how do you solve a problem like sex/gender?

“the milk and sugar are over there sir,” says the woman in the coffee shop.
“can you pull your car forward please mama?” says the guy at the petrol station.

(“mama” isn’t just saying that my gender’s been read as female, it’s also saying i’m old enough to be a mother)

those two interactions took place within minutes of each other and i responded the same to both i.e. i didn’t contribute anything gender-related at all. there were times in my twenties, when if a guy called me sir, i’d respond my calling him ma’am. deadpan, straight faced too. now? i just don’t care.

the queer community often feels fragmented to me. there’s a group wanting gender transcended, the demolition of the binary and the introduction of a fluid approach. and there are those who want to transition instead of transcend and those who just want their biological gender affirmed – those people tend to say that the binary is an irrelevant societal construct – but then they define it and cling to it. i’m not saying that’s wrong, i just don’t understand the logic.

and we all talk, think, shout about gender – but nothing much is said about sex. not sex the act, sex as in male/female. if sex is what you are biologically, frankly it needs challenging too. south africa has a higher-than-global rate of intersex births – are we going to keep forcing all those people to one end or the other of the binary? do we need no sex-categories, or a whole lot more? or just a sliding scale? surely caster semenya is merely the tip of the metaphorical iceberg? are society and its sports teams ever going to allow for more than the binary? or less, even?

why is humanity so very willing to accept new technology, but so fiercely averse to society’s own evolution?

my vote goes to defining the biological sex purely biologically – baby smith has a vagina. baby jones has a penis. baby cooper has a vagina and undescended testes. whatever – but without adding “male” or female” to it. then the babies could grow up, wear whatever the fuck they felt like – and get equal pay for whatever job they did. if the penises consistently beat the vaginas at running, they could create separate leagues, but then what about intersexed people? and the whole binary would probably happen all over again..but at least it would give some respite from gender inequality?

nope, i’ve just talked myself round in a complete circle of historical gender formation.

so what’s the answer?

this game was removed, but ffs …

… and these are the people who bothered to do something about it – major props for that.

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About ulla

queer. antisocial. verbose. View all posts by ulla

4 responses to “how do you solve a problem like sex/gender?

  • Victoria Oldham

    Perhaps it isnt a problem, and the very act of you accepting either pronoun is, in itself, assisting in the evolution of a spectrum. One calls you sir, but realizes belatedly that you are not a sir, and one calls you mama and realizes belatedly that perhaps that was incorrect. Either way, you’ve got them thinking and realizing, even subconsciously, that there is a spectrum.
    Which also contributes to the sex spectrum–are you a man? A woman? Somewhere in between? Living proudly as yourself means that other people become aware of more options than the binary.

    • ulla

      i guess i should have specified better – i don’t feel it’s as much a problem for me, as within society as a whole. like the caster semenya thing. also, like the gender/sex discrimination within the binary. like … if they (whoever they are..i should have said we) abolish the binary system, then how will sports teams (for example) happen? and i have a feeling that no matter how we amalgamate or further divide sexes and genders, that discrimination (not always a negative term) will never vanish, because differences are apparent and … perhaps i don’t have enough faith in humanity?

  • meganger

    In one of my Feminist Studies classes, my professor once said, “Sex is whats in your pants, genders whats in your head, and sexuality is whats in your heart”. Take it with a grain of salt, but I took it to heart. I think she really crystalized it. I also really like the idea of just stating things how they are; not so much over-analysis. This is completely contradictory to the entire foundation upon which I have built my studies (analyze EVERYTHING hahaha) but the simplicity is something that most people crave I feel. Sometimes you just need a break….ya know?

  • ulla

    “Sex is whats in your pants, genders whats in your head, and sexuality is whats in your heart”.

    Ja I saw that on your blog and it’s cute and neat and simple. It’s just that none of those three things are actually limited to one area….

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