Friday, April 1, 2011

Creating Gender

"Based on our understanding of Biblical teachings, we affirm the following:
1. Both Adam and Eve were created in God's image, equal before God as persons and distinct in their manhood and womanhood.
2. Distinctions in masculine and feminine roles are ordained by God as part of the created order, and should find an echo in every human heart."
-Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood website

"We, as Orthodox, Catholic, and Evangelical Christians, have gathered, beginning in New York on September 28, 2009, to make the following declaration....Some who enter into same-sex and polyamorous relationships no doubt regard their unions as truly marital. They fail to understand, however, that marriage is made possible by the sexual complementarity of man and woman, and that the comprehensive, multi-level sharing of life that marriage is includes bodily unity of the sort that unites husband and wife biologically as a reproductive unit." -Manhattan Declaration

"I think these men are not human. No, no that's wrong- I decided long ago that they weren't human.... They are riddled with duality and the fear of duality. And the fear of themselves. I think it's in their blood. What human being would- sweating in fear and rage- mark out two equally revolting paths and insist that her fellow creatures tread one or the other?"-Jael Reasoner, in The Female Man

In Joanna Russ's science fiction work, The Female Man, Jael Reasoner comes from a world in which men and women are in a war with each other and live in a sex-segregated society. In the men's society, a fraction of the boys are forced to undergo surgeries to castrate and "feminize" them.

By creating the fixed sex class of women and two separate paths for men and women, manhood was thus given meaning, supremacy, and importance. Manhood, in the male society, was defined, primarily, by Not Being A Woman. Women existed primarily to sexually service and reflect the magnificence and centrality of men. The men lived seemingly ignorant of the fact that they had created and then imposed this artificial duality upon themselves, a duality that caused them to then repress the "feminine" within themselves.

In the real world, in 16th-century Italy, "women were not allowed to sing in the church, sanctioned by St. Paul’s injunction in his letter to the Corinthians (I Corinthians 14:34): 'let your women keep silence in the churches for it is not permitted for them to speak…'” Despite the ban on women, a feminized class of singers was needed to perform "woman." Thus:

"Soprano parts were taken either by young boys with good voices and musical ability or by male contraltos i.e. falsettists. This solution was less than satisfactory in the case of young boys since their voices lacked the strength and timbre of an adult and the investment in training was lost when their voices 'broke' during puberty."

The obvious solution to the man-made problem of women being "unavailable" for singing parts, then, was to employ human castration "in the service of vocal art."

In both our world and Jael's world, in order to assure the supremacy of men, a class of people had to be created who could perform femininity without actually possessing the contamination of inferiority of those who had been born female. Both sets of male supremacists peddled, and continue to peddle, the myth of gender complementarity, which posits that all people born male are masculine and all people born female are feminine, the "logical" conclusion of which is that any male/female combination comprises a complete, perfect whole of human being.

Yet, if the very purpose of each society's imposed surgeries was to create a class of male humans who could and did effectively perform femininity, which is conflated with biological femaleness, isn't the entire theory of inherent gender complementarism rendered null?


But despite this ironic consequence of transgendering for male supremacist purposes, both patriarchal societies continued to operate under the mistaken belief that sex/gender duality comes from god, nature, or some other entity outside of humanity.

To answer Jael's speculation, complementarists are indeed human. Their problem is that they deem themselves gods.

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