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livredor
Gender
Saturday, 26 August 2006 at 08:39 pm
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misia posted a poll about gender, and that meshed with stuff I've been thinking about the subject triggered by a remark of redbird's about gender and feminism.

This will be rambly. I'll start by quoting my comment to misia about how I define my gender:
I don't get on well with these kinds of questions, not because my gender identity is terribly complicated but because it's really trivial to me. I do understand that some people are massively upset about there only being two options for gender and want to pick something else, people who are strongly identified with being some form of genderqueer (by whatever term), people whose gender identity doesn't match their physical body. I'm not in any of those categories; I just want to pick "don't care".

I'm definitely female and more or less cisgendered. I don't on the whole get mistaken for male (or butch or any of the male-leaning genders) in person, because I have long hair, prominent breasts and hips and that sort of thing. Online I read either way and that's fine by me.

I'm not feminine or womanly or femme, but I'm not masculine or butch or manly either, and androgynous is silly because of the aforementioned physical characteristics. Plus the word implies partaking of both male and female, and I think I'm more neither than both (apart from the physical body). If I'm not allowed female as a gender as opposed to a sex, and I'm not allowed to opt out, then woman, or possibly girl. Geek doesn't feel like a gender to me, and I'm not sure whether I identify as that anyway. I like some male-related gender words, such as bachelor, gentleman (but I suspect that's partly because spinster and lady are sucky words).

If such a thing exists, I'm pretty much an agendered person in a female body. And being not really at all attached to my gender I'm not bothered that I read as female.
Reading the comments on Misia's poll started me thinking: I'm pretty certain nobody has ever checked my karyotype. So how would I feel if I suddenly discovered that I'm XY after all? (Maybe I have some really extreme form of androgen insensitivity...) First, I'm pretty sure I wouldn't be bothered to find out, oh, so I'm male after all, huh. Would I start insisting on male pronouns and change my name to a male one? Probably not, because it would mean spending the rest of my life fighting a battle I'm not emotionally invested in. I would be more likely to tell people about it as a kind of curiosity fact. But I honestly don't think it would change how I feel about myself as a person.

In terms of body shape: if I got zapped with the famous gender-switching ray much beloved of spurious thought experiments, of course I would freak out, experiencing such a dramatic violation of the laws of physics and finding myself in a radically different body from the one I expect would do that! But I think I would probably be happy to spend the rest of my life in a male body; I certainly wouldn't go through massive effort and hassle and pain to get my female body back.

Would I choose a different body from mine if I had that option? I might enjoy having the kind of appearance that makes it really hard to tell if one is male or female, but I wouldn't prefer that sufficiently to my definitely female appearance for it to be even a desire, let alone something I would make effort towards. I mean, if I wanted to be androgynous I could cut my hair and wear unisex and figure-hiding clothes, and I have never wanted it enough to try even such a trivial change. (My family often tease me by reminding me that when I was little I declared that I was going to grow a beard when I was older. In some ways, the body of a long-haired, bearded man thin enough to look a bit feminine from a distance feels more like it would match my self-perception than that of a short-haired, flat-chested woman. Dunno why that is.)

So far so navel-gazing. The way this connects to feminism is related to this very trenchant comment on gender presentation by papersky.1 One could argue that my not feeling especially female is because I'm rejecting the stereotypes about what female is supposed to mean. And yes, I do pretty much reject those stereotypes. But I do think there's more to it than that, I don't want to regard myself as agendered because I think women are restricted compared to men.

When I was a kid I felt much as papersky does (though if I can express myself as well as Papersky does by the time I'm 100 I shall be delighted, let alone when I was seven; anyway I would have agreed strongly with her comment if I had seen it then). I was something of a tomboy, but I hated being referred to as such, or even worse, being mistaken for a boy (I had short hair, so it happened a lot). I didn't in the least want to be a boy, I wanted to be a girl who liked climbing trees and playing hockey and football and dealing with conflicts by physical fighting.

