Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Gender Is In the Mind of The Beholder: An Act of Perception, Interpretation, Mapping and Judgement.

What is gender? A social construct or an innate property of a person? Where is it located, the mind, the brain or the body? When does it come into existence?

Trans theorists have answers to these questions, not all the same answers, mind you. There are many millions of impenetrable words, many careers built on generating, teaching and policing the approved ideas about gender.

So here, I am an old bloke, who does stuff with machines, in a shared workspace, One of those groovy places where internet entrepreneurs do whatever they do when they start up.  On a chipboard desk, sat over from a load of strangers, young enough to be my kids. I'm about to expound on stuff that people with multiple liberal arts degrees have made a living on. With a 40 year old CSE grade 1 in English and an in depth knowledge of low borderline obsolete technologies.

Gender Identity Theory.

Gender identity is one's personal experience of one's own gender
Ok so lets follow the link to: Wikipedia Gender
Gender is the range of characteristics pertaining to, and differentiating between, masculinity and femininity. 
So its whether you feel masculine of feminine? Seems OK.

Like sexual orientation, its innate http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/just-a-woman-with-a-male-body_us_580a1b9de4b0f8715789f938, its separate from whatever genes your cell carry, your downstairs arrangements, what clothes you wear, or how you have your hair cut.

Its also separate to sexual orientation. Lots of trans women turn out to be lesbians and a fair few trans men turn out to be gay.

It sometimes gets a bit surprising, it turns out that Danielle Muscato  https://www.reddit.com/r/GenderCritical/comments/4meyzt/danielle_muscato_im_sure_society_treats_her/ is a quite remarkable women.

As is the lovely Alex, who is just showing the world that, yes beards can be very ladylike,

Its all a bit new, but everyone seems to agree, its all fine. And if we allow people to define their own Gender Identity, that's just allowing themselves to express who they really are and live their lives to the full.  Why can't men express their feminine side and women find the strength of their masculine sides?

And if some old women don't like them and claim they aren't really women, well they just need a bit of time to get catch up with the modern world.

Consequences of the Gender Identity Model.

Of course this is a load of bollocks, 

Its sucking in thousands of young people, mainly young women, many lesbian into a life long dependency on untested drugs. Its exposing children to 'harmless' puberty blockers, that are untested on young people, seeing as they were originally developed to treat prostate cancer in old blokes like me.

Its telling a generation of kids that the things that the very things that mark then out as not straight, mean they are not really boys or girls, but that they need fixing, need treatment, need the rest of world to see them as what they are not.

It erases the reality of women's lives, experiences and biology. It makes it impossible to actually talk about male violence and rape. That sounds hyperbolic, but rapists are being accommodated in women prisons http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/transgender-rapist-who-attacked-two-10065681 and crimes committed by men are being reported as being women's crimes.

Its as scientific as the tooth fairy. An untestable property that only an individual can sense, that can't be described except by reference to a bunch of stuff (sex, sexist stereotypes) that it claims to be like, but not limited by. Its a faith, a faith that demands the rest of the world pretends to believe in it.  

People have a very keen ability to tell other peoples sex. 

We share this with all other mammals, for a very good reason. Every single one of your ancestors successfully managed to recognise the sex of another human being and mated with them. 

We are so good at this we can tell the sex of a figure from only a few points of light. https://youtu.be/1F5ICP9SYLU?t=396 If I'm boring you, its great fun to play with this: https://www.biomotionlab.ca/Demos/BMLwalker.html 

So if gender is not sex, what is it? 

Of course we don't just use gait, we have a shed load of expectations of what attributes men and women should have, how they should behave, what clothes they should wear, how they should talk, 

Some of these attributes correlate closely with sex, such as height and hand size. They correlate but they are not dichotomous. Some women are taller than most men. They are still women  

We have a whole load cultural baggage about clothes, interests, attitudes and so on. Frequently these are not universal across cultures, times or geography. 

