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Gender Association

Postby LunchBox » Fri Feb 17, 21:44 2012

Today in the chat-room Epicenity asked a quite thought provoking question. She asked something along the lines of, "Would you live as the opposite gender for a year for a large amount of money(200k)?". I said of course but then I had to think about it and ask my boyfriend whether he'd still be with me if I was a guy for just a year. His response is what startled and intrigued me. He said no because he could only be with someone who he associated as a female. This answer of course is because he is sadly the straightest straight guy I have ever met, however, when I challenged him on it he said some thought provoking things. To him, when he meets someone he identifies and associated them as male or female and treats them accordingly. He said no one can ever really change that association of them self and he can't change how he treats a certain group. So if I was a guy he couldn't have an emotional relationship with me, we'd have to just be buddies.I would have a relationship with him if he were a girl (and incredibly tall girl at that), but is that just because I have more of an open sexuality? Next he went on through my prodding to detail that there is a distinct difference in the way he treats and interacts with each sex based on their association and he couldn't help it. He said it's human nature to label people like that and treat them based on their gender.

My question is, is it really human nature to file people away into gender categories and treat them accordingly? Whether or not it's human nature, is it equality if women/men still get the same opportunities but are treated differently in everyone's minds? I'd like to think I treat each individual as a person and not as their gender. I'm not sure whether my boyfriend is just acting like a horridly shallow and possibly sexist or if there's some truth in what he says. Does he love me for me constrained by his sexuality and the borders of the reasonable, legitimate associations of "human nature" or does he only love me as girl? I'm not sure which is better or whether I've been dating a jerk for a long, long time.

I'm really curious folks, is it natural to separate people like that? Do you/have you ever associated the people in your life and anyone you interact with by gender?

I apologize if this isn't right for the feminism forum, I couldn't decide.
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Re: Gender Association

Postby Epicenity » Fri Feb 17, 21:52 2012

More like Human Behaviour. People are the way they are because of the surroundings of their environment, I believe. Although, he may say one thin but also he might act differently if the situation were true. So, it's hard to say.
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Re: Gender Association

Postby Sonic# » Fri Feb 17, 22:13 2012

I don't think it's human nature in the sense that it's often used, as a claim that it inevitably happens that way, it's wired in our DNA, and it's just how humans work. But people do tend to perceive categories fairly well. There doesn't necessarily have to be any great difference in treatment, some categories don't have to be important, and personal interaction can trump these categories. However (at least as I understand it) for some people these categories are laws, rules that are less flexible than important relationships. And there's also issues of attraction to bodies which can be tied to or independent of treating people differently based on gender. (There's an episode of Star Trek where the gender of someone's body changes halfway through the episode, and Dr. Crusher can no longer love him/her.)

Is equality possible if people are treated differently? I am unsure. I want to say that, at best, a system where people can be treated differently is a system where people feel happy because they are given the choices that they would wish to have, such that whether or not they are actually equal doesn't matter. It's only when people are treated differently when they don't want that kind of treatment that it becomes a problem.
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Re: Gender Association

Postby cwbyrvr » Fri Feb 17, 23:18 2012

I definitely do not think it's "human nature" as much as it is conditioned. And people can condition themselves to think otherwise if they try, sadly most people don't keep an open enough mind to try.

Personally, gender roles and expectations never sat well with me. I was never a girly girl, objected to being called a "tomboy" (I took serious offense to that as a kid) because it implied that there was something weird or different with what I liked to do and just... fuck everything about that. (Little kid logic coming here) I used to sometimes think perhaps I had been born a boy but something happened to my penis so the doctors decided to raise me as a girl, and got a bit older and learned a little bit about transgendered people but the more I read and thought about it, the more I realized my confusion lied simply in constantly being told I didn't like the right things to fit my body presentation. And that was ridiculous. Why should interests which appeal to everyone be classed as masculine or feminine?
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Re: Gender Association

Postby Storage and Disposal » Sat Feb 18, 0:23 2012

I think that's the very root of the problem with sexism. "Boys are boys, girls are girls, and I shall act accordingly." No, I'm Storage, that's Epic, this is Lunchbox, there's Sonic, there's Raver, and that's it.

I told you all about my process of coming out. I believe you shouldn't depend on the gender of a person before you decide if you want to be with them. And if you love someone, you should love their mind, not their body. I mean, beauty lasts only for so long anyway. If you walk around with the attitude that you're only attracted to a specific type of body and won't be with anyone that doesn't fit these requirements, you're definitely going to die alone if you get old enough and your mate's body changes.

