[crossposted to Feminist Allies]
So for some reason my friend Jen decided to randomly ask me a question about the intersection of feminism and queer visibility. I know I didn’t cover all the bases here, but given that I hacked this together in a few minutes while at work I think it’s a pretty good basis for further examination. What do you think? What would you add? What would you change?
Reposted with permission (unabridged), from a chat with a friend:
[2007-07-10 11:20] jen: jen has started a chat with you
[2007-07-10 11:20] da5id: oh hai
[2007-07-10 11:20] jen: why is women’s empowerment/strength associated with sexually ambivalent behaviour (drag, androgyny, bisexuality) ?
[2007-07-10 11:20] jen: hello
[2007-07-10 11:22] da5id: Because all of those things challenge people to consider the meaning of gender. If one denies the socially constructed nature of gender one cannot work to break down its socially rooted injustices.
[2007-07-10 11:23] da5id: And, um… “ambivalent”?
[2007-07-10 11:23] jen: my professor’s phrasing
[2007-07-10 11:23] jen: not mine
[2007-07-10 11:23] jen: what do you mean, by the way
[2007-07-10 11:24] jen: if you’re busy, it’s cool
[2007-07-10 11:24] da5id: Give your professor this link:
[2007-07-10 11:24] jen: will do
[2007-07-10 11:38] da5id: In order to address women’s equality issues (which drive the empowerment/strength stuff), one must first accept that such issues exist. In order to do so, one must ditch essentialism and recognize that gender is a social construct. A great way to do so is to break out of the man/woman binary and show that lines, if they exist at all, are blurry as all hell.
So: person X is bisexual, and this is accepted rather than treated as aberrant. Ergo, bisexuality is an acceptable and natural state. Ergo, there is no strict duality of MSW/WSM, nor is there even a duality of hetero/homo. Things are fluid, and it becomes a whole lot more difficult to pigeon-hole people based on sex and gender.
Also: person Y is a transvestite, and this is accepted rather than treated as aberrant. Ergo, clothing that is commonly seen as either feminine or masculine cannot be strictly associated with one sex. Gender constraints are eroded, forcing observers to relax or even abandon their notion of gender. This means gender is not an absolute. Ergo, it is a social construction. Ergo, it can be changed. Then we are drawn to examine it and ask how it can be changed for the better, leading us back to issues of female empowerment.
[2007-07-10 12:07] jen: sorry i was in a meeting – also, i am in love with you
[2007-07-10 12:07] jen: thank-you for the help
[2007-07-10 12:10] : jen has left the chat.
[2007-07-10 12:16] da5id: No problem.
[2007-07-10 12:17] da5id: Hey, is it okay for me to post this conversation on my blog?
[2007-07-10 12:17] jen: sure
[2007-07-10 12:17] jen: thanks for asking
[2007-07-10 12:17] jen: permission
[2007-07-10 12:18] jen: off to lunch and take care
[2007-07-10 12:19] : jen has left the chat.