Unlocking Gender Prison

Begin shameless liberal/progressive/Democratic rant.

The Republicans are ruling the roost now in the executive and legislative branches of the U.S.A. They are in almost complete control, and they want to rule the roost in the judicial branch too. We can already see their program at work: reduce the power of the federal government so that it functions to make the rich richer. But they also want their most powerful rich to be straight white men, unambiguously defined as in control of and superior to women, LGBT people and people of color and “divergent” culture.

The Republicans, following President Donald Trump’s lead, now have put a second person on SCOTUS who will help to affix and secure a lock on gender that puts straight men in control of everything. In this gender prison it will be clear that no woman or person of alternative sexual expression or gender identity can ever hope to be seen as the equal of a straight man before the law. With this new clear majority on SCOTUS, the Republicans will rule the roost in all three branches of government. They will make laws that enforce the superiority of straight men. The president will enforce those laws, too, when he isn’t breaking them to his own political and economic advantage. And the conservative majority of SCOTUS will never challenge any objections to these laws that are biased in favor of straight men.

Oh, it’s not that those of inferior gender can’t find some place to stand in society. After all, women can be very useful to straight men. They certainly can be effective toys to satisfy men’s sexual and power appetites when they are younger. And that right woman can give and help maintain a family and respectability in one’s personal life. Some women can even jump in and defend this patriarchal order. And all of those bent individuals—the ones of alternative sexual orientation and gender identity—they can be used as an opposite pole on which to define how proper men do not behave. They can be used to prove how straight straight men are by being the object of public scorn and even violent attacks by those straight men.

But clearly, things were getting out of hand in the last election of 2016. This country was getting ready to blow the glass ceiling off of the presidency. The lock was about to come off of one of the biggest gender prison doors. Young women everywhere were going to be able to imagine that when they grew up, they might be president, too, just like President Hillary Clinton. Something had to be done to put the straight man back at the top of the pyramid of power.

Now there’s been a lot of investigative reporting on how the Russians hacked the 2016 elections. There’s been a lot of discussion of how gerrymandering, voting restrictions and downright crookedness has led to a situation where one presidential candidate can get 3 million more votes than another one and still “lose” the election. But I have seen almost no discussion of the gender prison, taken as a generic concept, which conservatives are trying to maintain and liberals are cautious about dismantling. It is my assertion that this gender prison is the major cause of inequitable treatment of women and sexual and gender minorities, and because of this, the gender prison leads to other inequities, such as racial, religious and political minorities. The gender prison is a major contributor to all social inequity.

The bottom-line reason for the existence of the gender prison is this: insistence that the distinction male/female is a binary distinction. The gender binary distinction insists that there is a set of characteristics defining maleness and a different set of characteristics defining femaleness. It insists that we can unabiguously place a child at birth into one of these two categories and, having done that, we have determined two different developmental paths. It insists that there can be no exceptions to this rule without social penalty. This is the rule that keeps women at an economically disadvantaged position and keeps the lid on the glass ceiling. This is the rule that makes male professional athletics the most profitable form of athletics by far an that lets male athletics rule the budget at many schools. This is the rule that creates and maintains the closet and the scorned and disadvantaged position for lesbians, gay men, trans people and intersex people.

The mechanism behind this whole Republican move I believe can best be understood as the final defense of the binary approach to defining both sex and race. Discrimination requires black and white thinking, and white male power is at its Alamo. This is why science, feminism, multiculturalism and LGBTQ rights are anathema to today’s Republicans. A binary definition of male/female/race/culture puts these groups at disadvantage. And these groups should be pissed, because the binary doesn’t exist. So this Republican thrust is to set us back to a time when the binary clearly existed in law. I think Kavanaugh on the court will in effect set us back to that binary approach to defining human rights, where straight white males are the gold standard.

Science is the enemy of the binary definition of gender and race. What we actually see in the world is enormous diversity. There are patterns in the world, but the patterns are complex. Some women are better executives than a lot of men. Some black men are smarter than some Asian women. Some gay men make better parents than some straight women. From a scientific point of view, it makes much more sense to assign benefits to people based on their actual merit, rather than based on a category that they, possibly mistakenly, were assigned at birth. Science is not the enemy of religion. However, dogmatic religion which insists that men should control women and insists that LGBT people are going to hell is the enemy of science, because science tends to discredit these extreme views.

Before we had science, we were in the dark ages. When Greek and Roman civilization collapsed in the 5th Century, Western civilization lost the science and technology of the day. After a few centuries where there was very little light, the Roman Catholic Church emerged, and indeed sheltered culture and shed some light. However, the Roman Catholic Church was and is a patriarchal institution, and depends on and defends the gender binary of male and female, with the male in ascendancy over the female. As long as we do not recognize that we need to resist and replace the gender binary, we are still in our own Dark Ages. The Republican Party has worked hard to re-establish this Dark Age as the norm for our current civilization. They have the guns and they will to use them. They have the hatred of deviation from an unrealistic and rigidly defined norm, and they will destroy the deviants, if they can.

My friends, we must not be discouraged by this turn of events. We must resist, refocus, and redirect our energies to turning the light of science back on for our current civilization. Science shows us that the consequence of all these things that the Republicans value so much is dire.

Unfortunately, there is an even more pressing planetary problem than deconstructing the gender binary. For decades scientists have been warning us of the negative effect we have been having on the planet. Now we have a UN Report that gives us 12 years to reverse the trend towards catastrophic climate change. Fortunately, not only is the Republican Party opposed to the deconstruction of a rigid gender binary, it is also opposed to believing in climate science. It gives us a single target at which to aim when we go to the polls and vote.

End shameless liberal/progressive/Democratic rant. For now.


Author: Jim Andris

Retired gay married early adopter. Cooking, cleaning, fixing. Makes good music occasionally; U name it. Churchy dude. Likes to think about things, too much, sometimes. Dump Trump. Trying not to do too much harm. Revisiting blogging. Looking for a new handle on things. Exploring genderqueer.

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