Wow, that was a bit harsh, but yeah. That's my take on it. It's a sexist view, especially since it's only a year. Come on, he can't go a year? And, of course, you know that not all men have a penis and not all women have a vagina. There's very little that separates the two genders because we're all individuals. And anyone who says you can't change the role you were born into needs to just stop it! Seriously.
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Re: Gender Association

Postby LunchBox » Sat Feb 18, 0:39 2012

Storage and Disposal wrote:I think that's the very root of the problem with sexism. "Boys are boys, girls are girls, and I shall act accordingly." No, I'm Storage, that's Epic, this is Lunchbox, there's Sonic, there's Raver, and that's it.

I told you all about my process of coming out. I believe you shouldn't depend on the gender of a person before you decide if you want to be with them. And if you love someone, you should love their mind, not their body. I mean, beauty lasts only for so long anyway. If you walk around with the attitude that you're only attracted to a specific type of body and won't be with anyone that doesn't fit these requirements, you're definitely going to die alone if you get old enough and your mate's body changes.

Wow, that was a bit harsh, but yeah. That's my take on it. It's a sexist view, especially since it's only a year. Come on, he can't go a year? And, of course, you know that not all men have a penis and not all women have a vagina. There's very little that separates the two genders because we're all individuals. And anyone who says you can't change the role you were born into needs to just stop it! Seriously.


Yeah, it's off-putting that he couldn't put up with liking me for mind only for just one year. That's why I'm hoping he's not the only one shortsighted on things like this. Not everyone can be as awesome as a Storage.
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Re: Gender Association

Postby Epicenity » Sat Feb 18, 0:40 2012

Well said storage, that is if you are the REAL Storage lol jks

Anyway, yes! I think the exterior only plays so much. It's the beauty within someone. If he couldn't be with you after this change, and just wanted t be buddies. His views on this is "I must be gay if I am dating my girlfriend who transformed into a dude, and she has a bigger dick than I do and I am not gay! Cause that would totally make me gay and I can't be gay."

That's why society has put ideas into people's mind to react or act certain ways because society in general in closed indeed hence i think it being human behavior, behavior we created within our culture, imo.
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Re: Gender Association

Postby LunchBox » Sat Feb 18, 0:46 2012

new quote from lunchbox's boyfriend in pertaining to liking me for my mind: "If your mind was in a male body, I would not like you like that. Cus you'd be a guy."

Apparently I'm liked for my mind but it has to include a female body.

sigh.

Edit: I've come to the conclusion that I'm gender blind and my boyfriend is the farthest from it. I can accept this fact. The logic that he can/does choose his friends and who he is close with regardless of gender yet a significant other must match a gender so that he can be sexually attracted now makes somewhat sense in my mind. I'm still perplexed by the whole "you must notice and interact with people based on their gender" idea though.
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Re: Gender Association

Postby edit the sad parts » Sat Feb 18, 1:40 2012

I'm perplexed by it too...mostly because it is absolute bullshit.
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Re: Gender Association

Postby Ama » Sat Feb 18, 2:53 2012

Sonic# wrote:And there's also issues of attraction to bodies which can be tied to or independent of treating people differently based on gender. (There's an episode of Star Trek where the gender of someone's body changes halfway through the episode, and Dr. Crusher can no longer love him/her.)


This is just going to make me look like a total nerd (yeah, that's going to shock anyone...) but that is not *quite* how the episode went. It involved a symbiotic alien that lives inside of the bodies of other races, who was the "mind" and the "hosts" ceased having autonomous function of their body. Anyway, halfway through the initial body dies and the alien takes the form of another man who is a part of the crew (and involved in a non-physical quasi-romantic relationship with crusher's friend). This causes issues and friction between them, but Dr Crusher's love of the alien enables her to overcome the transference of bodies. Then at the end of the show, the alien is put into the body of a new host, which now happens to be female. This is when Dr Crusher decides she can't stay with the alien, because according to her the continuous shifting of bodies is too much for her and she can't handle having to get used to a new face all the time. It really *looks* though like it's just because the alien is in a female body that she can no longer handle the relationship, while being with men is OK. Anyway I thought it was important to add that there was yet another host :P

In my own case, I have absolutely zero attraction to men and the thought of having sexual interactions with them with my body just doesn't compute, so I would have a very hard time having a sexual relationship with one. I've also *hated* men for the majority of my life, so it would be extremely hard for me to find a man whose brain I could fall in love with either. I have recently begun to be able to tolerate men a little better, but I still haven't met any I can really be friends with on more than the casual level. I should probably feel bad about this, but I really can't. I've had a lot of bad experiences with men, and most "masculine" emotions or attitudes disgust me on some level.