Now, though, I don't feel nearly so strongly. I absolutely believe that in principle women should be able to be scientists and be career ambitious and live on their own and express themselves confidently and all sorts of stuff that stupid misogynists think women shouldn't be allowed to do. But I no longer care that I personally should be perceived as a woman when I'm acting in ways sometimes classified as masculine. I'm simply a person doing the things I want to do, and my gender is irrelevant to that. Is it feminist to say, as papersky does, This also is a valid way of being a real woman, or is it feminist to say, do what you like, it doesn't matter what gender you are? I have sympathy for both points of view, but lean more towards the second for myself. The question is, can I take that attitude without undermining people like papersky?

Or am I missing the point altogether? It feels to me like feminism has something to do with this, but also that it is giving a lot of unsatisfactory answers. My usual response is to say, well, I don't care about feminism, I'm just doing what I think is right. But on this kind of issue, I don't want to be actively opposing feminism or harming the people who do feel strongly about their gender in whatever direction.

1] I'm trying to display the comment in my journal style because redbird's original post is interesting too and my layout shows individual comments attached to the appropriate posts, but due to the weird way security works with S2, that might not work for you. So here's a link to the post in question.


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wychwood: gen - gender issues
From:wychwood
Date:August 26th, 2006 09:03 pm (UTC)
31 minutes after journal entry
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I think I tend towards papersky's position on this one. When I was younger, I wanted to be a boy, and even thought of myself as a boy, in a lot of ways. Being at Hilda's, and finding the online communities I have, made me change my mind; these days, what I tend to say is that I don't have a problem with being female, just with being feminine.

Is it feminist to say, as papersky does, This also is a valid way of being a real woman, or is it feminist to say, do what you like, it doesn't matter what gender you are?

I think those are both valid feminist standpoints. If you decide, as you say, to be agendered or masculine because women are restricted, I think that would be a problem. But if you're not terribly invested in being female, then that's a personal experience, and not one I can see a problem with. Act how is right for you - and ideally that's not too distorted by what society has impressed on us as "appropriate" gendered ways to behave...
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livredor: teapot
From:livredor
Date:August 27th, 2006 11:53 am (UTC)
15 hours after journal entry, 12:53 pm (livredor's time)
(Link)
So much icon love! And thank you for your comment; it's interesting to hear about your experiences of gender and how that's changed over your life.
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redbird: default
From:redbird
Date:August 26th, 2006 09:07 pm (UTC)
36 minutes after journal entry, 05:07 pm (redbird's time)
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Is it feminist to say, as papersky does, This also is a valid way of being a real woman, or is it feminist to say, do what you like, it doesn't matter what gender you are?

Yes, it is. Both are. You're not undermining people like me and Papersky; if anyone is, it's the ones who tell us that we aren't proper women because we don't satisfy their stereotypes. And I hope we're not undermining you by occasionally pointing to you, and people like you, who are going on about your lives without looking at the gender labels before making your choices.

In some ways being feminist is like opposing racism, or campaigns to make sure that all children get enough to eat: in a better society, these would be just part of the background of how we lived, not ongoing issues.
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livredor: portrait
From:livredor
Date:August 27th, 2006 12:02 pm (UTC)
15 hours after journal entry, 01:02 pm (livredor's time)
(Link)
Thank you for this, and for the supportive discussion in IM last night. Also thank you for making me think in the first place; if anyone can make a feminist of me it's probably you.

I am delighted to be pointed to as an example of someone not caring about gender labels. It's not just that I don't mind, it's that I positively want to be less invisible. A lot of feminist and gender-warrior discussion seems to proceed as if people like me couldn't possibly exist, and that's part of what I find alienating.

And I do like your analogy. Being against sexism ought to be like being against racism or starvation, too obvious to be worth stating or forming a political identity around.
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From:lyssiae
Date:August 26th, 2006 10:35 pm (UTC)
2 hours after journal entry
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I'm afraid I have nothing constructive to add to your thoughts, or to the discussion, apart from the following: that since you wrote a post entitled something like "Why I am not a feminist" I've enjoyed reading all your posts on the topic. It encourages me to examine who I am wrt my sex. Of course this is all in a Catholic context, perhaps different than the context in which the original posts and your own were written; but then, the previous Pope wrote about "the genius of woman" (shamefully, I can't claim to know his documents or writings about it in much detail) and I enjoy trying to link it all up.

