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Why does Gender matter?

Why does Gender matter? Artist Marc Quinn
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A three part examination of Gender Identity in the 21st Century. Or as I like to think of it, I'm going to take your concept of normal and toss it out the window.

  Part 1: The Gender Binary is about to go Super Nova.

Male and Female. When we are growing up we are taught there are only two genders. We are also taught that each gender has certain behavioral expectations. Girls play with dolls and have tea parties, and boys play with trucks and get dirty playing outside. As we get older, the gender expectations get more complicated and more nuanced. Women go shopping, buy lots of clothes and shoes, and are to stay thin and look attractive for men. Men are to be rugged, play sports, chase women and be what mainstream society considers "Manly."

However are these expectations outdated? Have we come to a time where gender roles are in need of a serious overhaul? When girls decide they want to go outside and play with the trucks and abhor wearing a dress, we call them a tomboy. Everyone says that she will grow out of it, as she discovers boys. However when that doesn't happen, and she continues down the path of breaking expectations, society gets decidedly less accepting of individuals that don't conform to gender expectations.

Even within the LGBTQP community we define our gender roles with words like Butch, or Femme. In the Kink/BDSM community we define our roles with words like Sir, Mistress, Master, or Submissive. Just those words have people making particular assumptions about who is in that role. You say Submissive, and most people will picture a woman in that role, even though there is just as many male submissives as there are female submissives.

So we have to ask ourselves, is gender something that needs to be defined by society or do we need to change how society sees gender and gender identity? Why does it seem that the mainstream media hasn't caught up to the concepts of gender identity, and why does it seem that the more we push for more acceptance of more than just the binary of male and female, that it seems as if society tries even harder to ignore them. Change is just part of life and I think we need to live a little.

  Part 2: Why an individuals Gender Identity is important.

I have honestly enjoyed learning about different gender types and learning how people use those gender identities to help define who they are, and where they fit in their community. For myself, I am male, and I've always been comfortable with my gender. I grew up in a house full of women, and I didn't have a lot of male influence. I had to define my gender on my own terms. For me that means muscle cars, motherboards, Doctor Who, and Magnum P.I.. I enjoy watching MMA and the WWE, but I dislike watching football and other similar sports. I've been a computer geek since I was 5 years old, and when I was a teenager I gained a love of NASCAR. However over the last year I've been exploring my sexual Identity as Pansexual, which forced me to look at my gender identity and started me down this path of exploring what gender means and how it can define a person.

I had to see if I wanted to identify as a gender other than male. I found that for me as I read the defining characteristics of each gender identity, for example GenderQueer, or Transgender, or even gender-fluid, they just didn't fit me. However being male fit, at least for me. I know I don't fit the societal expectations of what male should be, and I'm okay with that because really at the end of the day it isn't society that defines your gender, it's you. You get to define what gender means to you and you get to define how you want it to look.

The biggest issue I have with Gender Identity is pronoun use when writing about different gender types and identities. In fact that's my only issue with Gender Identity. I think that is the most challenging thing about exploring this concept of gender. When writing about Buck Angel it's pretty straight forward. Buck identifies as male. However when writing about Jiz Lee for example, Jiz Lee prefers to have the gender nonspecific pronouns of they and them, and not the pronouns of she and her. It's a bit perplexing at least for me. Sentence structure goes out the window when talking about gender.

However the rest of society has a bigger issue to deal with because anytime someone does something that isn't within the gender expectations of "Normal" they are considered gender bending, or gender non-conforming. For example take the classic film Victor/Victoria. There is a film that really examines gender roles, and how gender identity is important to an individual. I think in a world where everyone is telling everyone else that they have to be unique, and then turning around telling them that they have conform, it begins to really confuse the majority of society as to which way the they should go. Conform or be unique, or be unique in your conformity. Which is the real question here, and is I think at the center of some gender identity issues.

I think at the end of the day the way a person expresses themselves and expresses their gender identity is important. It's important to that individual and it's important to the people they are expressing their gender identity to because it's part of what makes that person who they are and helps them to associate with the world around them.

  Part 3: The Big Bang of the New Gender Paradigm.

So how is this going to fit altogether? The gender paradigm has shifted and there isn't any turning back. We have to either accept this new normal or we can continue to isolate and segregate those individuals that are different from the societal norm. I think the first option of acceptance is better; it allows for us to be more diversified and it allows for us to be more true to our real selves. Who we are and how we identify ourselves to the world is very important to the development and to the stability of self acceptance.

Those people that continually try to hamper, and hold back those who they can't fit into a neat little box are just going to have to accept this new normal. Everyone is going to have to accept that there is more than just two gender types, that we have grown beyond the gender binary. We have Transgender, and GenderQueer, and Gender Fluid individuals now. These individuals deserve respect and to be accepted by everyone.

How is it going to fit altogether? it's going to fit together the way everything else fits together. One day at a time and it's going to take fearlessly bold people to stand up and say that they have just as much value as anyone else. It's going to take people like Lana Wachowski who just recently came out and let everyone know that she went from being a Wachowski Brother to a Wachowski sister. It's going to take people like Chaz Bono, and other individuals standing up and saying that their differences make our society stronger and better. It's going to take a President saying that marriage is something that should be legal for everyone including those of the same gender. It's going to take bold people making bold statements, and take bold action that will help to progress our continuing struggle for acceptance.

So the real question here is going to be, what are you going to do to change people's minds about acceptance of different gender identities?

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Comments

interesting

08/08/2012

thank you for sharing. very well written. I hope to see more on this topic. Gender is a topic that I find myself learning about through the younger generation. the 20-somethings. In my younger days there were drag-queens, and the rare drag-king. that was it. I dated someone who was FTM without either of us knowing or understanding the term. notice my lack of pronoun usage. was confusing then and now. and i do not want to disrespect. i was young and stupid. not proud of my lack of understanding. i myself have suddenly delved into the topic and even updated my gender to genderqueer. still trying to understand the terms and not feel pressure to pick one. all i know is "female" is not descriptive enough.

08/11/2012

THANK YOU! I have so many feelings towards gender in general. Everyone is a person, a human, knowing what gender(s) they do/don't identify with is no one but their business

08/18/2012

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