“Imagine a world without gender.”
That’s the directive in the email signature of Judith Lorber, author of Breaking the Bowls: Degendering and Feminist Change. It’s one I find deeply inspiring, but I can already hear the chorus of feminist objections. Let me address some of those from my perspective as a feminist sociologist.
Without gender, we’d all just be a uniform mass of people dressed in the same burlap sack or something. (I’ve heard this from students.)
Quite the opposite! Our gender structure forces each of us into a woman-or-man binary, each of which comes with an extensive list of Dos and Don’ts. Gender is already making us too uniform. If the Dos and Don’ts disappeared, we would enjoy a dazzling kaleidoscope of diversity. People would play with their appearance, or not, according to personal interest rather than in keeping with existing norms that instruct us from our head down to our toenails. Genderqueer, intersex and trans people are stigmatized at present, but give us a glimpse of the kaleidoscopic possibilities in our future. Imagine the liberation of ridding families and workplaces of their gendered Dos and Don’ts.
But I like gender! Who am I if not a woman, and who is my child if not my son, the boy?
It’s true: Gender is very important to our identities, and it orients us in interacting with others. Theorists acknowledge that one byproduct of eliminating gender would be “gender vertigo,” an unsteady and vulnerable feeling. My belief is that this isn’t insurmountable: We would have to adjust and recover, but it would be worth it in the end. With the oppressive structure of gender gone, we would all be more free.
But gender is what makes sex hot. (I got this response on Twitter to the mention of degendering.)
Well, yes: the way things are now, gender makes sex hot. That can include both the traditional heterosexual script and the many options for bending and playing with gender. But although people make use of gender, it doesn’t follow that they need to. I have no doubt that there are plenty of other ways to generate heat in the bedroom.
Beware: If we decide to officially ignore gender, we might just allow injustices to continue unchecked.
This is a legitimate concern, which echoes criticism of “colorblindness.” For instance, if we stopped collecting racial data in the U.S. Census, we would no longer know whether children of color have higher risks than white kids of poverty or exposure to pollution. Sadly, they do, and post-racial colorblindness is absolutely no way to solve the problem; by definition it is a way to ignore the problem. For both race and gender, research and intervention must continue as long as “there’s a there there.” In the imagined future when the researchers have no more findings to report, then they would finally be out of business.
People won’t want to work together on this across lines of class, race or sexuality.
Yes, history shows us that sometimes movements for a single social justice are weakened because of internal divisions along another axis. To be more blunt, the women’s movement has been plagued at times by classism, racism, transphobia and homophobia. Ideally, everyone opposed to injustices would band together in the spirit of bell hooks to fight oppression of all kinds. If that day comes, I will dance with joy in the streets. In the meantime, if we cannot orchestrate synchronized action, we can at least expect actions that are parallel and not at cross-purposes. So: Work to end gender should support other social justice work where possible, and at the least do it no harm.
Speaking of social justice work: why spend time on this pie-in-the-sky degendering, while women are being raped, beaten and murdered the world over?
Indeed, it’s mainly the secure and educated who have the luxury of these discussions. I’m not trying to claim that degendering is the most urgent of all social justice actions. This theorizing is at some distance from the “front lines,” but absolutely not unconnected. It can put all sorts of social justice work into a larger context and expand our ideas about what is ultimately possible.
I may not have entirely quelled your objections to a world without gender, but I hope I’ve at least piqued your interest. The next question people usually have is: Could it ever really happen?
Ending gender is, indeed, no simple task. It would require a multitude of actions in many different kinds of places. It’s helpful to think in terms of three levels of society: individuals, institutions and interactions. (See Risman 1998 & 2004.)
The second wave of American feminism made great inroads here. At the institutional level, we celebrate the victories of laws for equity like Title IX, and laws against gender-based harassment and discrimination at work. Encoding equal treatment into law is an important prerequisite to doing away with gender. At the individual level, many Gen-X-ers like me were raised to the tune of Marlo Thomas’s Free To Be You And Me and encouraged to ignore outdated stereotypes of boys’ and girls’ activities.
Still, you don’t need to watch Toddlers and Tiaras to know that children are still being raised in very gender-specific ways. As Gloria Steinem said, “We’ve begun to raise daughters more like sons… but few have the courage to raise our sons more like our daughters.” I agree, and I would set the goalpost even further: that we evolve to the point where her statement is as meaningless as the prospect of “raising the blue-eyed more like the brown-eyed.”
