Breaking Binary Boundaries
In modern society, there is a huge misconception as to what is normal and what is abnormal. The fact that there are two such categories, normal and abnormal, is just a reaffirmation of this misconception.
When it comes to people, there really can be no “this” or “that” category. People are too weird, they’re too different, and they’re too ever-changing. Looking back on my own life, I know that I barely resemble who I was in high school (thank the gods), and that is just one simple example as to how ever-changing people are.
Now let’s take that concept and roll it over to the thoughts and perceptions surrounding people’s sexuality and gender performance. Sexuality, simply put in the most extreme way, is the sexual preference of a person (or lack of sexual preference). Gender performance is the persona that people act out, almost like an identifier as to their sexual preference(s) (but not always and the two should not be assumed to coincide with each other).
Let me show you.
I am gendered as a woman because I have been assigned a sex at my birth as a female. That sentence means that people asked my mother and father what kind of baby they had (or were going to have) and they said: “A girl!”. Then, since I was labeled as a girl, I was treated like a girl. I wore dresses, talked about my feelings, gave boys cooties, all that fun, typical stuff. That’s how our modern society works when it comes to sexuality and gender performance.
Born a girl. Socialized as a girl. Act like a girl. Be a girl and do girly things, sexually and non-sexually. Girl, girl, girl.
For some reason, there is no in between. There is no mixture. There is no fluidity. But why not?
Why must people be placed into either the male or female category and then the way they act should directly reflect that category? Why must men be manly? Why must women be womanly? Why must a manly person be a man? Or a womanly person be a woman? Why can’t people just have what they want, any way they want it?
People have always assumed sexuality and gender performance in accordance with their society’s time. Everyone has heard about the Greeks and the pederasty that occurred during that time. But did you know that it wasn’t a simple perversion that condoned the Greeks to sexually act in such a way? It was way more than just about getting off, and Veronique Mottier goes into great detail about that in her book: Sexuality: A Very Short Introduction. Sexuality and gender performance for the Greeks was all about power and control (2008). Young men, or boys, and slaves were not seen as citizens, so the Greeks penetrated whomever they wanted as long as it did two things: 1) satisfied their sexual hunger/appetite, which they viewed as something needing monitoring but always to be released, and 2) reaffirmed their power and control by acting out sexually towards slaves or young boys — non citizens. Their sexual acts and performance of gender were not seen in such strict terms as our modern society views these things today. They were open and fluid and the importance of their acts directly reflected on their social and political status.
So, look at that. Look at how the Greeks treated sexuality and gender performance. Their society called for differing perceptions on sexuality and gender performance than how we view them today. We believe in more strict guidelines as to how to act or how to be our assigned sex, but that does not mean it is right. I am not saying that we should all go around, poking non citizens or young boys with our fun stuff, but we should truly open our eyes to the theory that our society dictates a lot of how we see things.
So, let’s get out of this way of thinking. Let’s look at our bodies, shrug our shoulders, wear what we want, act how we want, and be what we want without worrying about society deeming us normal or abnormal, male or female, womanly or manly, or anything else that puts us into a category. People are weird, they’re complicated, they change, they adapt, they learn, they keep going on. Strict definitions on gender performance and how it “should” reflect our sexuality or our assigned sex at birth is a bunch of hooey. It should not be taken seriously, only what an individual feels about themselves and how they act should be reflected through their actions and performances.