Subject: bedrooms, lives: sex is gender, gender is sex.
Date: Sun 07 Mar 1999 - 15:27:56 GMT
bedrooms, lives: sex is gender, gender is sex.
It's not about what we do in our bedrooms, its about what we do in our lives.
Most people say they don't care what others do in the bedroom, but they don't
want to hear about it, want us to not to put them in an awkward by revealing
what makes them uncomfortable, or, maybe worse, by revealing what they think
should make them uncomfortable.
It's not about sex, its about representing our role in sexual relationships in
public, and that representation is gender. Many have noted that as long as we
look neuter in public, from the cartoons of RuPaul and Richard Simmons, to the
nice boy or androgynous girl, people don't have much of a problem. It's when
we express a sexuality that people become uncomfortable. People in Sycaluga,
Alabama -- including his parents -- liked Billy Jack Gaither because, while
they knew he liked to decorate and keep a fastidious appearance, he performed
a normative gender, helping them ignore the truth that he was gay.
The challenge is not about sexuality, but about public representation of
sexuality, and that public representation is coded in gender. The gendered
choices we make, from dress to language, code our sexuality.
When we choose to disconnect gender representations from sexual potency to
make the representations less explosive and dangerous, we take away the power
of gender. Rendering gender inoffensive also renders it impotent.
People like potent gender roles because they like potent sexuality. The
crossdressers who embody gender in a fetishistic way embody the sexual side of
gender in almost a pristine form, stylized versions of potent gendered images,
crammed with sex.
There is more to being a woman or a man than sexuality, true. But the root of
the difference between men and women is sexual, rooted in dimorphic sexual
differences, and it always will be that way, until humans no longer have a
biological sex drive coded deep in their genes -- and I suspect any
technological intervention to de-sex humans will meet lots of resistance.
It's not about sex as Kessler & McKenna define it, the physical act of making
love, its about gender, the expression of dimorphism though representation in
communications. That's a hard lesson for gay and lesbian political types who
want to appear normative except for what they do in the bedroom. The bedroom
should be off limits, most people agree, but personal representation of
sexuality -- transgressive gendered expressions -- is what people have trouble
If we argue for world without gender, we argue for a world without sex. When
expressions aren't based in sexual energy, then they are without gender. If
we strip the gender from the world, we strip sexual expression, the expression
of something that is fundamentally rooted in sexual separations, if not in
I was listening to an interview with Tammy Two Tone on GenderTalk. Tammy is a
male comedian who performs as a woman, but with a masculine voice. She
refused to be booked as transgendered for a long time, just wanted the shock,
but now she accepts the label. Her wife, though, goes into a rage when people
call Tammy a "drag" performer, because Tammy is not homosexual, even though
her wife identifies as bisexual.
"People jump to the conclusion that because I am a male dressed as a woman, I
love men." It's a common plaint from crossdressers. They appear as a male
with women's gender expression and wonder why people read sexual desire into
their gender expression. Maybe its as simple as the fact that gendered
expression is rooted in sexual energy, and people know that from a very early
To be free from gender is to be free from public representations of sexual
energy. To free sexual energy, we need to free the public representations of
that energy, freeing gender expression.
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