One thing that we have to remember is that everyone comes with their own lens. And I must expect that most people base their observations and categorizations of the world off of their observations of themself. What we see as being acceptable or unacceptable has a lot to do with our own beliefs about ourselves. I think it's obvious that I can imagine how it would be impossible to feel the same way about someone of the opposite gender even if they had the same mind previously in another form. I have a lot of trouble swallowing Dr Crusher's words on the subject. Attraction to a body means a great deal to the success of romantic relationships... in a significant subset of humanity. It is a lot rarer to find people who don't care about the body of a potential partner at all, and I tend to find that most people who are open to everyone are either not terribly sexual in the first place or are not very relationship minded. This just anecdotal observation at work though. In any case there are a lot of factors that determine whether we can feel compatible with any given individual, and I'm pretty certain that these factors are very strongly different between different people. While it would be a much more idyllic society if sex was irrelevant between potential romantic partners, I believe that there are real reasons and not just homophobia that prevent that from being the case. I'm clearly not a completely functional human being though so I'm not sure how much attention should be paid to me in this regard. My lens is a bit biased.
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Re: Gender Association

Postby monk » Sat Feb 18, 2:59 2012

I could maybe see him not being sexually aroused by you in a mans body, since arousal is a very physical activity, but he should still like/love you as a person the same since he's with you because you're you vs. any other woman out there with girly parts.

If he's saying he wouldn't stay with you because there would be no sex for a year, then I am wondering what he would do if you got sick or in an accident that prevented you from being physical with him for some long extended period.

Without knowing what all is being said my feeling is that the boyfriend is treading in some very shallow waters or is very immature still.
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Re: Gender Association

Postby zibber » Sat Feb 18, 6:42 2012

It's a real shame. It's not "natural" at all. (Spoiler alert: "natural" is a human concept and there is no "objective" nature.) We are taught from the earliest age to classify people we come across as M or F. From birth, we are surrounded by expressions of the M/F dichotomy. Even the most hardcore feminists I know, once they get a kid, they just can't escape that entirely. This thing is the root of so many problems. What's more, it's a completely unnecessary concept, M/F. Really completely unnecessary. I won't even say "obsolete", because this would imply it was necessary at some point (and implicitly support the "natural" fallacy).

monk wrote:If he's saying he wouldn't stay with you because there would be no sex for a year, then I am wondering what he would do if you got sick or in an accident that prevented you from being physical with him for some long extended period.


I was about to say.. On a related note, what happens in the case of a mastectomy? Hell, what if LB's skin becomes irritated and they can't shave their legs & pits anymore? (I am making the assumption LB shaves for rhetorical reasons.) A lot of dudes consider that compromising to femininity. Well - "female bodiedness", to be precise. This is all about being able to make that fundamental ontological identification and making it smoothly.

In most all cases, the potential to love someone romantically rests on the condition of their having a certain class of body. I don't think that's a cultural tradition we should particularly cherish.
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Re: Gender Association

Postby rowan » Sat Feb 18, 8:02 2012

Well, dang, everyone said almost everything I was going to already.

I will add, though, we can't help who we are sexually attracted to. So, I can understand if you were a guy, he wouldn't be attracted to that. (but srsly a year isn't that long; I was in a long distance relationship for 2.5 years...so that's the issue there) I do think that attraction is a big part of most relationships, though.

However I also am confused at his comment that he can't have an "emotional" connection to a guy. So like, being buddies isn't an emotional connection? He wouldn't care one way or the other if his bestest buddy got in a horrible car accident, apart from he wouldn't have someone to go do (insert activity he does with buddy) anymore?

Otherwise what storage said.
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Re: Gender Association

Postby Storage and Disposal » Sat Feb 18, 9:53 2012

I've been sexually attracted to most people I would have considered dating (not all), so I guess it can be initially important to a lot of people. The straightest of straight men do suffer from penisphobia, but come on. Deal with it for a year if it'll mean you get to spend the rest of your life with the person you love.

