My post on gender performativity elicited an interesting comment from a reader named Alex SL:
I remain unconvinced that you can actually suppress gender roles without a 1984-like level of totalitarian suppression. It sure seems as if the vast majority – not all, but the vast majority – of people want to advertise what sex they are, and they want to exaggerate whatever it is that is considered their gender role in their specific society, especially during puberty, in order to be more attractive to the opposite sex.
Trying to completely abolish that is probably not any more hopeful an enterprise than trying to eradicate addictions, egoism, nepotism or lying. Sure, you want to minimize the negative consequences of these things, and you want to discourage them as far as realistically possible, but you will never have a 100% success because it is just too much part of what we are. Should we not be happy enough once everybody has equal rights instead of twisting our own nature beyond breaking point? Equality is already an enormous accomplishment that many cultures in the world still would have to achieve; me not being able to wear a skirt and makeup without being ostracized seems like a “luxury problem” in comparison.
It’s taken me a while to articulate a proper response, given that I did not actually advocate a top-down enforcement of androgyny by the state. Read the rest of this entry »