ForumTouchy Subjects ► What is your take on the Gender Spectrum?
if there's only two genders, then everyone would have to choose one or the other

but what if you don't agree with what either gender means? what if that's not how you'd like to associate yourself? what then?
  
I would like to call attention to this post because 1) I don't really have the capacity to respond to it in any meaningful way for reasons I can't exactly explain and 2) this is much more interesting than the "These pronouns are kinda weird" - "No they're not also call people what they want to be called" and the "What's nonbinary mean?" conversations that I've seen people have a million times over.
Before British contact, Maori were a Stone Age culture. Stone Age cultures have gender roles (Stone Age British did). So it's not about ethnicity or indigenousity, it's about technology. When modern Maori live their daily lives in cities, women sit with men. But when they go to their Marae to participate in their traditional culture, women have to sit at the back, because it's been consciously frozen in time. Any attempt at change would be seen as giving in culturally, rather than a reasonable internal evolution. I don't think it would kill them to let women sit with men on Maraes, any more than it would kill the Spanish to stop torturing bulls for entertainment and calling it a fight.
  
No but we also have people in this thread saying "gender should be eliminated because it isn't useful" which is fundamentally at odds with the notion of gender roles in culturally specific contexts. The reason I raised it is at what point does eliminating cultural values tread on cultures that aren't ours? Are we evangelising indigenous cultures the way our good ol' Christian forebears did? Is it different because it's a progressive value?
  
I agree that gender loses meaning in post-industrial societies, which is why it's being played around with. Gender is like our appendix. We're sure it used to do something, but it doesn't anymore. I think the same thing's happened with marriage. I think if Maori honestly looked at their daily lives, they'd have to agree that they're clinging to a protocol in this one specific instance just for the sake of not giving ground, when in reality they are sitting with and speaking with women all the time.

The change shouldn't be forced on them. I think Maori women - assuming they have a problem with it - should start boycotting it. "If you don't want to sit with us, and you don't want to hear us speak, then maybe we won't bother showing up". White feminists coming in badgering them would just be inflammatory and it would become about race rather than sex. But white feminists wouldn't do it anyway.

There's also the issue of female politicians. New Zealand's on its third female Prime Minister now, and I think a few years back there was a cop-out compromise where Jacinda Ardern was allowed to speak on the Marae but from the front step rather than inside where the men speak. It's embarrassing for all concerned. They can't have it both ways, they can't be like "we want her to come because she's the Prime Minister, but we don't want her to speak because she's a woman". They'll change on their own.
  
The Maori example is just the one I'm most familiar with. It extends to any culture really. Just interested in how far people are willing to extend the "gender should be abolished" argument when the stakes are not "in western culture."
  
I will be super honest that I do not feel comfortable speaking for other cultures, BUT I am very willing to support queer or otherwise repressed voices in other cultures who are speaking up against the status quo. Gender can have different meanings in different cultures, but if people are discovering that their culture doesn't have space for them as it currently exists... I very much support them in seeking to create that space. There are an awful lot of modern cultures where gender roles are actively causing harm and modern women and queer people in those cultures are pushing back, and that's a cause I can get behind. I'm not sure if that is a movement amongst Maori culture specifically, though.

Next week, I'm actually planning to attend a talk by Cheryl Morgan about the history of transgender people in ancient Rome, which I'm really looking forward to and seems somewhat related here.
  
I don't want to get too far into moral relativism vs absolutism (is that the right word?), but yeah, I agree that change in a culture should generally be led from the inside.

There are clearly many ways for humans to live and behave, across time and the planet. The relative dominance/prevalence of Western European/American culture is largely due to colonialism and missionary work, which is certainly one measure of success for a culture/society, but not the only one. To bring this tangent back to gender: I know there have been a number of cultures that were permissive of gender variance and/or same-sex relations until they were colonized/conquered. I don't have details on me right now, but I could try to find some of y'all are interested.

Additionally, I think the idea that there was mostly one "Stone Age" view of gender is largely influenced by the cultural biases of the mid-19th century anthropologists. Not that they did it maliciously, it's just easy to accidentally project a narrative when you don't have enough evidence yet.
  
I feel like the gender spectrum is honestly just what we human have designed for ourselves. I agree that there are many different genders today then there were years ago. This like everyone is saying is a change that has been happening ever since our ape brains became more complex and thought forward with time passing. I think the more humans evolve and the more we can modify ourselves in which ever way we please, genders outside of male and female will become more acceptable.