I talked about this briefly with RD last night. She mentioned that your boyfriend may not necessarily be an asshole, but he sure is talking like one. But it's true that this may just be because he's ignorant to a lot of things. I would suggest trying to educate him.
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Especially when it comes to this statement right here. This bothers me more than anything else he's said.
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Re: Gender Association

Postby anonymousrabbit » Sat Feb 18, 12:03 2012

This issue is one of the main reasons I started lurking feminist boards, and eventually found spacefem. I grew up in a family that really ignored gender roles. Men, women, and any shade in between that binary were considered not just ok, but completely normal individuals who also had equal rights, capacities and opportunities. Consequently, except for my sexuality, which definitively prefers certain genders over others, I really never distinguished between genders. When I hit the "real world" I was surprised when I was hit in the face with people who felt very, very differently than I did about the subject. To me, the lack of difference between genders was self evident, and I had trouble articulating WHY or explaining my thoughts to others. It just WAS, you know, the way a clear sky at midday is blue. I started visiting feminist boards in order to learn how better to articulate these thoughts and how to respond to those people, and how to debunk the bullshit they spewed, which I knew was bullshit, but not how to intelligently and rationally call the spewer on exactly that point.
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Re: Gender Association

Postby LunchBox » Sat Feb 18, 12:41 2012

monk wrote:If he's saying he wouldn't stay with you because there would be no sex for a year, then I am wondering what he would do if you got sick or in an accident that prevented you from being physical with him for some long extended period.

zibber wrote:On a related note, what happens in the case of a mastectomy? Hell, what if LB's skin becomes irritated and they can't shave their legs & pits anymore? A lot of dudes consider that compromising to femininity.

I am somewhat happy to report that he would most definitely stay with me in any of the above. We had a whole long chat about if I lost boobs or something of the like, and he said that wouldn't change anything. Only if I actually grew a penis would it be different. He thinks genders act completely different and if I grew a dick I would become a different person. Anything else and I would still be the female that he loves and would stay with. I am not the most feminine gal in behavior/habits anyways, so he doesn't/shouldn't like me for that. I didn't think I act very feminine but apparently he thinks differently.

rowan wrote:However I also am confused at his comment that he can't have an "emotional" connection to a guy. So like, being buddies isn't an emotional connection? He wouldn't care one way or the other if his bestest buddy got in a horrible car accident, apart from he wouldn't have someone to go do (insert activity he does with buddy) anymore?

Storage and Disposal wrote:The straightest of straight men do suffer from penisphobia, but come on. Deal with it for a year if it'll mean you get to spend the rest of your life with the person you love.


After some attempted education we eventually settled on if it were a year of me being a guy he would be a close buddies and hang out with me but he couldn't have a romantic relationship or live with me or anything (penis-phobia). After the year when I went back to normal he would be with me again. I too would think he'd tough it and still share an emotional relationship with me for just a year if he could have me as a female for the rest of my life, but I can deal with this immaturity for now.

His reasoning other than I'd have a penis so he wouldn't want me like that came down to the fact that he'd have to interact with me differently. This is because like in where I replied to Monk and Zibber, he believes people can' t help acting different as each gender. Although there are certain traits unique to each gender; I disagree with him, but that's a whole nother can of worms. I tried to challenge him by asking hypothetically if I grew a penis but was still dressing the same and acting the exact same (supposedly like a female, like me) and not being an obvious male could he be with me the same way as now. He said yeah but that's blurring the lines. It's a start.
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Re: Gender Association

Postby edit the sad parts » Sat Feb 18, 13:05 2012

LunchBox wrote:
His reasoning other than I'd have a penis so he wouldn't want me like that came down to the fact that he'd have to interact with me differently. This is because like in where I replied to Monk and Zibber, he believes people can' t help acting different as each gender. Although there are certain traits unique to each gender; I disagree with him, but that's a whole nother can of worms. I tried to challenge him by asking hypothetically if I grew a penis but was still dressing the same and acting the exact same (supposedly like a female, like me) and not being an obvious male could he be with me the same way as now. He said yeah but that's blurring the lines. It's a start.



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Re: Gender Association

Postby rowan » Sat Feb 18, 13:28 2012

^took me a minute to realize you bolded a line there...

