To Make Total Destory… Or Not?

In an earlier post I talked about believing that abolishing gender is indeed possible and I wanted to expand on that.

While I believe that the abolition of codified and systemically enforced gender is entirely possible, I have yet to decide whether or not I believe that gender should be abolished or if our cultural understanding of it just needs to be radically shifted.

I’ve been growing to believe that perhaps what my ideal vision is of a combination of the two. A radical shift in our cultural conception of gender that ends the codification of gender, its systemic assignment and enforcement, and the hierarchies that are bound up within it. A society in which the concept of gender still exists, but it is personal rather than social, unique and individual instead of a rigid rubric that demand conformity; something you figure out as you grow, not something you are assigned at birth and never something that someone else can tell you. No toys, behaviors, clothes, attributes or activities would be the domain of any one gender.

No one would gender anyone else and people could freely grow and express their individual genders in very subtle and nuanced ways, allowing everyone to gender themselves as they wish with whatever signifiers they choose regardless of their sex, sexuality or body. Expressing one’s gender would not require conformation to cultural codes or trafficking in stereotypes. People would have to learn to read and perceive the genders of others and on an individual basis, to know someone’s gender at all you would have to examine it with a fine toothed comb, catching all the subtleties.

I’m not saying that people do not do these things already, I’m saying that our current system does not encourage it, easily allow for it, or necessitate it. And that in most of our daily interactions with acquaintances and strangers we assume to know their genders just by looking at them, we paint in broad strokes and reduce gender to stereotypes. I want gender to be something that we learn about other people as we get to know them, not something we can assume to know from a passing glance based on culturally coded signifiers and socially enforced conformity.

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2 thoughts on “To Make Total Destory… Or Not?

  1. It’s a good question. I generally lean toward gender being neat and there being no need to abolish it, but as you say, the social codification and enforcement of gender must end. The idea of eliminating gender altogether strikes me as problematic, since it seems to attribute the fear that comes from oppression on the basis of gender expression and identity, not to the oppressive social and historical forces which created the situation, but to gender itself. It reminds me of post-revolutionary Cuba when everything was suspect and thought of as possibly a Capitalist relic. Thus, religion was suppressed. Religious diversity was only seen as problematic, because it has been made problematic by oppression. But of course, the elimination of religion was oppressive itself. After a time, religious freedom was restored and a vibrant collage of religions have enhanced Cuban culture.

    It’s also an interesting concept to think of abolition of gender in the context of attraction. The abolition of gender implies the abolition of orientation, which is another part of personal identity that is held dear. I’m able to say that I’m not attracted to masculine presentations in general, and that’s a sort of important self-declaration for me, since I’ve been pursued at times rather aggressively by people with those presentations. claiming knowledge of my sexual orientation, which does not include those folks, has enabled me to control my sexual expression and to live better in my own skin. Now, that’s complicated of course because one of the reasons I’ve had to do that claiming in the first place is because I was socialized heavily to believe that my appropriate sexual partners were strongly masculine and that my culture’s expectations for people with my assigned birth sex were more important than my own desires. These are all oppressive and inappropriate ideas and if we’re talking abolition of gender we’re probably talking getting rid of those from the start.

    Still, people will probably always notice patterns in their attraction, and perhaps in gender roles and identities and preferred activities and sexual proclivities, etcetera, and it doesn’t make sense to me to assign a fearfulness to that, as if those natural patterns were sources of oppression themselves. Without oppression I believe we would see a tapestry of patterns, kind of crazy-quilt-like, looping here and there, cropping up and subsiding as they pleased, really a work of art rather than a struggle.

    Thanks for this article.

    Reply
  2. Yeah, I’m not sure I made it totally clear here that, while I definitely believe that codified and systemically enforced gender needs to be abolished, I’ve always been kind of uncomfortable with the idea of abolishing all gender because I feel like it’s kinda fucked up and oppressive towards people with marginalized genders/gender expressions who’ve had to fight tooth and nail for the right to their genders. You definitely hit the nail on the head with the comparison to Cuba.

    Reply

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