In essence, the above paragraph was a rather long-winded "thank you"!
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livredor: teapot
From:livredor
Date:August 27th, 2006 12:05 pm (UTC)
15 hours after journal entry, 01:05 pm (livredor's time)
(Link)
I really appreciate your "cheerleading" comments. It's such a great thing for me to get encouragement that what I write is interesting to people. And I'm definitely interested in how you experience gender in the context of your identity and religious beliefs as a Catholic, if you ever happen to come up with something you want to talk about publicly. It's generally a good thing if my posts spark off others to think about something tangential but more directly relevant to them, and examining gender in Catholicism is a good example of that.
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rho: taijitu
From:rho
Date:August 27th, 2006 05:01 am (UTC)
8 hours after journal entry, 06:01 am (rho's time)

Part 1 of 2

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My thoughts on this may be a little disjointed, since I'e only just woken up, but I know that if I don't reply now there's a high probability that I won't get around to doing so later.

Sometimes when I'm feeling introspective and thoughtful, I play the game of trying to provide for myself a full working definition of male and female. I say "trying" because I've never really succeeded. From the most basic of biological standpoints, I guess you'd say that a female was someone who produced eggs, and a male someone who produced sperm. But that doesn't work, because it fails to take into account infertile people. Then there's karyotype, but that doesn't work either because XX males and XY females are both relatively common (to say nothing of XO, XXY and XYY). Existence of sex organs? What about, for instance, women who have hysterectomies? Social and psychological issues are pretty much a non-starter, since there are as many different modes of thought as there are people on the planet, and vast numbers of different self definitions.

In short, whatever metric I try to use to define sex or gender, there are always cases I can point to where it doesn't fit. This tells me two things: firstly, the whole deal is a lot more complicated than I might imagine; secondly, I don't fully understand it.

The way I tend to think about it is as a vast n-dimensional space. On each axis, you have an attribute which is associated with sex or gender. These would range from primary sexual characteristics (eg, genitalia), through secondary sexual characteristics (eg, body hair) and psychological traits (eg, nurturing or aggressive) to those things that are nothing more than societally invoked gender roles (eg, choice of clothing). If you plotted each person as a point in this space, you would see a strong correlation. People who display "female" traits on one axis are also likely to do so on another axis, and similarly for "male", with the correlation being stronger for the more fundamental primary sexual characteristics.

But of course, very few people would fit to this exactly. When people refer to "real men" or "real women", I tend to think of that as being people who have all attributes aligned with the most statistically likely ones. We all fall outside of these ideals, to some extent or other, and I think that in most cases it probably causes some degree of discomfort. In your case, you liked climbing trees and had short hair as a child, and got annoyed when people mistook you for a boy. In the case of a woman with a hormonal imbalance, she might have above-average body hair, and feel compelled to shave it off to comply with standards of femininity and thereby suffer self esteem issues. In my case, I end up completely screwed up in the head by the whole thing. The bigger the deviations are, I suspect that the bigger the potential problems it can cause are.

The problem, as I see it, is that society tries to cling to this false dichotomy, defining sex/gender as a simple binary, when it's actually more complicated than that. Feminism, in a way, is a good start. Feminism says, essentially (my own words, possibly misunderstood, apologies if I'm misrepresenting anyone), "just because someone has a vagina doesn't mean they have to follow other feminine traits". Where I feel that it falls down is that it's too limited. What about those of us who don't have a vagina? What about those of us who do, but who actively wish to follow feminine stereotypes?
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rho: taijitu
From:rho
Date:August 27th, 2006 05:01 am (UTC)
8 hours after journal entry, 06:01 am (rho's time)

Part 2 of 2

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I think it's hugely important that women should be able to do all the things that stupid misogynists think women shouldn't be allowed to. That a woman can go into a job and know that she will get paid less than a man of equal ability is appalling. However, I also think that it's important that men should be able to be stay at home dads, to be emotional, to wear stereotypically feminine clothing, and all manner of other things that the same stupid people think that they shouldn't be allowed to do. That an effeminate man can be beaten by random strangers just for being himself is also appalling. And in this regard, I think that many (though not all) feminists tend to have too narrow an approach. I think it's necessary to allow for people to be whatever kind of people they wish (so long as it doesn't infringe on the rights of others naturally), rather than just focusing on allowing a specific subgroup of people to do a specific subset of things. Whether the former is possible without first building the foundations of the latter, I don't know.

