Anti-genderism (for the second image, thanks to Anti-Pornography Activist Blog).
Also see previous entries in this series:
The confusion between sex and gender.
How not to prove the objective existence of gender.
Genderism, trans theory and the hostility towards radical feminism.
When I talk about genderism and anti-genderism, what do I mean exactly? How do they work? Since genderism is extremely common, we should probably start there.
First, the building blocks of genderism. The most obvious is hierarchy: gender roles form a hierarchical institution, and therefore every principle relevant to institutions also applies here. So gender involves:
* Propaganda that maintains the artificial distinctions on which the hierarchy is founded, and that rationalizes the existence of the hierarchy.
* The delegation of responsibility (women do most of the low-paid work, including housework, while men benefit and take responsibility for it).
* Property claims (for the longest time, women were considered property of their father, then their husband).
* Systemic incentives (gender roles).
* “Voluntary choice” (no one’s forcing men and women to perform their gender roles, so it’s seen as “voluntary”).
* Opposition to freedom and equality.
* Fake goals (such as being in control and a provider or being sexually attractive, depending on the gender) and institutional goals (the subjection and exploitation of women on a worldwide scale).
All of these are integral to the existence of a hierarchy, and therefore genderism has these traits as well.
Another set of principles underlying genderism is derived from the fact that gender gives people social roles and status stability, which leads to attachment to those roles, by men and by women. This leads to things like norms and mores, status symbols, secondary gains (which I already mentioned here) and the use of social control and ostracism against rebels.
Yet another foundation of genderism, and the main compulsion that all forms of genderism have in common, is the hatred of homosexuality. Although genderists would deny it, it’s obvious that there is a relation between gender rebellion (as it’s technically called, gender nonconformity, or GNC) and homosexuality, especially in children: we know that a majority of gender rebelling children (between two-thirds and three-quarters) will turn out to have a homosexual orientation.
Gender rebellion happens in children when they, as part of their healthy personal development, refuse to conform to their parents’ attempts to impose gender roles on them. Gender rebellion is never the fault of the child, and it is not a fault or a defect. Gender rebellion is always the natural consequence of a healthy child responding to eir parents’ authoritarian pedagogy and homophobia.
Gender rebellion is understood, even by the simplest and most bigoted of minds, as being a relatively strong signal of future homosexuality, and genderist parents act accordingly. They indoctrinate, punish and medically “treat” rebellious children to suppress their possible homosexuality.
This does not only apply to children, but also to adults. Genderists associate homosexuality with perversity and degradation (an explanation for that may be found in this entry); gender rebelling adults are associated with homosexuality, and therefore with perversity and degradation, which leads to dehumanization. Sometimes, even the same methods are used: in theocratic Iran, homosexuals are forced to identify as transgender and to undergo surgery in order to escape the death penalty. Of course, we Westerners are much too enlightened to outright kill homosexuals, so we simply “treat” them (i.e. reprogram their minds and bodies to conform to gender roles through dangerous chemicals and surgical operations).
Note that I am being clear in saying I am talking about gender, not gender roles or the gender binary. I know it’s fashionable in left-wing circles to be against gender roles or the gender binary but to support gender. I see no point in that whatsoever, and it’s not clear to me how anyone can cogently be against one but not against the other. All I’ve seen were pathetic attempts at rationalization like “gender is sexy!” or “gender is empowering!”, but that’s nothing different from any other woman-hating rationalization out there, so there’s no point in dwelling on it.
So now that I’ve circumscribed genderism, what about anti-genderism? I have not been able to find a great deal of people online who support this position, but they exist, although pretty much exclusively in the radfem community as far as I know.
Anti-genderism means fighting against all attempts to equate biological characteristics with behavioral expectations (whether through religious non-science, pseudo-science or quasi-science). Anti-genderism means stating loud and clear that the way you talk, dress, play, your sexual orientation, how you feel about your own body, do not depend on whether you are male or female. Anti-genderism means advocating radical freedom of behavior for all, no matter what labels they put on themselves.
Gender is a hierarchy, not a binary. Gender needs to be abolished, not reformed.
Deep Green Resistance
Anti-genderism does not mean that oppression based on gender does not matter, or that sex does not matter. People get tripped up on the question “does gender matter?” Some people think that saying gender is a social construct means it doesn’t matter, that it really exists, or that it must have a connection with sex in order to matter. This comes out of a confusion between two related questions:
1. Does gender objectively exist? (answer: no)
2. Does gender have an effect on the individual? (answer: yes)
The confusion here lies between a concept and belief in said concept. God does not exist, but belief in a (specific kind of) god lowers social autonomy and hurts individual freedom. Likewise, gender does not actually objectively exist (there is nothing in the material universe that we can identify as gender outside of the human mind), but it does have a profound negative effect on social autonomy and individual freedom; gender matters for every individual and for society as a whole.