All of these attributes have a gender associated with them, a score on a male -- female line.

So how do we construct gender? 

Gender is an Act of Perception, Interpretation, Mapping and Judgement.

We look at someone. We perceive the attributes we associate with gender, We interpret all these attributes as having a gender meaning. We sum up the "gender meanings" giving an overall gender score. We have mapped the multiple dimensions of personality, physicality, tastes, ambitions. All onto a line Masculine --> Feminine.

That's a crucial point. We map the multiple dimensions that define a person into one dimension of gender. 

If we are hip and liberal we may allow someone to be somewhere in the middle, Gender Non Binary.

If we are really super cool we may allow them to move around on the line. Gender Fluid.

If we are very conservative we insist they are a proper woman or a real man, everything else is degenerate. 

But they are all skewered on the line. 

Then we judge them. We always judge them. I do and you do. How well do they do masculine or feminine? Are they a hunk or a neanderthal. A bimbo or a diva?  Is your cock big enough, are you breasts are the right shape? Are they too big? 

Do you do woman right, do you do man right? Do you really? Are you sure? 

Pathetic men slag Serena Williams and Michelle Obama off for claiming they look like men. 'Like a woman' is the worst insult you can fling at a man. 

So gender is created in the acts of perception and interpretation. It diminishes us by mapping us onto a line, or even into two little pockets at the end. It oppresses us by judging us and finding us lacking. We are all lacking, masculine and feminine are ideals, how can you match up to an ideal? 

How Is My Gender Identity Anything to do With Your Perception?

Your gender identity is your perception. 

Your perception of how the world sees you, your perception of how you are and how you wish you were.

Your interpretation of what you see, your mapping of yourself onto a line, Your judgement of how you fit.

That's all Identity is. I am a Mod, because I wear mod clothes, have a mod haircut, have done so for years. I'm not, of course, I'm a scruffy old bloke, but I really loved the Jam, but not the Merton Parkas. About twice a decade, I'll put a suit on and feel a bit swanky. Does it matter where I am on the Mod -- Not Mod line. Does it chuf.

A lot of the personality attributes that we associate with gender are to do with the position of men and women in power structure, the correct attitudes about and roles in sexual relationships. Which brings us onto: 

The Radical Feminist Concept of Gender. 

Radical feminists generally see gender as a system of oppression. Its covered here: http://www.troubleandstrife.org/new-articles/talking-about-gender/

A system of social/power relations structured by a binary division between ‘men’ and ‘women’. Categorization is usually on the basis of biological sex, but gender as we know it is a social rather than biological thing (e.g. masculinity and femininity are defined differently in different times and places)

I owe a lot to Rad Fem. What they say about gender makes sense of a lot of what happens, so what I have just said has to be compatible with that. 

One of the key attributes perceived, interpreted, mapped and judged in gender, is a persons position in the power structures described by Rad Fem. To do gender correctly a man has to be dominant enough to have power over women. But in a civilised manner of course. A woman has to be submissive enough to be of value to men, but of course not give it away to easily. She has to fertile, but not gross. He has to be potent but in control.
So my take on gender includes the categorisation of people into masculine and feminine according to how they fit into the power systems described by Rad Fem. If they won't or can't play the game they are judged for not being proper men or women. 

The perceptions of normal behaviour and expectations are used to enforce the correct gender roles. 

The Epidemic of Early Onset Gender Dysphoria.

We all apply the Perception, Interpretation, Mapping and Judgement of gender to ourselves constantly. Is dysphoria what happens when this process tells us we are broken, that we don't do masculine, or feminine properly? That our bodies are shit because they don't measure up? Their minds and spirits are warped because we just don't fit?

Kids growing up in the last two decades live in a more gendered world than I did. All toys, kids clothes, even food is gendered. Pink for girls, blue for boys, Ponies and dinosaurs, Superheros and Princesses. Salads for girls, protean shakes for boys, Slimming and toning for girls, muscle bulk and definition for boys. 

