What the Shed Looks At

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Zinnia Jones


  1. I agree with Zinnia that "gender confused" is a product of the same attitude that tells us women can't wear suits, since they can't be breadwinners. This attitude is predicated on the belief that there are two sexes, each of which corresponds without fail to one of exactly two genders. This is a load of bullshit.

    Division of labor is essential to a specialized society. When we were getting this specialization off the ground, we chose sex as an important characteristic to differentiate people. I don't think this can be called a mistake. The mistakes came when we built our culture up around this distinction to facilitate its enforcement. As the distinction became less and less necessary for our survival, conservative cultural elements fought harder and harder for its preservation.

    We have the notion of gender ingrained deeply enough that most people don't realize it's been ingrained. It just seems natural. The concept of a person without a gender is, to most people, foreign. People see me, and they see a man. Most people haven't seen proof for this. They simply infer it from my appearance and manner. I present myself and act in ways with which I am comfortable.

    To an extent, my comfort comes from fulfilling people's expectations of me so that I don't have problems like Zinnia seems to have. I find this to be somewhat of a burden. I reject the notion of gender, just as I reject the notion of subdividing race beyond human. We are all human, and our sex is not particularly important to our character. Gender encapsulates a broad swath of expectations about presentation, manner and role. There is no practical reason why we should conform to either of the rigid, traditional suites of masculine or feminine.

    When people call Zinnia "gender confused" they mean something like "I have notions of male and female and you do not fit either mold. Therefore, the problem must be with you." I would call these people "gender confused." I would elaborate, "You have notions of male and female and cannot comprehend reality when it fails to meet your expectations."