Gender is not a binary of equals, it is a hierarchy

From The New Backlash, Introduction:

Now, the dialog around “transgender” issues is dense and confusing and emotional and often downright abusive. Transgender identity politickers cloud the issues on purpose, but feminists can also fail to express ourselves clearly when we are 1) grounded in decades of theory most people have not read and/or 2) feeling defensive due to the endless attempts of anti-feminists to vilify/silence us.

So, first some clarification on my part: for several decades now, feminist theorists have been using the word gender to refer to the social and psychological expectations thrust upon women and men, otherwise referred to as sex stereotypes or sex roles. However, feminists and pro-feminists outside of academic circles may use the word gender to mean “biological category of male or female” (in contrast with the act of sexual intercourse) – and that’s understandable because we need words for all these things. However, to add to the confusion, transgender identity politickers use the term gender or gender identity to mean an innate-but-undefinable inner feeling that overrides and in fact determines biological sex. When discussing gender, always stay alert to the multiple possible definitions of the term, and ask for clarification when needed.

Next: sex v gender:

Gender: a socially constructed, oppressive hierarchy

Sperm producer = male. Ova producer = female. This is simple biological classification.

Male = masculine/dominant. Female = feminine/submissive. This is gender, as the word is used by feminist theorists.

Based on the (sexist) notion that sex determines personality and thus should determine social role and status, gender is a social tool to naturalize women’s dependence on men, and thereby ensure men’s access to women’s emotional, sexual, domestic and reproductive labor. It’s about power, not individual expression.

This is why feminists find chatter about “gender identity” so grating and wrongheaded. It’s like talking about “slave identity” or “camp inmate identity.” Gender isn’t a party, it isn’t looking hot in that tiny little dress, it isn’t walking so that your bum is shown off to advantage.

If this isn’t clear from the above, gender is not a binary of equals, it is a hierarchy. For millennia women were the legal property of men. Globally, women are still subject to female genital mutilation, child marriage, bride burning and sex trafficking. Luckier women are merely subject to lifelong discrimination in the family, school, and workplace; sexist medical care; constant street harassment; online misogyny; daily reminders that males are people and females are other; a persistent wage gap; legislative attacks on bodily autonomy; physical intimidation and physical violence – all of which tend to worsen along lines of race/ethnicity and economic class – and all of which is meant to keep us in our (supposed) place.

Gender is a hierarchy, and talking about one’s “hierarchy identity” is fatuous.

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