The Ministry of Fools, and the Pity With Which Mr. T Regards Them

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On Gender
A friend's recent post got me thinking about something.

I've never identified with a gender. I don't consider myself to be female, nor do I wish to be male. I've never felt comfortable even thinking about it, frankly. This isn't to say that I don't recognize everyone else's gender, I have just never been concerned with my own. I love people who dress up. I love women that are all about dressing to the nines, and I'm all about men in a well-tailored suit. I also love seeing a man dressed "as a woman," and vice versa. I don't personally dress up very often, and when I do, I think it's relatively unisex. But I respect everyone's right to dress the way they please, and I wish others would do the same for me without assuming things about me that should not be assumed.

I've spent most of my life having others assume that I'm a lesbian. I don't know if it's the short hair, the way I dress, the way I talk, my build, or all of the above. I don't wear makeup. I don't believe in heals. I love wearing skirts, but I have a feeling that even wearing women's clothing, I probably look a bit like a man in drag. I spend more time explaining to people that I'm straight than you'd believe. This explanation is often met with surprise, and sometimes disbelief.

I don't think gender identity has anything at all to do with sexual orientation. And I'm curious as to why everyone else does. On a grander level, I'm curious as to why people are even concerned with sexual orientation at all (unless you're on the prowl, of course), but I recognize that I'd be foolish to hope for that to go away anytime soon. Unless you're trying to take me home, why does it matter what category I fall into? Do we need to all fit into tidy little compartments?

I'm not saying that people are even rude about it. It's often a casual comment, not even judgmental (I think). But it happens to me on a weekly basis. Does everyone feel like they need to explain their gender/orientation that often?

I could frankly care less if you're a man or a woman, straight or gay, proud or not of your orientation or gender, and I could care less what you think of of my own identity. I guess I'm just tired of talking about it, because when I talk about it, I have to be aware of it. There are plenty of things that I do identify with. There are plenty of neat compartments that I'm more than happy to put myself in, with or without your help. Gender just happens to not be one of them.

(edit to add)

I suppose the way I dress is "the way that a lesbian would dress," whatever that means. Does that mean that if I were to dress like batman, I would be a superhero?

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If you're wondering where this comes from, personally I think it all goes back to power relations. There was a time when men owned everything, women were legally something very close to a type of property, and people were supposed to end up in heterosexual marriages in which men were in control. That system of power relations was, publicly, what gender was about, and homosexuality threatened them, so it was seen as some sort of dysfunction of gender identity.

You can still see this in the attitudes of religious-traditionalist types concerning homosexuality; they'll argue that same-sex marriage makes no sense essentially because it's impossible to tell which person is in charge. They'll also identify super-butch male behavior with heterosexuality, and give all sorts of consequently unintentionally hilarious advice about how to keep your son from turning gay. (Take him down to the fire station and having him hang out with all the firemen!)

I love this. This is much more eloquent than points I've tried to make.

There are unfortunate residual side effects for most of us that have either given up religion, or at least chosen to step away from entirely traditional family value type situations. As much as I'd love to say that I'm above this, I know I'm guilty of prejudice when it frankly doesn't matter. It may not have to do with my own pet causes (gender, orientation, race) but I can be quick to judge about class, caste, and religion. I know that I shouldn't, but I still find myself doing it all the time. I have no right being mad at someone for driving by in a sports car, yet It's pretty easy to hate before thinking.

Anyway, I think we are probably all guilty of lumping people together. I hate that it's true, but it is.

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