Sometimes, looking at things from a sideways angle is helpful...

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Gender as a Social Construct

"Gender is a social construct"

The idea of gender being socially constructed is powerful in feminist writing - it allows us to break down the boundaries between what we consider "men's work" and "women's work" - because, after all, if the only difference between men and women is biological, then why should there be "men's clothes" and "women's clothes". I agree with this. I don't think there should be "men's stuff" and "women's stuff" - I think that this ties in inherently to the idea that women should be kept "in their places" rather than enjoying lives as equal to men, something that the vast majority of the feminist movement is moving towards, and something I fully support. There are people who don't fit this theory though, and I'm one.

I was assigned female at birth, in terms of sex. I was also assigned a female gender role, in a relatively gender-open-minded family. I was raised as a girl who wore trousers, and played with lego and dolls in equal measures, played football, rugby and basketball, and hung out with my two best friends, both female. I essentially had as close to a gender neutral childhood as I could have done. And I'm still a boy. And that isn't socially constructed. I'm not buying into the patriarchy, or selling myself out as a woman, I'm not doing it to gain conditional male privilege in society, it's just... happened. I've ended up with male privilege, and a vagina. This is because I'm a boy - and saying that gender is entirely socially constructed ignores my reality, as someone who experiences a gender. I'm not especially masculine, I'm just... male. My proprioception, my dysphoria, my identity, everything just leaves me as male. And nobody knows what creates trans people - we just happen.

What is constructed, is gender roles. They are entirely a social construct, and a damaging one that needs to be broken down. However, saying gender is socially constructed is essentially a cissexist statement that ignores the reality of thousands of people. Language matters.

Gender roles are a social construct.

No comments:

Post a Comment