Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Gender Blogs: XI. Gender Fluidity

Written 27 August, 2008

The Gender Blogs

XI. Gender Fluidity


There’s a certain freedom in escaping the gender binary—but it can be difficult. We are, after all, schooled from infancy in the Aristotelian binary: black vs. white, night vs. day, good vs. evil, and it’s not easy to break away. But when we do, the world becomes an infinitely more interesting and beautiful place. It’s worth the intellectual effort to get over the mental hurdle.

Once outside the binary, male and female become but two stops along the gender continuum. There are all sorts of intermediate positions, and every one is legitimate and honorable.

Under this construction, gay men, lesbians, intersexed people, and transgendered people aren’t evil, criminal, sinners, mentally ill, or mutants; they just occupy different spots along the bunny trail.

Not only is this liberating for GLBTI people; it’s empowering for the rest of us.

Why? Because few of us are comfortable with absolute gender stereotypes. We don’t enjoy being John Wayne or Marilyn Monroe; we’re happier someplace else along the Rambo-Bimbo sliding scale.

So if you’re Rosie Greer, a NFL ballplayer who likes to knit, or if you’re Sally Ride and want to enter the formerly all-male field of astronautics, it’s perfectly okay. If you want to be butch or femme, it’s quite all right, regardless of what you saw in your pants the last time you checked.

I would venture to say that at some time in their lives almost everyone bumps into gender barriers that shame, humiliate, and disempower them:

“Boys don’t cry.”

“Why don’t you wear dresses more often?”

“You can’t do that. It isn’t allowed. Because we say so. Now get back in your pink box!”


And so what do we do? We learn to conform, and we pass on the tradition of intolerance to our own children. And some of us of go out of our way to enforce gender barriers on absolute strangers. We vote to deny the rights of gay men and lesbians to marry. We publicly laugh at gender nonconformers. We don’t want our children to have THAT teacher.

Let’s face it, most of us chafe, in some form or other, at our pink and blue binary boxes. We should all do ourselves a favor and climb out of them once in a while.

2 comments:

Kanomi™ said...

It's an avatar thing ^^

Cheyenne Palisades said...

It's a human thing. It's just easier for some people to express it in avatar form.