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playing with gender
playing with gender
So I've been thinking about gender, and my thoughts have run along two lines. First, when is gender a good thing, and when is it a bad thing? Second, how do these two sides get played out on this site?
Gender: good or bad?
On the one hand: yes, there are boy bits and girl bits. Yes, biological differences, such as differences in hormone or neurotransmitter production, can translate into behavioral differences.
On the other hand: yes, some "gender markers" are clearly social constructs. Yes, gender gets weirdly mapped onto other social categories, such as race (e.g., a white audience is more easily "fooled" by cross-dressers of other racial groups).
I can see situations where you need to sort out the two. After all, you don't want to force left-handed people to use their right hands. It just makes them stutter. (And there are a lot of people who stutter when it comes to sex!)
But I'm reluctant to say of any "character trait," innate or otherwise, that it is per se good or bad. Good or bad relative to what? Take some of the crudest associations, that of activity with the male and passivity with the female. Well, sometimes one works best, and sometimes the other. Taoism, for example, makes a lot of hay with the virtues of yielding, of giving way.
Of course, when these forms of life are imposed--when women, say, are chastised for being forward or slutty--then something has gone awry. But it's not a matter of gender-inappropriate behavior. Rather, the culprit is an abusive power (or power structure) that limits anyone's form of life. If the only harm resulting from such transgressive action is that someone takes offense, well then, so much the worse for the offended party. Deal with it.
And clearly gender can let us play a fun and exciting game. It's the grammar of a language that lets us say things we otherwise could not say; a game thay we can play only because the rules, however "made up," actually CONSTITUTE the game; a dance that might have taken any other form but had to take some form to be a dance.
I think that even those most given to characterizing gender as a social construct--namely, transsexuals and cross-dressers--see this, however dimly. After all, if gender categories were not to exist, the practices such people pursue couldn't be stated. If we dissovle the categories "male" and "female," then how can we descibe a man who feels himself to be a woman or vice versa?
So gender provides us with endless amusement, I think, and to do so it must exist. There must be behaviors and material culture--specific forms of life--associated with gender categories, even if those things may be altered, twisted, and toyed with. Gender turns ugly, however, when it is used to force people into a behavioral straitjacket, to make them feel bad about themselves for doing things that harm no one.
Gender on AdultFriendFinder:
If gender is or can be an enjoyable game, and given that it is intimately tied to sex and erotic activity, then you would expect to find it enacted all over the place on this site. And you do--in ways both good and bad.
I don't suppose I need to rehearse the good ways. All the best of gender is here for everyone to see: the courtly dances; the paraphernalia, from stockings and lingerie to leather and defined muscles; feminine provocation vs. masculine forwardness; and so much more. And beyond that--delightfully--there are the transgressions, in particular the women who play with traditionally masculine tropes of power, autonomy, and appetite.
That said, I'm sometimes bummed by the downside. First, there are far too many men who play out their traditional gender roles far too assertively and unreflexively, taunting and insulting women for exploring new paths and--especially--for not yielding before the men's clumsy onslaughts. This site should be a wonderful opportunity to expand your understandings, but instead they retreat to a retrosexual mode, acting like jackasses and then insulting those who call them on it.
But some women, too, seem to lose sight of possibilities. A woman who exults in showing her body is free and self-empowered. A man who does so is a perv. Or again, I've seen countless complaints about "dick shots," and although I am somewhat sympathetic (I make love to people, not naughty bits), I rarely see any comments about the great many women who post pictures only of their breasts, butts, or genitalia. Yes, I understand that women especially may be reluctant to show their faces, but still, all this strikes me as an oppressive double standard regarding gender roles: the guys are crude; the women, cautious.
In the end, of course, we all have to decide what games we choose to play, and it makes sense to seek out those who want to play the same or complementary games. It gets ugly only when we insist that all should play exactly the games we choose to play. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to realize that you're making such demands. Still, if it can be done anywhere, this is perhaps the place.
Oh, yeah, one other thing. Damn, I wish I were spending today making sweet yet rambumctious love to a cool, uninhibited woman!
8/8/2005 10:10 pm
I think the lack of complaints about naked women is that they are, for the most part, more artistically done, compard to the typical
dick pictures. I am not revolted by them, but I think it shows a
lack of imagination, They just figure since visual displays turns
them on a photo like that will have an equal effect on a woman.
And then they gripe because they get hit on by gay men! Well Duh!