For a long time I’ve had a partly-finished post sitting in my draft queue. It’s entitled (as you might have guessed by this point) “Gender Junkies,” and it’s an attempt to argue that, roughly,
- Gender is a social construct
- It’s a necessarily hierarchical and therefore unjust social construct
- True human liberation requires the end of our belief in this social construct
- But it’s so embedded in our thinking that we genuinely cannot conceive of what a society without it would look like
- So the best we can do is try to make gender matter less, bit-by-bit.
(But using nerdy analogies like Dune and The Matrix.)
But as I say, I started the post a long time ago, and have been having a hard time finishing it, and in the meantime I’ve been reading various blogs and interacting with various people, and various things have happened; part of the reason, then, that I’ve had difficulty finishing the post is that I’m no longer sure I’m arguing well. I’ve learned much that I didn’t previously know, for example, about the problematic history of links to transphobia the idea of gender-as-social-construct has. And I want to avoid, if possible, saying something hurtful because I haven’t thought things through enough or because I’m working from faulty ideas.
So, since I’ve been getting a lot more visitors in the past week or so, thanks to generous links from several other blogs, I thought maybe now would be a good time to try opening a discussion thread.
How do you define “gender”? Do you see it as a social construct, or a function of biology (including brain biology, mind), or some mix of factors? Do you think it’s inherently hierarchical, or is a system of gender classification which is also egalitarian conceivable to you?
(Note: I realize that this is a very fraught topic, and what seems like a relatively abstract philosophical opinion to one person may seem to another like an outright attack on their right to exist. If you join the discussion, please be sensitive to the complexities of the subject, treat others kindly, and assume good faith in the absence of clear evidence to the contrary.)