I’d listened to some of the criticisms against Greer and McEwan on the issue of transgender – I’ve been thinking that what the issue comes down to is how we define ‘gender’ both culturally and biologically, and the political and social changes that have emerged for women and the transgender movements, but also the way in which Men and Women are perceived, and how sexuality, masculine and feminine stereotypes are perceived.
The controversy leveled against Greer is that campaigners feel it’s discrimination or unfair for either a man, woman or transgender not to be able choose their own gender or sexual identity (which are two different things), and Greer and McEwan commented that it’s not that simple.
The scientific and psychological research into whether biology impacts on gender difference, or what makes a Man and a Women still seems unknown to us, and a lot of campaigners believe the XY XX chromosomes and biological differences between the genders are completely superfluous to either a person’s identity or sexuality (although, I thought the famous Stonewall mantra was ‘I was born this way’), suggesting that either homosexuality and transgender is natural, not a choice. But, at the same time, trans people wish perceived either as a Man or a Woman, despite the fact that masculinity and femininity is arbitrary, and some believe that the biology of gender (regardless of genitalia or chromosomes) that this is also arbitrary and personal choice.
It’s a similar argument in which gender roles and the equal rights of women become trickier to define, in that you wonder if to be treated as equal women must first be more like men, although, perhaps not realising that men don’t necessarily treat each other fairly, or that patriarchy perhaps was never about fairness or equality.
These days there seems to be more a division between First World feminist (equal pay scales, rights for prostitutes, cat-calling, breastfeeding, sexual harassment in the workplace), and Third World women’s rights issues globally (voting, forced marriages, execution, abortion, basic human rights, employment rights, genital mutilation).
It had also occurred the other day that gender roles (masculine and famine stereotypes) appear to be entirely unique to your species, ie female cobra or rhino will behave as savagely as male for self-preservation and to protect its offspring, while apes, wolves, dolphins and other mammals, although females and males behave differently to survive and procreate in complex social systems, don’t necessarily conform to the masculine or feminine roles that we have within our species.
Here are several interesting articles published in Huffington Post which examine this issue further:
‘why do we have gender?’, obviously religion attempts to explain this in various ways to justify their moral values, however, the only other purpose for gender and reproduction, I think, is to allow a single species to evolve in order to adapt to changes or adjustments to their environment – evolution is key, and we can’t have it without sex and genders.
It also makes sense that we would produce different types of genders, I guess, especially now that our environment is primarily cultural, political and technological based. I think it was Marx or Engels who’d first described ‘abstract values’ as a product of a capitalist system. It makes sense that gender would adapt to social trends and culture etc.
I had been wondering, since masculinity, femininity and gender are now simply ‘abstract values’ or products signifying identity, interestingly, and this is one for the religious purest, transsexuals can’t reproduce without science or spermbanks etc, not like people who were born with their gender (unless they’re born sterile or infertile).
Maybe one day science will be able to change people’s genders to whichever sex they want, or even more than one, and accommodate reproduction. Man/Woman/Transkind will our new God and technology will part of our evolution. In this new world we will be able to change of our genetic/biological structure, if we an cure cancer or build atomic weapons, why not be Frankenstein ? The possibilities will be endless.