Predetermined Choices

Most of my choices are predetermined – they’ve already been decided for me. These predetermined choices make ideas of free choice impossible, especially in regards to gender. I don’t think I chose my gender – I’m a girl, I act like a girl, and I always have. It feels natural to me, so how could I think of it as a choice? What if I were to choose to consider my gender as male? Even then, society does not let me be male. I would be considered a “tom boy,” a “transsexual” or perhaps “butch,” but certainly not “male”. And, what if my mind could wrap around the idea of choosing to have no gender? This is again impossible. Lorber sets up gender as “process, stratification, and structure” (115). As a member of society, I cannot escape the process – I interact with society. I cannot escape stratification – I work within society. I cannot escape the structure – I am a part of society. No matter how I choose to interpret gender, I cannot escape from it. That’s why Storm, although her parents “will be keeping it a secret until the child is old enough to ‘choose’ which gender he or she is most comfortable living with,” will still not be exercising free will. It will be a question of (if a girl) whether Storm  is a woman, lesbian, butch, transsexual, etc. If Storm is male, it will become either gay, effeminate, metrosexual, etc. Gender cannot be chosen if one belongs to society.

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One Response to Predetermined Choices

  1. AMU says:

    The overarching point of the post above is about how most choices are predetermined. To some extent this is true, but by no means are all choices predetermined. There are many decisions that we make as human beings from our childhood onward. Yes, parents and society can decide the paths they want you to choose, but you can supersede this and go against societies’ wishes. Fundamentally, this is rebellion. As far as gender goes, the idea of predetermination can also become a discussion on deriving to what extent is gender entrenched in our biological state and to what extent is it a factor of societal norms and expectations (nature vs. nurture).

    From a historical and personal standpoint, it seems that some themes that were gender specific in the past have become more neutralized in present day. For instance, it is not unheard of for a woman to wear pants. Although, you can still find gender stereotyping in comments like “He/she wears the pants in the relationship.” This generally connotes that the person wearing the pants is dominant and more like a man in the relationship, but more often than not, women are the subjects of this comment.

    In my negotiations class, my professor spoke about how the abundance of information creates a need for the separation of this information in our head to make quicker decisions. The stratification that Lorber speaks of is present in this idea. This can lead to discrimination and overall bad decision-making, but it also helps people avoid the overload of information. I could be at a world-class restaurant, but if their prices are cheap, I may confuse them to be a mediocre to subpar restaurant and vice versa. Ultimately, people are trying to make life somewhat less confusing by gender stratification.

    Traditionally, humans are resistant to change, but with progress and rebellion, maybe one day the story of Storm’s upbringing will not be in vain and all parents will start raising their children to make their own decisions.

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