Friday, May 06, 2011

Two thoughts on gender

Earlier today I had seen a poster for a group of gay men reading The Velvet Rage, which investigates the problems and challenges of growing up gay as well as the deleterious effects of that process on gay men and gay culture. Haven't read it, but the website for the group uses the phrase "our authentic masculinity." Slippery language, of course. Authentic.

Gave rise to two thoughts:

If you accept the natural and classical idea of masculinity, then you cannot be egalitarian. Manhood is by nature a matter of differentiation and rank. If you are a man, then you cannot be a boy or a woman, and among men, some have more status than others.

And even those cultures which purportedly provide for categories outside the binary male/female, their very existence as separate identities reinforces rather than expands the limits of the first two. If your society provides a status, even an accepted status, for gender-deviant individuals, this means that they recognize that you do not belong in either category of man or of woman.

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