I think that he is actually willing to have the conversation is a good start. :) Hopefully he will slowly change his mind.
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Re: Gender Association

Postby drunken dragon » Sat Feb 18, 14:33 2012

I would ask Boyfriend if he would still like me as a man for a year, except I'm mildly terrified of actually knowing the answer. Because it's probably "fuck no," and meh.
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Re: Gender Association

Postby lykin005 » Sat Feb 18, 16:35 2012

I'll just throw my two cents in and say whatever form love chooses to take in my life, I'll find a way to deal with it!
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Re: Gender Association

Postby monkeypoop » Sat Feb 18, 18:31 2012

LunchBox wrote:He said no one can ever really change that association of them self and he can't change how he treats a certain group.

This is bullshit. People change how other people think of/associate them all the time. How often are your first impressions of people completely different from how you view them after getting to know them? As for not being able to change how you treat a certain group - seriously? It's not that he can't, it's that for whatever reason, he is unwilling to. Maybe it's because he doesn't care enough to, maybe it's because it takes some amount of thought and effort to do, maybe it's because he is afraid of/uncomfortable with people being different. Likely it's some combination of things.

I would agree that as people we tend to label and classify each other as a way of keeping everyone we meet organized in our brains, but as we get to know specific people better, we think of them as individuals rather than classifying them into one group or type. Obviously we can't get know know everybody intimately, especially in today's world with the technology we have to travel and communicate with people across the whole world - there are just too many people. There's actually something my boyfriend read that he's talked about before, about how people originally lived in much smaller communities and aren't really meant to have to interact with so many people like we do now - I'll have to see if I can find a link or something to post.

As for the idea of specifically classifying people based on gender, well, the whole concept of gender is constructed to begin with. I think this is sort of what zibber was getting at (and I think a few other people touched on it as well) - the only reason gender is so important to our society is because we make it so important. It's something established for us before we're even born, and it's so ingrained in the way we're socialized that's it's hard to get away from. The reason gender is one of the biggest ways we classify people is because we have all these established gender norms that society expects us to conform to, and many of them are related to physical appearance, so it's an easy way to make a snap judgement. Traditionally, sex (the genetic/physiological part) and gender (the societal construct) have been correlated with each other, but that's changing. Honestly I'd love to see the day that we do away with gender completely, because I don't think it's really necessary - it's just a set of standards that nobody actually fits into.

I think that your boyfriend is being very narrow-minded with regards to this particular issue, but that doesn't mean that he's a jerk and that's all there is to him - I think everybody is a jerk sometimes. Like storage said, maybe you can educate him and widen his views.

I brought this up with my boyfriend too, and was actually very surprised at his response - he said he would be ok with us swapping sexes for a year (so I would become male and he would become female), even if it meant he would have a period and the potential to get pregnant, which I thought would for sure be a deal-breaker for him. I think he may have more "maternal instinct" than I do - he even said that he might want to have a baby! (Apparently he is not as horrified by the idea of childbirth as I am.) Obviously there were concerns about it just not being a good time in our lives for either of us to be having babies, but he said it's something he might want to take advantage of, because it's something he would never be able to do as a male.

One thing I thought was interesting is that he said he'd rather we both switched sexes than just me. He wasn't sure why, but said that maybe it was because of anal sex (which is perfectly great for people who enjoy it, no judgment here, it's just something that neither of us are at all interested in).
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Re: Gender Association

Postby LunchBox » Sat Feb 18, 19:56 2012

^I like your boyfriend's response a lot. I never tried asking mine how it'd be if we both switched. Likely he'd say no again but it's a hopeful notion.
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Re: Gender Association

Postby monk » Sat Feb 18, 22:23 2012

monkeypoop wrote: There's actually something my boyfriend read that he's talked about before, about how people originally lived in much smaller communities and aren't really meant to have to interact with so many people like we do now - I'll have to see if I can find a link or something to post.



/off topic

I read the same thing, it was a study that said something about how people can only form real attachments to like 120 people or so then our attachment ability is all filled up and any new attachments after that tend to bump off older attachments to maintain that 120 number. I can't find the link either though I remember reading it.

sorry about the interruption, continue on...
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Re: Gender Association

Postby Ama » Sat Feb 18, 23:26 2012

I would be a lot more comfortable as well with both myself and my fiancee switching sexes than for just her to. I could deal with that a lot better, and I think she could too.
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Re: Gender Association

Postby LunchBox » Sun Feb 19, 13:01 2012

Ha ha! Boyfriend would switch genders with me as long as we'd still be a hetero couple. This disturbs me in whole new ways as I now suspect he has some issues he needs to get over about homo relationships but eh.
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