Hi uh who wants to talk about gender?
I'm increasingly realizing that "I guess I don't really relate to masculinity and at most feel vaguely resentful that it's been used as a cudgel for assuming I have horrible views about others" is maybe a gender take.
I am comfortable owning 'cismale but not an asshole', after years of struggling to reconcile it, but have been thinking lately if I were 15 today I might go for nonbinary?
I particularly remember my year in Japan, where everyone played the gender game more aggressively even than in the US.
"Men are like this, women are like that" is just a common every day conversation, because that seems to be how gender mostly works. And I always always always changed the subject, because these cliches never really spoke to me.
@mykola This is something I wonder about too. I tend to side with "cismale but not invested in that identity". I know some of this is the generational divide I see you discussing with a couple of other people, but I do also think I have two good reasons for sticking to it: (...)
@mykola 1) Anything else feels like trying to disavow male privilege, and my feelings don't change the fact that--especially as quite a male-presenting man--I have that whole invisible knapsack without ever having asked for it.
I think of this by analogy to race. Even though the most actively racist have huge problems with multiple of my identities, I still call myself white in the US racial context, because I still benefit from almost all of the package of white privilege.
@mykola 2) I worry that the choice to only call oneself "male" if one fits a lot of the old school stereotype actually reifies that stereotype. I think there's a lot of value in owning maleness without buying into all the performative crap. I have seen a few instances of my doing this opening a door for other men to see that they could break out of the man box a bit, and who knows how often that happens without me seeing it?
@mykola The "storyness" (to converge your two lines of thought tonight) of gender is so much more visible in cultures that do gender differently than the way we were raised. I think of being in Togo in my 20's - and how as a foreigner I kept being grouped with men, even though I was happiest with women. But in so many ways that didn't compute for my hosts (language, education, presumed status). Meanwhile it was scandalous to speak to men alone. So a "sexual" woman but not a real woman, I guess.
@compostablespork yes! I think this jumped out for me when I was living in Japan. "Men are like X, women are like Y" often a subject of conversations, and while it always made me uncomfortable there were times when it was also just a cultural difference, and I was like, well no, not in america.
but that's weird that I would speak up for America's gender views but not my own, huh?
@mykola Me and my American cohorts did the same. This was the early 90's and we were busy making American sound like the utopia of gender equality and like it was perfectly acceptible to be out gay everywhere. We all knew we were overselling the point but the contrast was so stark it was hard not to.
I also had great fun showing the most sexist guys on our staff I could drive a truck.
@mykola Gender is difficult and it sometimes seems so generational! Even at 22 I often feel like one of the older non-binary people in the room; I imagine it’s yet more difficult to explore at 36.
Take this recommendation with a grain of salt, because I’m only halfway through it, but my former therapist worked on a book called How to Understand Your Gender, and so far I like it quite a bit more than My Gender Workbook. It might be a good pickup; the authors would be closer to your age.
@mykola @mdmarron Yeah... like, I'm definitely agender spectrum in terms of how many shits I give about "femininity" or w/e, but I also don't see what I'd get out of calling myself agender on a day to day basis. And that's the part where the younger generation seems to think differently? Like, they see more value in naming more of their internal experience right away out loud.
@mcmoots @mykola @mdmarron hi I have a lot of feelings here as a person who definitely considers herself a cis woman but who does not perform many aspects of femininity in ways that society is likely to reward. I have taken the stance that, about myself, I will say "this is what a woman can also be and shove off if you don't like it".
@nein09 @mykola @mdmarron See I feel like if you measured us both with society's official femininity ruler, we'd come out pretty close? Except you have your hair cut short so you're probably officially less conforming than me.
I feel like gender is about what box you *want* to fit you and not what box you actually fit. Complicated by the fact that sometimes you can want very badly to fit in *a* box and so you grab whichever one is closest and decide it must be *the* box.
yeah but i wear a lot of pencil skirts? I don't know.
Some days the box is like
and other days it's more like
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@mcmoots @nein09 @mykola @mdmarron I don't think I want to fit in a (gender) box at all. I experience discomfort when I use gendered bathrooms, or fill in a form proclaiming allegiance to a gender. Come to think of it, a form with a "Nationality" field can bug me in the same way, since there is no single nation that I strongly identify with.
I understand that for some (most?) people, though, gender is a Really Big Deal, and it's hard to think about a person without attaching a gender.
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@paisley @nein09 @mykola @mdmarron I'm fine with bathrooms, but lately I've been feeling really awkward when they ask my gender at the blood donation wagon? I think there's a certain amount of, like, if the context is clearly social then I'm okay being like "yep everyone puts me in the lady box, that's the bathroom that will make people feel most comfortable with me". But the blood wagon is just a stranger interrogating me in a private room.
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@mcmoots @nein09 @mykola @mdmarron The blood donation example is interesting. I expect that there are some underlying reasons to ask, perhaps to inform how much blood is safe to draw, or how to interpret hemoglobin test results.
Framing it as a single question, one of gender, is probably fine for many people, but I'd personally prefer to frame it as a group of questions, with a couple of presets for the whole group.
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@paisley @nein09 @mykola @mdmarron They use the same size blood bags for everyone and have a single hematocrit threshold. They ask about gender in the same breath as they ask me to confirm my birthdate. I'm pretty sure it's just a way to confirm that they're looking at the correct donor record.
