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"Most people don’t fit common gender definitions"
May 15, 2014 3:17 AM   Subscribe

Four things about men and women I’ve learnt from being neither by CN Lester.
posted by MartinWisse (111 comments total) 39 users marked this as a favorite

 
Insightful... the 'safest' person in my life for all kinds of 'taboo' conversations is someone who call himself a humansexual.
posted by infini at 3:27 AM on May 15


I'm thinking this person has some overly rigid ideas of gender definitions if they've never met someone who fits society's templates for maleness or femaleness. I mean, there are a ton of templates out there. The public persona of Jack Black is utterly different from the public persona of Arnold Schwarzenegger, but those public personas are both templates for maleness. So is the Bill Nye persona, and the Michael Jordan persona. If he/she's saying he/she's never met someone whose persona didn't fit within this template space...then I'm thinking maybe the people who fit in just haven't confided their gender template nonconformity in him/her because there's nothing to confide.

That, or I'm actually incredibly weird for matching what society considers "normal".

Not that any of this means his/her other points are wrong. It's just that the pull quote is so at odds with my personal experience.
posted by Bugbread at 3:41 AM on May 15 [20 favorites]


How weird that someone I've met and shared stages with several times is on the front page of MeFi. Huh.

Bugbread, CN Lester is genderqueer, and prefers singular 'they' for pronouns. I'm sure you mean no ill will, but the "he/she" thing kinda gives a really bad impression...
posted by Dysk at 4:01 AM on May 15 [7 favorites]


I'm such a big fan of CN Lester. Their music is also well worth checking out.
posted by fight or flight at 4:01 AM on May 15


I'm thinking this person has some overly rigid ideas of gender definitions if they've never met someone who fits society's templates for maleness or femaleness. I mean, there are a ton of templates out there. The public persona of Jack Black is utterly different from the public persona of Arnold Schwarzenegger, but those public personas are both templates for maleness. So is the Bill Nye persona, and the Michael Jordan persona. If he/she's saying he/she's never met someone whose persona didn't fit within this template space...then I'm thinking maybe the people who fit in just haven't confided their gender template nonconformity in him/her because there's nothing to confide.

Well, the question is how much of the personas in question is 'authentic' and how much is an act, or a response to external pressure rather than an expression born of some sort of internal identity. Personally, I'd posit that it's nigh-impossible to separate these anyway, but the fact that so many people's personas fit the boxes doesn't necessarily mean that the actual people do...
posted by Dysk at 4:03 AM on May 15 [5 favorites]


Dysk: "Bugbread, CN Lester is genderqueer, and prefers singular 'they' for pronouns. I'm sure you mean no ill will, but the "he/she" thing kinda gives a really bad impression..."

Yeah, I usually use "they" for gender neutral, but it came after "Bill Nye" and "Michael Jordan", so if I used "they" there it would seem like I was referring to those two, not CN Lester, so I was kinda stuck avoiding "they". I shoulda just said "CN Lester" but that approach didn't occur to me until just now.

Dysk: "Well, the question is how much of the personas in question is 'authentic' and how much is an act"

I know, which is why I didn't say that Arnie or Jack Black or Bill Nye or Michael Jordan themselves fit the male template, just what we can see of them, hence "their personas". But, I dunno, maybe it is just me, but my individual identity fits perfectly well into the male template space. I'm not alpha male — far, far from that personality type. But the male template space is pretty big, and accommodates a lot of different possibilities, like what Arnie and Jack and Bill and Michael appear to be.

Also, to avoid any misunderstanding: I'm not saying that this is a natural state of being, that I'm unmolded by society, etc. Just that I've been molded by society, etc., successfully enough that I actually do fit the template, unlike apparently all the people CN Lester has met.
posted by Bugbread at 4:27 AM on May 15 [5 favorites]


Bill Nye fits a certain trope in our social understanding, sure, but a lot of the world still does not see that as a properly acceptable gender performance. Which is the problem with gender performance. If you personally don't see things in that limited a way, that's terrific, but quite a lot of the world struggles with this. We've had AskMe questions from people who identify as women who insist they have difficulty making friends with people who identify as women because those people have nothing in common with them. Those definitions are overly rigid, but I don't know how one can look at the world as it is and say that we've already somehow abolished those patterns. Jack Black exists, but he isn't actually the guy most working- or middle-class American parents picture their sons growing into. There are plenty of celebrity women of non-traditionally-feminine demeanor, but my relatively conservative family in the midwest is not okay with my occupying any of those spaces, much less anything further afield.
posted by Sequence at 4:31 AM on May 15 [1 favorite]


Sequence, it sounds like you're talking about ideals, not "common gender definitions". People don't want their sons to grow up to be Al Bundy. That doesn't mean that he doesn't fit a common gender template for "male".

Also, really, folks don't see Bill Nye as properly acceptable gender performance?
posted by Bugbread at 4:44 AM on May 15 [3 favorites]


[I just deleted a couple of comments about "the asterisk" because it's one of those little usage details that can totally derail a good discussion, and the policy here is "use it or don't use it, it doesn't matter." I don't think we need a Metatalk post to affirm that, but if we do indeed need to hash that out more, that's the place to do it.]
posted by taz at 4:50 AM on May 15 [3 favorites]


But the male template space is pretty big, and accommodates a lot of different possibilities, like what Arnie and Jack and Bill and Michael appear to be.

I think this is absolutely right. My partner is a sensitive person who prefers theatre to sports, but he definitely fits inside what he and society in general think of as male.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 4:52 AM on May 15 [2 favorites]


And those ideals are exactly what Lester is talking about, here, not that they've never met anybody who could broadly be described as "male" or "female", which is an entirely different thing, but that they've never met anybody who actually precisely lived up to the ideal to the point where nobody would point at anything that person ever thought/did/said and say, "That's not appropriately masculine/feminine." They aren't trying to make some kind of claim that everyone is genderqueer or otherwise nonbinary.
posted by Sequence at 4:54 AM on May 15 [12 favorites]


I tend to agree that the piece implies a society which rigorously enforces quite rigid gender norms - and that hasn't really been my personal experience. I don't spend much time thinking about whether I'm being manly or not. Indeed I think I could honestly say that about the only times the subject comes up is when society at large is trying to push me out of traditional norms by applying gentle pressure to iron my own goddam shirts, say, something I was quite comfortable not doing (I'm OK with doing it too, I hasten to add).

I think things were different sixty years ago, maybe, but since the good old sixties the forces of reaction have not, as I perceive it, been in charge; certainly not in undisputed charge.
posted by Segundus at 4:57 AM on May 15 [3 favorites]


"If a system can only exist because people can’t tell the truth then I think that tells you all you need to know about the authenticity of that system. I think if we could, collectively, tell the secrets we keep about what our selves are and are meant to be, it might go a long way to knocking patriarchy down entirely."
I love this and I totally agree. One of the first things we tell children when teaching them acceptable behaviour is "girls don't/boy's don't do X" so where does that leave you if, actually, you do? You hide it, you lie about it, you feel ashamed of it, and nothing gets to change.
posted by billiebee at 4:59 AM on May 15 [6 favorites]


Also, really, folks don't see Bill Nye as properly acceptable gender performance?

I suppose it matters which folks, and where, doesn't it? Gender is kind of like a culture's approach to food, in that a lot of it is arbitrary, but damned if they don't all have opinions on what a 'good' meal needs to have. But obviously even sub-culturally within a larger group, one person's comfort food is another person's nightmare and it's further effected by individual preferences.

Like, at the end of the day it's something between handedness and telling whether someone is "short" or not- most people are biologically male or female, but that alone is no more useful than being right or left dominant- where as trying to gauge masculinity/femininity is always going to be relative to an arbitrary internalized standard that includes self perception.
posted by Phalene at 5:01 AM on May 15


One of the first things we tell children when teaching them acceptable behaviour is "girls don't/boy's don't do X"

Maybe I grew up in a more liberal household than most, but I never heard that once growing up.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 5:02 AM on May 15 [3 favorites]


On further reflection: maybe it's an age thing? (CN Lester is ten years younger than me) I know that when I was a teenager, a guy who didn't like sports was seen as not quite fitting the "male" mold. The same with liking classical music, or speaking French, or, or, or. But at age 40, none of those are seen as particularly unmanly. There's still stuff considered unmanly, of course (enjoying romcoms, getting manicures, etc.), but the list is much shorter. It could explain why CN Lester hasn't encountered anyone who fits common gender definitions.
posted by Bugbread at 5:12 AM on May 15


Thank you for this. I have a friend with a trans son who sometimes struggles; insights such as these can be very helpful to her. I'm grateful to be alive in a time when this can be discussed openly and suspect there are many who have simply never been able to articulate their burdens.
posted by kinnakeet at 5:43 AM on May 15


Maybe the author does so in another essay, but this one really suffered from the lack of definition of those gender roles. If they mean that "man" equals super macho, chiseled jaw, picking up a different woman every night, and being professionally successful, then yeah, almost no one on the planet fits into that. But I'm sympathetic to Bugbread's delineations above, that there is a range (limited though it may be) of acceptable male portrayals that many people fit within -- though I'd add that even with that wider range, lots of people don't fit into it well, especially when you include the secret hurts and desires that the essay talks about.

I also agree that age matters -- the range of "acceptable" gets broader every year, and the extent that anyone even bothers to criticize (much less having that criticism matter) goes down. I fit in very poorly as a teenager, but much better now, even though I'm just as quirky. Society has changed, but more so the questions just seem less fraught with time and even people who used to be extremely rigid on these questions seem to be following a natural progression towards being more pragmatic.

