How to be a Man – The problem with the language of gender, or the problem with the language we’re allowed to use when we’re talking about gender

“We police the tone of feminists, ethnic minorities and the working class because our particular society’s primary function is to preserve the status quo.” 

What really bugs me is the ineffable nature of a real objection to binary gender. Our language, and almost all languages (I say almost all because I don’t speak a lot of languages and it may be inaccurate to accuse ALL languages of this) have within them the vocabulary of gender. There are masculine and feminine words, there are words we associate with masculine and feminine. Our languages define us as a species, but if our languages insist that gender is binary, then surely it must be so? If it isn’t then why do we not have the words to quickly, succinctly and simply describe a non-binary view of gender?

Without being an academic on the subject of gender (which I am not – if you hadn’t guessed) it’s very difficult to win a fight with someone when they’re arguing for the accepted view of gender identity and you’re fighting for a more fluid view. Even if you are an academic who has devoted tens of years to the study of gender it’s difficult to win that fight because the language you will be using is fairly specialised and not everyone will understand the nuances of what you’re saying. It’s a difficult argument to win in basic, everyone will understand you, terms because at some point you will run out of the everyday words to effectively convey your argument and you will find yourself making long, loud, guttural noises that could be described as ‘screams’. In fact, even if it’s two people talking about the fluidity of gender you eventually run out of words to agree and the space is filled with half completed sentences, strange noises and long pauses.

The quote at the top was taken from a blog I came across whilst searching the wastelands of the internet for something to provoke me. Actually this person’s article is nothing to do with gender, nor is the quote, but it struck a chord with me. I am not policed so much, I’m a white middle class western man, I can say a lot of what I want to, although there is a bizzare double cross here because if I say something I’m not meant to then I become a marginalised white middle class western man. Alright, worse things could happen to me, but it’s still a tad frustrating. It’s why I can’t seem to settle when it comes to writing How to be a Man. I can’t effectively convey my arguments. I don’t necessarily want to because although I will hold my hands up and say that the show is leading, I want it to make people think about, not simply accept, what I am saying. However, even presenting my arguments is difficult because I have trouble finding the words to say … (I can’t say it because I can’t find the words)

Quite often, whilst trying to refine my script or write a whole new section to the show I find myself half way through a sentence or paragraph and all I can do is stare at the page and growl.

Whilst writing this I have done a sort of mental loop and decided that maybe my initial thought, that the words don’t exist, is not entirely accurate. Binary gender is most certainly ingrained in our life and culture, so expressing a dissenting opinion is hard. I think the bigger issue is that the words do exist but we are encouraged not to use them to avoid being seen as something other.

I think maybe being seen as something other isn’t such a bad thing for anyone; it’s sort of an empty threat because if enough of us are seen as other… we suddenly become the majority. And don’t worry about those poor souls, who feel that the patriarchal system that promotes oppression is awesome, being left out and becoming the minority, they seem to enjoy shouting loudly about issues and this will just give them another excuse to whine about;

‘Political Correctness’

‘The Gay Agenda’

‘Reverse Sexism’
‘Reverse Racism’
‘The Feminist Agenda’
‘Equal Marriage’
And pretty much anything that wasn’t part of our society when we emerged from caves and starting hitting each other with sticks.