The Trouble with Gender

July 3, 2009

The Trouble with Gender

Filed under: Random Thoughts — thetroublewithgender @ 4:47 pm

Eating, drinking, defecating, sleeping and procreation (though not necessarily in this order) are essential things all creatures need to do to ensure the survival of the species. Procreation is so well formed in our minds that this is something we can’t afford to mess up on, since it’s the only thing that we do that requires other people.

This is the problem with gender. People take it too seriously, but for good reason.

This blog will explore random thoughts and ideas on the concept of gender through examination of the practices and mores from different races, cultures, and generations.

If that’s not the dryest intro I’ve ever written … it’s probably close. Here’s to staying awake reading (and writing) the blog!

Maybe I should post monthly … Takes me forever to do a post.

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July 23, 2009

Does Porn Make Society Better?

Filed under: Uncategorized — thetroublewithgender @ 3:40 am

There are, actually, a variety of feminists who defend pornography for different reasons, but one of the more intriguing reasons is that pornography has never been so readily accessible before.  Generations before us have been taught that our bodies are bad, and that sex should only be for reproduction, and not our own pleasure.  Contraception, and the willingness to use it, has opened a world for us, where recreational sex is possible.  But it’s pornography that spreads sexual knowledge, showing us what to do, how to do it, where to do it, and who to do it to. 

In a review for Nadine Strossen’s Defending Pornography, Charles Oliver points out to us that while pornography fosters sexism and upholds patriarchy, the prohibition of pornography (ie. the lack of pornography) would be a form of censorship itself, where men and women who want to participate are denied that chance.  But not everyone agrees with this, of course.  Holly Eglinton, a prospective applicant for Naked News, for example, believes that being able to take off her clothes online as empowering, whereas Judy Rebick, Ryerson’s chair of Social Justice and Democracy, disagrees, saying that taking off one’s clothing for other people’s pleasure is hardly empowerment. 

Personally, I believe there are a couple of issues that we need to separate.  Ms. Eglinton’s claim that it is empowering comes from the knowledge that she has that choice to disrobe herself in public, whether that is on the street or broadcasted online.  This is something that until now, women had not been given the freedom to. There’s also a certain power in being able to not only capture people’s attention, but to retain it as well.  Ms. Rebick’s comment, however, is addressing a different issue.  The empowerment comes from having the choice and being able to not only choose, but to go through with it.  The consequence of that choice, however, is that the audience chooses what to do with it, which is what Ms. Rebick addresses. 

Peter Suderman writes that pornography might actually serve as an outlet for our sexual impulses:

But the evidence is strong, and it makes sense that pornography and violent entertainment might serve as exhaust valves for our aggressive impulses — that, in most cases, they would help regulate our instincts rather than amplify them. If there’s anything that history has taught us about human nature, it’s that it’s almost always far better to provide safe, structured, non-destructive outlets for our impulses than attempt to suppress them.

Of course, there’s no denying that the majority of pornography is targeted for men, and as such, has a huge smattering of “I am man, therefore, pleasure me.”  This is one of the major criticisms against pornography, because the majority of it does portray women as sex objects, existing only for men’s pleasure.  But just as entertainment containing violence, such as video games or movies, contain disregard for life, it’s ultimately up to the audience to process the information, and understand the difference between reality and fantasy.

July 4, 2009

Definitions

Filed under: Random Thoughts — thetroublewithgender @ 4:47 pm

Before we talk about gender, we should probably define what I mean when I say gender. Of course, as always, don’t take these definitions to be the whole truth; it’s just something I’ll be using for the purposes of this blog.

Typically, we split gender up into 3 different aspects: sex, gender, and sexual orientation.

By sex, I mean the sexual organs a person is born with. As much as we’d like this to be a one of two choice, it’s not. Every year, many parents are faced with a choice between leaving their babies alone, or cutting off the penis, since the baby already has female reproductive organs.

By gender, I refer to gender identity, as in, what the person thinks of themselves as. As much as we would like to think of this as a “on/off” switch, it’s more like a dimmer switch, where we have a whole spectrum. Of course it’s convenient to assume that sex and gender identity coincide, but we should not take this for granted. There are debates as to whether this identity is natural, as in, you’re born with it, or whether it’s a socialized condition, as in it is learned through social interaction. Hopefully we’ll discuss this at a later time.

By sexual orientation, I mean the sex that the person is attracted to. Many people will tell you that they are 100% heterosexual. But if for even one second, they look at an ad, or look at a magazine and thought someone of same sex was attractive, sorry, you’re not 100% anymore. It doesn’t mean they suddenly are on love with people the same sex, it just means they’re not 100% heterosexual. So we usually go by what the person is mostly attracted to. Bisexuality, on the other hand, refer to how the person is consistently attracted to both sexes.

Historically, it’s been taken for granted that a person born with male genitilia would naturally be born with a male gender idenity, combined with a desire for females. However, what we now understand is that this is not necessarily so, and we are fortunate to live in a time where this issue can be examined and discussed.

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