I'd rather repeat the last 4 digits of my social security number or something. I really don't want to dig deep into the nuances of my gender feels with random phlebotomists.
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I think the fact that I am very comfortable in female-gendered spaces (like the ladies' bathroom) says a lot. Nobody asked me whether I wanted to be in that box but I'm comfy there, so ok.
I haven't been called 'sir' in some months, either.
@nein09 @mykola @mdmarron Do other women ever give you rah-rah "there are lots of ways to be a woman" encouragement? Because I've gotten a few comments like that over the years - "you do femininity in your own way" etc - and the fact that they feel alienating rather than welcoming is one of the things that makes me lean towards agender as a label. I'm not trying to be feminine, I don't care if it includes me or not!
@mcmoots @nein09 @mykola @mdmarron I've gotten that and it's felt very second wave feminism to me in that attacking of the norm without deconstructing the norm way, if that makes sense. Which makes sense when narrow feminity is weaponized against people that don't fit into it, but doesn't quite address the actual issues.
some of you know this already i think but i identified as genderqueer for a few years. then i stopped. this is an awkward thing to talk about because it feels like the kind of story that's a TERF's dream come true. but for me, i just suddenly didn't find the label useful anymore.
@savagegoose @mcmoots @nein09 @mykola @mdmarron i think a lot of it had to do with me coming to terms with being a lesbian. (i so deeply repressed that shit i was more willing to be genderqueer than gay.) once i did, it suddenly felt like there was more space for me within femininity as a queer woman- space that all the wonderful dykes and butches that came before me hacked out. i felt like i fit in the box again.
@xyzzy @savagegoose @nein09 @mykola @mdmarron you know, I've been wondering if getting a gay haircut would change my feelings about other gender stuff. I've mostly been thinking simple stuff like wearing skirts, to preserve the balance of conforming and not conforming, but maybe there's something deeper there? That is an interesting thing to noodle on thanks.
@xyzzy @savagegoose @nein09 @mykola @mdmarron I didn’t think deciding to do a slight undercut would feel to me the way it does. It gets read all sorts of ways by other people, but it brings me closer to “me” if that makes any sense. I’m not sure if it feels like a gender thing, but when you mentioned it @mcmoots it reminded me of my own journey.
@kiilas the culture I grew up in did not even have words or concepts for genderqueer anything, so I sort of made my peace as weird cis.
It’s not about ‘am i’ NB or whatever, it’s about ‘is that an identity I want to claim’. As others have pointed out, there is a clear generational divide in thinking about this stuff.
I don’t think I’m going to change my gender identity in midlife. It mostly works now, I ironed out the kinks with the tools I had, you know?
@mykola sorry if i'm misunderstanding, but are you saying you won't identify as nb because you thought you were a dude and now you're too old?
if you are nb (which is up to you to figure out), it's your right to claim that identity, and age or culture of origin has nothing to do with it (i'm about your age and i know enbies older than you)
if you are nb and want to strategically pretend you're a cis man to fight more effectively for a better masculinity, that's a different discussion ofc
@kiilas although, taking a moment to reflect:
realizing I was autistic was a relief because I learned that there were a large number of things I did only because I felt like I had to.
gender stuff, to the extent that I have chosen to engage with it at all, falls more or less into the same category.
(except, of course, for any privilege I've accrued as a result of 'passing', if that's what I've been doing?)
It's just, interesting. Hmm hmm hmm.
Saying "I am agender" isn't really an improvement over saying "I am a woman" in that regard for me. They both feel like, okay, people want me to use this kind of label, I don't get it but I'll just do that to make them happy so we can get on with other things. It's not that one label feels true and good while the other is a tactical pretense - they all feel like pretenses!
@mykola @kiilas sometimes I feel like people parse my discomfort with gender labels as "questioning" and they really want to help me on my journey to discover the label that makes me happy, because they got so much happier when they found their label. And like. It feels kind of like people suggesting yoga or mindfulness meditation? Like yes a lot of people benefit from that but also please stop?
Which gets back to another maybe generational difference: "fuck labels" is no longer popular.
@mcmoots @kiilas yeah I dunno. I think I was on team 'fuck labels' until the 'autism' label really made a lot of things make sense in my life. then I realized that these things matter and having words to refer to concepts is in fact generally useful, if not always specifically useful.
the gender stuff to me feels like, well, I thought I had this sorted. And yeah ok none of the equations balance but whose do? It's fine, whatever.
But now people seem to have found fruitful exploration, here. Hmm
@mykola @kiilas Oh yeah I'm not on team "fuck labels" in general, I'm just on team "fuck labels" specifically in regards to my personal gender identity. Like, picking a sexual orientation label feels fine, but somehow picking a gender label feels itchy? Like I need to express my nuances even though I also feel like those nuances are too personal to talk about with random phlebotomists? idk
@mcmoots @mykola i don't disagree with anything and it should be up to the individual to figure out their gender identity (if any) and what labels (if any) they want to use
my points to Mykola are basically
- "cis man" is also a label, just like "nb" or "agender"
- gender diverse people usually appreciate in retrospect having come to terms with who they are instead who they were told to be
- there are no age or cultural limitations for being nb (other than it being harder for older people or people from conservative backgrounds to come to terms with because parts of society have moved forward *a lot* in the past generation or so)
- you can fight for positive masculinity whether you identify as cis male, enby, or whether you don't care about gender label at all