Politics of Sexuality and Gender

As a small disclaimer, before we delve into something that is essentially a rant, but has been spruced up with politeness and reference to call an essay. Half of this is spawned by conversations with a few good friends; the other bits from my reading of Queer Theory, Gender Theory. Which I would recommend to any and all, but especially those with an interest in the (oft ironic) nuance of – wait for it – gender and sexuality, and how we have evolved it as a core feature of our identities.

In a simple overview, I’ve noticed a lot of trends in society. Perhaps they have always been there, perhaps they are more obvious now with social media and the great push for equal rights in gender identity, expression, and in sexuality. There still remains prejudice in all groups, an attempt to sub-categorize everyone based on minute details of appearance and lifestyle choices. The internalized need to verify and enforce sexuality, or romance, or romantic inclinations. Polarizing gender identity, while advocating for abolishing traditional standards of constricting roles in masculinity and femininity. Down to society’s dating structure (and what part of our lives have we, as humans, left free of the idealism of romance ?) A broad spectrum of topics I suppose, but they are rather tightly intertwined I’ve found and … well, most of them are easy to address within one another.

Onward,

It is the idealism regarding romance that I find irksome. Throughout life, we are surrounded by talk of marriage. By monogamy. By this vague, expectant goal that romantic love is an ultimate goal. A hallmark of one’s life, by which others who do not achieve this goal are measured and found lacking. Individuals who find fulfillment and peace in purely platonic companionship, are pitied – and urged to seek out a romantic partner. Perhaps it isn’t intentional, but others have a tendency to look down on these people, as though their lack of partner is a mark of some deficit in their person.

This bleeds into the ever-so-common misconception that; a person is attractive so how could they not have a romantic partner? As if someone’s physical looks plays any part in their interest (or lack thereof) to engage in such relationships. As if they must want to, because how could anyone not? When it is so dogmatically socialized into us that we cannot be whole, complete, or truly happy without romance.

Perhaps it all spurns from the driving “need” to procreate. I use need in the loosest sense, as we make claim to be so above the mere “animals” we share a planet with, and yet humans breed without thought to consequence. Thousands of children go homeless year after year, while – frankly, arrogant and greedy – individuals feel the need to produce their own. Why? It comes down, again, to romanticized ideal. Romance is the epoch of any relationship, and reproducing with this ‘perfect partner’ is the epoch of how each partner can display their devotion to one another. Although, I suspect the individual reasoning is far more simplistic than that. Babies are cute, women are supposed to have babies. Traditional home values and familial dynamics, and sexist gender roles.

Statements we’ve heard a hundred different times in a hundred different ways and yet never seems to even dent the thought processes of those so enamored with this lifestyle.

I read a statement once, on a blog, claiming that human procreation wouldn’t slow down until seeing families with three and four children was no longer a measure of awe, but one of disgust. Until reproducing like rats stops being this amazing feat, and seen as a repugnance, people will not slow down, or stop.

The aforementioned mentality does a lot in erasing the validity – and importance – of platonic relationships, and the existence of aromantic and asexual dispositions. How can people comprehend there are those among them who have no desire to sexual relations, when they cannot even conceive of anyone being fulfilled by something so subpar as platonic intimacy? It’s frustrating, a great deal because people don’t realize they are doing this, I think. Most people who are engaged in a romantic relationship look to their single friends with pity (or envy, in the event it is an unhappy situation.) That I have to catch myself while writing this to specify ‘romantic relationship’ rather than list it as an assumed romantic involvement simply through the word ‘relationship’, goes far in highlighting this idea.

In a way, viewing romance as the top-tier, most important relationship of one’s life, subjects platonic relationships to a role as temporary. They are ‘fillers’ until one finds that ultimate person. That perfect person to love them romantically forever. Why can this person not be a friend? A soul mate, a kindred, without designs of a romantic or sexual nature? Why must things like physical affection, kissing, sharing bed-space, home, and/or room, be things only appropriate in the confines of romance and/or sex?!

Beyond traditional values rooted in religion, there really isn’t any. If our lives, our identities, our sexualities, and our relationships are to be as vivid and broadly diverse as the current movement touts them to be. Then they must be treated as such.

No more ‘gold star lesbians’. No more looking down on heterosexuals and gloating not to have a heterosexual friend. No more pitying singles, or those without interest in sex or romance as somehow being defective or broken. When you alienate people for displaying the attributes you so loudly proclaim to be a core value of your movement, you’ve essentially chopped its legs off.

It displays a short-sightedness and lack of introspection we, as the new generation, as the more progressive, educated, and open-minded generation, like to pretend we do not suffer. 

Which rolls rather neatly into the stigma that surrounds many in the trans community. Especially those who do not conform to gender standards. There is a huge issue with people identifying as trans, who do not wish to fully transition, being treated as “fakes”. As if the validity of their gender identity lies solely in their desire to physically alter their appearance. While a vociferous point of the trans community is the freedom of gender expression. 

So how does this make sense? When a community pressures those within it to conform to a structure their very existence shatters? It is the same mentality as those who claim that ‘you are irrevocably what you are dubbed at birth’, forget the argument that these concepts only even exist to begin with because humans created them. 

In many ways, I understand the need to be fully recognized as one’s identified gender, but I wonder, if a lot of trans individuals aren’t swallowed up by the need to prove their validity? Not, that I think they are invalid. But the pressures put on them and non-trans people to conform to ideals of gender identity and presentation, can be overwhelming. This is doubled when, elitists within the community treat those comfortable as they are – so long as their identity is respected, as less than true. As if, by not undertaking the hallmarks of altering their physical appearance, they are less serious about their identity. Less valid. 

Really, the only way to even address those issues would be to step back and look at one’s self and one’s behavior. But that is hard isn’t it? It really wasn’t even something I thought about as recently as two years ago. It was just… accepted? Trans-men should of course, want to look like men…. but then there is the  question of what does a man look like? We of course have the example of those who have a penis and identify as men, but even there the image is vast. Sure, some are hairy and toned and fit. Some aren’t. Some are thin, some have hips, some are born with partial mammary glans, some never really develop body hair. Some wear dresses, or lingerie, or grow long hair and pluck their eyebrows. Does that make them any less their affirmed gender? No.

So why should it alter perceptions of trans individuals?

Long as this has droned on, and generally as I’ve swept each topic, I’ve rather come to an end of this string of conjecture. Of course, there’s about a hundred things I haven’t addressed, but for now, I’ve belched enough of my own personal rants into the ether.

Until next time.

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