Gender Talk

One of the main themes one of the performers talked about is the ability to go beyond the definitions of labels. For example, he enjoys having sex with both males and females and he identifies as a homosexual. The way he explained to his mom is that he likes to have sex with boys and girls, but he’ll only date boys. For the performer, homosexuality goes beyond sexual attraction. Another theme is the enormous hold social norms have on people’s minds. When he first came out to his mother as a homosexual his mom asked him if he wanted to be a woman. Even after he said no, through multiple misunderstandings, his mom kept asking him. Even though the performer made no mention of wanting to be a woman, his mom immediately jumped to that conclusion because in her mind only women can form relationships with men since that’s what the social norms dictate.

One interesting point this performer mentioned is when he put up pictures of himself cross-dressing, his mom called him and told him it would be easier for her to explain to other people if he just became a woman. This is interesting because it is very much like the discussion we had in the first unit about gender identity. Sometimes parents will assign a gender to a child with ambiguous genitalia and have surgery done to remove the ambiguity because it is easier to explain to other people. So the labels we put on ourselves might not be for our self-identity but for other’s convenience. Therefore sometimes people will have a label they are uncomfortable with for the benefit of others.

Labeling in gender and sexuality, labeling in anything really, is very restrictive, but it can be used to convey a lot of information in a short amount of time. The information conveyed may not always match the person being labeled, so more vocabulary has been introduced. However, with so many individuals in our population there are bond to be many different forms of gender and sexuality. Should we keep coming up with more vocabulary or should be just eliminate the labels altogether?

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