October 2018
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I believe gender is a social construct -- a lie, an illusion.


in response to dragonwine's long-ago asked question: "What is your personal view on gender in a sociological sense? Do you think gender, like sexuality, is fluid or not?"

I don't think it's fluid because I don't believe it exists. I think the physical sex characteristics of a body are irrelevant to the qualities, behaviors, attractions, etc., of the person living inside it.

I don't believe there is a such thing as a masculine or feminine quality (except as pertains to the body itself). Strong, weak, stoic, emotional, callous, sensitive, aggressive, submissive, repressed, expressive -- all of these are HUMAN qualities. And I find it extremely offensive when someone stereotypes them as masculine or feminine. The most commonly stereotyped quality, in my opinion, is compassion. (sometimes called 'sensitivity' or 'being pussy') The ability to feel someone else's feelings and understand their experience through that. It is stereotyped as a 'feminine' quality to the point where a person who is supposedly very wise and enlightened said that "the female is the source of genuine human compassion." I find that so. fucking. sickening! So men can't have compassion? what are they, monsters who care about no one else, doomed to selfishness forever because they made the mistake of being born into a male body? Or perhaps they are beggars, who can only come about compassion by being given it by a female. And what does this say about being female? that we are to be the source of all humans, while men give nothing? ARGH. Showing emotion is a part of compassion. Crying is often an expression of compassion for yourself or someone else, and this behavior is stereotyped as feminine. I could go on and on about every one of the qualities that is commonly stereotyped as being somehow related to genitalia. And then again, about behaviors/dress. With the exception of bras, there is no real reason for any difference in clothing due to sex. And then again, about attractions. Hello, it is not genitals that are attracted to genitals, it is a person who is attracted to a person.

This is why I am bisexual/queer. People generally come in two sexes, with the rare variation, and I am attracted to the spirit within a person. I find female, male, intersexed, and transsexual people equally attractive in the same way that I find slim and thick people equally attractive. Beauty is variety.

ETA: for a more structured explanation, read the userinfo of abolishgender. I agree with it completely.

ETA #2: in this post, by 'gender' I mean social/cultural categories, (stereotyped qualities, behaviors, dress, attractions), not physical sex characteristics (genitals, reproductive organs, hormones).

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Comments
fionavere ══╣╠══
Gender exists. Saying it doesn't isn't a great jumping off point for your argument. I think I get what you're saying anyway, but that's a pretty poor way to express it.

Men and women are different. These differences extend beyond the presence of a penis or a vagina. They are different down to the very DNA contained within each and every cell that goes to make up an individual. It can be scientifically determined if a sampling of cells, and they don't have to be cells from one's reproductive system, were taken from a man or a woman.

The fact that certain human characteristics are typically considered "feminine" and "masculine" is not just a form of repression implemented by centuries of social conditioning. Believe it or not, there is some science behind it. For example aggression is typically considered masculine. The reason for this is that aggression has been scientifically attributed to testosterone. Increased levels of testosterone in a person can, and will lead to increased aggression. Both men and women have testosterone in their bodies naturally. Men have more, as testosterone also plays a very important role in the development of male sex characteristics, and the male reproductive system.

What you have defined as "compassion" is a feminine characteristic because of the presence of a higher level of estrogen in women then in men. The reason that estrogen has to do with compassion is the simple fact that female bodies are designed to carry and bear children. Compassion is an extremely important quality in a mother. Men have estrogen in their bodies as well, but less of it, for the very same reasons that women have less testosterone as men.

All of that being said, just because a certain characteristic may be linked to one or the other sex hormones, does not mean it is absolutely exclusive to that sex. The world is just not that black and white. Men can experience compassion, women can experience aggression. As mentioned above both hormones are found in both sexes. Of course there are anomalies, there always are; but the presence of the occasional anomaly doesn't change the fact.
melissarose8585 ══╣╠══
I want to agree with the fact that gender is an inescapable part of our lives, but I diagree with most of what you said. We are finding that the genetic differences in the sexes matter less than the cognitive perceptions of the environment during growth. And while testosterone and estrogen do play a part in our responses, it doesn't account for aggression and compassion being gender stereotyped, or there would not be women that can be ass aggressive as men and vice versa.

Many of these ideals are socially programmed. Women in early humanity, while not hunters due to physical conditioning, were obviously respected and considered capable of hunting. They didn't let game go by because they were females, they would kill if needed. But they were physically suited to gathering, so they primarily did so. The balance didn't shift until westernized thought came about in Greece, and religion in Egypt.

Many of these ideals of feminine compassion come from the preachings of Paul and many early religious men, who saught to structure society. They needed women to be a taming force to the men who were needed for battle and protection.

Men who are compassionate and women who are aggressive are not anomalies, they simply have managed to grow past the social viewpoint. My significant other, a male, can be as aggressive as anyone but he gets upset seeing stray animals, wanting to take them in. And it's the same for me.