Second point, now. You say:

But I think I would probably be happy to spend the rest of my life in a male body; I certainly wouldn't go through massive effort and hassle and pain to get my female body back.

I honestly don't think that that's something you can know with any decent degree of certainty without ever experiencing it. My suspicion is that it would make a bigger difference than you think it would. I suspect that there's a lot of stuff that you take for granted. For instance, the vast majority of people treat men and women differently to some extent. I know that I do, no matter how much I try to stop myself. Some of the differences you would undoubtedly find to be positives (having people take you seriously when you're referring to something technical, for instance). Others, I don't doubt, wouldn't be. I can't think of any examples off the top of my head at the moment, but I'm quite sure that there would be things that you do now which raise no comments at all which would be looked down upon if you were in a male body. Some of your female friends would undoubtedly be less willing to confide in you. Random strangers would be more likely to look upon you as a potential rapist or mugger. When you needed to use public toilets, you'd have to go into the smellier of the two. And so on and so forth. Gender (and gender roles, and perceived gender) effect a whole lot of things, many of which aren't immediately obvious.

There's also the general feeling of "wrongness" which I've never been able to describe satisfactorily. I just have an innate feeling of "my body is not the way my body should be". It reminds me somewhat of what I've read of phantom limbs experienced by amputees. I'm sure that it's different, but I sometimes have a fairly strong feeling in my brain of "this should be there" when it isn't. Needless to say, this can be both confusing and distressing.

You also said:

I was something of a tomboy, but I hated being referred to as such, or even worse, being mistaken for a boy

Why is that? If it's not a big deal, why should it matter?

Of course, you may be right. You may be able to shrug it off with little more than some slight initial disorientation. I don't know. I just don't think that you can know either, without having ever experienced it.

Finally, I'm thinking that you ought to read My Gender Workbook by Kate Bornstein. I'd guess that you might disagree with a fair proportion of it, but I also think that it would supply you with a lot of food for thought on this sort of issue.
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livredor: ewe
From:livredor
Date:August 27th, 2006 12:32 pm (UTC)
16 hours after journal entry, 01:32 pm (livredor's time)
(Link)
Oh, you're completely preaching to the converted here. Absolutely there is discrimination against men who do not fit gender expectations. Some feminists seem to include this in their remit, others don't. But I am very much inclined towards the more general approach of aiming for the maximum freedom attainable for everybody rather than improving the rights of a particular subgroup.

There is a reason why I described the gender-zapping ray as a spurious thought experiment. It's stupid, because it would never happen, and because of course you can't tell how you would react if it did happen, and I think it has very little bearing on the experience of actual transsexuals.

I don't at all deny that my experiences would be different if I were male. I just don't think, and of course I can never know this for sure, that I would feel massively wrong or uncomfortable being male. Definitely the lack of trust and suspicion of violence and sexual aggression would annoy me, but then period pains annoy me now, as a female. Maybe male would come out overall worse, I don't know, but that's a different thing from feeling that I am mentally and spiritually female and therefore it would be completely unfair and horrible to be perceived as male.

And when I said I hated being seen as a tomboy, I was trying to explain that my feelings have changed. When I was a kid it mattered a lot that I was a girl, whereas now it doesn't matter much at all. Perhaps ironically given that I didn't really have any sexual characteristics when I was 7, but now I am physically entirely female and I don't care any more. So that comment doesn't contradict my saying that it's not a big deal; it definitely was a big deal back then, but it isn't now.
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leora: ouroboros
From:leora
Date:August 28th, 2006 04:11 am (UTC)
1 days after journal entry, August 27th, 2006 09:11 pm (leora's time)

Re: Part 2 of 2

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I think I would have been as comfortable, possibly moreso, in a male body, but less happy. Less happy because I want a female body. I want to get pregnant and have kids, and a male body cannot do that.

But I've always had a sense of wrongness about my body. It's gotten better as I've gotten older, but mirrors always look wrong to me. It doesn't match my self-image. I keep trying to figure out what I think I should look like, but it isn't what I do look like.

As a child, I felt very uncomfortable wearing skirts and dresses, because it felt wrong, since I wasn't really a girl. And I wasn't fully convinced that I truly was female until I started menstruating.