Lastly, I don't want to draw sweeping conclusions from small samples, but a striking number of the trans people I know are intensely invested in very traditional definitions of gender roles, much more so than most cis people I know. (Which totally makes sense if gender is something you have had to intensely grapple with, define yourself around, and struggle to have other people accept you on your terms.) It's far from universal, but it is real and sort of the mirror image to the article's portrayal of supposedly cis people not fitting well into rigid binaries.
posted by Dip Flash at 5:48 AM on May 15 [5 favorites]


I know that when I was a teenager, a guy who didn't like sports was seen as not quite fitting the "male" mold. The same with liking classical music, or speaking French, or, or, or.

That's exactly what Lester is saying, that those models persist despite the lack of conformity. Which is why you can meet a dozen women who all say they don't get along with other women because they're really not into shopping or fashion or scrapbooking or skinny cocktails, and never mind that those dozen women would probably all get along with each other just fine. Even when we feel comfortable enough to publicly fail to conform to the traditional gender role, we still know what that role is. And, while one may no longer be at risk of violence for it, there's still a lot of places where those expectations form very real family, social, and career pressures. There are still some places that haven't even gotten as far as the expectation of physical safety.

Accordingly, it is really valuable to put it out there that very few people fit comfortably into that old mold, even of those who may appear to on the surface. Otherwise, for example, I could slip myself into thinking that the second cousin (with husband and apple-cheeked child usually in tow) to whom I am often compared at family gatherings is really that two-dimensional creature with whom I have no common ground.
posted by Sequence at 5:50 AM on May 15 [1 favorite]


-One of the first things we tell children when teaching them acceptable behaviour is "girls don't/boy's don't do X"

--Maybe I grew up in a more liberal household than most, but I never heard that once growing up.


Not even on the playground? In school?

I'm not sure where geographically or when your childhood was spent, but it's definitely the exception among people I've ever met, both IRL and online.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 5:51 AM on May 15 [11 favorites]


I agree with this post but I think some of the discussion is coming from the wrong angle.

If we suppose that gender definitions are things that exist, like platonic ideals, then it's easy to start enumerating the number of people who do/do not fit in those categories. And we can have endless arguments over weather person X does/does not/does but not "really"/doesn't look like but "really is" etc in a/the category.

it feels like science to have this conversation!

But really, the gender definitions are not platonic ideals. Rather, they are conventions and words and actions. The act of categorizing is an act of power, and any time someone in power wants to control someone else, they can use the tool of gender categorization.

So you have the jock with power telling the chef that "real men don't work in the kitchen." And then you can have the chef with power telling the jock that "real men don't worry so much about their body hair."

It's contradictory! In the end, no one will meet everyone's definition of gender, because there will always be someone who wants to control them.

I think that's the point of this article.

Moving into my own territory, I suggest that we could eliminate gender naming, gender norms, gender conformity, even the language we use to discuss gender, and nothing in society would change. Those in power would use race, height, education, "authenticity", things much more esoteric, or if we somehow eliminated all of those options, even a "power level" like meowmeowbeenz to oppress and control.

Gender equality is like saying that everyone has equal access to predatory lending.
posted by rebent at 6:02 AM on May 15 [7 favorites]


-One of the first things we tell children when teaching them acceptable behaviour is "girls don't/boy's don't do X"

--Maybe I grew up in a more liberal household than most, but I never heard that once growing up.

---Not even on the playground? In school?


I agree, The Underpants Monster.

My daughter is 4. We have always tried to communicate equality, including boy/girl independence in clothing, friendships, and activities; the equal rights of gay people; and that men and women are not restricted to certain types of employment (i.e. doctor/nurse). She doesn't watch TV or movies. Most of the time, she understands what that means, but there are always exceptions.

Those exceptions (like always assigning herself the play role of nurse) she has learned of by so much stereotyping of gender from other children and adults, and it has been hard to eliminate.

Yesterday I bought her a bagel from a nice young person. Afterward, my daughter asked me whether the bagel seller was a man or a woman. I told her that it didn't matter, because boys, girls, men, women, and others, can all choose how to present themselves, including as gendered or non-gendered.

But I wasn't sure if I had communicated that as well as I could have. This piece helps, and I will refer to it and talk to my daughter about her question again.
posted by miss tea at 6:05 AM on May 15 [5 favorites]


Maybe I grew up in a more liberal household than most, but I never heard that once growing up.
Huh, really? I grew up in a very liberal household, and I can definitely remember instances when I got told that various things weren't ladylike or my brothers got told not to throw like a girl or that boys don't cry. This mostly didn't come from our parents, but we interacted with a lot of people other than our parents. But I also think that a lot of this stuff is conveyed in more subtle ways. My mom didn't tell me that girls aren't supposed to have strong opinions, but in high school she told me frequently that I should be careful not to sound strident, which is not a word that gets used about guys very often. There have been a ton of studies that have shown that boys and girls get treated differently literally from infancy and internalize different expectations about their behavior. Girls are expected to be quieter and more well-behaved. Boys are expected to suppress emotion (other than anger) and do more things for themselves. Those expectations can be all the more powerful because they're not always named.

I don't know. It seems to me to be almost self-evident that most people don't automatically fit into gender expectations, but I guess it does depend on how rigidly your particular community defines masculinity and femininity.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 6:05 AM on May 15 [8 favorites]


I liked that a lot. Thanks.
posted by rtha at 6:06 AM on May 15


those dozen women would probably all get along with each other just fine.

I would suspect the opposite. My guess would be that the self-hate that isn't experienced when you see yourself as an outlier would come to the fore. It's like how the first time I realized I was an American was when I went to Europe.
posted by Obscure Reference at 6:07 AM on May 15


"This isn’t anything more than anecdotal evidence and personal experience"
posted by zscore at 6:48 AM on May 15


[One comment deleted. I understand that things can be confusing, but we don't do the "I don't care what he calls himself / what surgery he's had, he's still a guy in a dress" sort of declamations here. ]
posted by taz at 6:48 AM on May 15 [21 favorites]


Will we have a revolution of society that defeats the bro culture if we legislate the voiding of traditional gender, putting a dozen or thirty choices on every form? Yeah right. All the changes happening now are just amazing and fantastic society will have huge benefits and changes , but some of the rhetoric just seems to be a bit wishful.

Good post.

This idea that "the binary gender system hurts everyone" - please. I hate to break this to Lester or anyone else, but there are legions of people who don't sit around thinking about the "binary gender system," and this article seems to say - if you could peer deep into their souls in their moment of loneliness you might find a few misgivings which you then might convince them to nurture as a full-blown grievance.

Must we do this? It's one thing to say, as a society, that everyone has a right to live as he/she/they wish, that no one ought to be discriminated against on the basis of their gender or sexual preferences or whatever it is, and that legal protections should be in place to prohbit or punish any such discrimination; but it's quite another to claim that's it's the equivalent of a thought crime for anyone to be comfortable in his or her gender role.

Be what you want to be, think what you want to think but please stop telling others, in effect, that their decisions to be what they want to be and think what they want to think amounts to oppression.
posted by kgasmart at 6:54 AM on May 15 [4 favorites]


but it's quite another to claim that's it's the equivalent of a thought crime for anyone to be comfortable in his or her gender role.

Wait, what? Who said this, and where? What?
posted by rtha at 6:58 AM on May 15 [10 favorites]


kgasmart: "it's quite another to claim that's it's the equivalent of a thought crime for anyone to be comfortable in his or her gender role."

Huh? I'm super comfortable in my gender role, but I'm not getting that vibe from anyone here. The closest I get is CN Lester not having met someone like me, but there's a huge, huge gulf between not having met someone and thought crime. I mean, I've never met someone from Portugal, but that doesn't mean I think being Portuguese is a crime.
posted by Bugbread at 7:14 AM on May 15 [3 favorites]


This idea that "the binary gender system hurts everyone" - please.

You don't think the immense pressure to conform to arbitrary standards of appearance and behavior is harmful?

I assume the majority of people are comfortable considering themselves either male or female. Bimodal distribution, as someone expressed it a couple of days ago elsewhere.

But that doesn't mean that they don't experience any stress from society telling them what is or isn't masculine or feminine. See the post a couple of weeks ago here about the anxiety men have about public restrooms. Or the entire cosmetics and fashion industries and the ways they teach women to feel insecure and inadequate in order to sell more products. Ask yourself why some men refuse to eat yogurt or salad because they are "feminine." Or why traits like aggression, leadership, sensitivity or organization are gendered; why women in business are supposed to "think like a man" but are condemned for it.

I'm not saying men should stop being men or women should stop being women, but I do indeed think the binary gender system has negative side effects even for people who are comfortable in a decidedly male or decidedly female identity.
posted by Foosnark at 7:22 AM on May 15 [16 favorites]


It's quite another to claim that's it's the equivalent of a thought crime for anyone to be comfortable in his or her gender role

I didn't take away that sentiment from the post. I read it rather as saying that if you aren't comfortable you have to keep quiet about it because you don't fit in to societal norms. And that maybe if more people who aren't comfortable were free to speak up the "norms" might not apply so much.
posted by billiebee at 7:22 AM on May 15 [7 favorites]


That was my take as well.
posted by jessamyn at 7:23 AM on May 15 [2 favorites]


Let me finesse that a bit by saying: I think Lester is completely wrong.

I think most people are indeed comfortable in their gender role. Might there be occasional misgivings? Sure. Does that mean they want to see "traditional" gender roles erased? Not at all.

And to claim that "the binary gender system hurts everyone," and indeed is oppressive to everyone is simply ludicrous.

