Postgenderism and Gender-Neutrality
After reading NPR’s article on The End of Gender? I felt I had to give a short response. Postgenderism is certainly a thing and even a thing I support (in theory). I fully support the blurring of gender distinctions–this is where my anarchy comes through–I think gender distinctions are only beautifull when we reveal their fragility through questioning, critique, deconstruction. Is the expression of gender in the Marie Antoinette photo really something I can appreciate if it is a dogmatic societal injunction (you must wear this)? Can I appreciate it as a valid expression without, say, this? It is in this sense, taking apart societal presumptions about gender as such, breaking these molds apart and showing them to society in all their intestinal alienation, their withdrawn potentials, that I see postgenderism as an essential ideal.
That being said, sometimes postgender advocates strike me as naive. Just like how some people think there is an actual separation of church and state simply because we say so–simply because we enact a certain policy, say gender-neutral dorms or bathrooms, clothing, etc., this does not mean suddenly gender will no longer exist and everything will be grand. I am not so optimistic. This ignores that “gender-neutral” as a socio-linguistic function can actually be a covering for unreflected kyriarchy–i.e., “if there is no more intentional socio-political gender policing, then inevitably there will be no more sex-oppression.” No–I can very easily imagine a world with gender-neutral bathrooms and that world still having male privilege, rape culture, ciscentrism, etc. To “neutralize” gender as a political or even social “concept” as regards policy would still imply a binary–no matter how much you neutralize the binary. I don’t think there “has to be” a binary mind you, obviously I think this is a social construction and all, but it is something radically in our history, our world, our bodies–it goes beyond a mere issue of policy.
I support gender-neutrality, androgyny, and gender-expressions that differ from our norms precisely in that it is these “alter-native” expressions that reveal, one: the weirdness of our norms (is this “natural”/”native”? does this even make sense?), and two: the normality of the “abnormal” (is this really “unnatural”/an “alter-native” lifestyle?). This point leads to a confession: I find traditional gender expressions beautiful. I really do. But I find the totalitarian imposition of these things as “natural” or some sort of moral/metaphysical injunction about “the-way-things-are” revolting. Gender-neutrality is essential–not because of some fanciful hope it does away with ideology outright–but because it reveals the tendential and fragile quality of gender-ideology as such. Without this tension how would gender-neutrality stretch, question, bend, break, fuck?