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Tony Grist

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Sex And Gender [Nov. 23rd, 2004|12:19 pm]
Tony Grist
People get pulled up on the feminist site I frequent for using "sex" and "gender" interchangeably. The distinction is useful. If I've understood it right, "sex" is about physical characteristics and "gender" is about what goes on in your head.

Someone proposed that if you enjoy the cut and thrust of the work-place your gender is male and if you like staying home knitting bootees your gender is female.

I expect they got jumped on. But here's the problem. Sooner or later you stumble over the stereotypes. "Sex" is easily determined (in most cases) but "gender" is a social construct.

I'm confused. I've just written a book in which my tomboyish heroine keeps dodging in and out of drag. She is, of course, a version of myself.

I'm a man. And I'm heterosexual. But when I put myself in a book it's as a girl who goes running about with a sword in her fist having wild adventures.

I think there are probably quite a lot of us with this cast of mind- we are the male fans of Buffy and Xena and Uma Thurman's Bride- but I don't believe there's a word for us...

...Yet.
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: arielstarshadow
2004-11-23 01:35 pm (UTC)
Hmmm...for me, sex is something you DO, gender is something you ARE. Thus, heterosexuals enjoy having sex with those of the opposite gender, homosexuals with those of the same gender, and bisexuals with both. For me, the word "transsexual" is an incorrect term and should always be replaced with "transgender." I suppose if I were to define the former, it might be something along the lines of "someone who is confused about with which gender they prefer to have sex."

I'd comment more, but my migraine-addled brain really isn't up to it at the moment.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2004-11-23 02:09 pm (UTC)
Sorry about the migraine. I used to get them on a regular basis. I know how horrid they can be.

Yes, trans-sexuals are usually quite clear about whom they want to have sex with.

Though I did come accross the case of a transsexual who went from gay man to lesbian woman. I guess in this case the person's self-identification as gay trumped everything else.
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From: archyena
2004-11-23 01:44 pm (UTC)
Why would there be a word for that, anyway? Isn't it a slightly too gendered perspective to need a term for men who can be fans of women who kick ass. But if we need a word, I think it's best to consider probably the most influenetial ass-kicking woman (recent scholarship aside), Joan d'Arc. The word, then, is "French." :-D
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2004-11-23 02:14 pm (UTC)
No, a label isn't necessary- though an enlargement of vocabulary usually leads to an enlargement of consciousness- meaning that people only become aware of a thing when there's a word for it.

I suggest the term "French" could lead to confusion. How about Arcist(pronounced with a hard "c") or Joanite?

I'm an Arcist and proud of it! Yes, it sounds pretty good.
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[User Picture]From: karenkay
2004-11-23 03:03 pm (UTC)
Fully evolved human?
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2004-11-23 05:09 pm (UTC)
Do you think so? It would be nice...
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[User Picture]From: jackiejj
2004-11-23 04:29 pm (UTC)
but I don't believe there's a word for us...yet.

I can think of several:

enlightened, sophisticated, appealing...

I could go on if you like...

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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2004-11-23 05:12 pm (UTC)
Oh please...please....
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From: morrison_maiden
2004-11-23 06:18 pm (UTC)
I'd say the right word is something like a visionary :)
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2004-11-23 06:58 pm (UTC)
Wow. I like that! :)
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[User Picture]From: kaysho
2004-11-23 07:19 pm (UTC)
I remember reading a chapter in some sociology book or other about sex vs. gender roles, and how different cultures assigned various tasks to the sexes. While some tasks obviously had a strong bias toward one sex or the other (in most cultures the men hunt and the women rear the children, for example), there was no task that every single culture on earth assigned universally to one sex or the other, bar one. In no culture were women primarily responsible for hunting marine mammals.

Be a man. Kill a whale.
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[User Picture]From: ide_cyan
2004-11-24 07:05 am (UTC)
Can you read French? If so, read this.

I'm a man. And I'm heterosexual. But when I put myself in a book it's as a girl who goes running about with a sword in her fist having wild adventures.

I think there are probably quite a lot of us with this cast of mind- we are the male fans of Buffy and Xena and Uma Thurman's Bride- but I don't believe there's a word for us...

...Yet.


Yes there is. You're a stereotype. Have you never read the complaints about straight guys who write themselves into stories in female drag without having any clue what that actually entails?

Sheesh.

Pretending to be a woman doesn't automatically make you a feminist or a gender revolutionary. There's far more thought involved in the process.

Buffy, Xena, and the Bride are interesting characters for women to project themselves into because power fantasies appeal to everybody, but women who project themselves into Buffy, Xena or the Bride face several problems in the way of their indentification with them because power fantasies are never simple when you don't actually have such power. Especially when class divisions as important as gender come into play, and the reason you're banned from empowerment is because your gender is exploited. Hang out with female fans of those shows and you'll see plenty of examples of the problems they encounter, and the characters they do project themselves into, and how.

You should notice, for one thing, that all of the examples you name are male creations. Joss Whedon, John Schulian & Robert G. Tapert, and Quentin Tarantino created them.

How original does that make you? Heh. Your arrogance is a sick joke, a privileged self-delusion.

Have you thought about writing a book in which a tomboyish heroine cannot ever dodge into drag? Where she can't free herself of gender roles magically because the author hasn't experienced and isn't willing to imagine the punishment for women who want to escape them? Have you seen Boys Don't Cry? That would turn your dreams into nightmares.

Your books are safe.

While it is fun to offer positive images of powerful women, mystifying the acquisition and the cost of such power by either playing along with gender stereotypes in every other regard or getting all your examples of how powerful women should behave from the accounts given by other men is a sure way of never threatening the status quo.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2004-11-24 10:26 am (UTC)
Delphy is saying we should stop categorizing people by sex/gender. Altogether. That gender is a matter of class. OK.

I write what I write out of inner compulsion. I find myself projecting into female characters. This is something I can't help and which is beyond intellectual control.

Buffy etc are all of them male creations. Yeah. But the power of men in the entertainment industry has determined that there aren't any female-created equivalents. While things remain this way we have to take what we can get.

I don't pretend that the book I'm talking about is anything other than an entertainment. Sure it's safe- it's in the genre of the Three Musketeers.


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[User Picture]From: hepo
2004-12-01 04:12 pm (UTC)

Sex & Gender

Don't be confused. For me its perfectly normal to write of the opposite of what I am. Simply put, we write what stimulates and challenges our mind and what we generally believe to be 'interesting' for the reader.

Write on...

Yours

Hepo
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2004-12-01 06:30 pm (UTC)

Re: Sex & Gender

Thank you.

Yes, it's not a matter of conscious choice. I write as I do because I have to. I had a go at writing a novel- quite recently- in a male voice and it ran into the sand after a single chapter.
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