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Journeys through Gender

EmmaBE's picture

I had always thought because I had made an effort to educate myself about gender, I had a basic grasp of the concept and its intersection with other identities. But since I’ve arrived at Bryn Mawr and learned more about the people around me and the way they understand gender and how they relate to gender, I have begun to realize that the way I learned about gender was still very normative and not at all inclusive. I have also realized that on a basic level, I have not at all challenged my own views on gender or what my gender really is. An expression of self, yes, but through what mediums and why? Am I only falling into the easiest, pre-assigned slot in the structures of a gendered society? Now I know that my journeys through gender (theoretical and personal) are only just beginning.

I have been thinking a lot about the concept of sex being a spectrum and gender a binary that was brought up in our discussion on Thursday. I’ve found a lot through my explorations of identities that I often have aha! moments – that makes sense, that feels right, that fits my personal experience. When the concept of a sexual spectrum and gender binary was introduced, that felt a lot like an aha moment for me. But it felt like it was shutting out a lot of people whose identities do not fit in the binary. I would argue that gender has varied definitions and only some work in this context. Gender as a social construct can be a binary – in that when things (words, jobs, hobbies, appearances, people) are gendered, they are usually gendered male or female; people in our society must live up to the expectation of which gender in the binary they are assigned at birth or is attributed to them. Gender as an identity is a spectrum in which people can accept or reject these binary expectations and express themselves accordingly.