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Still troubled...

epeck's picture

Going through My Gender Workbook has made me think a lot more about what gender is and what it isn't.  I still find myself thinking in a fairly conservative way, that there are "men" and "women," but I actually am starting to think about why I think that way and if those assumptions true and what they mean.  It's very hard for me to understand what a "non-gender" would be.  It's also confusing how Bornstein talks about rejecting gender, but at the same time talks about her (hir?) own gender and how we can all find our own gender/expressions - there gender or not?  Or are there many genders that are personal to each individual?  I also have trouble understanding whether Bornstein believes that our gender identities are fluid (as she seemed to in the beginning of the book), or if we have a TRUE identity which is hidden by our own performance of socialy-constructed gender.  Does Bornstein argue that we have an essential self at all, or that everything about us is dynamic?  I guess the message of the book is getting through to me...somewhat.  

I still find Bornstein very troubling in many ways.  I was intrigued when adalke mentioned that Bornstein shares a lot of personal information in talks, I did some youtube research.  I find the "get out of hell free" card very upsetting actually, now that I've seen Bornstein speak about it (here it's brought up in an It Gets Better video).  I definitely support her overall message, that any alternative to suicide is generally useful and a good idea and I was encouraged when she started talking about how religion may make people feel like they will go to hell for various reasons  and that therefore living in a way that would make them personally happy would also be conflicting with some religious ideas.  It seems very useful to address these issues, but then Bornstein goes on to talk about how she has made a deal with the devil and will serve time in hell for anyone who has a "get out of hell free" card.  It's hard to tell if she is being sarcastic (about her "deal with Satan" or even the idea of the cards), but even if she is being completely genuine at this point (which is how I interpreted it, not literally about the cards, but that she feels that she will serve anyone's time in hell if hell is an actuality), I felt that she was trivializing this huge issue for many people.  If someone truly believes that they are going to hell for any number of reasons, Kate Bornstein promising that she'll serve your time  is probably not going to help...


FrigginSushi's picture

Sociology point

I'm taking Sociology 102 this semester and so this idea of the true self kind of spoke out to me as relating to Goffman's idea of what the true self was. He believes that the true self is actually our own performance. Every performance or different face we put on, all of them are our true selves. In that case, I think that Bornstein might be accepting of all types of performance and faces that make up the "doing" of gender. Not so much that there are two genders or even no gender, but that every performance of gender (even the option of not performing at all) is a valid self identity.

As far as your point on the It Gets Better video, I remember sitting at home watching all the videos I could find from the project and coming across Kate's video before knowing who she was. I think my only thought was that it was a nice of her to say she'd take on my troubles. I do agree though that it's kind of belittling though.