Gender Freakout

Right now, I am totally loving life and pretty much everything is going spectacularly well for me, but there was a time when this was not always so.

Anyway, in my own climb out of that low time in my life, one of the books that was a step on the ladder out was called, Hello, Cruel World: 101 Alternatives to Suicide for Teens, Freaks, and Other Outlaws, by Kate Bornstein.

From Ninin Ga Shinobuden.

And in part of that climb, I’ve had to do a lot of processing about gender and it’s repressiveness of both women, men, and everyone in between. Questioning the morality of gender and how I can’t possibly fit in one of the boxes, that’s part of the reason that I use gender neutral pronouns (hir and ze, instead of his/hers and he/she) through out this blog, and part of the reason I love the manga Ninin Ga Shinobuden, because it challenges those moralities too and keeps me laughing in stitches at them all.

I happen to have a sister in law who had a blog entry recently on hir blog in which ze was venting about being female but having a lot of obvious body hair, especially on hir face. Ze complained in hir entry how unfeminine it makes hir feel and that it is so disheartening to have a better beard than hir husband (who has rather light, blond hair — like me). To this, I have thought to have some entry here quoting some of Hello, Cruel World about gender and how very much we really ought to transcend it. It oppresses every single one of us. But like me using gender neutral pronouns herein, as a society we are letting go of these restrains:

And what about the kids who can’t hide?

What about the boy who wears the prayer cap, or the girl who wears a religious head scarf to school? Or the kid whose family can’t afford the latest fad sneakers, or the black or brown kid in the class? What about the boy who wants to be Britney Spears, the girl who doesn’t fit the latest style of size two jeans, or the boy who starves himself so that he can? How about the too-tall or two-short kid, or the nerdy kid with geeky glasses? Is there something about you that you can’t hide?
….
And so what about if a girl gets a crew cut and lets her chin hair grow? Who’s to say that’s not what she needs to do to survive in the world with some pride and integrity? [p.52-53]

As many of you may know, although I am an ex-mormon, I am still a Christian of sorts and an avid Bible reader. A part of Bornstein’s book had a whole bunch of little sections on things you can do to keep yourself alive and not suicidal. One was titled, “Quote Scripture For Your Own Purposes”:

You can’t just dismiss an entire movement or religion simply because part of it is a little batty when it comes to people like you. Part of you is a little batty when it comes to someone else. Yes it can be a little intimidating to find yourself and people like you being railed against in some religious text. If some harmless joy of yours is forbidden or sneered at in some scripture, you can safely assume that the scripture wasn’t written for people like you, and you are under no obligation to subscribe to it. Instead, go find yourself some scripture that you do agree with, and quote it for your own purposes. Look at the quote in this illustration.

There is neither Jew nor Greek,
there is neither bond nor free,
there is neither male nor female:
for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:28)

The bible says there is no such thing as male and female. I love that. You can find something like that for yourself. [p.213]

I do a lot of that myself now in my own church Bible study group, as I read, I find the scriptures which really help me, and re-interpret them or understand that they don’t apply to me or others who don’t always fit in a box as normal.

Admittedly that is one of the great weaknesses and repressive qualities of capitalism, too – that it wants everyone to be more and more the same, so that they fit in a box, standardized – and thus the human beings are easier to exchange as commodities in a market place. In the capitalist meat-market.

Look, there is more and more rock-hard evidence to prove that any either/or system by which we attempt to categorize people is a product of our imaginations. There is more and more evidence to prove that binary systems of classification exist only in our minds.

Here’s a good challenge for you: free your imagination from the institutions that enthrall you. And when you’ve finished doing that, go help some other people free theirs. [p.60]

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