So while I agree with some of what you said, I just have to present another version.
fionavere ══╣╠══
I think you may have missed a portion of my point, or perhaps I did not express it very well. The anomalies I was referring to were not about men who are compassionate and women who are aggressive, I think most people exhibit both of those qualities at least some of the time, regardless of gender. What I was referring to there were people whose gender identity is a little less... obvious. People who are born with both male and female sex organs, people with hormonal imbalances, being two examples of what I meant by anomalies. Compassionate men are not anomalous in my opinion, nor are aggressive females.

My whole point was that just because something may be considered more feminine, or more masculine, does not mean that the opposite sex can't ever experience these things; or that if they do they must be freaks, or homosexual, or whatever other label you can think of. We do not live in a black and white world. Just because you are usually one thing, does not mean you can never be another.

Perhaps some of the things that have been previously chalked up to the biological differences in the sexes are more nurture than nature, but in my opinion that's not necessarily a bad thing. I believe in the beauty of the differences. When I look at or think of my boyfriend, I revel in the things that are different about him because he is a man. I find that contrast to be incredibly beautiful. I personally find androgyny to be very off putting. I realize there are people who feel the opposite and whose personal tastes are more tailored to a blurring of that line between the sexes. Just because those people exist, and even if you are one of them, does not mean it's fair to say or think "This concept offends me, it should not be that way."

I see no difference in this type of attitude than in people who say "homosexuals offend me, it should not be that way." Or perhaps, "insert religion here offends me, it should not be that way." It just seems to me as if it's perfectly acceptable to be offended by something as long as it represents what are considered "traditional", or Christian values. This infuriates me. (Disclaimer: this last paragraph had nothing to do with anything you personally said, it was just me expounding upon these thoughts a bit. Please do not take that as a personal attack.)
analytical
belenen ══╣analytical╠══
When I look at or think of my boyfriend, I revel in the things that are different about him because he is a man. I find that contrast to be incredibly beautiful. I personally find androgyny to be very off putting.

So, maybe it is possible that you feel a strong desire/need to believe there is a large mind-makeup difference between the sexes. Just as I feel a strong desire/need to believe there is a minute and unimportant mind-makeup difference between the sexes. Obviously we're not going to come to agreement on this, at this point anyway.
melissarose8585 ══╣╠══
Ah, I do understand a little better. I did see it as you saying that those of the opposite sex showing other-gender characteristics (i.e. compassionate males) were anomalies. But I understand what you mean. I, too, enjoy the differences in my significant other, but I do tend to blur the gender lines quite a bit. I think it comes from being around people who have blurred those lines.

I don't think I ascribe to androgyny, even though I understand those who do. I also try to be very open about most differences of opinion.

And I understand your last paragraph, too. Most things in the Christian (or any other religion) do not bother me. I simply used the example, because that is where westernized society gets that small part of its sociological thought. (And I understand you're not ranting at me.)
analytical
belenen ══╣analytical╠══
I'm aware that there are chemical differences. However, I think that they affect humans in a very minor way compared to how society affects humans. Gay men weren't born with more estrogen than straight men, yet the way gay men are expected to behave is 'feminine.' Men generally behave more 'aggressively' than women, but some women are just as aggressive as most men. I believe that if you take out the social differences, you would find that those aggressive people even out to pretty much equal, maybe 51% to 49%. Did you know that in matriarchal societies, men behave completely differently? For instance, beauty pageants involve MEN getting dressed up and prancing around for women? Yeah, that's some aggressive male hormone there.

It seems that the place we disagree is how much hormones affect people. I think people have qualities, and people have hormones, and they are very very weakly linked. Post-menopausal women, for instance, still exhibit 'feminine' behavior though they no longer have the same hormones. Like American science once tried to prove that blacks were 'scientifically' lesser than whites, and Hitler's scientists did the same with Jews, science now tries to prove that women are lesser than men, by being 'genetically predisposed' to the 'lesser' qualities such as weakness, submissiveness, etc. I think if we had an equalist society, the science would reflect differently, just as science changed after slavery was abolished.

Science is not separate from society. Scientists are part of society and have the same flawed views -- and are generally men, who have a lot to lose by saying 'whoops, men and women are equal after all.' If we had an equal amount of men and women as scientists and they were all free of society's lies, then I would trust their results. But the results reflect the prejudices of the scientist.

ETA: I'm not saying that the results of studies are wrong, though they're probably not infallible -- I'm saying that the interpretation of the results is very skewed.
fionavere ══╣╠══
I replied to melissarose8585 above, a lot of it applies here as well.

