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Anyone into Queer Theory- Explain this, I'm confused

(60 Posts)
dashoflime Sun 10-Mar-13 11:01:09

Right so,

someone has recently said to me that in Queer Theory you don't draw any distinction between someones biological sex and their gender identity and in fact, it would be threatening and offensive to Trans people to do so.

I'm lost. I thought the whole point of stuff like Butlers Femininity-as-Performance was that you DO draw that distinction confused ?

Someone come and explain in simple words what this person was on about would you.

LRDtheFeministDragon Sun 10-Mar-13 19:10:26

Indeed. hmm

Or like the woman who posted an AIBU earlier saying her PIL reckon that her DH should get the mothering sunday presents because he is the SAHP (god, could I get more MN acronyms into that sentence?!). People conflate all sorts of things, and that's why I think 'performing' gender is never going to be enough to change the underlying power structure.

kim147 Sun 10-Mar-13 19:10:36

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

LRDtheFeministDragon Sun 10-Mar-13 19:12:54

Is it not historical? I know both Soho in London and Harlem in NY, in the early bit of the twentieth century, were places you could go to be 'deviant' and back then that meant anything that wasn't being straight and dressing according to your gender. sad

MooncupGoddess Sun 10-Mar-13 19:17:27

There's a long historical association between the two, isn't there kim - e.g. gay men being described as 'mollies', and a lot of cross-dressing in gay brothels. And 1920s out lesbians (like Radclyffe Hall etc) wearing male clothing. And Catholic seminaries where the ordinands called each other by girls' names.

I think it comes down to the gender binary again - people who fancy the same sex were seen as not proper members of their own sex. So they were seen as being in some sense members of the other sex, and often they took on this role for themselves.

LRDtheFeministDragon Sun 10-Mar-13 19:22:09

I think as well as people who fancy their own sex being seen as somehow members of the opposite sex (in a twisted patriarchial world), there's the fact that if you construct a very rigid binary in society, transgression of that binary is going to be seen as sexually exciting for some people, because taboos are related to what's sexually exciting. So I think there are two very different kinds of behaviour (sexual attraction to the same sex and sexual excitment at cross-dressing) that kind of get melded together in people's minds, maybe?

It doesn't explain why we still push these things together, though, except that they conveniently maintain the hierarchy that puts straight men at the top.

BigSpork Sun 10-Mar-13 19:22:22

a good Queer Theory breakdown if the different areas

It isn't that there isn't distinctions or can't be mentioned. Discussing how people were assigned at birth can be very important part of Queer and Trans* discussions. We often discuss ourselves as being FAAB (female as assigned at birth) or MAAB and how it affects us. The idea it cannot be discussed has never come up in my circle, we discuss my trans* man friend's triggering issues with his periods and as a genderfluid person, I often discuss my female body and how I'm expressing gender.

The issue comes from how often the assigned at birth sex identity as the main identity, as it is for most people, is used to threaten. People refusing to use a person's preferred pronouns either at all or say they'll reserve them for when they do [random achievement] or call them by their preferred name or going on about their "real name". There should be no distinction made in how a ciswoman and a transwoman would be regarded in conversation regardless of their assigned sex at birth. Obviously it would be best to hold off until a person brings it up (much like we don't discuss a stranger ciswoman's body or other such things).

LRDtheFeministDragon Sun 10-Mar-13 19:23:41

Thanks for the link, but for me it's broken?

BigSpork Sun 10-Mar-13 19:27:34

Yes, I appear not to have put enough space in it or something:

MooncupGoddess Sun 10-Mar-13 19:27:49

Here it is, LRD (issue with the square brackets I think).

I have a problem with this:

'I identify as a man, but I identify with a lot of what it means to be a woman. I’m sensitive, kind, familial'

because it seems ridiculous to me that being sensitive/kind/familial can be seen an intrinsic part of women's identities. I don't understand why these attributes are sexed at all (well, I do - it's patriarchy innit. But I hate it).

LRDtheFeministDragon Sun 10-Mar-13 19:30:13

Thanks both, will have a look. I agree with moon about that quotation, that is offensive IMO, but I need to see the context.

MooncupGoddess Sun 10-Mar-13 19:30:45

What does being genderfluid mean to you, BigSpork?

Agree that people should use other people's chosen names and pronouns.