The inroads at the individual and institutional levels have only yielded modest, inconsistent success. So, more recently, scholars have acknowledged the importance of an intermediate level, that of interactions. We know now that to be effective, we must intervene at all three levels of society. We cannot choose one “primary” one as the driver of the other two; unfortunately, life isn’t that simple. (One of my professors quips: “Sociology isn’t brain surgery. It’s way more complex than that.”)
- Individuals: Encourage people, including yourself, to be well-rounded, whole individuals, with competencies that exceed masculine and feminine limits. Let go of homophobia and don’t tolerate it in others. Homophobia is the punk little brother of misogyny: they are a team, so confront them both.
- Interactions: Stop policing gender norms. As much as you possibly can, accept gender rule-breaking appearances, action, and identities. In fact, encourage them! Try them yourself! Encourage especially younger people to be gender explorers rather than gender police. Also be on the lookout for unconscious bias, and confront it with counter-measures.
- Institutions: In addition to holding onto the legal gains we’ve made, we must seek new ones. Here are four to start:
- Legalize same-sex marriage. Family duties and roles should not be assigned based on gender. Therefore any pair of people that wants to could make a good family.
- Fight “family responsibilities discrimination.” An offshoot of workplace discrimination against women is discrimination against employees with family responsibilities. Legal victories are accumulating here and helping to redefine employers’ expectations of employees. Instead of the abstract “ideal worker” (read: man with a wife at home to take care of domestic duties), our culture must embrace the notion that every worker also has a life.
- Improve reproductive rights. Gender inequalities will persist as long as restrictions on contraception and abortion hinder women from controlling their childbearing. U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore made a powerful speech portraying how “unplanned parenthood” can affect women and children.
- Implement bias-busting workplace practices. Although the specifics vary, we are all the products of a sexist society to some extent. Research shows the ways in which unconscious bias works in favor of men in the workplace (as well as, of course, white people). Fortunately, research also shows how to cancel out those forces, and those countermeasures should be implemented for the sake of fairness.
The whole prospect of the end of gender, after all, is about fairness. We know that “separate but equal” has a history of failure, so let’s do away with all the separateness. In the end, we would gain back so much energy that’s now wasted on power struggles and on following, or sometimes bucking, the myriad prescriptions of gender. Instead, personal freedom would expand for everyone. It’s worth imagining.
Photo from flickr user celesteh under Creative Commons 2.0
The Good Men Project and Role/Reboot have collaborated on a special series about the End of Gender. Dozens of bloggers are taking on Hanna Rosin’s ongoing (and recently reignited) “End of Men” argument and what meaning gender has in contemporary society. This collaboration includes bloggers from Good Men Project, Role/Reboot, The Huffington Post, Salon, HyperVocal, Ms. Magazine, YourTango, Psychology Today, Princess Free Zone,The Next Great Generation, and Man-Making.
Today we would like to focus your attention on the topic of love. This of course is a very broad topic; however we would like to specifically discuss the boundaries which humans regularly place on love and as a result they often try to contain what is not containable. We would like to share with you our perspective in hopes that it may help those who are searching for a different view-point than the ones most commonly seen within the 3rd and 4th dimensions.
From our perspective love is unlimited, it knows no boundaries, it knows no color, no race, no creed, no gender, and no species. Love is who we all are, it is what we are all made from; however many have been taught to believe that love can only be felt or experienced within certain circumstances or boundaries. However love in its truest nature does not exist based on events, circumstances, or judgment. Many say that they love another person unconditionally, only to find that upon encountering a circumstance of infidelity, mistrust, fear, loss, or grief, this love is removed. The love we speak about is unconditional; it is the love that is free from the judgments associated within duality. This of course is part of the experience which you have willingly agreed to be a part of, even though you knew that your truth in the higher realms would be forgotten.
This very large topic of love has come to the surface for many around the world at this time so that you may re-evaluate your beliefs about love. You cannot change what you do not know, and so it often is in your world, your beliefs will manifest in the physical so that you can determine if it is something you would like to keep or if there is another belief that would suit your desires better at that time. Certainly we are aware that there are so very many who have such very strong beliefs surrounding love at this time. We are not sharing our perspective to change another’s beliefs; we are simply offering another perspective.