Implicit in this is not only: that you have to do all this shit, to be a proper girl or boy, but that it really matters that you are a proper girl or boy. That your existence is dependant on being one or the other.

The definitions, especially for girls are more complicated and contradictory than ever. You have to be sex positive, but not a slapper. You have to accept porn as free speech and not kink shame, but you have to feel empowered when he yanks your hair, wanks in your face and chokes you during sex. You have to fawn over and congratulate a load of blokes in frocks who look ridiculous. You have to cheer when some of them do femininity better than you can ever hope to.

When you can't do that, when that vision of life and sexuality seems just to grim or turns your stomach, does that turn you against yourself?

Do you hate your body for not letting you be a proper girl, because your arse is to big or to small, because your belly isn't flat, your breasts aren't porn perfect. When you don't want to be 'wreaked' by sex. When you want to be out in the world following your passions, but your passions  are wrong. 

When you love women, but not femininity or any fucker with the right gender ID, You want something that your not allowed to even name any more, When you no longer have the words to describe it, because the words are trans-phobic, essentialist or genital fetishist?  Yours dream are wrong, they mark you down as a bigot. 

Trans then offers you a way out. You can be non binary, Hope that you can opt out of the whole damn thing. You won't of course, you'll still have to deal with it, you'll just be defending your position on a line, instead of the end. Whatever position you choose, you still have to define it, still worry about others perceptions of you 

Or there is the greener grass on the other side, only viewed thru the telescope of gendered marketing dreams or the hyper-charged fantasies of porn. You can be powerful, you can decide who does what, or you can be desired, you can abandon yourself to someone else's adventure. 

Of course its all bollocks . You will live your life on untested drugs, with a genital simulacra as male or female as a plumbing fitting from ScrewFix. You will will be destroyed by others perceptions. 

Thats the core, what life is it, when you are so vulnerable to what some stranger thinks in the three seconds it takes to look at you? 

I've Got No Answers But An Old Song

You've got your mother in a whirl 
She's not sure if you're a boy or a girl
Hey babe, your hair's alright
Hey babe, let's go out tonight
You like me, and I like it all
We like dancing and we look divine

You don't have to do gender. Really you don't. You can say a big fuck off to what people try to categorise you as. Get off the line, be your own multidimensional wonder, find others, see how your shapes fit, Dance together, whisper your secrets, collide and spin off, but make your own songs. 

Your gender exists as much in other people's heads as it does in yours, you can't control other people. They may be bullied into shutting up, they might pretend and then avoid you. They may pretend and suck up to you for virtue points. Fuck that, you deserve better.

Don't settle for someone else's grim, glitter daubed, pastel coloured, used fantasy. Dream your own.


  1. You are rather fabulous in your patient deconstruction of the entire industry. Thank you.

  2. Very well written. I'd imagine there are some who would "call you out" for writing about gender at all from a male perspective, but what you wrote was very eloquent and convincing, and I liked that a bit of your own personality came through at the same time.

    Well done.

    1. Thanks, its lovely to hear that, as actually I have absolutely no confidence in my writing ability. I wrote it on tuesday, consuming a dozen coffees and about 1/2 a pint of nicotine in a rented office, edited it that evening and was still rattling from the coffee on Wednesday.

      Strangely radical feminists have been incredibly supportive. Theres a few who just don't trust men and can't be bothered, which is fair enough. Since starting all this I have become friends with some of the most notorious 'man haters' in the UK.

      I owe rad fem a lot. I hope my voice can reach people like me.

      I find that I have to include something of my story, or my personality, If I try and write objectively, its incredibly dull and ends up lacking any conviction.

      Any thanks for the comment.

  3. Hope to read more from you, thanks!

  4. This is amazing stuff. You are reaching the panic-stricken among us.


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