A few thoughts about ‘gender’

Lots of people have a huge investment in the concept of ‘gender’, while at the same time claiming to be destroying or ‘transgressing’ ‘gender’.

I think the biggest source of confusion over what ‘gender’ actually is [I can’t be bothered putting inverted commas around ‘gender’ every time, please imagine them there!], is that a lot of people confuse gender with personality traits, and when you say you are against gender, or a gender agnostic, or genderless, or say that gender is harmful, people think you are against people having personalities.

There is a huge range of personality traits, some positive, some negative, some neutral; due to sex hierarchies, misogyny, and male supremacism, (roughly) half of these are labelled ‘masculine’, and (roughly) half of these are labelled ‘feminine’, and within those ‘masculine’ and ‘feminine’ traits, there will be positive, negative and neutral traits: being ‘assertive’ is a positive ‘masculine’ trait, while being ‘nurturing’ is a positive ‘feminine’ trait. Of course, even these are still sexist and hierarchical, with positive ‘masculine’ traits still held in higher regard than positive ‘feminine’ traits, and ‘feminine’ traits being restrictive: for example, confined to the ‘private’ sphere of child-rearing.

In a post-gender world, we would not lose any of the positive human traits; we should lose the most negative human traits: the aggression, sadism and selfishness of masculinity, the triviality, passivity and masochism of femininity.

Some people seem to be addicted to gender, with a constant running tally of their ‘masculine’ and ‘feminine’ traits (although this will often be superficial and overly about appearance), and an extra-special unique designator for their own unique combination of traits, often with the added bonus of their own personal set of pronouns.

They are also addicted to the idea of ‘transgressing’ ‘gender boundaries’, seemingly without realising that you can’t ‘transgress’ with out a status quo to transgress against; you can’t be ‘gender queer’ without there being a ‘straight’ to shock – ‘transgression’ is ultimately conservative, and uninterested in real change, this is ‘identity politics’ rather than real political action.

Well guess what? You are not that special, everyone has a range of personality traits, and almost no one fits perfectly into ‘masculine’ or ‘feminine’ definitions (although many many people will make themselves and others miserable through trying), and most of us gender-non-conforming people just get on with it, we don’t need special labels, or our own personal set of pronouns, we can just get on with being human.

2 responses

  1. […] want to draw a shit-storm down upon myself, but I survived my previous forays into this subject practically unscathed, and the subject has become too mainstream, and too important, to stay quiet […]

  2. […] a social construct, and a hierarchy, and it is harmful to feminism and to all women. I have written about this before, and I highly recommend this post from Liberation Collective on the […]

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