What If We Didn’t Have A Gender?

Posted in Uncategorized by kaykay on April 19, 2010

“The social pressure to conform to one sexual standard is huge — and this is true, in varying degrees, throughout most of the modern world” (Thomas).

As younger sister of a brother, I was immensely influenced during my childhood by him and adopted many tomboy characteristics. Although I was born into a life thinking that ice skating and ballet dancing were my forte, my older brother’s influence on playing video games and wearing baggy clothing made it seem as if I was living a double life through my entire childhood, and to this current day. Understanding where the roles of parental, sibling and societal influence on gender identity are placed has helped me see how gender identity influences the children in our society and personally relate the understanding to my tomboy characteristics. My life experience leads to an issue we have raised in class but that I feel has no received enough attention.

In our recent reading, “Fun Home”, the gender identity of Alison Bechdel was not fully portrayed until her college years. Although it was not specific in her story, I believe that she struggled through gender identity through her childhood in the presence of her father as well as her experience in college. I don’t think that Alison’s story primarily dealt with being a lesbian or queer until she arrived to college and had to conform into her social surroundings as a lesbian. She then decided to come out to her parents, whom were not shocked at all. Whereas Alison displayed tomboy characteristics her whole life and also displayed all the attributes of a “lesbian to be”, I feel differently in my own childhood experience.

I think this is where gender identity intersects with sexuality. Where Alison was a tomboy growing up and later became a lesbian, I did not. Gender identity is still a subject to which I am so confused about. I do believe that gender identity is hugely influenced by society, but I am not sure why we are so impacted by it. I like to imagine what kind of society we would be if we were not so influenced by gender identity. Would sexism and animosity against both sexes be avoided? Would feminism not have taken place? What would LGBT studies be like? Etc.

“Middle Sexes”. Director Antony Thomas. Performers Noah, Calpernia, Max, Veejay, Nandini, Kui and Elli. 2009. DVD. HBO Documentary Films. 2009.


2 Responses

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  1. kriegerdeslichts459 said, on April 23, 2010 at 4:46 pm

    In asking these questions, it’s helpful to remember that gender is a living breathing phenomenon – it’s something we DO rather than something we are. Like government, education, race, and religion, gender is just one more way that we are sociall stratified, boxed in, and labeled. Commonplace gender identities do have their roots in biological processes, but every facet of society influences and reifies gender subordination in one way or another.

    For me personally, I consider myself to be without a gender. I prefer to be just a person and to paint certain genders on myself whenever I want to. For some people, gender identity is clear cut and well-defined, but I prefer to live my life without boundaries or definitions. There’s so much pressure in society to be this or be that – why can we not simply be and leave it at that?

    Ponder that while I go powder my nose 😀

  2. sross10 said, on May 4, 2010 at 8:42 pm

    I think if people ignored or eliminated gender there wouldn’t be such animosity against same-gender loving people or simply people who don’t conform. For example, feminine gay men are going totally against gender roles. I believe ignorant people are subconsciously angered by that man giving up his masculinity, which is valued in the U.S. Going with the example of the gay man; a masculine gay man who is straight looking/acting would also cause this anger because he is unexpected; he’s tricking people.

    All that was to say that I believe a lot of the discrimination and hate that is put upon LGBT people has to do with gender roles

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