Is it possible, then, for someone on the left to advocate for equal treatment under the law for trans people, or whatever people, to protest the fact that - as per Lester's essay - they are too often treated as not fully human.... but also, for that person on the left to say - look, I taught my son how to throw a baseball and it was a good day. My daughter loves pink and to paint her nails sparkly purple and to play with her Barbies, and it wasn't as if we said, you're a girl and must play with these (because she grew up with an older brother where other more masculine toys were all over the place), she made those choices herself.

Her younger brother plays with his Hot Wheels AND her My Little Ponies and all of this - all of the above - is just fine. And it must be. But what I get too often, sometimes, on the left is the notion that it isn't.
posted by kgasmart at 7:24 AM on May 15 [2 favorites]


kgasmart, I think that you are saying that this article (and/or liberals) want to change the "is" about living in our society.

I'd suggest that what is really under discussion is the "Should be" - in that a lot of people here are very accepting of people being whatever they want to be, but push back against those who force their opinions on how people should be. It's a little contradictory, a little paradoxical yes, but I think there's a strong distinction.
posted by rebent at 7:28 AM on May 15 [6 favorites]


I agree that younger people are a lot more judgmental and conformist. They're just learning the rules and learning how to fit in themselves, and they can be pretty vicious in denouncing what they think are other people's failures. Not that middle-aged people are perfect paragons of tolerance or anything, but people do outgrow the hyper-judgmental attitudes teenagers have.

I kind of doubt if Lester's young enough for this to be much of an issue, though. I do think the article suffers from being couched in really general terms. Lester does mention the 'men don't cry' thing, and section four of the article lists some things men can't talk about, but it would have helped, I think, if the article gave more examples of the kinds of things people have confided to them about.

Lester says, "This isn’t a ‘what about teh menz’ – but it does amaze me, that an oppressive system supposedly in service of some people manages to damage even those it most benefits", but all the examples they gave were about expectations for men and things that happen to men that they can't talk about. I'm curious about this; are they mostly hearing these kinds of confessions from straight cisgender men?
posted by nangar at 7:31 AM on May 15 [1 favorite]


I'd suggest that what is really under discussion is the "Should be"

Maybe, but what's the "should be?" I mean - I don't agree that we "should" create a society where there are no genders or gender pronouns and everyone should be addressed as "they."

I read Lester's piece as saying, in effect, "We're all transgendered now." And I disagree with that basic premise.
posted by kgasmart at 7:38 AM on May 15 [1 favorite]


I read Lester's piece as saying, in effect, "We're all transgendered now."

Then, with respect, you are reading it wrong.

From a later piece on their website:
So, I suppose, more accurately – it’s not so much ‘we’re all non-binary’ as ‘we all exist in a non-binary universe’ – the possibilities are endless, increasing exponentially which each new person in the world. I don’t want to deny or police or suppress anyone within that – I want to dismantle our current enforced binary system until we reach the starting point of everything and nothing. And then the rest is up to us.
posted by fight or flight at 7:41 AM on May 15 [4 favorites]


I'm thinking this person has some overly rigid ideas of gender definitions if they've never met someone who fits society's templates for maleness or femaleness.

I think you've missed the point (or what I took it to be): because they are seen as a human confession booth for people of both genders, they've found even the most "male" or "female" person isn't that way in their private thoughts. Thus the pushback on binary ideas about gender.

Either way, thanks for this piece.
posted by yerfatma at 7:44 AM on May 15 [3 favorites]


I don't think CN Lester is saying here that they have never met someone who was comfortable with their assigned gender; I think CN is saying that even cis people who are comfortable with their assigned gender do not 100% match the ideal gender binary definitions of man or woman, and that can still create trouble for cis people who are comfortable with their gender.

That's not very well said maybe, but to illustrate by example: I'm a cis woman, and I'm absolutely comfortable with my gender, no question about it. I'm very happy to be a woman. However, I refuse to wear makeup on a daily basis. In North American culture, all women (especially in my age group) are expected to wear makeup; by not doing so, I transgress that expectation, and I know that some people have judgemental reactions to that. (I know because I've heard "you would look so much nicer if you wore blush/lipstick/etc!")

I think CN Lester is saying that many cis folks who are totally happy to be men or women, and who may even fit the ideal in most ways, have one or two points on which they don't fit, and may still be troubled by those points-of-not-fitting, even in spite of their general gender comfort.

Also, quoting from the piece for emphasis:
This isn’t to say that everyone should give up the terms ‘men’ and ‘women’ and call themselves ‘genderqueer’ instead – but it is to say that the ways we’ve taught people to use those terms, what those terms supposedly mean, does not cover the totality of what people actually are.

Thanks for posting this. It rings true to me.
posted by snorkmaiden at 7:48 AM on May 15 [12 favorites]


Lester says, "This isn’t a ‘what about teh menz’ – but it does amaze me, that an oppressive system supposedly in service of some people manages to damage even those it most benefits", but all the examples they gave were about expectations for men and things that happen to men that they can't talk about. I'm curious about this; are they mostly hearing these kinds of confessions from straight cisgender men?

The two paragraphs specifically making the point that even those the system is theoretically meant to benefit—cis men—are themselves hurt by it naturally focuses on them. The rest of the piece does not, and provides examples from across the boards (e.g., "they can’t even remember how to be angry because good girls are never angry").
posted by Shmuel510 at 7:53 AM on May 15 [1 favorite]


And I'm a woman who likes wearing makeup but has struggled a lot with how to be assertive in the socially-sanctioned way that prevents women from being called bitchy, because my impulse is to speak my mind in a way that's mostly only ok if you're a guy. (See: the entire discussion about Jill Abramson.) And my brother is a cis straight dude who spent all of high school getting called a faggot because he couldn't play football for medical reasons, liked doing sets and lighting for theater, and thought he looked cool in eyeliner. And my other brother had a hard time finding babysitting gigs as a teenager, because everyone thinks there's something a little off about a boy who likes kids and prefers babysitting to mowing lawns. None of us would ever in a million years think of ourselves as genderqueer, but we still haven't always fit easily into binary gender roles. I think you can be pretty dang cis and still find the gender binary a little oppressive.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 8:03 AM on May 15 [26 favorites]


CN Lester is just amazing -- if anyone in this thread hasn't heard their music, go and listen to Aether now.

I was reading their blog this weekend and found these two posts particularly helpful for where I am now, in the process of becoming open about/exploring/realising my own non-binary gender:

- On being a traitor
- Five myths about people other than men and women…
posted by daisyk at 8:16 AM on May 15 [3 favorites]


> Her younger brother plays with his Hot Wheels AND her My Little Ponies and all of this - all of the above - is just fine. And it must be. But what I get too often, sometimes, on the left is the notion that it isn't.

I was raised by a feminist mom in the era of "Free to Be You and Me" and I still got The Message delivered that as a woman, I should shave my legs, I should care what people (men, mostly) think of my looks, that it's my responsibility to make sure I don't get sexually assaulted, etc. I grew up to be a butch dyke and even here in San Francisco, I get my gender presentation policied a good 50% of the time when I use a women's bathroom. That? That shit is most certainly not just fine.
posted by rtha at 8:29 AM on May 15 [10 favorites]


kgasmart, if you've truly never, ever in your lifetime been affected by peer pressure, marketing, or some other form of expectations over something you have or haven't wanted to do or express because of your sex or gender, and if your life has never been impacted by someone else who has been affected in that way, all I can say is that you're a lucky snowflake indeed.

MMV for those outside the U.S. - as always, American Mefite makes it all about us.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 8:39 AM on May 15 [1 favorite]


you're a lucky snowflake indeed.

I must be, because I can tell you that I can't recall a single time in my life I worried that someone would think me less of a man for eating yogurt or salad in public or whatever it is. Moreover, at age 46, I don't give a good goddamn what society thinks anyway, I'm going to do and think what I want so long as those actions conform to the laws of that society.

So no, I don't sit around wringing my hands. Some people, those who have had to face actual discrimination and/or an uncaring system of laws have legitimate reason to do so. But a nagging fear that someone might think less of you for not liking football or not wanting to don makeup does not oppression make.
posted by kgasmart at 8:50 AM on May 15 [1 favorite]


That's a very uncharitable statement. Getting beaten up at school for being a 'faggot' or not a 'real man' for doing those same things? Very much a real phenomenon, and very much oppression.
posted by Dysk at 8:52 AM on May 15 [7 favorites]


I mean, good for you that no-one tried to police your personal failings to live up to society's ridiculous ideals, but let's not pretend like your not having experienced it means it isn't real, doesn't happen. Bullies exist even if you were never personally bullied.
posted by Dysk at 8:53 AM on May 15 [1 favorite]


fear that someone might think less
and therefore not hire me
and therefore spit in my food
and therefore harass me
and therefore not welcome me into a group
and therefore pass me over when it's time to hand out raises
and therefore murder me
posted by rebent at 8:57 AM on May 15 [21 favorites]


Absolutely, and that's discrimination, isn't it? And that's against the rules, or rather the product of a system that doesn't or can't protect people from that kind of assault, right?

What I am saying is that I understand how some might feel constrained by the binary gender system and I would say - then don't abide by that rule. And kids, for example, should be taught to respect ALL individuals, and those individuals' choices.

And this society needs to be one where people are free to make the choices they want to make, and ought to be able to do so without getting smacked around, physically or legally.

