Being Critical of Being Gender Critical
I’m a feminist who is very unhappy with the state of much of what makes up modern feminism. To me, there feels like there’s something off, something wrong…something damaging. I have a notion of what it is, as I know how I react when I’m confronted with such a thing, and it doesn’t make me feel good at all, so I imagine other people would have a similar reaction, of not worse. Some people internalize these bad emotions, some people externalize them…and this just leads to loads of toxicity.
The problem, as I see it, is Gender Criticism, or the criticism of gender. That is, looking for explanations and underlying causes for various things involving gender. Now, it’s important to note that to me, gender is not a binary, it’s not male or female, but it’s indicative of one’s personality as a whole. It’s a rough way of classifying a personality based upon certain patterns that are rooted in biological sex. It’s also important to note that I don’t believe it’s either nature or nurture…it’s both. And it’s diverse.
Even more diverse than we think. The big issue with Gender Criticism, is that it ignores the idea that there are many paths to the same end, when we’re talking about personality. Is the person more empathetic because innately their brain tends to favor areas that are concerned with social relationships, or because they were taught growing up that it was important to care about the feelings of others…or because growing up their feelings were never taken into account and they learned in a negative fashion.
You. Don’t. Know. At least in most cases. Without going deeply into the individual, you don’t know. Don’t try and psychoanalyze, especially from a distance.
You don’t know if the guy spreading his legs on the bus is doing that to show dominance over others or is doing it because it’s a bit more comfortable. You don’t know that the woman wearing lipstick and heels is looking for male approval…or is looking for female approval, or is doing it to build her own self confidence. Does the person enjoy the game as a power fantasy, or do they find the mechanics fun?
You. Don’t. Know.
Don’t assume. Don’t even pretend to assume. And you know something, you don’t know if that’s something you can…or should force change upon a person about. What is your Gender Criticism looking to accomplish, to encourage people to reject their authentic self? Sure. That’s healthy. Now, I can understand that maybe we need to help people find more healthy ways to express themselves. I agree with that. But I think people need to be realistic in terms of what is healthy and what is not. And what is neutral. (Ahealthy?)
In the end, seeking to replace the two small boxes that make up current gender roles with one possibly slightly larger box will help nobody. We need diversity…diversity of personality, diversity of politics, diversity of gender, diversity of race, diversity of background, and so on. We are diverse. Biologically, socially and culturally.
But that doesn’t mean that it’s self evident. Don’t assume that diversity of gender will automatically mean you’re adding traits X, Y, and Z to your organization, as is all too often done. Individuals are individuals, and must be respected as such. And I won’t add into this the absolute catastrophe that is criticism of Gender (Transexuality) and Sexuality. That’s a whole other can of worms (but very important worms).
These shortcuts..these ingrained mental shortcuts are a logical fallacy of sorts and we need to learn to move past them. But that also requires rejecting them, even if it means we can’t have a nice, easy simple model to point to.