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.