This is another one of those posts/topics that I’m finding extremely difficult to write. It’s been over a month since I began drafting this post; at this point I’m just going to get down what I can and call it good for now! Hopefully y’all can forgive me for my absence…
Truthfully, gender was never a topic of great personal interest to me. I learned about feminism in school, I studied the suffragettes, I was taught the short version of homosexuality and transsexuality, and I was raised by a racist misogynist. Make no mistake, I was well aware of gender issues. I simply never felt they affected me directly. I now realize that the foundation was always there, I simply had to expand my horizons prior to giving the topic serious consideration.
I have always had very vivid, lifelike dreams. Even as a young child I regularly remembered my dreams in detail. It wasn’t until I was a teenager that I noticed something about my dreams which I’d never heard from anyone else. In almost exactly 50% of my dreams, I’m male. This continues to this day. In the cold light of day it sounds like a big deal, but in my dreams it makes no difference. I’m still me. I think the same, I speak the same, I am the same – I’m just not female. I was also a teenager when I began training as a martial artist. A few years in, during a sparring session, the Master made a comment I’ve never forgotten, “You fight like a man.” He then proceeded to explain to me, in a room full of people, that I’m not a man and have to learn to not fight like one. WTF!? Wasn’t he suppose to be the one teaching me how to fight? How the hell could I know how to ‘fight like a man’ or how to ‘fight like a woman’? I didn’t (and I still don’t…).
What I’m getting at (albeit very slowly) is that I don’t identify strongly as feminine. I wouldn’t describe myself as a tomboy or butch by any means, I’m simply not particularly attached to my gender. I recall a passing thought as a teenager that, sexually speaking, men are lucky as they can both penetrate their partner and be penetrated. I thought that sounded like a way better deal than being female – truth be told, I still do 😉 In the last couple of years, I’ve even begun having sexual fantasies in which I’m male. It’s no secret to anyone reading this blog that I’m in to BDSM – however I doubt I’ve made what attracts me to BDSM entirely clear. While that’s another topic in and of itself, I will mention for the moment that humiliation is a big part of it. While I am well aware that women can be humiliated, when I fantasize about sexual humiliation as a man it increases the level of degradation.
This brings me to gender bias. I see this as a cultural issue – something which will probably always be a part of us, but the impact of which can perhaps be mitigated over time. Having already described briefly the gender fluidity I experience, what possible reason is there for why I would feel humiliation more acutely when picturing myself as a man? The only answer I can think of is gender bias. Obviously, I myself hold varying expectations based on gender roles, otherwise I wouldn’t experience this phenomena. My point, I guess, is that bias is not the same as acknowledging differences. The former is based in expectations, while the latter is based on facts. Perhaps it’s time to coin a slightly different phrase: expectation is the root of all evil. I wonder what our world would look like if we let go of some of our culture’s expectations around gender and sexuality?
I’ve been watching a T.V. show entitled Sister Wives, which is about a Fundamentalist Mormon polygamous family. I find it fascinating. There is one husband, four wives and 17 children if I recall correctly. On the Playboy channel, there’s a show called Swing which features couples who spend a weekend at a mansion to try swinging for the first time – also (you guessed it!) fascinating! These ideas, along with light BDSM such as is depicted in 50 Shades of Grey, are becoming far more mainstream. These ‘alternate’ lifestyles are receiving massive amounts of attention nationwide, and being discussed openly by people outside of the kink community. What does this mean?
Hopefully, our world is changing. The sexual revolution is still on – it’s up to us to propel it, to fight for it. Once upon a time I was against the legalization of gay marriage. I’ve since come to realize that position was a mistake. Does that make me a bad person, a hypocrite? Perhaps. However, I choose to view it in a more positive light – I was open minded enough to learn the error in my beliefs, and accept that knowledge. I changed. Imagine a world where change is embraced…after all, growth cannot occur without change. If polygamy, BDSM and swinging are working their way in to mainstream society, perhaps polyamory, transsexuality and other ‘alternate’ lifestyles will follow until gender, sexuality and their roles in identity will simply be a non-issue? If I can change and open my mind, what’s to say others can’t? Everyone can change. So, to all my friends and allies out there I ask of you this: don’t judge harshly those who judge you unfairly; forgive them for not understanding, and seek to allow them as many chances as it takes until they too choose to open their minds and change. If we could all do this, I see before us a bright future indeed.