But this notion that, deep down, I must have questioned my gender "choice" at some point is simply presumptuous. Some have; others haven't. Some should; others are under no obligation to do so.
posted by kgasmart at 8:57 AM on May 15 [2 favorites]


So no, I don't sit around wringing my hands. Some people, those who have had to face actual discrimination and/or an uncaring system of laws have legitimate reason to do so. But a nagging fear that someone might think less of you for not liking football or not wanting to don makeup does not oppression make.

I don't recall mentioning wringing hands, discrimination, nagging fears that someone might think less of you, or oppression.

And the author specifically states that they're making a broader point about the topic than just discrimination.

It seems to me like the reason you're disagreeing so much here is that you're disagreeing with things that people aren't actually saying.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 8:57 AM on May 15 [6 favorites]


But a nagging fear that someone might think less of you for not liking football or not wanting to don makeup does not oppression make.

I think you're creating a situation that is not the one people are describing. This is not people worrying about what people think. This is about people getting harassed, hassled, injured or otherwise judged because they're not presenting in line with the gender binary. I know it's challenging to sometimes figure out how something that could not be out and out legal and actionable discrimination can still be something that is damaging and otherwise a difficult thing to endure, but this may be one of those things where you may have to take people's word for it that the things they are saying are true.

I, too, do not give a fuck about what people think about me most of the time. That said, I would prefer to live in a world where people didn't yell at me from passing cars because I had a short haircut or because I didn't shave my legs. I'd prefer if my (historical, not present day) employers didn't make occasionally odd comments about what was wearing enough to make me wonder why they were making them. I'd prefer to not have people attribute other issues in my life ("My boss is being weird to me" "Why don't you try putting on some makeup?") to my non-traditional gender presentation. I'd like it if people didn't always assume I was a lesbian because of gender presentation choices I've made.

So I guess one response is "Stop wanting what you can't have" but another is "Just learn to toe the line better and shave your legs already" and another is "Yes, it would be great if people were more aware of most people's gender fluidity so they weren't such jerks about policing other people's presentation and choices" and that's the one I pick.
posted by jessamyn at 8:59 AM on May 15 [42 favorites]


I'd like it if people didn't always assume I was a lesbian because of gender presentation choices I've made.

This.

I'll come back later and write. This is the first thread on the topic that has me thinking about when this whole gender business was indeed a problem for me and whys and wherefores... I just haven't given it much thought for the past decade or so (I'm in my late forties) and its not something I've ever really known much about, probably due to lack of vocabulary or concepts i.e. lack of awareness

Now I'm wondering and thinking and pondering.

/note this thread as one of those that make you think in whole new ways
posted by infini at 9:09 AM on May 15 [4 favorites]


So no, I don't sit around wringing my hands.

Indeed. Real men don't do that, do they?
posted by sparktinker at 9:11 AM on May 15 [7 favorites]


I, too, do not give a fuck about what people think about me most of the time. That said, I would prefer to live in a world where people didn't yell at me from passing cars because I had a short haircut or because I didn't shave my legs.

What you are saying is you'd like to live in a world where appearance, and impressions, make absolutely no difference in how some human beings treat other human beings.

That would be Utopia, wouldn't it? Is it possible to create that world, do you think? How might we do it? Education? Coercion?

How about this: Human beings are always going to react to human beings on the basis of things some other human beings find objectionable. Until you and I possess the ability to peer into one another's soul, or society consists solely of our digital beings, with no physical presence whatsoever, people are going to bring their assumptions to the table every time.

We can and should legally mandate that all citizens have the same rights, period. We can say, we should change those assumptions or people should HAVE no assumptions. But are we going to mandate attitudes? Or rather, HOW are we going to mandate absolute egalitarianism where physical traits and features are never taken into consideration, by anyone?
posted by kgasmart at 9:11 AM on May 15


kgasmart, why do we then work so hard to offer an equal opportunity to those whose melanin content is different, or eyes, or even, the number of limbs or fingers they may have?

Why should I expect you to treat me with respect, consideration and fairness as a brown female but not the same for whatever presentation I choose?
posted by infini at 9:20 AM on May 15 [1 favorite]


One thing I love about the English language is the singular they. I know there are a few people who think it's wrong, but it seems generally well accepted and respected authors use it. I use it all the time. I wish there was something like that in Dutch. It seems like such a small thing, but I feel that it is enormous.
posted by blub at 9:20 AM on May 15 [5 favorites]


HOW are we going to mandate absolute egalitarianism where physical traits and features are never taken into consideration, by anyone?

Not what I'm saying. We all know that there is a large subset of social norms that, while not illegal, are also not exactly okay. Yelling at people from cars is one of those things. Street harassment of women (of anyone, but let's be honest) is another. So what I personally think needs to happen is that, sort of like we've seen the shift in tolerances of smoking in the US over the past few decades, this sort of stuff needs to be called out more often in more ways by more people than it used to be. Smoking used to be cool. Now it's a lot more clearly not-cool.

I'm not saying we all need to be the same and I'm not saying I don't expect the occasional remark about my appearance. What I would like is to live in a place where it was much more clear that however you feel about someone's appearance, it's not okay to harass them, injure them, discriminate against them or otherwise treat them differently. That matters of style or gender presentation or sexual preference or whatever are all things people get to reasonably choose (or just be) and one set of choices isn't preferenced over others. If people want to be sexist in their own heart of hearts, that's their business. Once it becomes something you do publicly (like oh hey maybe my boss makes sexist remarks on Twitter, what then?) I'd like people to have to be more answerable to those actions in a court of public opinion more of the time.

I live in a place where this sort of thing is a lot less prevalent than it is elsewhere and I did this on purpose. Lucky for me that I can do that. I want to help other people do that. If this isn't your fight, then it's not your fight and you can be how you want. You appear to be making this into a conflict where the people who you disagree with have a parodyable position that you are misstating or possibly misunderstanding. That's not really a conversation I feel like having.
posted by jessamyn at 9:24 AM on May 15 [18 favorites]


We haven't yet managed to completely eradicate the behavior of shitting on the street, yet we don't cast efforts to control the problem as stemming from airy-fairy impractical idealism. We enforce norms regarding this behavior through education and on occasion coercion, and as a result there is rather less shit around than if we just put our hands up and said "Oh man, what can you do, you've just got to accept that people are like this sometimes!"
posted by sparktinker at 9:28 AM on May 15 [7 favorites]


I must be, because I can tell you that I can't recall a single time in my life I worried that someone would think me less of a man for eating yogurt or salad in public or whatever it is. Moreover, at age 46, I don't give a good goddamn what society thinks anyway, I'm going to do and think what I want so long as those actions conform to the laws of that society.

It might be worth considering that male identity might not simply be a matter of being limited as far as options which are within the female but not the male identity set but also as regards options which are outside both sets. There is also an argument to be had about invisible cages and the ability to be comfortable within them.
posted by biffa at 9:29 AM on May 15 [1 favorite]


I personally went through a phase in undergrad where I agreed to an extent with the view that men try too hard to be manly. It was nice to say I disagreed with the system, and to not be afraid to cry or not play sports or dress relatively more feminine (tight clothes etc). For me personally, I think it hindered me, and definitely didn't give me strength. I had never really played sports or strongly identified as masculine. A few years out of undergrad I figured I might as well give that a go--as it worked for guys like Hemingway--whom I deeply admired. I began working out, lifting weights, boxing (and competing in really low level gym competitions), and generally doing my best to build a strong physique, compete within my academic field as an intellectual, and build a strong sense of emotional fortitude. In my experience, I have seen this path pay very high dividends for men. For the vast majority of persons there are strong reasons to identify with masculine or feminine traits, as there is an underlying preference and propensity to benefit from different actions based on our assigned sex.
Still solid reasons to question to what extent those are, and not become obsessed with our gender either. The macho muscle builder and barbie style might be great for some people, but most of us don't like living like that, but that doesn't mean a binary gender system is bad.
posted by jjmoney at 9:31 AM on May 15 [2 favorites]


kgasmart, why do we then work so hard to offer an equal opportunity to those whose melanin content is different, or eyes, or even, the number of limbs or fingers they may have?

Go back to this line in the paragraph above yours:

We can and should legally mandate that all citizens have the same rights, period.

That's the goal and the ideal, equality of opportunity, regardless.

What I would like is to live in a place where it was much more clear that however you feel about someone's appearance, it's not okay to harass them, injure them, discriminate against them or otherwise treat them differently.


Then we want the same thing. But we also share a realization that

If people want to be sexist in their own heart of hearts, that's their business.


I'll go beyond that. I will say that people have a right to be sexist in their own heart of hearts, if that's what they like.

If we can accept that here, then there's no argument. I suspect there might be a few dissents, however.

There is also an argument to be had about invisible cages and the ability to be comfortable within them.