Sometimes I've identified as a male who wants to be female trapped inside a female body and grateful.

Of course, a male body would totally mess up my life, since my lothario is a straight male. And I'm not adapted to being male. But when I was younger, I was treated by almost everyone much more like a male than like a female, and fit much better in the geeky male roles. I never fit well in any of the traditional male or female roles. Plus, my mother was very into gender roles, so I always had crappier toys because I was female.

But like Livredor, I mostly feel ungendered. But I think part of that is that none of the traditional stereotypes fit me at all. The traits that I have that are more masculine aren't the ones people think of first when they think of masculine. My feminine traits are closer to what people think of as feminine, but I don't come off as all that feminine in whole, and did so lesso when I was younger. It took me a long time to be comfortable acting or dressing femininely. And I am usually fine with being misidentified as male. On IRC, it happened all the time. And I just went with it. I was rather pleased when someone attached Mr. before my nick as a sign of respect and courtesy. I saw no reason to correct it; it didn't matter. I was helping the person, and my gender was totally unimportant to that interaction.

But sexual relations as a male would totally throw me, because I simply have no experience with it. But then, it took me a while to get used to sex as a female.

Oh, and growing up, it's easier to think male than think female, since almost everything I read or watched assumed a male point of view. Almost everything that dealt with relationships was from the heterosexual male point of view. So, it was weird constantly being told how females are strange, mysterious, unfathomable creatures. Because I was one of those. And yet. The difference in viewpoint really struck me as the weirdest gender thing when I was growing up. Just the constant assumption that I am male and understand the male viewpoint and that the female viewpoint is alien.
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livredor: teapot
From:livredor
Date:August 27th, 2006 12:14 pm (UTC)
15 hours after journal entry, 01:14 pm (livredor's time)
(Link)
Good morning rho, and thanks for your input. Like the anonymous commenter below, your life has been very directly affected by gender issues, so it's definitely good to hear about your experiences. For me, it's mostly just idle intellectual interest, so I'm glad you chose to participate in this discussion.

I like the quasi-mathematical formalism; I do think that's a helpful way of getting away from the binary but still working with something relatively abstract.

I also like your point about feminism only covering one section of the problem. That's part of why I find feminism's answers unsatisfactory, I think. There's nothing wrong with focusing on one particular issue (in this case, female-bodied people who want to act in what are perceived as unfeminine ways). But it's the hostility to people who want to deal with any other part of the larger picture that bothers me.
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From:(Anonymous)
Date:August 27th, 2006 11:38 am (UTC)
15 hours after journal entry
(Link)
Essentially, I feel exactly the same as you about my gender. I wasn't particularly gendered as a child, I have no investment in any sort of gender identity (whether one of the two traditional ones or one of the many alternatives). Gender just isn't that important to me or my life.

Or that would be the case. Except for the fact that I feel there's something not quite right about my body being the sex it is. And that forces me to have to think about and deal with gender, even when I don't feel like gender is all that big a deal to me, when in my opinion the problem is my sexed body, not my gender, (or lack of it).

Being able to say that gender isn't important or doesn't play a big role in one's life is a luxury that's only afforded to people who are comfortable in their sexed bodies. If you're uncomfortable in your body and take various steps to change your body, or the appearance of your body, to become, or to appear like, a body of the opposite sex, then it becomes simply unacceptable not to have strong feelings about gender.

If you transgress other people's ideas of gender by altering or appearing to alter your sexed body, you are often required to explain yourself in terms of gender, and if you don't or can't then that's just not acceptable. The most obvious example of this is in the case of the medical establishment and the gatekeepers who will not prescribe hormones or surgery for people who have not demonstrated a strong cross-gender identification for at least two years. Not a desire to change sex, but a strong cross-gender identification. And doctors aren't the only people who expect explanations that involve gender for the desire to change one's body. Trans people are always being asked to justify their bodies in terms of gender and gender identification.

