The Conversation: Gender 1

Gender: To him. To her. To…

Welcome to The Conversation. Hopefully this will become – in time – a monthly get together of ideas, ponderings, and discussions of topics most try to stay away from and yet, are rather important today.

This month – November 2015 – is about Gender. What is it? Does it matter? Why talk about it?

A month ago, Twilight by Stephanie Meyer celebrated it’s 10th Anniversary and on that day, Meyer brought out a book titled Life and Death. She calls it Twilight rewritten with the main characters sexes changed. Actually, all the characters sexes were changed except 3 – leaving the three was monumentally weird. However what got me was how she figured changing names and a few words changed the gender of the individuals. And then there is the question of did it? Or did it just bring out the question of What Is Gender?

Which brought about this Conversation.

Gender covers so many things. What is your sexual gender? Your biological gender? You psychological gender? Or your emotional gender? Do they match? And even if they don’t, why does that bother people?

Unfortunately, we are a society that relies too much on mass media and in mass media, gender isn’t talked about. It is implied. Boys (which are gender assumed by the fact they have a dick) play with trucks, wear pants, get top grades in science and math, and pick on girls. While girls, on the other hand, (assumed because they have a vagina and no dick) wear pretty dresses, play with dolls, love makeup, and are not ‘as smart’ as their male counterparts.

Did I ever fit that model? No. I was a girl who outshown everyone in the classroom with her intelligence, enjoyed climbing trees, and hated playing with dolls. I also hated cooking, cleaning, and working on the farm – but that’s another story. But if one looks at how some like to simplify gender. I never fit.

So what am I? I’m not sure I am sure anymore. Am I female? In what context? Emotionally? Biologically? Psychologically? Emotionally? And if I’m not female in one of those, it certainly doesn’t make me male. I mean I could say “I am a heterosexual woman in a female body” but that doesn’t really say much, does it?

Just what defines gender? Is it the things we do? The people we hang with? The jobs we get? The boobs or hair – or both – on our chest? Our genitals? How about what we do at home? I hate housework and will only do it when the dust bunnies have become rhinos. In old time gender stereotypes, that would make me the guy, wouldn’t it?

I don’t have the answers. In fact, for every question I ask, all I get is more questions from my own mind.

I don’t believe in black and white thinking anyway, so to me none of this is cut and dried. It makes me think we need to toss out the old genders of male/boy and female/girl and go with more neutral ones. Because nobody fits either stereotype. We cross boundaries within ourselves every day.

And yet, we love to label ourselves…or at least many do. I’m one that shuns a lot of labels because labels try to put us in a box. I have never and will never fit in a box. But if we call a human a boy, what kind of stereotypes are we casting upon ‘him’? What is suddenly expected and pushed upon ‘him’? Or a girl. What is now expected of ‘her’?

Many people have never asked themselves these questions and so when they see a news report on someone who is not what ‘they’ think gender should be, the automatic reaction is to laugh at, put down, or put that gender in a ‘they’re just trying to get attention’ mode.

Is it any wonder that people get freaky about gender? When something that to them is so fundamental comes out that goes beyond their ability to handle – and a lot of people really cannot handle the concept of different genders – the only way they cope is to try and get rid of the evidence. They have a biologically male child who likes to wear pink and play with dolls? Beat ‘him’, making ‘him’ wear the boys’iest clothes they can find, do the boys’iest activities, and make sure ‘he’ plays with the boys’iest toys. And destroy ‘his’ sense of self to satisfy their own fears. And what about the biologically female child who likes to wear shorts, shuns dresses and dolls, digs in the mud, and works on cars? Or one who is more brash and outgoing than a ‘girl’ is supposed to be? ‘She’s made fun of, put down, and told to stop acting ‘that’ way as if it’s wrong. In both instances, the ‘boy’ or ‘girl’ gets to the point where they have no clue who they are and probably don’t trust in their own judgment as every time they decided on something, those in authority told them it was wrong.

And we wonder why teenagers act out more and more as they try to find themselves.

I think the only thing we can do is to educate ourselves and the next generations that they need to broaden their minds about gender. I’m beginning to think, after writing this, that gender is all about identity. We start trying to figure out our identity when we’re tots. Our families and community, well-meaning and otherwise, push us into an identity they are comfortable with. Is it any wonder that a two-year old’s favorite word is “No”? And that people who are afraid of someone else having an identity they don’t understand uses the same word often?

Maybe we need to come up with completely new gender names – though that gives into the creation of future stereotypes. Hmm. And what about all those annoying governmental, school, and office forms which make you choose “Male” or “Female”. What if I don’t fit?

Just like when someone asks me my age, I tell them I’m “Timeless”. Maybe I should call myself Gender 0. I am my own gender which is none of your business. *smiles*

Now feel free to comment on what you feel gender is and be sure to visit the other blogs who participated by visiting them some time in November. Check back on The Conversation soon to find out what the next topic will be.

One thought on “The Conversation: Gender

  • Joelle Casteel

    Funny, with your questions on sexual, physical, emotional gender, my mind went right to phrases like “gender presentation,” “gender identity” to name a few. But then as I talked about in my post, gender identity is by far the most important to me; to me, someone’s identity outranks their presentation. That’s why I don’t consider a trans man a potential sexual partner, regardless of them having genitals that match what we’ve been taught “belong to a woman.”

    It really is too bad that Stephanie Meyer didn’t take the time to do more with her gender flipping in her 10th anniversary book. That would have been intriguing to read, I think.

    I so agree with you on a person’s gender being no one else’s business; I find it too bad that- just like sexual orientation- there are so many places in every day life where someone’s orientation/identity (sexual, gender etc) are considered important to know in non-sexual situations. Like why should I need to know a person’s gender to be polite to them when they are waiting on me at a restaurant? But our gendered language forces that. Interesting that you should mention creation new language; I talked about neo-pronouns (like ze, hir, xem for a few examples). I like using them, but I don’t know of any publishers that will accept them.

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