You have completely lost me. I'm a suburban dad with three young kids. I don't do "invisible cages." I don't live in the theoretical world, I live in a world where the four-year-old still needs help wiping his butt and the 12-year-old better pick up his pre-algebra grade, or else
posted by kgasmart at 9:34 AM on May 15


Yeah, I'm calling selection bias. You can't come to valid conclusions about "everyone" or even about "most people" on the basis of spontaneous and voluntary personal confessions.
posted by baf at 9:35 AM on May 15


but that doesn't mean a binary gender system is bad

You do realise we could still all do weight lifting and boxing and buy pink clothes and stuff in a world without a binary gender system, right? But it would mean that more people could access those archetypes, without worrying that they might get yelled at in the street or kicked out of their house for doing it. Dismantling the gender binary doesn't mean that "gender specific" presentation goes away -- we wouldn't all turn into David Bowie overnight (unfortunately). Think of it as opening more doors rather than closing off the ones we already have.
posted by fight or flight at 9:35 AM on May 15 [11 favorites]


jjmoney, that's kind of proving the point of the post, though. In our society it's easier and often more fruitful to do what you're "supposed" to do, as you learned. But there are lots of people who would really rather do something else and can't, because those same structural forces strongly channel people into one amalgamation of roles and expectations. For example, another man might want to compete intellectually, like you're doing, but would rather do ballet than weightlifting in his leisure time. And people should be free to wear skinny jeans if they like how they look in skinny jeans without worrying about how skinny jeans signify any kind of ideology or investment in the system.
posted by Corinth at 9:39 AM on May 15 [2 favorites]


We can and should legally mandate that all citizens have the same rights, period. We can say, we should change those assumptions or people should HAVE no assumptions. But are we going to mandate attitudes? Or rather, HOW are we going to mandate absolute egalitarianism where physical traits and features are never taken into consideration, by anyone?
The fact that we can't mandate attitudes doesn't mean that we can't influence the attitudes of others. When I was a kid from the sticks newly arrived in the big city, no one mandated that I stop making fag jokes, but my awareness of the disapproval of my friends and colleagues made it pretty damned clear that I should do so. Then I gave the matter some actual thought and changed my attitude, not just behavior. Articles such as this spawn discussions such as this which get some folks to evaluate their own behavior and attitudes which, one would hope, spawns some actual change. If I at least raise an eyebrow whenever a friend makes a tranny joke, that friend will likely stop making tranny jokes, at least around me, and may actually do some thinking about why they should stop thinking bad things about transgender people.
posted by MrMoonPie at 9:44 AM on May 15 [11 favorites]


I began working out, lifting weights, boxing (and competing in really low level gym competitions), and generally doing my best to build a strong physique, compete within my academic field as an intellectual, and build a strong sense of emotional fortitude. In my experience, I have seen this path pay very high dividends for men.

I have also seen this path pay very high dividends for people. Physical activity, developing skills, and adopting a positive mental outlook interact well with the basic way that humans seem to operate. The "manliness" narrative seems to be popular lately for men to provide structure to their pursuit of these things, but there are other ways of framing it.
posted by sparktinker at 9:46 AM on May 15 [3 favorites]


this was a good article. it is intensely alienating to claim an identity not somewhere on the binary. i am glad to read an article by someone who is talking about these things. conversely, the way this thread has been going kind of reminds me why claiming such an identity is intensely alienating.

hopefully this too will keep changing.
posted by beefetish at 9:50 AM on May 15 [4 favorites]


I've never quite made sense of my gender identity. From all outward appearances, you would call me a cis woman, without question, but there is something incredibly non-standard about the way I feel in and about my body and my gender. The fact that I feel comfortable in "women's" clothes is good, because my body doesn't really work in anything else, and so, by default, I am woman. But that doesn't tell the whole story of who I am.

I am asexual, which falls far outside the gender binary, despite sexuality not being the same as gender - gender presentation has a lot to do with sexuality. Also, I have body dysmorphia and image issues. I have made changes to (some would say mutilated) my body based on the dysmorphia and frankly, if I had more money, or fewer anti-depressants, I would probably have made more changes. and I think that is what Lester is talking about. Though I suspect it is probably less extreme in most cases and far more extreme in others.
posted by Sophie1 at 10:01 AM on May 15 [4 favorites]


My daughter is 4. We have always tried to communicate equality, including boy/girl independence in clothing, friendships, and activities; the equal rights of gay people; and that men and women are not restricted to certain types of employment (i.e. doctor/nurse).
I hear you, miss tea. We also have a 4-year old girl and are trying so hard to fight the "girls are like this/boys are like that" crap but man it's hard. She has told me several times that boys can't wear dresses. Apparently one of her little classmates told her that. I know that classmate in question and she is very self-confident and states her firm opinions loudly enough that they seem right to the other preschoolers. My husband and I have told her over and over that anyone can wear dresses if they want to or not wear them if they want to. But sadly, her little friend's opinion, gleaned from her parents, I assume, means more. I feel like we are constanly fighting a flood of princess-y stuff but it keeps leaking in. It's exhausting.
posted by bijou243 at 10:43 AM on May 15 [2 favorites]


-So no, I don't sit around wringing my hands.

--Indeed. Real men don't do that, do they?


Yes, I meant to make note of what an extremely gender-based bit of hyperbole that was. It's deeply rooted in Victorian stereotypes of female "hysteria" and passivity. It's traditionally often been used to dismiss any female concern as being trivial. I'm not saying its use was a conscious choice, but it's interesting that it should turn up in this discussion, of all places.

OK, so I’m more than willing to believe a person has gone through life without (literally or figuratively) “wringing his hands” – whatever that even means - about anything to do with gender performance.

But is that really the only measure that counts when considering whether we, as a society, could stand to ease up a little on the standards?

Have you ever simply changed your behavior to accommodate expectations? Felt discomfort, uncertainty, or derision for someone else? Are you 100% sure that you’ve never had conflict with your partner based on her lifetime’s worth of experiences around gender expectations?

Have you ever had friends or loved ones who were upset about, say, division of labor or dating etiquette, and wouldn’t it have been even a little easier or more pleasant to be around them if they hadn’t been?

Is it possible your kids have witnessed other children being hassled or hurt at school over gender conformity, either by other kids or by adults?

Have you ever felt bad for a male friend going through a crisis because he was sure he had to tough it out instead of asking for help? Or a female friend, because she was sure she couldn’t ask for help and still be taken seriously? Wouldn’t all your lives have been better with less of that worry?

Is that seriously such a ridiculous thing to consider, and such an unrealistic thing to think we might work towards improving?
posted by The Underpants Monster at 11:01 AM on May 15 [9 favorites]


I don't live in the theoretical world,

But you do, at least partly. To you, people yelling random insults or degrading comments out of car windows because you look slightly different (or sexually attractive) is entirely theoretical -- otherwise you wouldn't be talking about abstract notions of equality and internal states in response to what other people are relating about their experiences. The idea that having achieved a manly ego of steel at 46, you would be immune to these things (if they ever happened to you) is, of course, not true.

I would say that being a suburban dad is part of the real world, certainly, like anything else -- but you don't get special insight because you can reproduce or change a shitty diaper or have "work to do, dammit!". Like anything else, it is definitely not *all* of the real world.

And I get it, you're saying that the article over-generalizes and that most people you know (including yourself) are perfectly happy falling into their prescribed gender roles. I agree a bit, I think sometimes people who fall outside of norms end up having a similar selection bias to those who fit within them. Most of the people who are going to talk to CN are people who don't fit the norm. But I don't think it's exactly the same -- I think CN has a better perspective, rather like someone who can walk *and* hang-glide does.

As infuriating as this might be, I still think people like you aren't typically informed enough to have a proper opinion about this. If you're happy living strictly inside the lines, like you seem to say, then you most likely don't have the perspective of someone who at least steps outside a little bit of the time. While CN is not normative, CN still lives in a society with these explicit norms. CN will be aware of them. You, however, may not be aware of the undercurrents, because you aren't, by default, exposed to them.
posted by smidgen at 12:01 PM on May 15 [4 favorites]


Obviously, when the issue of being a man or a woman is an issues that someone struggles with when it comes to the core of their identity and expression, they think about this a lot and it becomes a central fulcrum surrounding their conception of identity. So obviously they think about it more than others, but that doesn't mean everyone else thinks about it the same way.

I don't spend a lot of time worrying myself about, "what does it mean to 'be a man'" and worrying about whether I live up to that or not. I get the impression that there are many people who worry about this, but I normally associate that with conservatives who worry that they won't be able to be sufficiently dominant in their personal and professional relationships. But obviously someone who struggles with gender identity it going to think about that a lot, too. But that doesn't mean everyone does.
posted by deanc at 12:04 PM on May 15 [1 favorite]


I have also seen this path pay very high dividends for people. Physical activity, developing skills, and adopting a positive mental outlook interact well with the basic way that humans seem to operate. The "manliness" narrative seems to be popular lately for men to provide structure to their pursuit of these things, but there are other ways of framing it.

Yeah, I mean, I feel like I've grown a lot and gained a lot of confidence by pursuing and competing in an individual endurance sport-- and I am a woman. It's not 'embracing manliness' or 'embracing femininity'; it's embracing personal growth and taking part in something you love.

I am not sure, personally, about whether 'most people don't fit common gender definitions'. I do think it depends how broad or narrow those definitions are. I can build a computer and run a half-marathon in the same weekend and I don't feel that it makes me less of a woman, just that it makes me kind of a badass woman. Part of it is, I realize, that women have a much greater degree of freedom these days to do things that are labeled 'masculine', as long as they do them while looking sufficiently feminine... Which, yeah, is a big problem, and why I'm personally on team 'dismantle the gender binary' even as I fit pretty well into that binary.
posted by matcha action at 12:17 PM on May 15 [4 favorites]


Trying to talk about "looking beyond the gender binary" goes down a rabbit hole of trying to claim a "queer" identity with all sorts of caveats and reservations which place them in their own special category but are, ultimately, not that much different than everyone else.