You talk in this post about yourself as a cisgendered person for whom gender is unimportant, and contrast that with trans people for whom gender is important. This is a pattern I've experienced over and over, where cisgendered people who have the privilege of admitting that gender is unimportant to them assume that I want to change my body because I have strong, rigid and restrictive ideas about gender, and if only I let go of those ideas I'd realise that gender was no big deal like they do, then I'd be able to feel comfortable living an unconventionally gendered life in the body I was born with. When in actual fact I feel exactly the same about gender as those cisgendered people, the only thing I feel different about is my body, but the only explanation those same cisgendered people will accept for my feelings about my body is based on a series of ideas about gender that I don't actually have.

I'm not saying that's what you're saying here, I just wanted to challenge the assumption that all trans people have strong feelings about gender, and explain why it's sometimes hard for trans people to get away from that rhetoric.
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livredor: likeness
From:livredor
Date:August 27th, 2006 12:51 pm (UTC)
16 hours after journal entry, 01:51 pm (livredor's time)
(Link)
Hello, anonymous person, and thank you for your comment. If you're a closeted transsexual I completely understand that you prefer to be anonymous, but if you're ok with giving me some indication of who you are I'd find it more comfortable discussing with you. Completely up to you, though, and I don't mean a full name, but a handle or an initial or some indication of whether I know you or you just happened to surf by.

I really appreciate hearing about your experiences. I definitely didn't mean to belittle any trans people for whom this is inevitably a big issue, just because it isn't a big issue for me. I also don't at all believe that trans people have rigid ideas about gender! Partly from experience, in that most of the trans people I know are doing things a long way from the stereotype of the gender that they went to so much effort to join. All the trans people I have come across have thought deeply about gender through being forced to confront it, and are a lot less invested in gender expectations than the majority of cisgendered people. But it's definitely worth saying, so thank you for recounting such a personal story here in my journal.

It sounds to me as if being uncomfortable in your body is the key part of your experience. Is that fair? I just don't relate very strongly to my body at all. If it were very different, I don't think that would have a strong impact on my identity, and that goes for lots of things, not just what sex my body happens to be. I realize this is also to do with being physically healthy; if my body were broken and not functioning properly in some way, I would be forced to care about it. Which is absolutely not to say that I think badly of trans people because they experience their relationship with their bodies differently from how I do, it's just an observation about how I am.
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emmavescence: ponder
From:emmavescence
Date:August 27th, 2006 03:11 pm (UTC)
18 hours after journal entry
(Link)
This is an interesting discussion, and I'm glad to have got the chance to read it. Something I like about your journal is that it often spawns intelligent and respectful discussions :) I'm going to read the linked post and discussion in misia's journal next.

I don't think I have anything particularly interesting to add here myself. As far as I know I'm genetically female, and I'm quite happy identifying as female. I wouldn't use any of the gender terms in the first question of misia's poll; I identify as female, and while I suppose I am relatively feminine, I wouldn't use it to define myself, as it feels too limiting and stereotyped (but would be reasonably offended if someone described me as "masculine"). I have some personality traits from both sides, and admire various masculine or feminine traits that I don't have in others. I just don't like them being considered that way; they're just personality traits, which you may have no matter what your sex or gender is, and I think we should be moving away from considering things like being nurturing and affectionate as feminine traits, and being analytical and straightforward as masculine traits. That sort of talk seems to reinforce sexism and undermine feminism, using very broad strokes there. If I had to pick a different way to describe myself than "I am female", I suppose I'd say that I were a girl or a woman, though neither feel particularly accurate, but that's probably more to do with semantics than actual gender stuff.

I'd say that I am a feminist, when what I really mean is I'm an equality-ist. The feminist movement is coming from a position in society when women were seen as lesser; not being able to vote as an indicator of that. So, the aim of feminism as I see it is to raise females to the same level as men. I don't think we've got there yet, because women can still expect to be paid less than men, which patently isn't fair. There is no sane reasoning behind that; men don't just do all jobs better than women (and you could probably say that men are not inherently better than women at any job, and vice versa), so why should pay scales suggest that women are still lesser than men? If it was a societal thing, where men were seen as the major breadwinner, responsible for providing for a whole family, while the woman traditionally doesn't work or at least doesn't have a career, well, that's clearly outdated.

