Gender Binaries? Nope. Spectrums rule!

We are all taught through school, socialization, media, family and other sources that there are two genders right? Nope. Maybe three? Nope. A continuum or spectrum? You got it!

Despite what is show to us every day through advertisements, media and the like there are many variations on gender that change from person to person. Not only that, but this variation along a spectrum applies to more than just gender. As well we can look at gender expression, gender identity, biological sex, and sexual orientation.

Terminology! This might be better explained through info graphics courtesy of Sam Killermann from Its Pronounced Metro Sexual.com:

Infographics can explain everything!

I invite you to read all of Sam’s post on the inaccuracy of gender binary’s here:

http://itspronouncedmetrosexual.com/2011/11/breaking-through-the-binary-gender-explained-using-continuums/

So the point in general is that not only does physical gender exist in a spectrum but all the other variables do as well. As well they are independent of each other, that is your sexual orientation does not determine how you express you gender or what gender you identify with.  They are however interrelated or connected. Confused? Read Sam’s post, hes much better at explaining this.

In contrast take a look at this gem of a website to see how media can reinforce very narrow definitions of gender. Its called Brobible, find it here: http://www.brobible.com/

Just looking at the home page can tell you a lot about the definition of male that is being pushed on us. Among the options on the page are:

  • articles about sports fandom
  • slideshows of attractive women
  • the bromunity where you can post about “hook up story” or share party pics
  • the best colleges to go to for partying

So men, you need to: like sports, hot girls (defined very narrowly), partying and casual sex. Got it?

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Gender norms and scientific displays of preserved cadavers.

Recently i visited my local science museum (also my place of employment) to take a look at the newest exhibit: Body Worlds and the Brain. Super cool, slightly unsettling, fascinating displays of preserved cadavers called plastinates.

The most recently itteration of the Body Worlds Exhibits

If you haven’t been to a Body Worlds exhibit or are not familiar with them, they are pretty darn cool, especially if you happen to be a science nerd. Created by a man called Gunther Von Haggen who created a unique and revolutionary technique for preserving cadavers. Using a resin like substance to replace all the fluids in the body which then hardens. Once hardened the bodies are then dissected and displayed in very eye catching and sometimes disturbing ways.

"whoa...."

I thoroughly enjoyed myself and had plenty of “oh wow!” moments and a handful of speechless unsettled moments

One thing did come to my mind as i was walking through the exhibit and was also noticed by a friend of mine. In looking at all the plastinates i noticed a difference between the males and females. Every male figure was placed in either an aggressive action pose associated with a typically male dominated sport.

subtext: males should be aggressive like this bro

Every female figure was placed in either a action pose associated with more passive or less aggressive sports (i.e. yoga, swimming) or in sexually suggestive poses.

subtext: women should be submissive

Adding onto those differences there was a larger number, by far, of male plastinates at the exhibit. One last difference was pointed out to me by my friend. Every male plastinate had its nipples removed and every single female had its nipples prominently displayed.

Even in scientific displays and exhibits that are mostly devoid of political or social commentary we see the socially accepted gender roles being reinforced and any alternative gender role subtly downplayed

Posted in The unknown spectrum | 4 Comments

Well said….

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Hugging can be confusing….

when men need a guide to help them hug thats when you know something is wrong…..

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Expressing our love

I travel a lot for my job and today i was exploring the city of Pendleton, Oregon. I have been here once before but didnt take much time to explore and appreciate the city. This time around i put aside space to walk around the city and investigate whatever nooks caught my eye.

After getting lunch i noticed signs pointing to a river walk. I followed them and came upon a park following the banks of the Umatilla River. The park spanned quite a long distance and was stocked with plenty of benches and good views of the river. The trees are turning color with the fall and filled the park with vivid reds, yellows and oranges.

Fall in eastern Oregon is dry and warm and i was thoroughly enjoying my stroll. I had a book and chocolate bar and was looking for the perfect spot to stop and break into my chocolate and start reading the first Game of Thrones book.

Before i the bench i was looking for i walked under a bridge over the river and saw a bit of graffiti that caught my eye. I didnt have my camera on me but it looked something like this:

I smiled wide.

Then i started thinking about how rarely i see men expressing their love for the women in their lives, or the men in their lives for that matter. Expressing love and tender feelings is not something we teach boys and school and we constantly reinforce that idea through the definition of masculinity we display in the media. Real men never show their love and for all we know they don’t even feel love.

I can remember being in school and knowing that i felt love for a girl or for a close friend yet being mortified of showing that for fear of being labeled a “fag” or “gay”. Feeling this confusion on how and when to show affection for anyone let alone a love interest was very stressful and left me feeling frustrated and confused.

I am sure what the world has become more hyper-masculine the past years and that makes me wonder what it is like for young boys who grow up in an culture that discourages displays of affections.

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Excited Beginnings

Greetings! This blog has just started and is getting its sea legs. It will be up and running at full speed asap. I am excited to start, stay tuned!

Best,

Ian

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