What is interesting is that as gender roles becomes less strictly prescribed-- ie, "being a man [or woman] means you can express yourself however you want" -- then suddenly the claim is that depending on how you express yourself, you aren't really a man or a woman, but someone on a spectrum.
posted by deanc at 12:20 PM on May 15 [3 favorites]


And those ideals are exactly what Lester is talking about, here, not that they've never met anybody who could broadly be described as "male" or "female", which is an entirely different thing, but that they've never met anybody who actually precisely lived up to the ideal

I am pretty sure Plato would agree-- he would refer to make and female as the ideal, transcendent "Forms" and the actual physical phenomena of how we experience/express male and female are just imperfect shadows of the Platonic Ideal. That isn't something unique to gender performance in this philosophical framework-- it is true about everything. I'm not really sure it is helpful to re-invent issues of categorization and taxonomy that Ancient Greek philosophers grappled with.
posted by deanc at 12:37 PM on May 15


I would say that being a suburban dad is part of the real world, certainly, like anything else -- but you don't get special insight because you can reproduce or change a shitty diaper or have "work to do, dammit!".

As infuriating as this might be, I still think people like you aren't typically informed enough to have a proper opinion about this.


So, why does CN Lester get to have an opinion? Why do you?

What I didn't like about this piece is that it rather broadly proclaims their assumptions: that there are clearly defined templates (there are?) that are so universally understood Lester doesn't need to let us know what they are; that everyone has secrets about it (so no proof needed on that one either, and finally that

Most people worry

How could you not worry, when faced with a culture that presents two (and only two) options, allows little to no dissent, failure, divergence – and pretends that it should be natural, easy – because to find it unnatural, or difficult, is proof of failure, and failure (as previously stated) is not allowed?
(Emphasis mine)

This is muddled at best. Look, of course people have secrets and worry, but not necessarily about their gender role. I would love to be "the hero" and rescue someone being attacked and I would also love to be the "hot girl". The reason that I'm not isn't because of these two strict options being shoved down my throat by the system, though. It's because I'm not strong or good looking enough.
posted by sfkiddo at 12:50 PM on May 15 [3 favorites]


So, why does CN Lester get to have an opinion? Why do you?

I don't think you understand. That opinion is the "proper" opinion.
posted by kgasmart at 1:02 PM on May 15


There's a certain kind of cis privilege that I think the article doesn't talk much about. Personally I'm a cis woman. I'm (to a first approximation) hetero as well. Yeah, how I got to this point is a bit more complicated, but who I am now, I can't really claim any other identity. And as such, there's a huge amount of gender-expression freedom I get.

I've got many stereotypically masculine traits (I'm mathy, competitive, aggressive, hate makeup, and dress in jeans most of the time; I'm nerdy and hate to shop and can't cook and would rather mow the lawn than clean a bathroom; my hobbies and profession are so overwhelmingly male that I've thought "huh there are a lot of women here" when the number is < 30%). But I still read as cis female to most observers (although this is a bit dependent on my current hair length, which fluctuates due to my inability to schedule a haircut), and would feel uncomfortable claiming anything else. This gives me a certain freedom that I think cis women uniquely have: I can perform my gender under a pretty wide range of possibility, and not worry one bit about people judging me for it. They do, sometimes, but I've never been worried for my safety; not even when I got spat at and told "your vagina is useless" by someone who thought I looked too butch one day. But I know in my heart they are wrong, and I know that no one whose opinion matters to me will question my right to perform my gender as I please. I know that I can study physics and unicycle and grunt and belch and still no one will doubt that I am a woman.

This is a privilege trans people aren't often afforded at all, and I think men of whatever origin don't get this privilege (as much) either; I also think women in more conservative areas and professions don't get this privilege. What I think the article is trying to say is that it's a great privilege, and one everyone should have (regardless of gender, cis/trans status, sexual orientation, etc). Down with the gender police.

I'm not sure it's making the point in the best way, though. I'm not even sure about me; do I fit the gender binary, or not? It isn't an easy question, and yes, I think the article glosses over this a bit too much. On some level the actual humans around me read me as cis female. On many levels I don't perform my gender in line with (outmoded) societal expectations. But since the expectations I violate are clearly outmoded, and I know that, it's not really a source of stress. I don't really violate expectations that are currently held, or that are held by anyone I want to impress. So, do I fit the binary, or not?

I think the right answer is that the old "binary" has already gotten expanded, but it still needs to be expanded more. There are still people (and CN and the people who use them as confidant might well be in this category) who do not fit into the gender expectations of society anywhere (unlike me; I don't fit 1950s throwbacks and I don't fit religious-conservative-land and I don't fit conservative professions, but I'm a-ok in academia and liberal college towns). And although there are people (like me) who do roughly fit into some enclave's idea of "man" or "woman", even many of us fit because of new, more expansive and varied expectations, or because we've found an enclave where our way of being is ok.

My opinion (and I think that which CN is trying to express) is that more people would be happy if there were less gender expectation of everyone. Those of you above who profess to fit into a gender expectation in your current enclave-- do you fit into every expectation, in every place and time? You're a 2014 "stereotypical American man", whatever that means, but are you a 1950s one? What about 1750s one? Or what about a 2014 man in Brazil or Norway or Yemen or.. what about San Francisco and Mississippi? There are so many options here, I don't think it's possible for one human to fit into all of them, in all places and times. I don't think it's possible for any one human to fit into all of them in just, say to pick one city, San Francisco, in the year 2014. So, should we get mad at people for not all being carbon copies of each other? Or should we stop trying to force a spectrum into discrete boxes, however those boxes are defined?

I've personally benefited hugely from movements to increase freedom of gender expression, even though I read as a straight cis woman. I hope those benefits can be extended to everyone.
posted by nat at 1:47 PM on May 15 [19 favorites]


...would rather mow the lawn than clean a bathroom...
posted by nat at 4:47 PM on May 15



nat, I believe I have a proposition for you....

mags, who loves cleaning a bathroom.
posted by magstheaxe at 2:33 PM on May 15 [1 favorite]


The article was beautifully written. Thanks for sharing it.

I love the idea that if everyone could openly talk about their conflicts with gender roles and the things they keep secret to maintain conventional personas, then big chunks of the patriarchy would crumble. I'm not sure yet if I agree with it -- cynical parts if me think that it might shift gender roles, elevating new things as "masculine" and denigrating new things as "feminine" without eliminating the hierarchical split entirely -- but I want to keep thinking about it.
posted by jaguar at 2:37 PM on May 15 [2 favorites]


I'm very comfortable being a woman. Extremely cis gendered. I don't fit a lot of the characteristics associated with being a woman.

I often feel very alienated by how people talk about women and men, and a lot of the assumptions made. For example, years ago I spent most of my TV watching time alternating between Project Runway and Spike TV, and I hated the ads on Spike TV because they were all about how manly men like me (uh....) liked beer (true), explosions (VERY true), sex (yup) and hot women (nope, straight too) and how our girlfriends just didn't understand us (uh.....).

Every now and then I meet a woman who tells me very confidentiality that I'm not like the other women they don't like, who are catty and gossipy and so on and so forth. The first few times this happened I was baffled - I've always liked and gotten along with other women, and when I was bullied it was everyone who did it - but now I'm usually annoyed to pissed depending on how stereotypically those women stereotype other women.

I go straight to fucking pissed when it's men who do it (and yes, they do - I'm not a gold-digging, backstabbing bitch like those other women; thank you person I want to now not be around me ever again).

Now, I tend to prefer to move in geeky circles, which means that if you can find the right groups those assumptions vanish - we all know men who like to paint figurines, collect dolls, and knit are still manly men and women who like explosions, porn, and whiskey are still womanly women - but even within geeky circles the stereotypes about women show up in the concept of "fake geek girls" who are vapid, uneducated, stupid, vain, and cruel and who talk "too much."

I feel very alienated by all of the jokes, commercials, etc... that center on women being clean people who always have everything clean and their houses are so much superior than those icky domiciles of dedicated male bachelors.

I feel very alienated by all of the jokes, commercials, etc... which center on women disapproving of porn and video games (I like the whole roses and chocolate thing, though, just for the record, if you want to date me; chocolate and roses kick ass, and everyone who likes them should get them). I loathe the jokes about how all men want on their birthday is sex, and all women want is not sex, and don't even get me started on the fucking shoe jokes.

I really want a world where beer isn't coded male and mixed drinks aren't coded female. Where having sex isn't coded male, and being sexually attractive isn't coded female. Where comic books aren't coded male and romance novels aren't coded female. Where explosions aren't coded male and fuzzy kittens coded female. Where being "strong and silent" isn't coded male and being "gossipy" isn't coded female. Where blue is coded male and pink is coded female.
posted by Deoridhe at 4:46 PM on May 15 [30 favorites]


kgasmart: "You have completely lost me. I'm a suburban dad with three young kids. I don't do "invisible cages." I don't live in the theoretical world, I live in a world where the four-year-old still needs help wiping his butt and the 12-year-old better pick up his pre-algebra grade, or else."

Suburban/urban mother of one. She's four too, just started school. Today on the stairs one of the boys in her class was yanked back off the step by his grandmother to the shouted admonition "GIRLS FIRST" (fuck safety, fuck being kind, it's all about gender).

She's had the experience of being belted by a friend's six year old, and watching his dad have a meltdown about "NEVER HIT A GIRL" (but beat the shit out of your younger brother, that's fine).

She's watched an catalogued her endless baby dolls and the almost palpable approval from relatives and compared it to the singular baby doll her male cousins have and the way everyone ignored it (but when the kids react to that it's 'innate' obviously).

She's watched, over and over, the way she's given the pink/purple, the boys are given the blue/green/orange/yellow/red things (but when they learn that's the division, obviously it's actually innate really).

This is on the ground praxis here. This is absolutely the ground zero of stupid gender role induction, from pre-birth (watch the way people change when they know the foetus is a girl/boy, and what they call the kicks and rolls). What my child knows of gender is what she has been immersed in her whole life and that includes every shitty bit of advertising, every dumbarse comment from people, every pause and absence and imbalance.