So I am a feminist, I support the furthering of women's interests until they are seen as equal to men. I definitely don't identify with the more militant feminists, who seem to be anti-men (though I am guilty of saying things like "men suck" on occasion, particularly when dealing in romantic arenas, but I'm sure I would be just as likely to say "women suck" if I'd been involved with more women, and it's a pretty meaningless statement, just a sweeping generalisation thrown out to try and make one feel better and blame someone else for whatever situation has arisen). Men are people too! And so are intersexed/transgendered people. There's nothing a person can be to make them inherently lesser or better than other people. We are all different, but the options are all qualititatively the same. It's like the anti-racism movement - while different races may be different to each other, no race is better or lesser than any of the others. But I also agree that the feminist movement has limitations, such as what rho said: "Feminism says, essentially (my own words, possibly misunderstood, apologies if I'm misrepresenting anyone), "just because someone has a vagina doesn't mean they have to follow other feminine traits". Where I feel that it falls down is that it's too limited. What about those of us who don't have a vagina? What about those of us who do, but who actively wish to follow feminine stereotypes?", and I'm in favour of furthering the breakdown of all stereotypes, and the ability for everyone to go about their lives in whatever way they see fit (assuming no harm being caused to others, and "offending" someone with your appearance or lifestyle choices doesn't count).

I find it somewhat ironic that I took a break in writing this comment to go and pluck my eyebrows and attend to oher "girly" things.
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livredor: letters
From:livredor
Date:August 27th, 2006 08:18 pm (UTC)
23 hours after journal entry, 09:18 pm (livredor's time)
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Something I like about your journal is that it often spawns intelligent and respectful discussions
Thank you, that's an excellent compliment because it's exactly what I'm aiming for. Yay.

Thanks for describing your experiences too; that is something I definitely do find interesting. I enjoyed the comments on misia's post but it's even more interesting when it's people I know talking about how they feel about gender.

I agree with you that it's rather unhelpful to divide personality traits into masculine and feminine. That can definitely reinforce sexism. But it can also be descriptive as well as prescriptive. It's sometimes useful to be able to talk about whether you fit in with expectations for your gender or go against them, I think.

Your take on feminism sounds extremely sensible to me. And I agree with you and rho about the limits. Probably the best feminism is the kind that complements other kinds of activism rather than excluding them.

And yay for girliness. I would have guessed you were probably a bit more "feminine" than me, and that's cool. I have never plucked my eyebrows ;-)
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beckyzoole: default
From:beckyzoole
Date:August 27th, 2006 07:17 pm (UTC)
22 hours after journal entry, 02:17 pm (beckyzoole's time)
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I've never thought of myself as particularly feminine, or that my gender was incredibly important. I just am, and the way I am is normal.
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livredor: letters
From:livredor
Date:August 27th, 2006 08:20 pm (UTC)
23 hours after journal entry, 09:20 pm (livredor's time)
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And you said it so much more succinctly than I did, too. I'm jealous of your brevity!
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beckyzoole: default
From:beckyzoole
Date:August 28th, 2006 08:32 pm (UTC)
2 days after journal entry, 03:32 pm (beckyzoole's time)
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LOL -- I had originally written a four-paragraph comment, but as I spellchecked it I realised that the opening sentence said it all and the rest was not necessary.
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blue_mai: default
From:blue_mai
Date:August 29th, 2006 10:02 pm (UTC)
3 days after journal entry, 11:02 pm (blue_mai's time)
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thanks for the clarification, regarding how your childhood hatred of being identified as a boy is something that has changed over time. it was a bit confusing. though it seems quite obvious now.
interesting discussion, i think i am broadly with you on the "not very bothered" thing. although on the other hand i agree with papersky's comment, and somehow feel that your matching of it to you as a child is an over-simplification. although i can't argue how.
i think i regard your stance as being more within papersky's definition rather than being quite apart from it. i suppose i would say "real person" which makes all the difference. i agree with the "real woman" definition, it's just part of the "real person". so have i just said that papersky's definition is a part of yours?... oh dear i've confused myself.
i'm a bit sickie, so i'll blame that.
finally, (me me me) i'm curious about what you think of my gender presentation. i've never been very sure how i come across (even simply do i come across femme/butch/androgynous etc). not being that bothered i haven't felt the need to get to an answer, (so if you cant be bothered that's fine) but it is something i have mused upon from time to time...
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