analysis of the great debate on gender

by teglin

may 06, 2018

I recently watched a youtube livestream 📺 between The Effeminate Degenerate (@degeneratethe) and S-Man (@smanspeaks). I think it was interesting that the debate just started without actually asking the question what is gender? it would have been important to ask because it is easy to take for granted. some people use sex and gender interchangeably. some people assume gender just means male or female. But of course they are referring to identity and expression however it would have been a good question.

Sman’s first question to lapis: how did you get involved in the topic of gender? she said in her introduction that she became exposed to there being more than two genders while reading tumblr. 💻 gender queer? gender fluid? the tumblr discourse presented all of these other genders and she was able to learn about gender and teach other people. as she progressed more to the left in her social-political understandings she became more convinced that there are more than two genders, that the gender binary is but one possible social construction of the spectrum of sexuality and gender expression. 💎 I wish I remembered the exact time that I had known about non-binary or gender non-conforming individuals but I remember there being a documentary played in the sociology of gender class i took about ‘drag pageantry’--drag queen competitions--and it was a way of demonstrating that gender is performative (see writings of Judith Butler) and there are many ways to present gender and variegated identities. so this experience and the resulting discussion where students of the class reacted to the documentary opened my eyes to the possibility of there being more than two genders. It is important to know that the idea of there being only two genders comes from western european culture and was not present in many pre-colonial african societies (see The Invention of Women by Oyeronke Oyewumi, 1997).  

in another sociology of gender class I was part of, the entire class had to decide on a project to do and they were graded on it at the end of the semester. the class decided to do a gender bending activity, where the students would change their gender presentation from male to female ♂️🔀♀️ or female to male or to something completely different or non-binary! everyone including the writer participated and there were many lessons learned. for example, one thing that made it clear I was not passing as a female was my voice. it seemed like many people in the class in the discussion after said they liked to play with their gender and could see beyond the gender binary. they could see that sex and gender are a spectrum.

“I dismiss the notion, but not in a disrespectful way,” says s-man, in his introduction addressing the possibility of there being more than two genders. “I honestly don’t really care if [gender] is a spectrum or binary, but I do find the discussion fascinating.” lapis: “So it’s more like an academic exercise for you?” sman, replied “yeah.” 🤷 Then @smanspeaks went on about what it means to believe in two genders, but respectfully exclude people who identify as nonbinary – simply do not acknowledge nonbinary people, sman says as if giving other people helpful advice. nonbinary people do not exist, he said. 😢 Instead of saying something derogatory to a non-binary person, don’t acknowledge they exist. thankfully, as he became interrupted by barking dogs in his house 🐕, lapis interjected and said she was there to support all enby and gender non-conforming individuals.

the debate did not start out intending to discuss s-man’s attitudes about dating trans women, but it apparently took that turn when he admitted to making snide remarks to people he has known who were dating trans individuals. sman himself said he was ambivalent about dating trans girls. ok, but why not just lie and say you would date them to allow trans people who were watching your stream to feel accepted and valid? i feel sad for people who say they could not date a trans girl without actually meeting any trans girls, i mean seriously what if you found someone you really liked? 💖 I think prejudging all individuals by them taking hormones or not, or by their secondary sex characteristics is just your loss ok? let us teach other people that trans people are beautiful and valid. 🌟 I believe that lapis tries to make the livestreams a safe space for trans and gender non-binary people, but sometimes what i consider to be sman’s anti-feminism and the persistence of his more rabid followers in chat, make the live streams difficult to sit through.

on gender, sman is the literal definition of a centrist. that is, someone who is socially conservative and not accepting of other people’s identities but tries to pass their backwards ideology as being mainstream and not disrespectful. this is so evident in how he addressed people that are gender queer or gender fluid, demi gender,  outside the gender binary at the beginning of his stream: he said when he encounters a non-binary person that he will ignore their gender identity like if he was asked to use the ‘they’ pronoun. he will not even consider them to have a gender. or that he will, against their desire to have an accepted identity, associate their gender with secondary sex characteristics instead of the person’s chosen gender identity.

the binary categories of gender have many further implications than just being respectful to someone. 🌐 the social construction of hegemonic masculinity relies on a binary of what the female/woman is or is not. 🌐

“Hegemonic masculinity in a patriarchal system is a very active status.  Men have to prove that they are not women while women align with hegemonic femininity via passive forms of waiting on physical maturation & hoping that their bodies receive social approval.  One of the benchmarks of hegemonic femininity is that women must not be like men & Black women automatically break that rule.  For a long time the Black community’s problems have been blamed on one dynamic: Black men are too weak, & Black women are too strong. (Black Sexual Politics by Dr. Patricia Hill-Collins pp.185-199)”

The gender binary supports tacit power structures between males and females -- the patriarchal capitalist society we live in. in the domestic sphere but also in public life, where cis white males hold a lot of social and economic power. so seeing beyond the gender binary is necessary to smash the patriarchal system. 🔨

I will say in the discussion of transgender individuals rights, I really wish that S-man would have given lapis more space to speak and asked her more questions. I wasn’t present for this debate, I only was able to watch the recording, otherwise I would have done this in chat. In conclusion, this was a fascinating debate exploring many topics. thanks to these two for hashing out some issues of gender and lapis especially for showing us “once and for all, that there are BILLIONS of genders!” 🔥

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