I live in a world where her physical development is curtailed by gender roles, where her dreams are narrowed by them, where she knows what she wants, but knows she's paying the price as well (in approval, in attention, in whatever).
posted by geek anachronism at 5:39 PM on May 15 [19 favorites]


Your comment got me thinking, Deoridhe, and I think the discussion is especially complicated because we're really talking about three different things. (I'm going to use examples for males, since I know that end best)

1) The "ideal" male. I think this can basically be summed up by mixing the main characters from first-person shooters with the main characters from bodice-ripper romance novels. Strong, tall, smart, quiet, good with machinery, chivalrous, etc. Being ideals, there are no people who perfectly fit this.
2) The "average" male. These are the people depicted in TV commercials. Like beer, like explosions, messy, can't cook, like video games, only think about sex, etc.
3) The "recognized as totally male" male. This group is really diverse (Arnie, Jack, Bill, and Michael above), so it's easier to describe them based on the lack of traits seen as exclusively female. Don't do yoga, don't love getting flowers for their birthday, don't wear dresses, etc.

I think that the author made a bit of a mistake in assuming that all the readers would know what they meant by "common gender definitions" or "the templates our society has given us of ‘men’ and ‘women’". I assumed they were talking about category 3, hence my disagreement. Some people are saying they were talking about category 1, but I don't see any evidence for that (there's a big difference between "definitions and templates" and "ideals"). But perhaps they were talking about category 2, in which case what they wrote makes a lot more sense, but on the other hand is pretty obvious; not something that you'd have to be genderqueer to notice.
posted by Bugbread at 5:44 PM on May 15 [2 favorites]


My niece is 4 and sharp as a tack, has been speaking in fully-formed sentences since she was 18 months old and knows how she likes things done. The nursery school carers had a word with her parents about how she was bossy because she likes to organise the other kids when they're playing. Not "natural-born leader", "bossy".

She told me the other day she was going to be a dentist when she grew up (because she'd been to the dentist that day). Later on when she was building a tower out of blocks, which she loves to do, I said "you could be an architect". She said "what's a ar..tat?" I explained it's the person who designs buildings and she said "so I can be a builder?" I said "of course, you can be anything you want to be", knowing full well that her mother and society in general would say "I don't bloody think so".

And then there was the day that she watched me putting on lipstick. Which I love to do, and also I love motor racing and building flat-pack furniture (yay jigsaws for grown-ups!). And she said "can you put lipstick on me?" I said "you don't need lipstick" and she replied "yes I do because I want to dress up as a princess and I'm not pretty enough". I nearly wept.

So 4 years old and she has learned she's bossy, not pretty enough to be a princess (she looks like a stereotypical angel) and she'll soon learn that my "you can be anything you want to be" comes with the caveat "if it's deemed appropriate for a girl". I'd really like her to grow up as a person and not have to give a shit about what behaviour and options are "allowed".
posted by billiebee at 6:07 PM on May 15 [7 favorites]


kgasmart: I don't think you understand. That opinion is the "proper" opinion.

Uh, say what now? Was that just a flippant "gotcha" or did you mean that seriously?

I can imagine you're feeling kind of piled-on right now, so I won't go on at length. Just this:

You seem to have interpreted the article as saying something like "Everybody secretly doubts their gender". Is that the opinion you feel people are saying is "proper"? Because I heard a lot more people saying "No, Lester wasn't saying what you thought he said" than I heard saying "Yes, Lester did say exactly what you thought he said, and you are wrong to disagree with him."

Or maybe this would be simpler: when you said "that opinion is the 'proper' opinion", which opinion did you mean? Because people have expressed a bunch of different ones here.
posted by Zimboe Metamonkey at 6:35 PM on May 15 [1 favorite]


I live in a world where the four-year-old still needs help wiping his butt and the 12-year-old better pick up his pre-algebra grade, or else

If you were adhering stringently to your gender role, you would have no idea what was going on with your kids at this level - you wouldn't be the one helping with homework, much less wiping butts. Being deprived of the rewards of caring for your children was an aspect of your assigned gender role you rejected (no handwringing necessary). You do not live by the binary.
posted by gingerest at 6:59 PM on May 15 [6 favorites]


Now to the actual topic, I think Lester has a point. It's clearly not everybody, but I'm sure lots of people have felt discomfort over fitting into gender roles. I personally never doubted my gender, but as a kid I got pushed around a lot because I wasn't manly enough. In my experience, the junior Bill Nyes and junior Jack Blacks were clearly lower on the social ladder than the junior Arnold Schwarzeneggers. Sure, they were male, but clearly they (OK, WE) weren't Real Men.

It sounds like things are more open now than they were in the eighties, but it still makes me sad to hear about four-year-olds internalizing the same old stuff. Geek Anachronism and billiebee: here's hoping that your daughter and niece get to grow up free to choose their own paths. Meanwhile, they do have you, and that's not nothing.
posted by Zimboe Metamonkey at 7:00 PM on May 15 [1 favorite]


gingerest: "If you were adhering stringently to your gender role, you would have no idea what was going on with your kids at this level - you wouldn't be the one helping with homework, much less wiping butts."

Slightly off-topic, but I dunno about that. At least in the 80s, when I grew up, women were considered the butt-wipers, but men were the homework-helpers (because of the gender essentialist idea that women should handle the motherly stuff and men are the ones who are good at math).
posted by Bugbread at 7:15 PM on May 15 [1 favorite]


It's sometimes ridiculously galling to talk about gender roles though. The amount of my female friends who will talk, at length, about the way their partner acts but refuse point blank to accept it as having anything to do with gender roles, is irritating.

Your partner refuses to engage in parenting half the time and calls it 'babysitting' when you go to the gym? Nothing at all to do with gender, obviously.

He destroys your clothing when he does laundry yet manages to read the instructions on intricate rulesets for his hobbies? Nothing at all to do with gender either.

He seems to think that having a dishwasher absolves him of any dish related duties? That's just how he is, obviously.

(apparently it's much nicer to think your partner is inept, arrogant and unkind, than to think he might be affected by his upbringing as a man)

Here's the thing - I present like a ciswoman. I look the part (boy howdy do I look the part most of the time). I am married, to a man, I am the primary carer and I give a shit about how the house looks and I sew and cook and clean and manage the school stuff and the medical stuff and I'm the straight line feeder for comic genius.

But I also bound my chest for months as a teen because fuck, the concept of growing up to be a woman terrified me. I didn't want to be a man, or a boy, I just did not want those invisible bars around me the way they are around my mother, around almost all of the women I knew, that I could see springing up around me. It was futile, I'm like a slightly less blowsy Mae West, but I tried to just stop being gendered for a while, until I grew incredibly politicised by it all.

This is the mother my child has - someone who grew up so affronted and terrified by the gender roles imputed by my biological sex that I hurt myself for months(years) but who is also virulently opposed to those ridiculous weights we place on gendered roles where the feminine always ends up the useless, the negligible, the lesser. I've managed, mostly, to have a path of my own where yeah, I'll shave part of my head but not my underarms, I'll wear lipstick and a dress to the wedding and menswear to bed, I'll listen and nurture and talk and think and all of that. I'll be true to me and my values.

Knowing I am only a small part, that the rest of the world has an agenda I don't share.
posted by geek anachronism at 7:24 PM on May 15 [20 favorites]


I'm an old lady who's lived without a husband most of her years, working full time always but with no extra money to hire others to do what I could do myself. I'm a cis female - straight as an arrow - lacking even curiosity about what being gay would be like. But when the car was having trouble (always), I had to learn how to fix it. I bought a Chilton's and a Haynes manual and set to it. I started small and worked my way up to the tougher stuff, like replacing a transmission in a van. I didn't mind the work at all - it was interesting, really - but what I hated was the having to do it if I wanted to get to work on Monday. That's just one example, but whatever did have to be done that a husband would ordinarily do, I usually did myself - painting, mowing the lawn, planting the tree, fixing the cooler, etc. However, I could and would come in from working on the car, take a quick shower and scrub my skin raw to get the car grease off, then put up my hair, put on the makeup and the nice dress and go dancing - which I loved, LOVED to do. I'd drink a mixed drink as a preference, but I never had a problem with beer, either.

I like my hair to be pretty and my nails painted and I always wore a small amount of make-up, nothing outrageous. I've worn jeans most of my life, but they had to be tight and attractive and my work clothes were always feminine - because I liked to dress feminine, not because I was forced to.

At one time a neighbor called me a lesbian because I had a great friend who happened to be female who spent a lot of time at my apartment. We each had a 3-year-old and we were great friends. When the idiot spread the word around that we were lesbians, her husband was a bit surprised to hear it, but he didn't take it seriously, so my friend and I began holding hands whenever we walked around outside. This was in 1969 in San Jose, California - not the best time or place for that sort of thing. There were sniggers from the other residents at the apartment complex, but it all faded away and we went back to normal.

I've had several gay men as good friends - every one of them was delightful, safe, smart and good-hearted - great friends. I've had four or five very close female friends over the years and many others as just friends, and I've had many wonderful lovers - all male.

My only child was a girl in her physical body but a boy inside; he's just now going through transition to a male. He's been on testosterone for a year now and there have been dramatic changes and he's much, much happier. His company has been supportive and the VIPs at hospitals that he works with have also been with him 100%. Now, folks, that says a lot to me. The atmosphere for gay people has opened up dramatically over the last 15-20 years - there's no comparison to what it was in the 80s or the 70s - none whatever - and now the atmosphere is opening up for trans people. It's time, and it's happening, and that's good. It's not going to be smooth - big change never is smooth - and trans people today are going to take the brunt of it - but it will be better in another decade - when our grandkids are grown, trans people will be just as accepted as anyone else.