I'd also like to add that as much as a person may strive for the spiritual, it's impossible to get around the fact that we live in the physical world. We are a long way off in our evolutionary cycle from bodies being unnecessary. So while your statement it is not genitals that are attracted to genitals, it is a person who is attracted to a person. may contain some truth, it is not entirely so. Unless I misunderstand what you mean, which looking at it now may be the case. By "person" are you referring to the spiritual soul residing inside a body and nothing more, or do you mean something a bit more all encompassing, that which makes up a person being the spiritual soul, the sum total of their earthly experiences that have shaped them into who they are, as well as the physical body? If you mean the latter than I agree entirely. If you mean the former than I disagree, because a person's body is part of who they are, on this plane at least.

I hope you don't think I'm being argumentative or difficult on purpose since I've disagreed with you more than once recently. I just genuinely feel differently and wish to express that. Hopefully I have managed to do so kindly and respectfully.
analytical
belenen ══╣analytical╠══
yes, I feel you have been kind and respectful in your disagreeing ;-)

I do think that a person's body is a part of who they are, but only in the sense that it is the way they experience the world. A male and a female are going to be different because they are treated so differently by the world, as well as the fact that they experience things differently -- a woman bleeds, a woman usually experiences sex in a penetrated way whereas a man is usually the penetrator, things like that. And yes, the chemicals a person experiences differ from person to person, which affects the way they see the world -- whether the chemical is testosterone, estrogen, or serotonin, etc..
fionavere ══╣╠══
yes, I feel you have been kind and respectful in your disagreeing ;-)

Thanks, I was actually starting to worry. :) I thrive on a good debate, I try my best only to express an opposing viewpoint when I actually hold it, and not play devil's advocate; but sometimes I do it without even really realizing I am. If you ever just don't want to hear it, let me know and I will happily shut up. :) (Although if I'm about to burst or something it may springboard a post of my own about the topic, but I promise I'll shut up on YOUR journal if you ever ask me to! :)
artistic
belenen ══╣artistic╠══
p.s. even if I may vehemently disagree, I like hearing opposing thoughts because they help me to crystallize my own.
fionavere ══╣╠══
Thanks. In that case I will continue to share when I disagree unless and until you tell me to shut the hell up!
growing_wise ══╣╠══
"Gay men weren't born with more estrogen than straight men, yet the way gay men are expected to behave is 'feminine.'"

Not all gay men are effeminate, just as not all gay women are masculine. There are very masculine gay men out there, and very feminine lesbians. Gender and sexuality are two VERY different things, and comparing the amount of hormones they have to who they are attracted to is not logical.

If you don't think hormones are an important part of what makes us who we are, consider transgendered individuals. A woman who wants to become a man takes testosterone. Conversely, a man who wants to become a woman takes estrogen. This doesn't change who they are (their personality), but oftentimes a woman who is transitioning into a man does experience increased hostility, aggressive tendencies, etc. due to the increased testosterone.

"science now tries to prove that women are lesser than men, by being 'genetically predisposed' to the 'lesser' qualities such as weakness, submissiveness, etc."

I highly doubt that any studies regarding the differences between men and women actually say that women are "lesser" than men or that the results prove that women are supposed to be weak and submissive to men. Do you have an example?
analytical
belenen ══╣analytical╠══
I said expected to behave because I was referring to stereotypes, like all the rest of it.

if you don't think hormones are an important part of what makes us who we are

I think they are a part of what makes us who we are, but I think they have very limited influence. As I said to fionavere, it seems that the place we disagree is how much hormones affect people. I think people have qualities, and people have hormones, and they are very very weakly linked. A transgendered individual, in my opinion, is only changing their body, the way they see themselves, and the way they are treated by the world by taking hormones. A shift in hormones causes changes in emotions, just like in puberty, but it does not cause a permanent change in behavior. To me, the very fact that people CAN change from one sex to another is proof that the brain, the mind, the inner person, has little to do with the body. That's just the way I see it.

I highly doubt that any studies regarding the differences between men and women actually say that women are "lesser" than men

I highly doubt that as well. Prejudice doesn't usually announce itself. That's why I put it in quotes.

or that the results prove that women are supposed to be weak and submissive to men

'weak' and 'submissive' are relative terms. However, I have read studies on how women are supposedly predisposed to housework or child-raising. I didn't save the links because I don't care to re-read them, but I'm sure you could find them if you wanted.

--------

all of this is just my opinion, based on limited research and the way I see life in general. If you have suggestions on ways to further educate myself, I will be happy to check them out.

(sorry for the many edits, I didn't reread carefully before sending :-p)
sidheblessed ══╣╠══
I think you make a valid and important point here.

I was going to say more but then I realised the above sentence says enough and anything else would just be parroting what you've said.
on communication, social justice, intimacy, consent, friendship & other relationships, spirituality, gender, queerness, & dreams. Expect to find curse words, nudity, (occasionally explicit) talk of sex, and angry ranting, but NEVER slurs or sexually violent language. I use TW when I am aware of the need and on request.
Expect to find curse words, nudity, (occasionally explicit) talk of sex, and angry ranting, but NEVER slurs or sexually violent language. I use TW when I am aware of the need and on request.