Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Who defines the "ordinary" ?

I agree with Judith Butler that sex and gender is based to a large extent on performance and the manner in which we perceive it. Today sex does not dictate one’s gender anymore, one might be born with the sex of a boy and choose to act as a girl or vice versa. Furthermore there are people who are born today with both with male and female genitalia. If gender was based simply on sex as convention proposes how they do we explain the choice these individuals make to perform one gender over the other. There are so many variations of individual personalities and identities all around the world that people sometimes get afraid by the multiplicity of different identities. This multiplicity of identities threatens the dominant ideal of gender being divided into the binary of male and female and that is why I think people resist it so much. I think people fear that if even something as “basic” as gender cannot be performed in a simple manner anymore, then what does one really understands of anything?

I think it is this fear that makes people resists the ideas that challenge the conventional ideas (for e.g. same sex marriage. I think it’s the same fear of the unconventional that makes us label gender identities different from our own (such as transsexuals) as psychological disorders. Gender dysphoria is currently defined as anxiety and discomfort that people experience about the gender they were born with’ and is present in the current Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). I find it scary to think how quickly our society labels the unconventional as abnormal. Not long ago homosexuality too was included in the DSM. What does this then say about our society and its ability to process something “different” than what it considered the “ordinary”?
This why I like it when Judith Butler asks to create “gender trouble” when she asks us to challenge the conventions of gender , sex and their intersection today in today’s media and society.

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