It’s All About Fluidity

I don’t know if you remember, but I’ll remind you again anyways: Gender if fluid.

How you may ask. Well . . . if I have to spell it out for you then I shall with one world.

Drag.

Now, to be honest, drag is probably the most in your face example of gender as a performance. And if you’ve ever seen a drag show, you can tell how much effort is put into turning one gender into another. But drag is also a kind of gender identity and it’s also a great example of gender fluidity.

Writer/Filmmaker Gabrielle Burton let a TED conference at Columbus on gender fluidity. I was watching this TED talk – because that just seemed to be all I do these days, and Burton said something that kind of hit me.

She said that we are essentially segregating children into these gender binaries. And no one seemed to mind this kind of segregation. It was startling because, we’re always talking about race when we reference segregation, but we’re doing the same thing with sexuality.

We as people are failing to realize just how important it is for us to be gender fluid. We’re so quick to put down labels and keep things in nice little boxes, but in doing so we are limiting our views and our potentials. And we’re pushing this on to each generation.

Remember when you were little and you’re parents told you you can be anything you wanted to be?

Well they failed to tell you that what they really meant was, you can only be anything you want within the parameters that society assigns.

I’d like to take this moment to turn our attention to porn. And I don’t mean to say that I’m changing the subject or anything. I’d just like to reference a pornstar that really challenged the norms and got in everyone’s face about gender fluidity.

Buck Angel.

If you don’t know him go look him up. If you won’t I’ll tell you about him.

Buck Angel is the man with the pussy. And that’s his legit title, I kid you not. Buck Angel is what some would call a legend. He’s probably the first trans person to put his foot down and say, ‘yes, I identify as male, but that doesn’t mean I want to get rid of my vagina.’

And how can you not respect a person like that?

But on the real, real. Buck Angel brought up a lot of questions about what is gender to a lot of people. He was one of many catalyst that made people really start thinking about gender fluidity and that’s just freaking awesome.

Because we need to question and act out and break down the norms. Walls were built to be broken down! And that’s all I have to say on that matter.

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Gender, Gender, Gender

“All the world’s a stage, and everyone are players.” These words were said by Shakespeare long before the convoluted question of what is gender came to be. Was it possible that even then some people were questioning this performance of gender?

I doubt it but its pretty neat to try and imagine.

Comedian Sam Killermann said it at a TED conference in Chicago, “At birth [we] are cast in a play, given a role, given a script, and asked to play that role until [we] are dead.”

He states that gender identity is rooted in sociology and I’m not gonna be the first one to tell him he’s wrong – because he isn’t. Basically everything we know and perceive has some kind of social influence behind it. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

This idea of gender identity in this new 21st century world is baffling to most people. To most gender is simply boy and girl. And yeah . . . biologically speaking that’s kind of right. But biology is not what gender identity is defined on.

Gender identity is all about you. What you assimilate with. What you identify as. And how you perceive yourself – biology be damned.

When the first person came out and decided that he didn’t want to be male anymore, he rocked the world off it’s hinges. And all the queer came flooding out.

And now we’re back to sociology – a concept I cringe to touch but for this topic must be examined.

Can you think back to the first person that said girls like pink and boys like blue?

You can’t. And to be honest, only a hundred years ago the opposite was true. But why is it that this is the sudden norm? Sociology.

Someone, somewhere decided that boy=blue and girls=pink and the idea was passed along repetitively until it became common knowledge. And now we are forced to look twice a any guy who dares to wear pink in public and not feel bothered.

It’s honestly quiet baffling.

But no one thinks twice about it.

And it’s because gender has become a performance and anyone not acting the part is weird, queer, and just plain wrong.

Let’s Stop And Re-think

So we’ve got this loose idea about what gender means. But does that change anything? What does this mean exactly for the LGBTQ community?

Answer: NOTHING

In the end, the ‘queer’ are more stable in their gender that us heteros. Gender has a sort of fluidity to it that most people dismiss. To be honest, I think the queer are more stable in their own relationships. If we learned how to be as fluid in our gender I feel overall there would be just a lot less stress. But let’s face it, since when did humans know what was right for them?

But I’m not hear to bash humanity . . . although we could use a good head bashing. I’m hear to expand minds about the wondrous grey area of gender.

Butler says it right . . . or many technical is the right answers. She’s got a lot of words about a not so small subject. But Butler has a lot of big words, and lets face it, we don’t really like big words all that much.

Unfortunately all I have for you are big words.

I was watching a TED talk the other day when I stumbled across one that dealt with gender binary. Given that this blog is about gender . . . well I’ve decided to share.

In conjunction with Butler’s idea that gender is performance, social speaker Yee Won Chong states that who we identify as are based upon gender binaries and gender expression. To him, while we may be born a certain gender, how we interact and see the world can be the total opposite.

Gender is not a linear line, despite what we might think. If anything it’s probably a circle, or a ziz-zag. Just something not really ‘straight’. Pun intended.

Introducing Judith Butler

So to be honest, I doing this blog for a class – go Writing the LGBTQ Identity!

But let’s get this ball on a roll.

I would like to take this moment to introduce a person who has quiet honestly made me question gender in all aspects. I don’t know if you know her but I heard she’s kind of famous. I’m talking about Judith Butler.

Now Butler has some pretty interesting concepts on gender. Her main one is that gender is essentially performed. Now I know what you’re thinking . . . what does that mean?

And here’s my answer.

Gender is a socially created word. Its definition is rooted in what society perceived it to be. Just like any new word created, gender is up for interpretation.

Don’t get offended. I’m pretty sure if you asked anyone on the street what gender means, they wouldn’t be able to give you a basic answer.

Now Butler’s basic definition is that gender is something we learn to be. We are not initially born male or female, we are taught to be a specific gender. In that aspect gender is not something we are but instead something we do. To Butler, gender is a process. It’s “a set of repeated acts within a highly rigid regulatory frame”, to quote her own words.

This essentially means that gender is something ingrained in our society over the many centuries that it has existed as a base word. To put it in simple terms, the times have changed but the concept of gender has not. It’s something that has been ingrained into the skeletons of our history. And as you very well know since everyone’s been to school, we as people just love our history.

This is why those who are queer are so hard for most people to understand. They do not conform to what the historical definition of gender to be.

It’s like this world is scared of venturing into the grey. Everything is either black or white. You are either male or female. You like either boys or girls. And anyone who steps out of these carefully crafted molds are immediately victimized.

We’re taught from very young that girls wear pink and boys wear blue. Girls like dolls. Boys like cars. Girls are pretty. Boys are handsome.

To change this strict structure is to disrupt the flow of normality.

In some ways I honestly think that humanity is really fragile. The way in which most people cringe away from anything that doesn’t fit the norm is rather shocking. Especially when you consider the fact that we call ourselves the superior being.

But are we really?

I doubt dogs have this kind of trouble with identifying themselves. Although I’m pretty sure they just hump whatever’s moving . . .