LRDtheFeministDragon Sun 10-Mar-13 19:34:02

I like the idea on that site that the spectrum going from male/man/masculine to female/woman/feminine could be replaced with something else. That's true. But it's bollocks that those things cited are to do with 'what it means to be a woman', and I do find that very rude, really. Probably not intentional, but I don't quite understand how that site is using the term 'feminine' and 'woman' ... they seem to describe some stereotypically 'feminine' behaviours as 'what it means to be a woman'. Isn't that negating the point that's just been made? confused

LRDtheFeministDragon Sun 10-Mar-13 19:36:10

Incidentally, I certainly don't find it 'adorable' that it's a gingerbread ('genderbread') man. I am a bit torn between wanting to laugh at the person who thought that was a good image for what they're trying to say, and wanting to be angry that they did.

Though I suppose it's possible I am overthinking, and they just didn't expect any women to comment on the site or read it? I'm not familiar with it so if it is a very blokey blog, perhaps I'm out of order.

MooncupGoddess Sun 10-Mar-13 19:39:38

I don't understand why there are five categories under biological sex (male, female, intersex, male self ID and female self ID). How can identifying as male come under biological sex... surely that is for the gender identity spectrum?

LRDtheFeministDragon Sun 10-Mar-13 19:42:04

Does it mean people who were born and identified as male ('it's a boy'), as opposed to people who got the 'it's a girl!' at birth but then identified as male?

MooncupGoddess Sun 10-Mar-13 19:45:53

But if that person was identified as male at birth and male in all biological respects, LRD, then their biological sex would be male, no? If they were identified as a girl at birth but turned out to have AIS (for example) they'd be intersex.

LRDtheFeministDragon Sun 10-Mar-13 19:47:24

I agree with you, I just thought that might be what was meant.

Trekkie Sun 10-Mar-13 19:49:04

I don't mind that genderbread thing - he is identifying sex as something that is distinct from gender (although I don't quite understand the difference between gender identity and gender expression) and identifying gender as a set of stereotypical behaviours (although he doesn't say this explicitly I take it from the sensitive & chocolate stuff).

I suppose maybe he means (taking me as an example)

My sex is female (it's a girl)
My gender identity is predominantly male (in preferred activities, interests and personality traits)
My gender expression is female - I adhere generally to the norms that are expected of females in our society in terms of the clothes I wear, shaving, makeup and so on

So all in all I can go with that because it does recognise that gender is a bunch of stereotypical traits which are independent of sex.

Trekkie Sun 10-Mar-13 19:50:40

Not sure where that gets me though.

LRDtheFeministDragon Sun 10-Mar-13 19:51:53

But wouldn't it be better if, instead of reinforcing that stereotype and constructing this very complicated system of intersecting things, we just accepted both men and women like chocolate and family?

LRDtheFeministDragon Sun 10-Mar-13 19:53:29

Cos my issue with someone saying that men can be feminine, and being feminine means x, y and z, is that you're still using labels that reinforce the binary 'feminine is this and masculine is that'. If you're claiming to be a man who is feminine, a man who likes chocolate and is 'familial', you are still saying that these are feminine things. Which means you are still telling women that this is how they must be if they want to be 'feminine'.

MooncupGoddess Sun 10-Mar-13 19:56:21

But if you think of yourself as a woman, Trekkie, then your gender identity is female, isn't it? But your liking of various things that are stereotyped as male means that your gender expression is on the spectrum somewhere between male and female, with aspects of both (androgynous?).

I think.

To be honest, it would be much easier just to say you're a woman who likes wargaming (or whatever). There really shouldn't be a problem with that.

Trekkie Sun 10-Mar-13 20:00:02

It all depends whether he is identifying "feminine" and "masculine" things in order to expose the ridiculousness of applying a gender to things like enjoying cycling or watching football or going for a walk, or whether he genuinely believes that things are intrinsically gendered and listed like that.

I took it for the former. As clearly many men like chocolate and are family orientated, and many women like drinking beer and having someone else look after the children!

The eventual aim surely is to do away with gender and allow people to simply do what they enjoy, dress how they please and fancy who they fancy.

LRDtheFeministDragon Sun 10-Mar-13 20:02:36

True, he might be trying to expose the absurdity. But if so, why the need for these labels? Becuase the labels he proposes still do refer to a binary, even if it's a binary with a more complexly intersecting set of sliding scales.

I suppose it is possible that, eventually, the complexity of trying to define yourself as a 'woman, who's female, but not feminine, but expresses female gender, but ..., and ...' might eventually work to do away with gender as a concept - but do you think that is the idea here? It just seems so long-winded to me, and I can't help but see that it would reinforce the same old binaries.

MooncupGoddess Sun 10-Mar-13 20:05:32

But he says that being sensitive, etc, 'is a large part of my gender identity'.

We need more info on how he sees the gender expression sliders working in practice.

Needless to say, entirely agree with your view on the ridiculousness of gender.

<opens bottle of real ale and switches on Call the Midwife>

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