grows out of childhood, when children enforce gender stereotypes even more than adults, although why they do this is difficult to determine. And I suspect the people who bring that rule enforcement into adulthood are the ones who get most angry and violent against anyone not conforming to their rigid ideas.

I look forward to your following posts.


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