But the binary thing? I've always just been what I felt like being - a woman, mostly, but often doing the work of a man. Some of that was from necessity, but really, I'd do anything that interested me, and most everything did. I don't know why we can't just be who we are and let it go at that. When I meet someone I don't ask them whether they're straight or gay or trans or queer or - for that matter - where their parents come from, what their religion is, what they do for a living, how long they've lived where they live, how old they are, how much education they have, etc. I simply don't care. Why should anyone?

A person can mess up your life by making you lose your job if you don't fit their gender image, but they can't really hurt you. They can yell at you when you're walking down the road (someone threw a carton of sour milk at me one day when I was waiting at a bus stop - I guess just because I was old?), but yelling/sour milk won't hurt you - it just makes you stronger. It makes you turn to the internet where there are others who are going through the same stuff - you can find understanding there. You can't be oppressed unless you allow it - not in this country, not in this time. Fight back. Stand together. No one has the right to bully you - just don't allow it. You're worth more than the classless creep who's sneering at you (if he only knew what YOU know, hm?)

It's late and I'm just blathering now, for which I apologize, but dammit, stand up for yourselves and know that you're making history here - so do it. Love you all.
posted by aryma at 11:20 PM on May 15 [13 favorites]


I think of it like a cookie cutter. A literal cookie cutter cutting out gingerbread men. Some people may feel like they can't fill that template out. Others that they have to give something up for it. But one thing that never happens is taking the gingerbread man template to a wad of dough and finding that it fits perfectly. Always, you're either cutting some dough off, or there are gaps in the template. It can be pretty damn close, but never perfect.
posted by Dysk at 12:58 AM on May 16 [4 favorites]


Also wow if anything has made me totally confident that I can call myself some flavor of non-binary without it being a fake idea this whole thread has. My gender has been a source of torment for years and years and years and I've tried to make sense of it in various ways and it just doesn't. And I've spent the last seven or so trying to figure out if my distaste for the space I was born into is natural recognizance that women get a raw deal in here and now no matter how well off and white they are, and it's not that either.

I feel like there aren't even words for it yet. Not all the way. Certainly not out in the world. It sucks. It really, really sucks.
posted by beefetish at 10:16 AM on May 16 [5 favorites]


beefetish, me too. I could have written almost your whole comment. Thank you, other commenters, such a lot.
posted by daisyk at 11:55 AM on May 16 [1 favorite]


I think some of the contention in this thread may be coming from people's different readings of this section:
1. Most people don’t fit common gender definitions

I say ‘most’ people to be safe – in my own life, I don’t think I’ve met a single person who could fit themselves perfectly into the templates our society has given us of ‘men’ and ‘women’. Not without cutting out crucial parts of who they are, not without pretending, in whole or in part, to be something that they aren’t.
The way I read it is, "Most people don't fit 100% completely, in every single way, even if they fit well enough to identify without question." I feel secure in this reading because of the author's use of the words "perfectly" and "or in part," and later statement of, "It doesn’t hurt everyone equally."

One of the first analogies that springs to mind is the ring that my great-uncle used to use when building cobblestone fences. If a stone passed snugly through the ring, it was uniform enough for the wall. The ones that wouldn't pass through at all and the ones that fit through with a visible gap around the edges were the obvious non-cobbles, but there was still variation among the stones that were uniform enough to pass the ring test.

Maybe some people are reading the article as that the author is only talking about non-cobbles.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 12:50 PM on May 16 [3 favorites]


I think that you're right, that the author means "Most people don't fit 100% completely, in every single way, even if they fit well enough to identify without question.", but I think the author is wrong in that, because it seems that several people are saying "I do fit 100% completely, in every single way".
posted by Bugbread at 3:03 PM on May 16


I think that you're right, that the author means "Most people don't fit 100% completely, in every single way, even if they fit well enough to identify without question.", but I think the author is wrong in that, because it seems that several people are saying "I do fit 100% completely, in every single way".

Well, "most" and "all" aren't synonyms.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 4:35 PM on May 16 [3 favorites]


True. I kinda confused myself over the course of the thread. I should say "I think that it's strange that the author has never met someone who fits 100% completely, in every single way. Even if they're a minority, it doesn't look like they're a vanishingly rare one."
posted by Bugbread at 12:34 AM on May 17


"I think that it's strange that the author has never met someone who fits 100% completely, in every single way."

Possibly, though the author being genderqueer makes for a bit of selection bias -- a fair bit of the gender-role bullshit is in service of policing the binary, and someone who is 100% comfortable with that strict binary is more likely to avoid anyone living outside it, I'd imagine.

None of which affects anything the author has to say about gender, though, so I'm not sure why it's such a sticking point in this thread.
posted by jaguar at 11:24 AM on May 17 [2 favorites]


jaguar: "I'm not sure why it's such a sticking point in this thread."

I'm not sure what you mean by "sticking point", but the reason I brought it up was: 1) It was the pull quote, so it stuck out at me, and 2) I agree with the rest of what they said, and there's not a lot of discussion in "Yup."
posted by Bugbread at 4:42 PM on May 17


I'm not sure what you mean by "sticking point"

I meant that it seemed like a nitpicky derail that dominated the discussion and made it difficult for me to even want to participate in the thread.
posted by jaguar at 5:25 PM on May 17 [6 favorites]


On the other hand, based on previous experience, we should probably have expected that a thread about nontraditional gender presentation and identity would be end up all about the feelings of cis people.
posted by gingerest at 6:06 PM on May 18 [5 favorites]


People talk about what relates to them personally. It's why MeFi has so many discussions about American politics and so few about Indian politics, so many posts about the summer during July, and so few posts about the summer in January.
posted by Bugbread at 4:32 PM on May 23


Yes, the majority talks about its interests all the time. That doesn't mean it should suck up all the air in threads that aren't about those interests. If you come into a thread about Australian politics and talk about US politics, you will be asked to knock it off. I'm not sure why that didn't happen here.
posted by gingerest at 1:54 AM on May 24 [1 favorite]


I'm thinking it's mainly because it's such an agreeable article. I mean, I think there's only been one person in this thread (kgasmart) who had any disagreement with the basic gist of the article, and was well redressed for it. Other than that, people all seem to be like, "Yeah, they're right", so the only thing left to discuss is this one little point of contention.

(Actually, a mod deleted some jerk comment, apparently, so there may have been two people who disagreed with the article, or the jerk comment could have been by kgasmart, I dunno, I didn't see it).
posted by Bugbread at 4:10 AM on May 24


On the other hand, based on previous experience, we should probably have expected that a thread about nontraditional gender presentation and identity would be end up all about the feelings of cis people.
I think, though, that the linked post is about all (or "most," because Lester hedges a little bit) people, including cis people. It specifically has some stuff to say about the feelings and experiences of cis people with regards to gender. So I don't think that's really off topic here.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 5:46 AM on May 24


Not all discussions have to be debates. "I agree with the author, and here are my own experiences along those lines" are actually entirely more interesting then "You're wrong/No, you're wrong" ping-pong matches. The problem is that when people get invested in proving someone wrong, then it's much less likely someone's going to feel safe enough to come in and say, "Here are my own experiences along those lines," because people don't tend to want to open up in an environment that's proving hostile and fighty.

And I don't think talking about the feelings of cis people is off-topic, no. I do think talking about how much one does conform to superficial gender stereotypes while ignoring the linked article's deeper explanation of how ill-fitting those stereotypes are, does end up being all about the feelings of people who don't mind the status quo.
posted by jaguar at 9:31 AM on May 24 [2 favorites]


jaguar: " I do think talking about how much one does conform to superficial gender stereotypes while ignoring the linked article's deeper explanation of how ill-fitting those stereotypes are, does end up being all about the feelings of people who don't mind the status quo."

1) If the article is saying that stereotypes are ill-fitting for everyone, then disagreeing that this is true is not "ignoring". It is in fact the opposite of ignoring, "paying attention".

2) Whoa, whoa, woah. Saying "some people actually do fit their gender template" is NOT "not minding the status quo". I fit my gender template. I also think that gender templates suck. If someone says "Everyone is black, and therefore they suffer from racism", saying, "Actually, I'm not black" does not mean "...and therefore I think racism is awesome!"
posted by Bugbread at 6:57 PM on May 25


I think you're really missing the point of the complaints along with the point of the linked piece if that's what you want to say in a thread about the piece.
posted by Corinth at 7:14 PM on May 25


Okay, sure, I guess so. I honestly didn't expect my comment to turn into such a big thing. I figured people would actually have a lot more to say about the topic. If they had stuff to say but chose not to because I intimidated them, I apologize, that wasn't my intent.
posted by Bugbread at 3:57 AM on May 26


This was pretty interesting; I'm glad it got posted.

One of the best things about working in a predominantly LGBT space is that a lot of the gender and sexuality policing falls away — I can enjoy Beyonce and Big Black and nobody cares. When a dude comes to work in heels, the concern isn't that they're inappropriate attire, it's that he's going to be walking a lot and they can be hell on your feet.

As for not seeing this — I wonder if kgasmart has ever seen a hack stand-up do the "Men are like…" schtick. It's incredibly common, and almost always (at least for me) leads to a moment of dissonance where, you know, I don't think men are idiots and ladies be crazy. A lot of that kind of humor really relies on traditional gender roles, and (along with tv commercials) I think is a place where cis dudes can really see a lot of that dissonance. Or not, I guess.
posted by klangklangston at 12:24 PM on June 11


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