You see, humans very often place conditions on what love can be, never realizing that true love is unconditional; it cannot be taken away, nor can true love be removed based on circumstances or situations. From our perspective, unconditional love can be experienced between everyone, we do not have “rules” about who can experience love; a man and a woman, a man and a man, and a woman and a woman all can share love. Where there is love, there is compassion for another even if that other is seen as different.
Many curiously request us to share our perspective on topics such as same gender marriage, inter-racial marriage, and various other topics concerning love. To this we smile as we are always happy to share our perspective, yet many are surprised to learn that we simply view love as limitless, this is why we have titled this message as “Love knows no boundaries”. We always guide you to take what resonates and leave the rest behind. It is only humans who try to place limits on whom you may share your love with and who you may not. In the higher realms love is freely shared with all, there are no boundaries placed on love because love is limitless. Also remember that we do not view our world in “rights” and “wrongs” as we see all as simply just being. However what resonates for one may not always resonate for another.
From our perspective we see no difference between any of you. The reason being is that we can still “see” who you truly are, a divine androgynous being free of race, creed, religion, gender and bias. These are simply just “costumes” that all of you have willingly agreed to wear in order to fully embrace and experience the wide variety of experiences that your world has to offer. So how then could the “costumes” that you wear determine if you are deserving of love, or whom you are able to share your love with? Your souls are not male or female, rather they are both, your souls are not indigenous to one region on your world or another, nor are they a skin color or religion. Also remember that we view all lives as happening simultaneously, and therefore you are both male and female in numerous lives. Your souls do not have a gender.
Many often look to ancient texts to help guide them in their daily lives, such as the bible, the Koran, the Torah, and many other various texts. We have said this before however we feel that it is important to reiterate this point again, your religions are evolving with all of you. You may say, how can these “doctrines” become outdated? Are they not based on the Holy Scriptures of the Bible, the Koran, the Vedas, and the Torah? How can scriptures become outdated? To this we reply, although the words have not changed your understandings and interpretation of this material is now much more expansive than it ever has been before. The collective was never in a state that allowed them to interpret this information in the manner it was originally intended. We will give you this simple example to help explain our perspective. If you were to read a book about the nature of your soul and the wisdom you possess, and you read this book first when you were 25 years old and then again when you were 50 years old. Do you not think that you would have a different understanding of the message that the book conveys even though the words have never changed? Of course, this is because you have grown, evolved, changed, and learned from experiences that you could not relate to or comprehend when you were 25; and so it is with the human collective in relation to the ancient texts of the Bible, the Koran, the Vedas, the Torah and various other “holy scriptures”. Remember that these texts have been translated thousands of years ago by a population that had very different understandings than what you now have come to know.
Some of you may wonder, how you may go about changing the limits that you place on love. This of course can be achieved instantaneously from our perspective however it is more likely that it will be done in a step by step process for many of you. Beliefs are changed through intention; we have spoken in more depth about how one can change a belief in previous messages. However in order for you to regain the limitless viewpoint of love that you all experienced in the higher realms, you must release the judgment that is held regarding a belief. Many often hold beliefs which are determined by underlying judgments of “right” or “wrong”. All of you have successfully changed beliefs throughout your lives. Think of the very many beliefs that you held as children that changed as you grew older. How did you change those beliefs? As each of you continue to release limiting beliefs, you inevitably are evolving back into the higher vibrational beings that you innately have always been. The higher vibrations do not withstand the judgments held in duality. If you are drawn to this message then you can be assured that you too are shifting, evolving and ascending back into the higher vibrations of the higher realms one step at a time.
You are all simply wearing costumes which have temporarily concealed your divinity from your conscious awareness, however we can still see all of you as the divine light beings that you are. All are deserving of love, so share your love, and continue to spread your light wherever you are.
We hope that this message has in some way served you.
In love and light, we are your Angelic Guides
Copyright © 2012-2013 by Taryn Crimi. All Rights Reserved. Permission is given to copy and distribute this material, provided the content is copied in its entirety and unaltered, is distributed freely, and this copyright notice and links are included. https://www.angelic-guides.com
Category: Angelic Guides Insights, health & Well beingBy taryncrimi7 Comments
Taryn is an internationally acclaimed channel, who has spent over 8 years channeling the Angelic Realm. It is her wish as well as theirs to share this gift with as many people who are in need of their assistance with this Angelic Guides website.