A Twitter thread by @radicalhag
I keep seeing these sanctimonious throwaway remarks about “our new understanding of gender” (which seems to mean we ooh and aah over the details instead of abolishing the fucker.) There’s an implication here that a 2nd wave analysis of gender isn’t up to today’s complexity.
Well, it most certainly is, although it might not give you the answers you want. So I did some pictures.
Starting at the very beginning, we’re a sexually dimorphic species of great ape which reproduces by anisogamy (two kinds of gamete, one big, one small). Nothing about this is sexist or gendered. So the least sexist way to use man/woman is as adult human male/adult human female.
In this world there are two broad classes of people, men and women, and these words refer to body types and have nothing to do with whether you wear make-up or can fly a plane.
And don’t bother with all the whatabout-intersex-infertile-women-menopausery – read this instead :
At some point men began controlling women, originally with violence and incarceration (which still happens in lots of places). This led to a sex hierarchy, in which men are dominant and women are subordinate. *Feminism’s only job is to liberate women from this hierarchy!*
And this is how gender got going. It’s hard work keeping the females in cages, and it doesn’t look good if you fancy yourself as virtuous, so all sorts of social rules were invented to separate out the things men were allowed to do from the things women were allowed to do.
The collection of things permitted for men are called masculinity. The collection of things permitted for women are called femininity. Gender is the *rules* binding these to body types, not the things (like make-up or flying a plane) themselves.
Of course the man-things are valued and the women-things are devalued. Internalising this helps people believe that the hierarchy is real and their position in it fixed. But the hierarchy is still a sex hierarchy. The rules create a set of masculine/feminine *markers*.
It also goes without saying that because this is a hierarchy, men get the good things flagged as masculine (like flying a plane) and women get the tedious stuff flagged as feminine (like putting on make-up or washing the floor). So the value system makes sense.
Internalising this – social pressure from a sexist society on a neuroplastic brain, particularly in childhood – is probably also what leads to what is fashionably known as a ‘gender identity’ – a set of shoulds and should nots which you’ve come to believe in.
As the gender rules in a society get more and more strict and rigid, fewer and fewer people will feel able to adhere to them. So there will be a lot of males who feel they’re not “real men” and a lot of females who feel they’re not “real women”.
So there’s a lot of space for people struggling with the rules to construct new “identities”, and I think this is what we’re seeing – an individualised and fashionable response to media- and internet-driven stereotypes, but one which isn’t actually tackling the root problem.
(I mean, if you want to see how hyper-ridiculous it’s become, follow Celeste Barber, or just look at all the wokebeards taking selfies and showing off their abs – about the most unsexy thing they could do, but hey, gender!)
“Man” and “woman” increasingly get associated with performance of the stereotype rather than just a member of a sex class. Other identities proliferate around them as people define themselves as ‘outside’ the stereotypes. But the sex hierarchy which underpins this is untouched.
Interestingly, the more rigidly gendered and patriarchal a society is, like ours, the more likely it is to have ‘3rd genders’ – see
Another consequence of the hierarchy is that only men are seen as real people, and everyone else is ‘othered’ somehow – the famous binary we’re supposed to smash. But without attacking the sex hierarchy, all this smashing does is give men more people to colonise.
AGPs exploit this – they are men who are usually heavily invested in really narrow gender stereotypes, and who are sexually aroused by performing feminine stereotypes. The erasure of women as a sex class allows them to do exactly this.
Let’s put this on a graph of feminist progress. The goal is an end to male dominance, which is a *prerequisite* for equality of the sexes. As we approach this (to the right), the gender rules get weaker. We can all live like this: https://t.co/TpYuIvZgRl
As we move to the left, the rules get stronger, the censure for disobeying them is harsher, and so masculinity is demanded of men, and femininity of women.
And as things get even worse, we’ve got the current epic shitshow, where off to the left, gender has become completely reified and bodies are disappeared, just like in every other patriarchal death cult. This isn’t progress. It’s hyperpatriarchy.
We need to get from *this* mess, where distressed young people would rather opt out of their sex class than attempt to follow the draconian and ridiculous rules society tries to impose on them…
In which men and women are both free to fly planes and wear makeup, if they feel so inclined.
No matter how much queer theory “nuance” has been added to the picture, our job hasn’t changed. We need to dismantle the sex hierarchy. 2nd wavers are up for the task.