A while back, I took an orange flower and kept it on my ear, and took a picture of myself. I identify as heterosexual, but the minute people saw me do this, they started to say things that questioned my gender identity – be it in the context of the archaic disregard for different gender roles, or in people simply asking me whether I wasn’t who I was claiming to be. I was confronted by both these scenarios in the ten minutes I walked around with the flower in my hair.
Conventionally, we have always had the basic understanding that there are only two sexes. We have the male, and we have the female. I say this not in the context of an almost revolutionary growth in inclusivity, with all the various LGBTQIA+ movements that have picked up in the last century or so, but in the context of centuries’ worth of philosophy that viewed gender via binaries. While all this talk about multiple genders is definitely laudable, we forget sometimes that the ideologies that drive our society were all formulated in eras where only the two genders were identified.
There is a Stanford study that speaks about this very concept, trying to connect metaphysics in general, to the evolving ideas of gender roles in our society. It essentially conveys how, if we’d like to reconstruct the way people view gender, we’d have to reconstruct everything people know about everything. Even the term ‘people’ itself, when someone decided to give it meaning, probably did it in a society where gender was binary.
And this is why I have an issue with gender roles themselves in their entirety. Man should be allowed to explore himself (yes, I wrote the word ‘Man’, and I want to kill myself for doing that. But I’m going to let that be here because I think it’s a beautiful example for what social conditioning does to you).
Since we’ve assigned gender roles to ourselves, we do things that fit into that gender role. I believe I could ‘identify’ as a heterosexual, but I’m sure if you labelled me with a different gender role, I could embody that gender role too (because that’s what our human mind is capable of, but that freedom does not and will not ever exist). If someone tries to get out of such a worldview, we’d put another label on that person. We simply end up making social constructs more skewed and more complicated than ever. Otherwise, why would you call a crossdresser or a drag queen a ‘crossdresser’ and a ‘drag queen’? Is language what lends fuel to gender disparity?
A utopian society, in my head, would be one where I could wake up a man (not be called one), become a woman (not be called one) when I step out of the house, wear a saree and have a beard (not being judged by anybody else) and live my life being whoever I want to be.
I guess we can’t have that though, because then we’d have to eradicate language. Considering that is the single primary thing that has caused us to populate the earth and change it – evolve – learn – know – grow, I wouldn’t want to even picture a world where I am unable to articulate my thoughts into words. We’re dependent on language.
Our laws, and the language used therein, are very patriarchal. Our philosophies, concepts, ideas, all are very specific to the gender that has been dominant for all the years of human existence. So I really believe we have to think of reforming that too. It isn’t hu’man’ely possible to not see a gender perception in everything that we do. Why do we have to put adjectives like ‘a strong woman’, or ‘a meek man’, and why do these words evoke emotions within us that stereotype our perceptions of gender? Is there something wrong with us? Has society really screwed us up more than we think it has? Is it possible to be a liberal feminist in a world that is moving closer and closer to the right side of the spectrum? When the right wing evokes anti feminist thoughts in our head – is it because of the ‘men’ that stand at the forefront of these movements, or is it the intrinsic qualities of these movements themselves that have caused this to happen?
Gender, and sex, was assigned to us by religion and society to regulate people, by assigning tasks to each of the genders, almost exactly as Manu‘s caste system professed to do. With these lines of the assigned tasks blurring, it is time to rethink everything associated with gender and live as simply human beings, as people without the crippling need to categorise them. Put some flowers behind your ears or accept your facial hair, we definitely won’t try and label you!
One thought on “Gender? – Forget it!”
Gender – forget it
By Samarth Narayan
While Samarth has explored the social and psychological angles of gender sprinkling few new thoughts on a much debated subject, one cannot ignore the biological and natural differences between the two genders and of course the third (aberration – strictly technical without offense) kind. Probably the greatest misconceptions and misgivings on the subject of perceived differences between the two can be overcome by not labelling any of the traits as superior or inferior. That would blur the differences and prejudices to a great extent and even the social stigma against the third gender may be perceived a rare fusion of qualities than as an aberration!
Great effort and clarity on his thoughts by Samarth.