The non-existence and social importance of God is confusing to religious believers, who don’t understand how one can hold both as valid; to the religious person, it is the existence and actions of God that create its social importance.
The analogy with God, I think, is very apt. “Gender atheism” is another way of expressing one’s anti-genderism. Gender is to the anti-genderist as God is to the atheist: a mass delusion, being propagated by a tyrannical institution, normalized by other institutions, and backed by dogma and pseudo-science. According to their dogmas, gender creates the conditions of social life ex nihilo as God creates the conditions for biological life ex nihilo; in both cases, the truth is that it is social life which generates gender and biological life(forms) which generate gods.
“[G]ender identity” means as many different things over time and culture as “god” does. And because brain studies have shown both that belief in “gender identity” and belief in the existence of “god” map to specific parts and activities the human brain. Therefore, believing in “gender identity” is pretty much exactly like believing in “god.” And that’s perfectly fine if you want to believe in those things, and many nice people do, but it doesn’t mean that “gender identity” is any more real in a factual way than “god” is. Religious devotion to “gender identity” is no more proof that it actually exists than religious devotion to “god” is proof that he/it/she exists.
I admit that “gender atheism” is not the most well-constructed term. “Agender” would have been ideal, but unfortunately it’s already being used by queer and trans theories, which use it to refer to a kind of gender identity. As I’ve stated before, I do not believe that gender identity is real, therefore it would be incongruous for me to use the word agender. Even the best definition (that of a person who has no gender identity) still implies that gender identity is a real concept and that agenders just happen to not have one.
Because of its connotations, using the word “atheism” has the advantage of dragging the issue away from vague uninformed subjectivity and woo concepts, towards the concepts of lack of evidence and dogma, which are essential to frame genderism. We can also analyze claims about lived experience under an atheistic framework. People who claim the existence of “gender identity” can be fruitfully compared to people who claim experience of the divine. It would be equally as invalid to deny the fact that people have had powerful experiences of both constructs. One should take such experiences seriously and acknowledge their complexity and depth.
But one cannot naively assume that the believer’s specific interpretation (that their experience has as its source a divine being or a hardwired gender) must be correct. We human beings are abysmally bad at figuring out the causes of our mental experiences, because we can only be aware of a tiny sliver of our mind’s activities. In the famous story of the Blind Men and the Elephant, we are the blind man touching an elephant’s tail and concluding that an elephant is a sort of rope. Virtually all of people’s beliefs about how their mind works in normal daily circumstances are hopelessly confused (e.g. beliefs about the reasons for our feelings, beliefs about free will and the nature of our mind, beliefs about the causes of our decisions, even our tastes). So why should we expect people’s self-reports about how their mind works in unusual circumstances to be accurate?
I am not saying that we have no way whatsoever of figuring out the causes of our mental experiences; we can use empirical data and scientific evidence to draw general conclusions. We know of a great number of cognitive biases behind human decision-taking. We can use tools like EEG and MRI machines to examine the brain objectively and correlate these events with mental experience. We can use what we already know (such as evolution) to extrapolate what is and isn’t possible. And scientifically, no “brain gender” has ever been found.
When I say “brain gender,” I am not referring to sexual dimorphism, which designates the differences between males and females in a species. One would have to link some sexed structure of the brain to actual, specific behavior (such as “wearing dresses” or “liking pink”). Simply showing a sexed structure of the brain does not prove anything about gender, because gender is not sex. I know this is obvious, but it seems some people think showing evidence of sex is evidence of gender. No amount of evidence about the ramifications of sex can fulfill any burden of proof about gender unless a connection is first demonstrated. Again, I think the comparison with atheism is apt here; even if we have evidence of “design” as opposed to biological evolution, no amount of evidence about “design” could prove “God” unless a connection between “design” and “God” is made.
Gender atheism conveys disbelief in gender, but not opposition; anti-genderism, on the other hand, does convey opposition. It would be a mistake to think that gender needs to be “reformed.” Again the analogy with Christianity is obvious. It is not Christian denominations that are the biggest problem, but rather the irrational belief in God and, in general, the desire of people to put the interest of their groups before the truth. The same thing is true for gender: it is not, by and large, the different ways in which gender has been circumscribed that hurt women, but the irrational belief in gender and the desire of traditionalists and trans advocates to put the interest of their groups before the truth.
Gender is always oppressive. It does not need to be “reconceptualized” because gender is a tool of oppression and subordination. As long as we are creating and upholding categories to shove people into we are going to be perpetuating that subordination. There is nothing radical about gender, and there is no radical way to have a “gender identity.”
No matter how much the funfems try to cram every obscenity against women into feminism, they are wrong. There is no such thing as empowering objectification, there is no such thing as feminist pornography, and there is no such thing as radical gender, because there can be no way to both believe in egalitarianism and to believe in limiting and hurting women for being women.
Gender is not “sexy.” Gender is not “identity.” Gender is domination.