I do realize that there are two dominant genders in our culture. Just because I am choosing not to choose on or the other doesn’t mean I deny the existing gender system. There is a binary system well entrenched in our society that a majority of the people probably participate in. While not denying that this system is here and very real, I do not think we have to participate in it without questioning why.
So there is a binary gender system that is alive and well. I wonder how many people who participate in it actually really understand what they are participating in. It seems that there are many people out there that equate their gender with their biological sex. Gender and sex are two very different things. Biological sex is defined by your genitalia, chromosomes and hormones for a very simplified explanation. Gender is based on how you feel inside instead of some physical marker. Gender is expressed in very physical ways though with our behavior and dress.
I have asked some people what their gender is and how they know. The definitions I have seen for masculine and feminine have been a bit ambiguous and confusing to me. The best definition I have found so far is that feminine and masculine are defined by current social norms that tell us what it is to be a typical woman or man. This, of course, can change and has changed through the years. I think a person’s gender can also change through their lifetime.
So society is telling us what it is to be a woman or man and our biology is telling us which of these labels we should fit into. A nice neat system for dividing people into two opposing camps has been provided for us and on the surface seems to fit our experiences. You really don’t have to go too far under the surface to see some of the problems with this system though.
Because of my genitalia, I am told I am a man. As far as I know, my chromosomes have never been tested, so I am not sure if I could stand up to that definition, though. Have you ever checked your chromosomes, or do you assume they are in line with your genitalia? Not everyone fits into the neat boxes of XX or XY.
Ok, lets assume my chromosomes match my genitalia. It’s not a big leap to assume this because I have lived my whole life assuming this, Now society has this idea of what masculinity is and what it takes for me to be a man. This is really the main place things start to fall apart in this system for me. If we listed masculine and feminine traits and came up with the idea man and woman and compared that to actual people, how many would fall neatly into the category they were expected to fall into? How many ideal men and ideal women are actually walking around our streets?
There is such a diversity of people and there really is more of a variance within each gender than there is between the genders. It does not seem any more natural to me to divide people based on their sex than it does to divide them based on their hair color. It seems like a totally random way to create a class system that has been reinforced and adhered to through the years to the point that it seems natural to us now. This class system serves to give one group power over the other and almost forces people to adopt behaviors in order to fit into one group or the other.
I try to accept people for who they are and I think I am successful for the most part. My intention here is not to try to get anyone else to make the decisions I am making. I would just like people to question something that is not often questioned, at least not publicly, by a large percentage of people. If you are comfortable participating in a binary gender system, that is great. I just want you to look a little deeper and ask why you are comfortable with it, why we need the binary system and what membership in it means to you? Can there truly be equality of the genders if we maintain a binary system or will the two poles always be in opposition? Are there really that many differences between the genders? Are most of the differences created by society and more artificial than genuine? Whatever you decide for yourself, I think awareness and knowledge makes that a better choice than just following norms blindly.