15 February 2018

The delusion of manliness

I keep seeing people talking very earnestly about a need to re-imagine manliness.

This is part and parcel of the huge ghastly mistake involved in considering gender of public relevance.

One of the things you can pick up from a cursory examination of biology over the last couple-four decades is that any kind of judgement-based taxonomy is an inherent disaster.  It leads to unresolvable arguments to the limit of available emotional energy and it cannot do anything good because there's nothing there to connect it to facts.  Quantified, materialistic, falsifiable taxonomic hypotheses give us new knowledge (Afrotheria! Whippomorpha! murder parrots!).

Thing is, gender is a social construct. It's a creature of feels.  It's deeply contingent on who knows what developmental events.  It's generational in variation. It's not usefully subject to a predictive analysis.  (Your ancestors are always your ancestors; your understanding of your gender changes over your life.)

ANY community where there are attempts to make fine distinction of gender presentation style turns into this incomprehensible fractal thicket you can't hope to understand without participating in that community.  This applies to boring neighbourhoods where dad is ritually required to barbecue just as much as it does to edgy queer communities in bad parts of town.

The historical solution was savagely destructive enforcement of a gender binary; we're going to make this simple.  (The limiting-variety version of getting enough technical-sense control to have a system.)

The historical solution is stupidly expensive, destructive, and unconscionable.  The "let's be aware of every community's distinctions" reflex of politeness is simply impractical; there's no way to keep track of living definitions across diverse communities.  (No way to provide matching variety or to build the variety amplifier to get a working system if we're not going for the forcibly-limiting-variety version.)

The thing we can actually do is not treat gender as having public relevance.  (It might have a lot of personal relevance; it might not.  But that's a friend-group and personal and maybe community thing, not a general-public-society thing.)

That doesn't mean some sort of soft patriarchy of understatement; that means taking the notion of gender off all the forms.  It means adopting a single standard salutation.  It means writing dress codes in utterly gender-neutral language.  (It means harsh and savage regulation about acceptable salary ranges and mean, cruel, and heartless laws criminalizing surreptitious gender norm enforcement.)  It means designing bathrooms differently.

If you want an analogy, consider sexuality.  Someone who is gynosexual is not interested in every woman or most women.  The very broad term is obscuring the large amount of work necessary to establish what sort of intimate relationship any particular gynosexual person wants to be in.  The work is necessarily personal.  (To meet "wants", yes it is personal, no matter how many cultures have had arranged marriages.)

So, anyway -- public significance of gender starts with patriarchy which starts with bribing your army with women as property back in the Neolithic somewhere.  You don't get to a just society -- there is no just patriarchy -- while maintaining the public significance of gender.  Any "manliness" that's ascribed generality, rather than temporally and personally -- these are the people who know what this means -- locality is perpetuating the attachment of necessity to injustice.

It's a mistake everybody needs to stop committing for themselves; it's the "am I who I want to be?"  "What purpose does it serve to act like that?", "Am I trustworthy?" questions.  It's work.

It presents the possibility of a good outcome.

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