It is definitely something I look forward to where humans don’t care what gender you are and don’t freak out over the break of the norm.
  
I think it's more of a societal thing than an evolutionary thing; evolution occurs on too long of a scale to really be relevant here.
  
Fwip said:
I know there have been a number of cultures that were permissive of gender variance and/or same-sex relations until they were colonized/conquered. I don't have details on me right now, but I could try to find some of y'all are interested.
It depends on who you ask. When I ask the Native Americans, they tell me one thing, and white people tell me another thing. I've met my fair share of indigenous people in Northwest America and I've yet to hear them tell these stories about themselves, but I have heard white people tell me that the Natives are wrong and the progressive whites are right.

I'm not sure who to believe, the Natives who speak for themselves, or the white people who speak for them.

Edit: Just because something were authentically indigenous wouldn't make it authentically right or wrong just by nature of it being traditional, though. I really like Star Trek and think of the Prime Directive.

We may not want to meddle with the cultures of other people, and we can learn from them, but that doesn't necessarily make any advances in our way of thinking or relating to gender to be wrong, either.
  
Fwip said:
I'm not sure who to believe, the Natives who speak for themselves, or the white people who speak for them.


A couple helpful sources to check out that talk about indigeneity and queerness are "When did Indians Become Straight?" by indigenous studies scholar Mark Rifkin, and "Paradoxes of Hawaiian Sovereignty" by native Hawaiian scholar Kehaulani Kauanui. Both books talk about the way that gender and sexuality didn't work the same way in Native American and Hawaiian cultures before colonization as it did in Western cultures--different cultures had their own distinct understandings of what gender was and what rules and taboos governed people's bodies. However, both authors also note that these historical accounts of what gender has traditionally done within colonized societies are also complicated by histories of colonialism that have affected how settlers think of native people and how native people think about themselves. For instance, Kauanui talks about the marginalization of female and queer activists in contemporary Hawaiian sovereignty movements, and how that's ironic because both queerness and female leadership used to be much more normally practiced in Hawaiian society than they are now. Ultimately, the point is that cultural ideas about gender are not static, particularly in today's globalized world. The questions that are important to consider, particularly for those of us who are part of a dominant Western culture, is who gets to determine gender narratives? Who gets to claim universality, and who gets implicitly cut out of those universal narratives?
  
People saying that we should all use they/them pronouns for everyone, to many people, it would be dysphoric. I feel dysphoric with they/them and he/him pronouns. Many women and men would feel dysphoric with they/them pronouns. Break gender norms, yes, but don't destroy the concept of gender entirely.
  
Grayseff said:
Arguably, gender in the west has outlived its usefulness (and it did have a usefulness in the past). Gender roles are diverse across cultures because of their differing utility in different regions, timeperiods and economic systems. I think a lot of my hesitation to call it stupid stems from the incredibly touchy subject of Indigenous cultures with firm gender roles that conflict with western expectations of equality.

Is it cultural erasure to insist minority cultures can't enforce gender roles? Are indigenous peoples sexist assholes? Or maybe, just maybe, cultural constructs are more important than their immediate objective utility.

I have been thinking about this since you posted it. My conclusion is this: Gender still isn't useful. People can fill roles if they would like, but there is no need for them to be based on gender. Gender will always outlive its usefulness when tied to roles because the roles don't need gender to exist but gender needs roles to exist in any meaningful capacity. If gender has its own inherent meaning/value, there will always be people who identify with a gender but not its role, which pointlessly limits them. When you stratify according to gender, you're limiting people regardless, as far as I can tell, of which culture you're doing it in. Most people aren't going to want all of the aspects that are associated with one gender, and will want some from the other. If you require people to pick between the two, that's stifling. If people can mix and match as they desire, then gender has no purpose or utility. It never adds value. It only detracts or is neutral.

I'm disappointed by how ineloquent a thought I've been considering for 9 days is, but here we are.
  
WEEB#1 said:
People saying that we should all use they/them pronouns for everyone, to many people, it would be dysphoric. I feel dysphoric with they/them and he/him pronouns. Many women and men would feel dysphoric with they/them pronouns. Break gender norms, yes, but don't destroy the concept of gender entirely.

I feel a strong desire to quote Inigo Montoya
  
Forum > Touchy Subjects > What is your take on the Gender Spectrum?